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[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/rsz_elfenlied3_4989.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:350:[-[[CoversAlwaysLie Reason #12007 not to trust a series by its cover.]]-] ]]
[floatboxright:
Other manga by Creator/LynnOkamoto:
* Manga/GokukokuNoBrynhildr
* Manga/{{Nononono}}]

-->'''Lucy''': "''When you're miserable, you need someone more miserable than yourself.''"

Lucy, a beautiful but lethal [[{{Mutants}} Diclonius]], escapes from a sinister research facility, [[ThereIsNoKillLikeOverkill brutally slaughtering anyone that gets in her way]], whether they intended to or not. However, a glancing head shot from an anti-tank rifle leaves her injured, and she falls into the ocean, unconscious...

Later, [[OrdinaryHighSchoolStudent university student]] Kouta and his female cousin Yuka are walking along the Yuigahama beach near Kamakura, when they find [[ItMakesSenseInContext a naked young woman with horns on her head]]. They end up taking her home and calling her Nyu after the only sound she makes.

Between the [[OmniscientCouncilOfVagueness sinister government agency]] [[HumansAreBastards running the facility]], Yuka's jealousy, Nyu's dark and troubled alternate personality Lucy and a traumatic past he cannot remember, Kouta is in deep trouble. Caught between monsters, both human and not, where does his loyalty lie?

''Elfen Lied'', written by Creator/LynnOkamoto, is a ''{{gorn}}ographic'' {{manga}}, which has been likened to a [[XMeetsY combination]] of ''Comicbook/{{X-Men}}'', ''Literature/{{Carrie}}'', ''[[Literature/TheStrangeCaseOfDrJekyllAndMrHyde Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde]]'', ''Manga/LoveHina'', and ''Manga/{{Monster}}''. In other words, it's a twisted mixture of mutant battles, PsychicPowers, split personalities, pseudo-harem antics, cute girls, the male lead who discovers that the person whom he interacted during that person's childhood is evil, and of course, bucketloads of {{Gorn}} - and it's more than happy to [[MoodWhiplash swing between comedy and horror at the drop of a hat]]. It has also been compared to ''Series/IDreamOfJeannie'' [[XMeetsY as done by]] DavidLynch and Creator/WesCraven. There is also a short {{anime}} series of the same name that follows the first couple of chapters but ends with [[GeckoEnding an alternative ending]] before the real plot kicks off.

The series has [[SleeperHit become something of a]] CultClassic: given the heavy amounts of bloody violence and nudity, not to mention the dark tone overall (which are even worse in the manga), ''even in Japan'' the series only aired on satellite TV, as a glorified commercial for the DVD release. In North America, Creator/ADVFilms didn't seriously think the show would gain widespread popularity, if only for the pragmatic reason that it was limited to mature audiences and could only market it to such. There was actually supposed to be a second season, but the show had to end after only one season largely due to lack of exposure in Japan from its limited TV run. Then, ''purely by word of mouth'', it became one of ADV's top selling North American [=DVD=]s of 2005.

Now has its own [[Characters/ElfenLied Character Page]]. Contributions are greatly encouraged and appreciated.

Compare and contrast ''Manga/{{Akira}}'', ''Manga/{{Saikano}}'', ''Manga/DeadmanWonderland'', and ''Manga/{{Monster}}''. For series that deal with a superpowered species, compare and contrast ''Manga/{{Claymore}}'' and ''Manga/{{Hellsing}}''. Not be confused with Okamoto's one-shot ''Elfenlied'' (often written as ''Elfen Lied''), which has nothing to do with this series.

''[[Administrivia/YouHaveBeenWarned Cautious Editing/Viewer Warning]]'': There is a considerable amount of violence, gore, and discussion of rape.

----
!!This show provides examples of:

* OneHundredEight: The number of chapters in the series is 107. Add to this the two special chapters and you get 109. Remove the special chapter that is not canonical and voilá.
* AbridgedSeries: Has one, but is currently on hiatus (see trope page).
* AdaptationDyeJob: Diclonius in the anime all have varying shades of pink hair. In the manga, Lucy's is a light pink, Nana has bluish-purple, and Mariko has blonde.
* AdultFear:
** Well, too many things to list, so lets just go with bloody [[NoNameGiven Unknown Man]]. He's sadist, a rapist, a murderer, and a child molester, and he nearly has his way with a rape victim name Mayu.
** Mayu's stepfather, who molested her repeatedly, and her mother did nothing to stop him. Result is she runs away with nobody to care about her till she runs into Kouta and Yuka.
* AllOfTheOtherReindeer: A recurring theme.
* AllThereIsToKnowAboutTheCryingGame: [[spoiler:Lucy's death]] and [[spoiler:her real name "Kaede"]] are widely known. Somewhat subverted since you wouldn't know ''how'' those happened or revealed. It may possibly be because of the former being MakesJustAsMuchSenseInContext ([[spoiler:[[HilariousInHindsight her powers]] [[Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagica exceeded entropy]]]], in other words), and the latter is all the way next to the ending.
* AnArmAndALeg: Happens very often in the manga.
* AndTheAdventureContinues / NoEnding: The manga leaves off on a wild card: [[spoiler:Anna, who is revealed to be (or regresses nack into) an intact human, awakens to Nousou's {{Bifauxnen}} assistant/bodyguard, Nozomi's voice recovers, and Kouta begins his life married to (presumably) Yuka. The last page shows two twins (who are likely the reborn Lucy and Nyu) about a decade later arriving at the grave of Lucy's pet dog, to an older Kouta and his daughter.]]
* ApocalypseWow: The manga has some fun nearing the ending, including an [[SceneryGorn impressive ten or so pages pages]] dedicated to [[spoiler:Lucy destroying the world when she accidentally thinks Kouta is KilledOffForReal; don't worry, he's not]]. There's also many treats to [[spoiler:the eventual destruction of the research facility, which is ripped apart from ''below the ground'' up with [[SugarWiki/MomentOfAwesome Lucy's vectors after she kills Kakuzawa]].]]
* ArtEvolution:
** In the manga, the artwork starts off okay, but gets dramatically better. Compare the cover of [[http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_dBHK2FcupH8/TH2O1l4DFXI/AAAAAAAAACY/QBp9ooIax-M/s1600/Elfen%2520Lied%2520Portada%25201.jpg volume 1]] to [[http://media.comicvine.com/uploads/3/39102/800712-3150648_l_super.jpg volume 12]].
** The horns of the Diclonii also had a different look at the start of the manga, though that changed quickly.
* ArtImitatesArt: In the opening credit, Gustav Klimt.
* ArtisticLicenseLaw: In the manga finale, [[spoiler:the World Health Organization issued a birth ban until the Diclonius birth vaccine could be distributed. The WHO has no authority to order UN member nations to do anything.]] At best, they can strongly recommend actions, but the rest is up to every single national government on Earth.
* ArtisticTitle: "Elfenlied" is German for "elf song", and is the title of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elfenlied a poem by Eduard Mörike]] (but it's not the Latin poem, "Lilium", sung during the anime's opening).
* ArtMajorPhysics + NoArcInArchery: When an enemy is out of reach of their vectors, a Diclonius will typically use her vectors to instead throw objects at them. These thrown objects invariably behave like a bullet or arrow, regardless of the actual aerodynamic properties of the object in question.
** Of course, we're talking about ''very small'' objects thrown at the speed of a ''bullet'', like that pen that's thrown into [[EyeScream a soldier's eye]]. Played straight for extremely large objects.
* AssholeVictim: [[HumansAreBastards Where do we start ?]]
* BarbieDollAnatomy: Common in the manga, and happens a handful of times in the anime as well. There are a number of full-frontal nude shots and while neither the anime nor the manga is shy about detailing nipples, the crotches are invariably left featureless.
* BerserkButton: It's rare that diclonii care for anyone. If they do, you really ''don't'' want to threaten that person.
* BloodyHorror: Lucy is frequently [[BloodIsTheNewBlack covered in blood]] after killing people with her psychic powers. When Kouta finally witnesses this in the anime it's extremely traumatic for him since he had been trying to ''protect her'' and befriended her throughout the series, and because he has PTSD from a traumatic past. Heck even her origin story as noted above involves her being covered in blood this way.
* BloodSplatteredInnocents: On numerous occasions, but most notable is [[spoiler:Kanae during Lucy's rampage at the festival]].
* BloodyHandprint: Which [[AdaptationDisplacement isn't show anywhere]] in the manga.
* BolivianArmyEnding: In the anime... kind of. [[spoiler:Later revealed to be a plain old CliffHanger.]]
* BonusEpisode: The anime has 13 episodes plus one on the DVD.
* BreakTheCutie: Every single goddamn one.
* BreatherEpisode: Episode 10.5, the OVA, an extremely loose adaptation of Chapter 85-86, which explains how Lucy was captured in the beginning of the manga. A nice break if one is going through the series in one sitting.
** Sadly the R1 DVD sets don't include it.
*** They do as of 2013, and the Blu-Ray release.
* BrickJoke: In the manga, Nozomi's diaper.
* BullyingADragon: Several characters do this to the Diclonii. Most don't get a chance to learn from their mistake.
* CombatTentacles: Diclonius vectors might certainly count as these.
* CompressedAdaptation: The anime cuts off at around chapter 63, instead ending with a somewhat vague cliffhanger. For those who want to know what the anime missed, well... [[spoiler:Kurama does not die with Mariko. A ton of other characters are introduced. Kakuzawa finally gets the death he deserves. Arakawa's role is bigger. When Kouta's memories return, his reaction to Lucy is... less positive.]] You know, just read it. It's kickass... and very sad.
** Or it ''would'' be very sad, if it didn't keep resurrecting the characters who die. [[spoiler:Kurama, Bando, Mariko, and even Lucy]]--death is so cheap that it takes a lot of power out of an otherwise good story. [[spoiler:The anime still left out Bando's awesome death scene though.]]
* ConspicuousCG: The vectors.
* ContrivedCoincidence: [[spoiler:Once it's revealed that Lucy and Kouta met as children, it gets hard to believe that Lucy washing up on that beach would coincide perfectly with Kouta's return to that village for the first time in several years, and that both would have LaserGuidedAmnesia, and that Kouta's unoversity teacher is the son of the BigBad, and that Mayu happens to witness the fight between Lucy and Nana... Well, you can see where this is going.]]
* CoversAlwaysLie:
** Compared to the amount of blood and violence in this series, and how mentally scarred Lucy is, she sure does seem calm and serene on the DVD and manga covers.
** Awww, look at that manga cover, with the [[http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1030/882226864_d13ec4f4c4.jpg incredibly moe pink-haired girl on the front.]] This looks like a pretty innocent ser-''WHY IS THERE SO MUCH BLOOD!?''
* CrapsackWorld: Besides the nice-looking coastal city the series takes place in, apathy and discrimination run rampant, where being a Diclonius means a lifetime of being [[BreakTheCutie broken repeatedly]] and being a human means living in fear of the child being born a silpelit, which will accidentally kill its parents by the age of 3 as a result of its vectors.
* CrapsaccharineWorld: The melodrama takes places in a nice little coastal city and a very pretty inn...
* CreatorThumbprint: The openings of ''Manga/ElfenLied'' and ''Sora No Woto'', both series directed by Mamoru Kanbe, feature recreations of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gustav_Klimt Gustav Klimt's]] paintings, featuring the respective shows' characters.
* CreepyChild: At least two of the unnamed Diclonii.
* CryCute: Probably because of their exaggerated eyes, but all of the main girls when they do it. Even Lucy/Nyu and Mariko in the anime.
* CutAndPasteTranslation: The German dub has less swearwords than the English one.
* DeadGuyJunior: [[spoiler:In the manga ending, Kouta's daughter is named Nyu.]]
* DeathByChildbirth: This happens with any Diclonius that has slipped into KillAllHumans mode.
* DeathIsCheap: Manga only. [[spoiler:Kurama and Bando]] have excellent death scenes but disappointingly survive. [[spoiler:Nyu/Kaede]] has similar treatment. This is one point in which the anime may have been better - if they actually finished it properly.
* DisproportionateRetribution: Several examples.
* DysfunctionJunction: Nearly or just as bad as ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion''.
** When the most normal and cheerful person in the cast is the one with no arms or legs, expect some serious issues.
* EarnYourHappyEnding: Kind of. Could have been ''much'' worse.
** And really, despite it all, the ''very'' end is something wonderful. This is one of those stories that's ''well'' deserving of this trope.
* {{Expy}}: Not the series itself, but it [[FollowTheLeader has one]]. ''Literature/{{Wolfbreed}}''. It's ''Elfen Lied''... with werewolves.
* TheFairFolk: The Diclonii seem to have been influenced by them in many aspect, such as children that are secretly given to human parents but turn out to be monsters, or that they are invulnerable to normal weapons and can only be killed with a special metal (in this case tungsten instead of iron). It's this kind of elves that the title is referring to.
* {{Fanservice}}: A girl with the body of an 18 year old and the mind of a 2 year old. Not hard to imagine all the kinds of situations this creates.
** Also, the scene of Yuka sitting on Kouta's lap and kissing him is taken ''much'' further in the manga, and several chapters have still art of characters in revealing clothing or various stages of nudity.
** Also, {{Panty Shot}}s. Lots and lots of panty shots.
** It'd be easier to list the characters who AREN'T played for Fanservice at least once. Really, if you're a non-extra female in the anime, there's roughly a 75% chance you'll be seen in your underwear and a 50% chance of getting a nude shot. If you're in the manga instead, those numbers are closer to 95%/80% respectively.
* FanDisservice: Lucy walks around naked in the first episode while slaughtering people and splattering blood and limbs everywhere. Mayu in the scenes where she is molested by her stepfather. Also, many of the Diclonius are naked while they are tortured and the like. It's pretty much a given that if a character is nude or nearly so, something bad is either happening or about to happen, with few exceptions (see the previous trope). Erotic or traumatizing? You decide.
** Also, {{Panty Shot}}s. Lots and lots of panty shots. Usually immediately followed by traumatic slaughter.
* FantasticRacism: Played straight in the fact that humans believe Diclonii to be murderous monsters that will wipe out humanity and hunt them down without mercy.
** Subverted by the fact, that this time humanity is right! [[spoiler:Maybe. Though Diclonii do have a genetic drive to kill humans, there is some ambiguity as to just how much this can be averted by childhood circumstances. Nana is the most obvious example, but there are others in the manga. There is also, it's noted, a genetic drive in ''humans'' to kill humans, but those are normally suppressed by parents '''raising''' their children, not torturing them from their birth, chaining them up, and shooting rocks at them.]] See InformedAbility below.
*** It's a complex problem. [[spoiler:Diclonii begin to use vectors around age 3, when KidsAreCruel as well as intractable and still without inhibitions, notwithstanding that they can't even properly understand death. It's pretty hard for a 3 year old child with the power to destroy anything nearby with minimal effort to NOT commit brutal murders and antagonize humanity, and set in motion the whole conflict. It takes an exceedingly gentle personality, in fact, which is not a survival advantage and therefore rare. Even Diclonii would have trouble raising Diclonius children, except if they kept them at vector's length all the time, which is impractical. Although the Institute completely screwed it up with the whole torture business, the best bet is probably raising such children in isolation and gradually socializing them and increasing human contact AFTER they know that, well, tearing people apart with vectors is... well, wrong.]]
* FestivalEpisode: And a tragic one at that.
* FinalSolution: Pretty much every Diclonii in the series has been abused by humans to the point where their biological survival instinct has fused with their psychosis, which insists that humans must be eradicated or they will eradicate Diclonii. [[spoiler:Turns out that this is absolutely correct. Once knowledge of Diclonii is widespread, all Diclonii babies are killed at birth until human scientists develop a vaccine capable of keeping them from being conceived at all.]]
* ForScience ''and'' [[ForTheEvulz The Evulz]]: LogicalExtreme: All of the scientists want to observe Diclonii, even if it means risking another person's life. When questioning their motives, it usually involves a "What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome" quote.
--> '''Yuu Kakuzawa''' (to Bando): ''The human race, [[SurroundedByIdiots full of idiots]]... [[KillEmAll is better off decreasing]].''[[note]]The context for the quote is better off [[{{Squick}} not worth mentioning]].[[/note]]
* FourLinesAllWaiting: Past Chapter 75, the manga relies on taking on individual routes and expanding on multiple characters. In Chapter 87, there's at least ''six'' individual timelines happening at once, and each timeline takes up a page, resulting in a extreme MoodWhiplash. In no particular order:
** A is Nyu [[spoiler:captured by Kakuzawa and learning of Lucy.]]
** B is Kohta [[spoiler:recovering from a gunshot wound in Chapter 85.]]
** C is Nana [[spoiler:finding Kurama borderline deranged after enduring through Chapter 65.]]
** D is Barbara and Nousou [[spoiler:the former who gets promoted to central character after she kills Nousou.]]
** E is Professor Arakawa [[spoiler:developing and finding the cure for the Diclonius.]]
** F is The Agent [[spoiler:finding Nousou's headless body.]]
* FrankensteinsMonster: Manga only, but [[DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything a young-looking scientist]] scavenges [[spoiler:a dead body blown to bits by an explosion]] and is able to reanimate the dead within his "laboratory" with some AppliedPhlebotinum (it's never clearly explained). [[WholePlotReference Can you guess]] [[Franchise/{{Frankenstein}} what happens next]]?
* FreakOut: A lot of characters. Some get them multiple times.
* FreezeSneeze
* GeckoEnding: In the anime, [[spoiler:Lucy shows up casting a shadow on Kouta's house.]] The manga, however, has a definitive end, [[BolivianArmyEnding maybe]].
** Kurama [[spoiler:is killed in the anime, whereas he survives in the manga.]]
* GenreShift
* GoodEyesEvilEyes: Used in a very prolific manner, In fact, a key characteristic of a Diclonius who's been pushed too far is a piercing, glazed-over look in their eyes, signifying their descent into murderous misanthropy (basically every Diclonius in the show goes through this at one point or another, given that HumansAreBastards).
* {{Gorn}}: With so much Gorn, [[Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries Kirk doesn't stand a chance this time!]]
* GoryDiscretionShot: Subverted, surprisingly enough: in episode 3, what ''looks'' like a GoryDiscretionShot implies that Lucy has done her [[LudicrousGibs usual job]] on Wanta that was barking at her. Soon after, it's revealed that she simply cut its leash.
** Subverted so often that after a decent percentage of the manga, if someone isn't dismembered or beheaded in-panel you know they're probably okay.
*** Even being chopped in half might not kill you, [[spoiler:especially if you're [[KarmaHoudini Bando]].]]
** But there ''is'' a straight GoryDiscretionShot in the first episode.
** And another one [[spoiler:in the eighth episode during Lucy's backstory, the animators were kind enough not to show [[AssholeVictim the three bullies]] [[KickTheDog beating a puppy]] to death]].
* GratuitousGerman:
** The title of series is actually bad German. Correctly, it would be ''Elfenlied''. Probably because to distinguish the title of series from the German song that also appears there twice.
** The IdiosyncraticEpisodeNaming which is in German.
** Nozomi's favorite song being "Elfenlied". Nyu/Lucy sings this song, too.
* GratuitousRape: It certainly seems like this. There's Lucy who was on the receiving end of AttemptedRape, and Mayu who ran away from a sexually abusive stepfather. And in the manga, there's the Unknown Man. How do we know he's evil? Because of the atrocious rape he gleefully commits on Diclonii. Even when he's on a time frame to find Lucy, he still stops to try and rape Mayu.
** The most egregious example is - again, from the manga - the Director and Shirakawa. He finds out [[spoiler:she's a spy]]: He graphically molests her and uses the NotIfTheyEnjoyedItRationalization to humiliate her. It comes out of nowhere, it could be removed and nothing would be lost (save some exposition after the fact) and after that, it's never brought up again [[spoiler:as Lucy kills her soon after]]. At least Mayu had a character arc with her assault, this is just for shock value and more evidence to show that the Director is evil.
* GrotesqueCute: You see almost everybody drawn in the cutest, most SickeninglySweet {{shoujo|Demographic}} style, and next thing you know, you see torn limbs, heads and hearts, and blood sprayed everywhere!
* HangingOurClothesToDry: Happens between Lucy and Kouta [[spoiler: when both were younger]] after they get in a water fight in a stream.
* HaremAnime: Subverted. What could've been a major harem show is a high-handed drama instead. Also, only Lucy/Nyu and Yuka loves Kouta, who is just the {{Deuteragonist}}, and Nozomi loves him only a little bit, but it does not really count. As long there are only two girls who love him, it's not a harem.
* HarmfulToMinors: If you're a minor in this story, may God help you.
* HealingFactor: Diclonius in the manga are noted to have a small level of ability to heal their wounds. This is noticeable when Nana first appears covered in scars, cuts and gashes across her entire body but later appears only shortly after her fight with Lucy completely devoid of those specific wounds. This apparently is also what helps the [[spoiler:clone Diana survive having her own heart gouged out and Lucy is even capable of healing Kouta's own wounds with her vectors near the end of the manga.]]
* HighPressureBlood: Holy HELL is there HighPressureBlood.
* HumansAreTheRealMonsters: A huge part of the show, but [[{{Jerkass}} Bandou]] ''really'' [[UpToEleven pushes the envelope]], and the Unknown Man pushes it off a cliff. Sometimes it seems that the Diclonii are more human than the actual humans, but usually not for long.
** FantasticRacism: Basically, more or less every human or Diclonius is pretty unpleasant to its own kind, but especially nasty to the other. It may just be the humans we see that are nasty, but that's pretty much everyone except Kouta, Kanae, Yuka, Mayu and Nozomi.
* HurricaneOfPuns: Chapter 21.
* IdiosyncraticEpisodeNaming: The episodes of the anime, as well as the title, are in German. And [[GratuitousGerman don't make much sense to German viewers]] either.
* IllKillYou
* ImperialStormtrooperMarksmanshipAcademy: Justified. The vectors of the Diclonii make most guns completely ineffective against them. High caliber tungsten rounds seem to be the only thing they have trouble stopping.
* InfantImmortality: Averted. Many children die in this series, regardless how young they are.
* InfoDrop: We only learn about Lucy's real name when Kouta reads the letter she wrote as a child. [[spoiler:It's Kaede.]]
* InformedAbility: The Diclonii 'drive to kill humans' is ([[TheHeartless almost]]) only ever seen in diclonii who have been [[MoralEventHorizon horrifically]], [[ThisIsUnforgivable unforgivably]] abused by humans. There are very few times this seems to 'not' be the case, and all but one of those could be a situation of [[TykeBomb children with terrible power not knowing how to control it]]. Until the very, VERY end of the manga (as in the last chapter), we are only shown a single example of this not being the case, and even that one is questionable.
** Given the near total '''lack''' of evidence to support this, it's probably more likely that the "voice driving diclonii to kill all humans" is nothing more than the [[TheHeartless internal manifestation of Kaede and Barbara's psychotic break(s)]], and all other such examples are just kids being [[TykeBomb kids with horrifically dangerous powers]].
* InVinoVeritas: A bonus chapter of the manga is devoted to this. Mayu is knocked out very soon, Nana gets mad over Kouta's treatment of her, Nyu and Yuka try to have sex with him... [[HilarityEnsues then Lucy awakens]].
* KarmaHoudini: Mayu's AbusiveParents never get punished for their actions.
** [[spoiler: Director Kakuzawa,]] anime version only. While he eventually gets some comeuppance in the manga, thanks to the series' GeckoEnding he's still alive and completely unharmed at the end of the anime.
* KidsAreCruel: Lucy's childhood, which culminated in her StartOfDarkness when the children in the orphanage [[spoiler: beat her puppy to death]]!
* KillAllHumans: Most Diclonii. Whether it's because HumansAreBastards or because of a genetic drive is unclear.
** It's at least very heavily implied that it's a genetic drive. The fact that HumansAreBastards just makes it easier for them to listen to their inner voice telling them to [[KillAllHumans kill everyone]].
*** One interpretation is that the "genetic voice" of the Diclonii to be a simple case of egoism. It's mentioned often in the manga that human beings have a drive to expand and survive that is based primarily on egoism; it is only natural the ''Homo sapiens diclonius'' would have a similar drive. Since they are competing with humans for a place in the world, and since their vectors give them a huge advantage, it isn't difficult for them to associate their capabilities with manifest destiny and a sense of superiority, ''particularly'' after the abuse many of them receive at the hands of human beings. This serves as [[AnAesop a particularly brutal aesop]] regarding both the consequences of mistreating fellow human beings ''and'' the objective insignificance of human life.
*** A different interpretation however is that the "genetic voice" is just regular insanity and the humans simply misinterpreted the Diclonii based on that.
* KillEmAll: Explicitly states that Lucy could singlehandedly cause Diclonii to outnumber humans (guaranteeing their extinction), but doesn't actually occur in the series.
** And then the situation is turned around in the manga: [[spoiler: through various genetic-modifying TechnoBabble, humans create a "vaccine" that removes the Diclonii genes from humans, extinguishing them as a racial offshoot. Yeah, that's right; the Diclonii end up being the ''victims'' of genocide and rendered totally extinct. A case of GreyAndGrayMorality in that, no matter what happened one species was going to wipe out the other.]]
* LighthousePoint
* LittleMissBadass: Almost all of the Diclonii are this during their preteen years.
* LyricalDissonance: First, the violent anime ends with a cheery upbeat song. Then, the lyrics turn out to be all about [[AllLoveIsUnrequited unrequited love]], [[ThirdLineSomeWaiting which is actually a subplot in the series]].
* MeaningfulTitle: The title is taken from a German song/poem of the same name (Nozomi just sings this already existing song) and is a reference to Lucy/Nyu more than any other character. The "Elfen" part is a reference to her horns which resembles sharp ears. The "Lied" part (though actually meaning "song" in German) is symbolic to the English term "lie," meaning deception, a fitting reference to the innocent persona Nyu and the sociopathic persona Lucy. In other words, a reference to her deception to everyone but most importantly Kohta.
* MoodWhiplash: This should be obvious if you have read anything else on this page.
* MuggingTheMonster: The kids who picked on Lucy and killed her dog didn't know just what they were messing with.
* NatureVersusNurture: A point is made about whether or not the Diclonii really are [[AlwaysChaoticEvil malicious]], or if their cruelty is a byproduct of how they were raised. Nana seems to indicate that it is indeed nurture, not nature.
* NiceJobBreakingItHerod: The bad guys regularly visit hospitals trying to find newborn Diclonii and take them, with or without their parents' consent.
* NippleAndDimed: The nipples are generally shown uncensored, [[BarbieDollAnatomy but the genitals not]].
* NobleSavage: The Diclonii technically are this, given how it's near-impossible for regular people to civilize them without being killed by the former.
* NoHoldsBarredBeatdown: Although there are quite a few, Lucy fighting Nana probably takes the gold.
* NoNameGiven: Numerous examples, especially near the Manga's end. The [[TheStoic Agent]] and the Unknown man are the most prominent. The Operatives in [[spoiler:the Vector Craft]], the Fleet Captain, and The Bakery Lady are also never named.
** Partially with the vast majority of the main cast, who have either only a given name or only a family name. Yuu and Anna Kakuzawa are a rarity. Yuu Kakuzawa and Shirakawa gain names by accident in the anime. Isobe's name is hard to spot at times-- he almost seems this trope.
* OffModel: The art in the first manga volume is a little dodgy, especially concerning Lucy's legs and several male faces. [[ItGetsBetter It noticeably improved,]] although it's not without some hiccups that carry over into ''Manga/{{Nononono}}''.
* OhCrap: [[spoiler:From the readers, when Kouta gets shot. Lucy has never made that face until then. Damned be the odds, so many people are about to die ''so horribly''.]]
* [[OminousLatinChanting Ominous Latin Singing]]: "Lilium", the opening theme.
* OneGenderRace: Subverted, as there are male diclonius but they so incredibly rare that we only see one in the manga, [[spoiler:Lucy's half brother.]] There are two other cases, but it's not clear whether they're descended from Diclonii whose ancestors bred with humans to the point that the only part of the Diclonius heritage remaining is the horns (there ''are'' two of them), or if they just have a birth defect that changes the shape of their skulls.
** The manga makes it clear on this front: The Kakuzawas [[spoiler:are only Humans with a slight genetic mutation. Lucy could not sense them at all; Her Diclonius are a separate evolution altogether as a result of genetic manipulation as opposed to being descendants from demons]].
* OnlyAFleshWound: Having your limbs ripped off or exploded is okay if you get a tourniquet, and usually if you don't as well.
* OverdrawnAtTheBloodBank: Goes right along with the HighPressureBlood.
* OvertookTheManga: See the CompressedAdaptation entry.
* PersonOfMassDestruction: Every Diclonius has the potential to become one of these.
* PinealWeirdness: The Diclonius start as humans with large pineal glands.
* ThePowerOfLove: Not in the way it's usually thought of, and it doesn't show much in the anime, but the manga makes it pretty clear that love (primarily of the filial sort rather than romantic) is more powerful than anything else motivating a Diclonius, even their instinctive drive to KillAllHumans. [[spoiler:It can even override the obedience devices in the lobotomised Mariko clones.]]
* PoweredByAForsakenChild : Much of Kakuzawa's scheming involves the use and abuse of Kurama's Diclonius daughter, Mariko. While at the Institute, she is essentially a hostage to ensure Kurama's complete obedience. Her use as a weapon against Nana and Lucy distracts Kurama and prevents him from acting in time to stop the [[spoiler:virus-carrying missile]]. Even when Mariko herself is gone, her many and varied [[spoiler:clones]] provide both weaponry and, most nightmarishly of all, [[spoiler:the organic material used to build the Vector Attack Craft which have a dubious track record against the masses of Clone Diclonii, and fail completely against Lucy]] making this trope literal and even more loathsome.
* PreciousPuppies: There are a few puppies in this series, and they're all quite precious. Except when [[spoiler:they're getting beaten to death with a vase/rock.]]
* RRatedOpening: One of the most notorious openings in anime history.
* RealPlaceBackground: The series takes place in the Japanese town of Kamakura. Most of the locations, such as the stone stairs, are well-known local landmarks.
* RedEyesTakeWarning: Practically every Diclonius in the anime.
* RedShirt: Played painfully straight. Almost every guard, soldier or cop seen in the series ends up slaughtered by a Diclonius, often Lucy, even if they're not aggressive or fleeing, which probably make us wonder WhatMeasureIsAMook.
* RelativeError: A horrific one; Lucy mistakes Kouta's sister as his girlfriend when they were all younger. She promptly kills her and Kouta's father.
* RunningGag:
** Arakawa is constantly voicing her annoyance about being kept from her apparently frequent showers. Later, after having worked alone in a basement room without much outside contact for weeks, she's made her great breakthrough working in nothing but her sweaty underwear and dirty hair.
** Also Nana losing her concentration and dropping her arm or leg (often to the disbelief or horror of accidental witness).
** Nyu groping the other girls.
** Yuka getting wet down there and ruining her panties.
* SerialEscalation: How far can a Diclonius reach with their vectors? [[spoiler:To a [[StuffBlowingUp helicopter]], to land from several thousand meters below, and to ''outer space''.]]
* ShrinesAndTemples: It's set in Kamakura, so they're all over the place.
* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism: Heavily on the cynical side.
* ShamefulStrip: When Mariko first faces off against Nana, her opening attack basically blasts Nana right out of her clothes. Mariko's follow-up comments suggest this was not unintentional.
* ShooOutTheClowns: In the fastest Shoo-out ever, the general feel of ''Elfen Lied'' is realized when the cute {{Dojikko}} secretary gets her head cut off in the first five-seven minutes of the first episode (and she had done ''nothing'' except walk in on Lucy's battle!). And it doesn't help that Lucy uses her beheaded body as a [[BulletproofHumanShield human shield next.]]
** It really happens even sooner. ''[[MurderIsTheBestSolution 14]] [[UpToEleven seconds]] [[SerialKiller into]]'' the first episode, a nameless guard is beheaded by Lucy/Nyu/[[spoiler:Kanae]]. That's right ''14 seconds in''. In this one, the clowns didn't even make it in the door, it was slammed in their face right after it was opened.
* ShoutOut:
** Hello, anyone? [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucy_(Australopithecus) Lucy]]!
** Professor Kakuzawa wants to make Lucy his "[[http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lebensborn Lebensborn]]".
** Barbara's [[spoiler:escape from the hospital and subsequent flight above the streets looks very much like [[{{Matrix}} Neo's flight though the streets in one of the last Matrix movies]]]].
* SoundtrackDissonance: The ending theme, Chieko Kawabe's "Be Your Girl", in contrast to pretty much all that the viewer's seen for the previous 20 minutes or so.
** Though if one pays attention to "Be Your Girl"s lyrics, they actually fit with the rest of the story fairly well since it's a song about a girl loving a man she can't have.
* SpiderLimbs: Vectors.
* TailorMadePrison: The sinister Research Faciliy in which Diclonii are held and experimented on (more like ''[[ColdBloodedTorture tortured]]'').
* TearsFromAStone: From a stone UsefulNotes/{{Hachiko}}.
** Also BerserkerTears, TenderTears, OcularGushers... justified in how [[BreakTheCutie so very broken]] everyone is.
* TearsOfRemorse
* ThemeTuneCameo. Variants of "Lilium" often show up in the anime's background music. It's also the tune Kouta's music box plays, and is labeled as such.
* TimeSkip: In the manga, six months have been passed since [[spoiler:Mariko]]'s death.
* TitleDrop: The manga has Nozomi sing the titular song at one point. [[spoiler:Much later, Lucy, who learned the song from Nozomi, sings it to help herself heal Kouta's wounds.]]
* TraumaticSuperpowerAwakening
* {{Tykebomb}}: Every single diclonius in the facility. Apparently what's produced there. Lucy and Mariko could certainly be called nuclear tykebombs.
* UnusualEars: They're actually horns, but they ''look'' kind of like cat ears.
* WhatMeasureIsANonCute: Sure, Lucy and Nana have it tough, but at least their looks let them avoid the fate of their faceless "siblings" who are treated as mere cannon fodder.
** Still doesn't explain Mariko or Number 28 though.
* WhatMeasureIsANonHuman: When [[spoiler:the survival of humanity]] is at stake, humans are willing to do lots of things.
** Inverted in the series. Where they would show horrible deaths for any human, but never showed onscreen [[spoiler:Lucy's puppy's death.]]
* WhereItAllBegan: Slightly subverted since this place is not the earliest shown. In the final pages of the manga, [[spoiler:Kouta visits the orphanage, specifically the grave of Lucy's pet dog, once a day due to a strange whim. He does this for at least a ''decade'', until his daughter finds a MessageInABottle and two familiar faces.]]
* YoungerThanTheyLook: Silpelit Diclonii age faster than humans [[spoiler:or Queen Diclonii like Lucy]]. Nana, for example, appears to be on the verge of her teen years but is in fact six or seven.
* YourHeadASplode: ...where do we '''START!?'''
** Everyone who dies that isn't gorily chopped in half? [[OnlyAFleshWound Losing all your limbs at once is okay so long as you get a tourniquet though.]]
*** [[spoiler:Barbara]] is just shot in the head. This is one of the least gruesome deaths in this series.
** The general rule seems to be that as long as your torso and head are still attached and intact, [[WalkItOff you're going to be fine.]] Unless you are a RedShirt.
*** [[AndIMustScream Except Number 28]] and Saito.
* ZombieGait: The Diclonii sometimes do this. Much more common in the manga than the anime.

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