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I think it's time to blow this scene, get everybody and the stuff together... okay, three, two, one, let's jam.
Immodestly billed as "The work, which becomes [a] new genre itself." Cowboy Bebop is a Space Western/Film Noir anime series consisting of 26 episodes (and one movie that takes place between episode 23 and 24) that eventually became one of the most popular and influential anime series in history, proving that the braggadocio underlying that subtitle was entirely justified.In the Used Future of the late 21st century, humanity has spread across the Solar System using "Hyperspace Gates" after a horrific accident devastated Earth. Wherever humanity goes, sadly, so goes its criminal element. To compensate for the increase in jurisdiction, the Space Police reinstates the bounty system of the Wild West: catch a bounty alive and deliver him to the cops to get paid.Cowboy Bebop focuses on the misadventures of five individuals as they struggle to scrape a living in this space-age frontier: bounty hunter Jet Black, owner of the titular Bebop; his partner Spike Spiegel, a martial artist on the run from a bloody past; Femme Fatale and rival bounty hunter Faye Valentine, both more and somehow less than she appears; demented teen genius hacker girl Ed (aka Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky IV); and Ein, a Welsh Corgi who also happens to be a genetically-engineered "data dog".The Bebop's crew faces dangerous criminals, occasional starvation, a particularly disgusting refrigerator, and their own Dark And Troubled Pasts over the course of the series. The show partially defines itself by the thematic choices to give everything a rich backstory but explain almost nothing in full. The show's stories concern themselves with the problems of the present, which means the show only implies history in numerous instances.Another part of Cowboy Bebop's signature traits come from its music. Yoko Kanno composed a soundtrack made up almost entirely of jazz music and a few tracks that defy categorization. She and her band The Seatbelts even improvised some tracks to finished footage at the moment of recording. The show's soundtrack does not exist as an afterthought, especially since numerous scenes eschew dialogue entirely and rely on that music to carry the experience.[adult swim] chose Bebop as the very first anime to air on the block. The show starting airing on the very same night that the network itself premiered in August 2001. Bebop aired regularly on the network for over a decade after its American TV debut (minus a few rare schedule removals), which made it the network's longest-running show. (InuYasha comes in second, as it started airing in early 2002 and fell from the lineup in 2014.) The show fell off the lineup in late 2013, but Toonami will start airing the show again in July 2014. If you can't wait for the show to come on TV, you won't have trouble finding the show on DVD — Bandai released the whole series a number of times over (including a remastered "Remix" version) and Funimation only made it easier with new DVD, digital and Blu-ray releases in 2014.As the tagline suggests, the show frequently evokes both Westerns and Film Noir, though the single biggest influence on the look and feel of the series comes from the '80s and early '90sHeroic Bloodshed action movies directed by John Woo (such as A Better Tomorrow and The Killer). Lupin III also serves as a visible influence, since the main trio come off as a futuristic version of Lupin, Jigen, and Fujiko. Underneath the sci-fi and action flick surface lies an overall plot line primarily based on the most Japanese of all Japanese cinema, the Yakuza picture (a relatively unknown genre in the West).A Cowboy Bebopmovie (Cowboy Bebop: The Movie, aka Cowboy Bebop: Knocking on Heaven's Door) was released in 2001. Unlike anime movies that deliver Alternate Continuity or sequel stories, the Bebop movie fits in between episodes 22 and 23 of the series (both in chronology and in quality). You can find the film on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital platforms with relative ease since Sony Pictures never let it go out of print or fall into licensing hell.A live-action adaptation currently sits in Development Hell — and has done so for years. The last news anyone heard about it said Keanu Reeves would play the role of Spike Spiegel. (At the very least, Reeves calls himself a fan of the series.)A Star Fox-esque Playstation game and a beat-em-up Playstation 2 game based on the series were made, but they didn't see release outside of Japan. If you want to find Cowboy Bebop at His Computer, you'll have to import the PS2 game.Show creator Shinichiro Watanabe went on to create a successful spiritual successor in Samurai Champloo and a parody of his work in Space Dandy.This show has its own recap page."Bang..."
Aerith and Bob: When Julia and Faye meet, Faye claims that her name is "common". (It's really not.) On the other hand, this is a series where characters can be called anything from Udai Taxim to ... Ed (when female), so anything is possible.
After the End: The "Gate Disaster" destroyed a chunk of the moon and the scattered fragments subject Earth to constant random meteorite impacts. Mars is the center of human society now.
A great deal of The Movie is a good example. There are several scenes that, if seen out of context, could be seen as taking place on present day Earth rather than Mars in the future.
And I Must Scream: In the episode "Brain Scratch", the cult leader 'villain' turns out to be a young hacker who got brain damage from a mishap with a mind/machine interface, leaving him a functioning mind with a vegetative body. His only connection to the outside world is through cyberspace, and at the end of the episode Jet pulls that connection to keep him from harming anyone else and leaves him trapped in his own body.
Animal Wrongs Group: The Space Warriors in "Gateway Shuffle". At least, they became this after "Twinkle" Maria Murdock took over the group.
Big Bad Ensemble: A lot of oneshot villains are major threats on their own, and have no affiliation with Vicious, one another, or the Syndicate. A rare combination of this trope and Monster of the Week.
"Waltz For Venus". Sure, Rocco might've stopped Picarro and his thugs from harming Stella, sure the Bebop crew might've gotten their bounty (at a reduced price), and, sure, thanks to the four of them, Stella might be able to see, but Rocco is killed in the process, just as Spike's lessons are starting to sink in, which ultimately prevents him from being the first thing that Stella sees once she regains her vision.
The whole series ends on either this or an Earn Your Happy Ending, depending on whether or not you think that Spike died after the final battle.
Blob Monster: In "Toys in the Attic", the crew is attacked by a small black blob that escaped from a forgotten fridge in the back of the ship. They go hunting for it in a massive Alien homage, but find that it's more or less invincible, surviving gunshots and blasts from a flamethrower. Ed eventually manages to kill it by eating it in her sleep and digesting it.
Spike eats "beef" with green peppers before his first bounty in the series and before his last battle in the series. It becomes a Brick Joke in one episode: when the crew has nothing to eat, he mutters that he wishes he had some green peppers.
In both the very first episode and the very last (two-part) episode of the series, an unsuspecting bartender gets shot in the head. Each shot signals the beginning of a Bar Brawl. Likewise the names of the first and last episodes: "Asteroid Blues" and "The Real Folk Blues" respectively, both reference the same style of music.
"Jupiter Jazz" (a two-part episode) begins and ends with a scene about Laughing Bull.
"Wild Horses" begins and ends with a shot of Spike sitting glumly beside a crashed ship.
Brain Uploading: The goal of the cult group Scratch. More specifically, the goal of its members, but not its leader, Londes. As opposed to its members, Londes seems to resent his current state and in turn manipulates his followers into either suicide or catatonic states out of spite.
Breather Episode: "Cowboy Funk" is the last light-hearted episode before the unsettling "Brain Scratch", the melancholy "Hard Luck Woman", and the series finale, "The Real Folk Blues".
In "Cowboy Funk", Faye and Jet fail to believe Spike's recounting of his run-in with Andy, saying the "cowboy character is completely unbelievable" but "if it were a samurai, then it might work". Guess what Andy decides to become at the end of the episode.
In "Heavy Metal Queen", Faye has to remove some high explosives from a wrecked ship. When told to be delicate with it, she replies "I'm not the delicate type".
In the beginning scene of "Toys in the Attic", Spike takes a bite of a kebab and makes a face because it tastes awful. When he's suiting up to find the blob-monster pest, he spears a piece of meat on his sword and takes a bite out of it... and makes a face again.
Two episodes after "Big Shot" is cancelled, Faye sees a black man in the airport and remarks that he appears familiar. He's obviously the host of the show, except he's dressed differently and no longer talking in a hokey fake Mexican accent. It's easy to miss unless you're paying close attention.
Broke Show: The crew very, very rarely bring in a successful bounty. When they do, it's off-screen, negated somehow, or the funds are eaten up to repair all the shit Spike broke chasing down the criminal.
Casual Danger Dialogue: Spike is fond of this. In the bar shootout at the beginning of "The Real Folk Blues", he stops to take a sip of a martini and comments "definitely too much vermouth".
Casual Interplanetary Travel: The constantly broke protagonists are nevertheless able to afford to operate an interplanetary fishing(!?) ship. This is facilitated by hyperspace, however. They do run out of fuel and food at points.
Catchphrase: None in the anime or Shooting Star manga, but the original three-volume manga gives us the shared catchphrase of "DOWAAAAA~!", an Unusual Euphemism for "What the fuck!?"
Spike teaches Rocco to do a judo-like throw near the beginning of the episode he appears in. At the end, he does it to one of the villains and beams with approval and then gets shot and dies.
Ed shows that she can remotely steer ships via satellite when she wrecks the police cruiser. Guess how she directs the Bebop to come back for her at the end of the episode?
A minor one from "Honky Tonk Woman", where Spike demonstrates his ability to swallow and regurgitate objects at will with a cigarette which later comes in useful for preventing Faye from getting her hands on the poker chip.
The Chessmaster: The appropriately-named Chessmaster Hex. Set an untraceable revenge plan into motion designed to take revenge against the corrupt Gate Corporation 50 years before the show's present. Also an actual accomplished master of the game of chess. By the time his plan completed itself, he was too senile to really appreciate it.
Cloning Body Parts: Jet is occasionally asked why he opted for a cybernetic arm instead of a cloned one.
Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Edward Wong Hau Pepulu Tivrusky IV gave herself that name, and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Combat Pragmatist: A lot of the characters exhibit this. Jet stops a bullet with his metal arm and then proceeds to headbutt his assailant into submission. In the movie Spike uses a mop to subdue an opponent. Appledelhi throws a few eggs at Jet and Spike, aiming for their faces and to clog the barrels of their guns.
The sunstone device (Luo-Pan) from "Boogie Woogie Feng Shui" and the space-warehouse in "Wild Horses", along with Gate and water effects in various episodes.
invoked It's used to surprisingly good effect in "Pierrot Le Fou" where many scenes of Mad Pierrot (including his creepy origin and balloonish flying) contain unsettling amounts of CG. It creates a disturbing, Uncanny Valley effect, as though Pierrot doesn't conform to the laws of reality.
When V.T. opens the Heavy Metal Queen's airlock to rescue Spike, the air rushes out for at least thirty seconds and yet there's still air left when he gets in. Of course, he also survives being spaced that long without air, so don't expect a high degree of realism here.
Cool Starship: The Bebop, an old fishing ship that Jet modified and brought out of retirement for bounty-hunting. It lands in water, meaning that it doubles as a Cool Boat.
Couldn't Find a Lighter: After a running fight with Blob Monster running amok on the Bebop, Spike arms himself to the teeth, including a flamethrower. He thought he'd try it out to light up his cigarette. It incinerated the cigarette completely.
Cranial Eruption: What may possibly be the most comedic and out-of-character scene compared to the rest of the series, the three bounty hunters that Spike beats up at the bar in "Heavy Metal Queen" are covered in these all over their faces.
There are a fair share of them, but most can only be gathered by what little we actually see of them. Despite their qualities, life continues on without (or perhaps despite) any major hindrances.
Earth survived a lunar armageddon, yet people have no problem living with a certain degree of satisfaction in the ruins of society.
Callisto is cold, industrial, and mainly devoid of any female population. It's mostly a blue-collar, hardscrabble town.
Ganymede seems pretty normal for a settlement that lives on a floating city on an ocean.
Venus is pretty normal despite the helium and the occasional case of Venus Sickness.
Tijuana on the Martian moon of Phobos is a bit on the rural side.
Io is largely under development, consisting of small settlements and wide open plains and deserts.
Titan seems to be a Single-Biome Planet, consisting almost entirely of desert with no discernible settlements.
Tharsis City on Mars seems to have become the main thriving center for humanity, with no major social or technological problems. Despite the presence of the Syndicate, the Bebop calls it home.
Crazy People Play Chess: Episode 14 involves Ed going up against a lunatic chess master over the Internet. Turns out, he's just senile.
Crazy-Prepared: Just look at all the gear Spike packs for hunting a blob of goo in "Toys in the Attic" for no other reason than Rule of Funny. He even brings a rapier! (Which may have been a barbecue fork.)
Criminal Doppelgänger: In Faye's first appearance, she mistakes Spike for the guy who was supposed to help her smuggle a computer chip hidden in a gambling chip during a game of blackjack. The screen was fuzzy so she couldn't see the details but he had the same fluffy hair and snazzy blue suit and, by sheer power of coincidence, even performed half the code phrase before walking off with the completely normal chip.
Cult Soundtrack: This is not the end of you hearing about the soundtrack. You will find in trope descriptions, you will find it in fan sigs, you will find it in multipage comics◊, you will find it in little shrines in people's bathrooms.
Ed's dad hands both Spike and Jet (who was armed) their blue-clad behinds. This is possibly the only fight in the series where friggin' Spike is completely outclassed by a perfectly ordinary human. One wonders how different the ending would have been if Vicious had managed to run into Spike just a few seconds before the fight with Ed's dad started... Yeah, he's that Bad Ass.
Abdul Hakim beats up a group of mooks pretty easily.
Cyber Punk: Not as pronounced as other series, but there are elements of this. Technology has improved enough to allow for inter-planetary travel, but it's not as if life and society in general has sunken to a level where the technology is casually abused and taken for granted.
Three reasons why Bounty Hunters are necessary in this universe: 1) many of the ISSP members are totally corrupt 2) many of them are totally gutless 3) justifiably they don't have nearly enough manpower to police the whole solar system.
Jet's former partner Fad is an example, being a counterpoint to Jet's By-the-Book Cop nature. He's also a former mole for the Syndicate.
Disturbed Doves: A flock of these go flying when Julia is killed. Another flock takes off when Spike apparently dies.
Does Not Like Shoes: Ed is never seen wearing them, and apparently hadn't for a significant time prior to her appearance as she has proven herself skilled at typing with her toes. The anime goes even further to demonstrate exactly how uncomfortable Edward is with footwear. She at one point wanted to wear socks outside because she thought them to be cool, but was completely unable to keep her footing and immediately discarded them.
Dying Truce: After Spike kills Vicious, he is mortally wounded himself. The Mooks don't bother shooting him. They just watch him slowly walk down the stairs and then fall to the ground.
Earth That Used to Be Better: The human population of Earth hasn't totally died off, but the surface has become a blasted wasteland from constant meteorite showers, most of the population has gone underground, and the rest of the solar system has stopped caring.
Easy Evangelism: Apparently, Scratch. They brainwash Faye and almost Jet as well. Only Ein seems to be immune to their indoctrination efforts, possibly because he is a dog.
Enemy Civil War: The Dragons have an inter-factional war in the last episode led by Vicious against the old guard.
Enemy Mine: Shin turns against Vicious to help Spike.
Escaped Animal Rampage: "Stray Dog Strut", has the protagonists hired to hunt down a dog escaped from a lab, or more specifically, the criminal who tried to steal it. Meanwhile, the lab workers try to recapture the dog with a giant dog whistle, which results in a riot of stray dogs running through the streets. The protagonists end up with the dog, never knowing it's been genetically engineered to be fantastically intelligent and is worth a fortune.
Establishing Shot: The same shot of the harbor on Mars is used in quite a few episodes.
Everybody Smokes: Especially Spike. A Running Gag has him lighting up and then being told there's no smoking permitted. At one point, Jet tries to declare the ship a No Smoking Zone out of consideration for an underage guest, causing Spike and Faye to stare at him in horror.
Everything Is Online: Ed can remote hack nearly anything, from distant, obsolete satellites to classified medical data. Zig-zagged in her first appearance where she at first has no trouble hacking into an orbital satellite with nothing more than her PC and a little satellite dish hooked up to it; the satellite's network access is later turned off, and she needs the Bebop crew to actually fly to the satellite and hook a new transmitter up to it so she can hack into it again.
Evil Counterpart: Vicious and Vincent in particular, but many other bounty heads all over the place as well. Many of the one-off bounty heads resemble the main cast strongly, dress like them, or at the very least have similar character traits. Helps fuel Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory.
Executive Suite Fight: The climatic battle in the last episode takes place in the Red Dragon Syndicate's headquarters.
In the first episode, we follow a criminal attempting to smuggle a massive amount of "Red Eye", a drug that's applied, well, ocularly. At the end of the episode, the bounty attempts to take more Red Eye directly from the vial, without the applicator that usually sprays the drug into the eye. He can only do this by crushing the vial and its shards blind him.
A less serious example in "Wild Horses", where it seems that Spike and his Swordfish will be unwillingly burning up in Earth's atmosphere in short time; Spike coolly lights a stoge and tells Jet to help himself to his secret whiskey behind the fridge.
A dramatic example in "Jupiter Jazz, Part II" when Gren asks Spike to put him in his ship and send him off to the planet he once fought on before he dies.
Face Nod Action: In "Boogie Woogie Feng Shui", the two gunmen pursuing Jet and the girl do this just before they enter the bar.
The crew will never catch "the big bounty" and solve their money troubles. They can only hope to get a few of the small ones.
In the case of Chessmaster Hex, they do manage to put themselves in a situation where they could have become rich. They decide to give up any monetary award so that [[spoiler: the by-then senile old man will be left alone and Ed can finish her game
When Ed finally takes up bounty hunting, if completely by accident, she not only wrecks the other bounty hunter (and vigilante wanting revenge), but she's also convinced by the shroom grower that the mushrooms are worth much more than his own bounty (that, or she was just hungry. It's Ed.) The shrooms turn out to have been fake, anyway.
For a change of pace, In "Cowboy Funk", Faye successfully handed Teddy Bomber over to the police, earning 3 million woolongs.
False Friend: Faye is notorious for abandoning the Bebop on a whim, only to return later when she needs money or help. Surprisingly played with Jet (when Spike goes after Julia), who is willing to let the latter die on grounds of They're Called Personal Issues For A Reason. It seems like an argument they already had a long time ago.
Whitney and Faye play with this, first off in that Whitney is legal counsel, not a nurse, then subverted entirely when it's revealed Whitney and the doctor/nurse team that brought Faye out of Cold Sleep were all con artists trying to convince Faye to pay them Cold Sleep fees. It's this trope enough, though, because Whitney admitted to falling in love with her.
In the very first episode, Laughing Bull tells Spike he'll be killed by a woman. Spike mentions he's been "killed once before" by a woman, but he doesn't elaborate. We later learn that he's talking about the incident that led him to his current lot in life; he was "killed" in the sense that he had to leave his old life behind under bad circumstances, and a woman played a large part in whatever happened. Later still, the same woman turns out to be a major factor in his actual, non-metaphorical death, too.
In "Gateway Shuffle," Faye panics when she sees the translucent rockets on the other side of hyperspace still coming at them. Spike and Jet laugh at her, and Jet asks her if she didn't pay attention in high-school physics class, because general hyperspace knowledge is apparently common. This gets paid off when we learn that Faye was in suspended animation for about fifty years. She wasn't daydreaming in physics class, rather, those advances in science hadn't been made when she was in high-school.
"Jupiter Jazz" shows us that Vicious is dissatisfied with the leadership of the Red Dragon, setting up his coup later on.
In "Brain Scratch," it's heavily foreshadowed that Londes doesn't exist well before the characters learn of it.
Four Philosophy Ensemble: Faye is the Cynic, Spike is the Optimist, Jet is the Realist, Ed is Apathetic, Ein is the Conflicted, being a dog with loyalties to everyone.
Five Temperament Ensemble: Spike is the Phlegmatic, Faye is the Choleric, Jet is the Melancholic, Ed is the Sanguine, Ein is the Supine.
Fragile Speedster: There's a quick reference late in the series to Spike's Swordfish having once been a racing craft before he used it. This comes in handy during the movie where Spike is able to drag three military-grade fighters into a protracted chase across a pretty large distance instead of dog-fighting them outright, while using the environment to get them off his back. It's still rendered an un-flyable mess after getting hit a few times. Also doubles as a Glass Cannon with the giant screw-off plasma cannon mounted in front that can take out just about anything in one shot.
Freeze-Frame Bonus: The title sequence has several factoids about the Bebop musical movement. Said factoids are often repeated during eyecatches for various episodes.
Fruit Cart: In the very first episode. Spike chases a fugitive through a marketplace and knocks over a game of Go that's in progress.
Funny Background Event: In "Heavy Metal Queen", when Jet tells Spike that the ship isn't fixed yet, you can see Ein trying to walk in zero gravity (wiggly corgi legs!). In "Cowboy Funk", while the group discusses Spike's dislike of Andy there is a brief shot of Ein wearing a purple wig on his head that Jet uses as part of a disguise in the following scene.
The work, which becomes a new genre itself, will be called... Cowboy Bebop.
Genius Ditz: Ed is the best hacker. Period. She is also dexterous, good at chess, and completely and utterly out of her gourd. It's telling she's closest to the crew member who happens to be a super-genius, non-verbal dog with an esoteric sense of humour.
Used extensively for tracking down bounties. They can zoom in, compare facial features to a database to bring up info on a bounty, and enable infra-red vision.
There are also Ed's computer display goggles.
Good Old Fisticuffs: Despite not possessing Spike's knowledge of martial arts, Jet is able to stand up to better trained opponents thanks to his size, resourcefulness, robotic arm, and police training. Spike also ends up having uncharacteristic trouble subduing Andy in hand-to-hand combat, who doesn't appear to have any martial arts training at all... which may be exactly the reason why.
A Good Way to Die: Invoked by Gren when he wants to die on his way to Titan in "Jupiter Jazz, Part II".
Vicious, Gren, and Vincent were involved in the war on Titan. While brief glimpses of the war are shown, the war is never explained.
Spike's past involvements in the Red Dragon Syndicate, his partnership and friendship with Vicious, and how he came to meet Julia is also told in this manner - brief glimpses (silent stills, mostly) are shown, but nothing is ever really explained in words.
Gun Struggle: Spike and Vicious fight for each other's weapons in their last battle.
Hacked by a Pirate: Radical Edward tends to do this. Although Ed's more into smiley faces and other silliness. On the villainous side of the coin, the pirates Hewie, Dewie, and Louie hack into people's ships by physically linking and uploading a computer virus to shut down their systems using a series of harpoon guns.
Hair Colors: Of the realistic kind, aside from Spike's green and Faye's violet, both of which could be seen as stylizations on black. And in fact are, depending on the lighting of the scene.
The pirates in "Wild Horses" are defeated by their own virus; the delivery mechanism accidentally attaches to their own ship, and none of them ever thought to program in a manual activation switch so the virus is immediately uploaded. They lose control just like the other ships the virus is used on, and crash into an asteroid shortly thereafter.
The decoders in "Bohemian Rhapsody" crack into the hyperspace gates in a matter of seconds. You'd think such important infrastructure would be more secure. Justified: The decoders were (unknowingly) working for the guy who helped build them and therefore knew just how to crack them.
Hollywood Healing: Mostly for Spike. It's not uncommon for him to be bandaged from head to toe in one episode and without a scratch in the next. Somewhat justified in that it is the future and replacement body parts are available, alongside other advanced medical technology, and it isn't clear whether Spike is a normal human. Of course, given the episodic nature of the series, there is no confirmation of just how much time passes between any episodes. Days, weeks, months... That's a lot of time to heal.
Hologram: "Pierrot Le Fou". The flying cherub that appears to Spike in Space Land.
Honor Before Reason: They can protest their own mercenary ways as much as they'd like, but Spike and Jet are heroes; they often let several bounties and other lucrative opportunities get away to do the right thing. A good example is Spike, a self-proclaimed dog-hater, saving Ein and giving up the bounty (and taking on the dog as a member of the crew afterwards) - making it a literal case of petting the dog.
When Faye eats Ein's food, the only thing left in the fridge.
Faye: If you don't work, you don't eat. You're a hunting dog, hunt up some food. We girls are different. We have to be pampered because we're delicate and refined. (wolfs down entire can of dog food).
The pirates from "Wild Horses" jokingly compare themselves to Robin Hood-like social reformers for stealing ships from other people.
Human Shield: attempted by a mook in Spike's first showdown with Vicious. He holds Faye in front of him and holds a gun to her head, threatening to shoot if Spike doesn't surrender. Spike, ever the Combat Pragmatist, simply shoots the mook in the head. Then later, another of Vicious' mooks, actually does die protecting him this way in "Jupiter Jazz, Part II".
I Surrender, Suckers: Vicious pretends to be led willingly to his execution. It's his plan to gain control of the Red Dragon Syndicate; he planted his own men among the crowd.
I Was Just Passing Through: Spike saving Faye from Vicious in episode 5 (he probably meant it, but he still shot the man holding her hostage first instead of Vicious). Jet goes chasing after Faye in episode 12 "for the money in the safe she emptied" (she later reveals it only had 20,000 woolongs in it, about a tenth of what the crew makes on the small fries they do catch). Faye completes the circle by doing this with Spike in episode 18.
Syndicate mobsters almost never hit anywhere near the heroes. Gets a Lampshade Hanging in "Boogie Woogie Feng Shui" when one Mook remarks to another, "What are you aiming at?".
Subverted in the show's finale, when some anonymous marksman kills Julia short from escape.
Imperiled in Pregnancy: "Asteroid Blues" features a a supposedly heavily pregnant woman on the run with a man wanted for drug smuggling, with the police in hot pursuit. The belly turns out to be a huge bundle of Red Eye vials.
Instant Waking Skills: Averted. In a half-asleep state of mind, Ed reveals something to Faye that she must know more about. She forcefully shocks Edward awake by forcing air into her lungs and disrupts her natural breathing, but in the next scene, we see Edward is still trying to wake up and adjust.
He gets some help from Shin, who feels this way about his brother dying because of Vicious.
Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Jet gets information out some hit-men chasing Asimov by grabbing one in a chokehold with his artificial arm and holding the jagged end of a broken beer bottle disturbingly close to the hit-man's eye.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Spike and Jet. Don't let that exterior fool you — they put Honor Before Reason several times. Faye too, though she shows it less often. Really, with the exclusion of Ein (a hyper-intelligent dog) and Ed (who is just weird), everyone on the Bebop puts on a massive show about only being interested in money and yet all of them tend to do the right thing in the end.
Just Eat Him: The only proven way to kill the Blob Monster in "Toys in the Attic", although it happened by pure coincidence.
Knockout Gas: Episode 8 "Waltz for Venus". During a hijacking, Faye renders a female hijacker unconscious with a spray of vapor.
Lab Pet: Ein is a former lab animal called a "data dog", a Welsh Corgi which somehow has had its intelligence enhanced. It is stolen from the laboratory, and eventually ends up as the Bebop pet and mascot, and friend to Ed.
Law of Inverse Recoil: Inverted: in one episode, Spike uses his handgun for high-speed maneuvering in zero-gravity.
Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In "Cowboy Funk", rival bounty hunter Andy has a highly noticeable western-themed Leitmotif that precedes his every arrival. By the halfway point of the episode, Andy's encounters with Spike has traumatized and infuriated Spike to the point that he interrupts the villain during an encounter because someone whistling in the background sounded like the Leitmotif starting up.
Leave Him to Me: Udai decides to take on Jet one-on-one. He almost succeeds, too.
Lightning Bruiser: Spike is very light on his feet and kicks all kinds of ass. The few times he's outmatched, it takes a lot to bring him down.
Lonely Together: Basically the reason these guys stay together, though none of them will ever admit it.
Long Song, Short Scene: Many soundtrack pieces are used only once and not for a long enough stretch of time. A select handful of songs (most of what little music you hear in "Toys in the Attic" for example) were never given official CD releases, due to just being too short to count.
Faye suffers one during her debut episode, and takes advantage of it by sending one of the missiles back to her attacker.
Played with in "Gateway Shuffle," the villains launch a biological weapon at Ganymede. Just before Spike can line up a shot on the weapon, it splits into three, and he misses one. Faye, who is still in a position to take a shot at the last missile, does so only for the missile to split into dozens of projectiles before her eyes.
In the movie, when Spike is intercepted by a wing of military fighters, they start the fight off by launching a simple pair of missiles at him. When they get close, however, they split into about a dozen rockets each.
The Movie: Shinichiro Watanabe confirmed that the movie takes place between episodes 22 and 23. Can also be inferred as Andy appears as Musashi during the Halloween party, thus episode 22 has occurred. However, Big Shot has not yet been cancelled, so episode 23 has yet to occur.
Mr. Exposition: Jet is an ex-cop and usually does the necessary research for the team's jobs, so he often fills this role.note Funnily enough the same voice actor (who makes no attempt to change his tone) provides all the exposition in another space western styled show.
Mysterious Past: All four crew members. Five if you include the dog, and you should. Spike gets the most attention. Ed gets the least. And the pasts of many of the characters remain ambiguous even once the series has concluded. With careful review and some logic, you can piece together some things, but you'll never know the whole story.
Names to Run Away From Really Fast: There are several examples that are played straight, i.e. Vincent Volaju, but a humorous take on this trope occurs in "Cowboy Funk", where the name and very presence of one-shot character Andy strikes fear into the most hardened criminals and bounty hunters, like Spike and the Teddy Bomber.
Neck Lift: Jet does it to Faye when he gets angry about Spike leaving.
Neck Snap: In "Boogie Woogie Feng Shui", Jet snaps the neck of a syndicate goon after interrogating him.
Not Distracted by the Sexy: Faye's Stripperific yellow outfit draws astoundingly little attention at times; no one seems to treat her any differently than any other attractive woman even when she's wearing two-thirds less clothing than everyone else around. On the other hand, she does get a lot of Hello, Nurse! reactions whenever she walks into a Bad-Guy Bar, so...
Spike and Jet enlist the services of an old-school video otaku in an attempt to watch an old tape. He goes into fits of ecstasy upon seeing that it's Betamax. He nearly has a heart attack when Spike tries a Fonzarelli Fix.
In the original Adult Swim airing of "Jamming With Edward", Faye mentions that the hacker was probably a "chubby otaku". Every airing afterwards, it was changed to something along the lines of "Nerdy, pasty little geek with a bad skin disorder." note As of the 9/19/10 airing, the line's been changed back to the original "chubby otaku".
Oven Logic: Spike uses a variant in "Toys in the Attic", where he's shown trying to cook kebabs with some sort of flamethrower-like tool and ends up charring them into worthless muck.
Overly Long Name: Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky IV (Edward made that up, you know,) and Grencia Mars Elijah Guo Eckener, aka Gren.
Pan Up To The Sky Ending: One of the most epic examples ever - from the ground, up into the clouds, through the atmosphere and above it, passing several satellites and settling at last on a starfield, all animated as one shot.
Pastimes Prove Personality: Jet is a bonsai gardener (requires a lot of focus and patience) while Faye is a compulsive gambler (since she's reckless and motivated by greed). Ed is a hacker (being a Child Prodigy) and Spike's only hobbies seems to be pool and sleeping (he has nothing to live for and believes himself in a dream).
Percussive Maintenance: Spike is fond of it. Subverted when he kicks a malfunctioning VCR, which just wrecks it further.
"My ship always works when I kick it..."
Perpetual Poverty: Either circumstances conspire to prevent capture of the bounty or there's so much collateral damage that, after all is said and done, they break even. It would be easier to name the episodes in which the crew does have money in which they don't. Hence the title of Yoko Kanno's slow acoustic guitar theme Forever Broke, played when the crew of the Bebop find themselves deep in the red and, more often than not, starving.
Pet the Dog: Faye, who is presented as far less heroic than Jet and Spike, has a tendency to do this later on in the series.
Ridiculous Future Inflation: From a western standpoint, the money sums mentioned in the series seem ridiculously inflated (for example, in "Jupiter Jazz", Faye makes off with 20,000 wulongs from the Bebop's safe, apparently not enough to get upset over given Jet's reaction when she tells him the amount). However, the same sums probably seem more reasonable to Japanese viewers, making it uncertain if this can be considered an example of the trope.
Riddle for the Ages: In the final episode, does Spike die at the end or does he just fall asleep because he's worn out after the fight? Either answer completely changes the meaning of the ending. Watanabe actually encourages people to speculate about it, though he personally prefers the idea that Spike simply fell asleep.
Rule of Cool: The controls on Spike's Swordfish and Fay's Redtail are inspired by motorcycles and the weapons pods on Fay's ship combine visual elements of revolvers and pump action shotguns — all immediately recognizable cultural references denoting "coolness".
Sacrificial Lion: Lin's brother, Shin. He turns against Vicious to help Spike, but dies.
Scannable Man: Whitney Haggis Matsumoto mentions to Faye that they're fairly standard among the citizens who live on that moon. Except he's lying. We find out in a later episode that they're standard for prisoners.
Schizo Tech: The series apparently has computers and cell phones that look like they're from the early 90s at best, as well as personal starships and hyperspace gates. Starship armament is a mix of particle beam/laser weaponry, missiles, and autocannons. Handheld weaponry includes modern firearms like the Walther P99 and Jericho 941, while older firearms like the Browning Hi-Power and even the Colt Single Action Army (the quintessential cowboy revolver) make an appearance as well.
"Speak Like A Child", a comedic example. The tape is worthless to everyone but its intended recipient, and the episode's main problem eventually resolves itself without intervention from the cast. However, because of who the package's recipient is and what its contents are, the ending is very sombre.
Happens gradually in the build-up to the final two episodes - Ed and Ein leave, then we come across the male host of Big Shot (which has just been canceled) having a nice moment with his mother. After that point, shit goes down.
In episode 23, "Brain Scratch", the body of Jobim, one of the Three Old Men, is laying in the rubble by the television tower.
If that wasn't enough, the episode he's featured in has more than enough scenes that mirror Episode 11 "Be A Clown" of Batman: The Animated Series.
The opening of the movie could be one toward the beginning of Pulp Fiction. Starts with a Take That aimed at Jules ("Another wannabe preacher with a gun."), some Casual Danger Dialog, and finishes up with everything (very nearly) going to hell when the one guy they didn't know about comes out of the bathroom with a gun.
Vicious bears more than a passing resemblance to Captain Harlock, right down to the cormorant that likes to perch on his shoulder.
"Jamming with Edward" is notable for containing quite a few Shout Outs to ''2001: A Space Odyssey", including a sentient AI that looks and talks like HAL 9000.
Asimov Solensan's name is a reference to the famous science fiction writer, Isaac Asimov.
The end scene of Session 11: Toys in the Attic is one giant allusion to Space Shuttle scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
In addition, the ejection of the refrigerator into space from the same episode is one to Aliens, specifically the scene where Ripley ejects the alien Queen into space through the airlock. And come to think of it, Spike's method of trapping the goo by going through the vents segment-by-segment recalls the method the crew in the original Alien uses to flush out the alien.
Jet makes a reference to Ernest Hemingway's short story "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" in the last (second to last?) episode.
Sort-of Missing the Point: In the audio commentary for the DVD release of episode one, the voice-actors for Jet and Spike discuss the episode and the series as a whole. When watching Spike's last fight of the episode they describe it as a scene similar to Bruce Lee, apparently unaware that it's a shot-for-shot remake of a Bruce Lee scene.
Spared by the Adaptation: Spike in the spinoff manga, Cowboy Bebop: Shooting Star though Spike's fate in the original series is ambiguous and Shooting Star was cancelled before it had an opportunity to kill him.
Spell My Name with an "S": A sort-of example exists in Ed's name being spelled Edward Wang Hwe Pepel Cybulski 4th in the background text in the opening (as opposed to Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky the 4th).
Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Vincent in The Movie is a pretty obvious stand-in for Vicious both being Evil Counterpart to Spike, while Elektra relationship with Vincent is similar to Julia's relationship with Spike (past lovers who still care about each other) she's a trained soldier while Julia is not.
During its original airing in Japan, a number of episodes were deemed un-airable due to recent school violence. It was questionable whether the series would extend beyond episode 13. In response to this, an episode entitled "Session 13.5: Mish-Mash Blues" was made featuring scenes from the unairable episodes with the voice actors discussing the show. Many people don't know that Cowboy Bebop actually has a Japanese Hip-Hop song called "Recover the Sky of Day", which reflects the somber situation of society at the time, among its list of ED songs.
Cold, macho Callisto is an obvious dig at North Korea.
Talking through Technique: Subverted in "Bohemian Rhapsody". The crew thinks that the chess pieces they found on apprehended thieves might hold some secret message, but they were merely a signal from the mastermind to his former employers that it was he who was pulling the jobs. He had a reputation as a chess lover.
Not as noticeable as others, but: Spike - 5 letters; Faye - 4 letters; Jet - 3; Ed - 2; and the dog Ein (Eins being the German word for one).
Also, the three old men—Antonio, Carlos, and Jobim—are named after Antonio Carlos "Tom" Jobim, the guy who wrote Girl From Ipanema.
Three Space Pirates named George, Harman, and Ruth, after a famous baseball player better known as "Babe."
There's also Punch and Judy, the hosts of the bounty showcase program "Big Shots", who get their names from a famous puppet duo.
There's a trio of bounty heads that show up briefly in one episode named Huey, Dewey, and Louie, undoubtedly a reference to the Disney characters.
The main characters' spaceships are the Swordfish, the Redtail, and the Hammerhead; all named after marine life.
The Bebop is a remodeled fishing ship, Spike fights like water, and Spike's favorite food appears to be lobster.
The episodes are usually titled after songs or otherwise reference music. See Titled After the Song below for detailed explanations.
There Are No Therapists: The poor crew. A ex-gangster whose former-best-friend-now-sworn-enemy is actively out to kill him, an ex-cop whose past still creeps up on him, a compulsive gambler and con artist who doesn't know her own past or real name, and Ed (whose father just sort of forgot her somewhere, though she doesn't mind)... somebody please pass this crew some anti-depressants. At least Ein's probably well-adjusted, despite being an escaped science experiment with a genius-level intellect. But then, he is a dog.
This Is Unforgivable!: Spike to Cowboy Andy during their rooftop confrontation in episode 22 "Cowboy Funk".
Those Three Guys: Antonio, Carlos, and Jobim, who inexplicably show up in every other episode, from Earth to Mars to an abandoned space junkheap full of space hobos, always either ranting about the old days or vaguely mentioning something plot-relevant. They even get a minor part in The Movie.
Three Plus Two: Ein and Ed are mostly comic relief characters with comparatively little dramatic character development next to the main trio.
Throw Away Guns: There are a few notable cases where Spike loses his pistol, is either unable to or simply does not make any effort to retrieve it, and yet has it back before the episode's out.
"Jamming With Edward": Not a song, but rather an album featuring 3 members of The Rolling Stones (singer Mick Jagger, bassist Bill Wyman and drummer Charlie Watts), plus Ry Cooder and Nicky Hopkinsnote The "Edward" to which the title refers comes from a song Hopkins composed for psychedelic band Quicksilver Messenger Service, called "Edward, the Mad Shirt Grinder"
Unexplained Recovery: Vicious' and Spike's unexplained full recovery from eating a grenade and falling out of a window from a third story height in a flurry of broken glass, respectively, in "Ballad Of Fallen Angels".
Unfamiliar Ceiling: Spike, a few times — most notably at the end of the fifth episode, where he had a near-death experience complete with seeing his life flash before his eyes, and although he doesn't ask he is promptly informed by Faye that he's been asleep for three days.
Unsettling Gender-Reveal: Inverted and played with. In "Jupiter Jazz Part I", Gren, a bishonen-looking (apparent) man rescues Faye from some thugs. When he goes to shower, Faye hears a phone call that makes her suspicious. She goes into the bathroom and whips aside the curtain to reveal that "he" possesses flaring hips and a pair of breasts. She looks down and freaks. Turns out he's male, but experimental medication threw his hormones severely out of whack.
Faye: Which one are you?!
Gren: I'm both at once, and I'm neither one."
Used Future: To the point of being the current trope image. The Bebop and the smaller ships used by its crew are the example that appears on-screen most often, but in a gritty show full of old mines, spaceship wrecks, space trucks and remote colonies this trope is present in almost all episodes.
Vehicle Title: The show is named after the Bebop, an old interplanetary fishing trawler.
Weapon of Choice: Spike is seen using a variety of weapons across the series, but his one constant (other than his jeet kune do skills) is his customized Jericho 941. Jet and Faye, similarly, are only ever armed with their one gun each (respectively a P99 and a Glock 30).
Well-Intentioned Extremist: Both Teddy Bomber and The Space Warriors, the latter of which are the remaining radicalized members of an ecological protest movement killing people over an endangered rat.
What Are Records?: In "Speak Like a Child," Spike and Jet find a Betamax tape addressed to Faye and don't have a clue what it is at first. They spend a good deal of time looking for a suitable videocassette player, only to find out that a Betamax tape won't play in a VHS VCR.
Wild Mass Guessing: Many people believe that episode 11, "Toys in the Attic", was All Just a Dream because episode 12 immediately begins with Spike vaulting awake due to the insufferable humidity on the ship. There's no actual evidence or further mention to support it. During the episode preview for episode 12, Edward lampshaded that everyone had died except her in that episode, but then Faye quickly subverts it by protesting.
"Live In Baghdad" from "Heavy Metal Queen" has lyrics that sound like they were written by Homsar.
Wretched Hive: Callisto, a moon of Jupiter, is so run down that most of the male citizens can go months without seeing a woman. The Asteroids also seem to comprise a lot of the leftovers of human society.
Yakuza: Spike typifies the classic "noble yakuza" protagonist, while Vicious is an equally classic example of the "nihilist yakuza" villain.