Anime / Cowboy Bebop

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/cowboy_bebop_lineup_7846.jpg
The main cast — Jet, Spike, Faye, Ed, Ein.

I think it's time we blow this scene, get everybody and the stuff together... okay, three, two, one, let's jam.
— Opening line of "Tank!", the opening theme

Immodestly billed as "the work which becomes [a] new genre itself", Cowboy Bebop (originally broadcast between April 1998 and March 1999 in Japan) is a Space Western/Film Noir anime series consisting of 26 episodes (and one movie) that eventually became one of the most popular, acclaimed, and influential anime series in history — and justifying the braggadocio behind that tagline.

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—and wherever humanity goes, so goes its criminal element. To compensate for the increase in jurisdiction, The Space Police re-instate the bounty system of the Wild West: If a bounty hunter catches a bounty alive and delivers them to the cops, the cops pay out whatever the bounty is worth.

The series focuses on the misadventures of a ragtag group of five struggling to make a living as bounty hunters in the space-age frontier: Jet Black, a bounty hunter, former police officer, and owner of the spaceship Bebop; his partner Spike Spiegel, a martial artist on the run from a bloody past; Femme Fatale and rival bounty hunter Faye Valentine, who is both more and somehow less than she appears; demented teen genius hacker girl Ed (aka Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky IV); and Ein, a genetically-engineered Welsh Corgi "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 choice to give everything a rich backstory yet explain almost nothing in full. The stories told by the show concern themselves more with the problems of the present; in many cases, history is only implied, which leaves the rest to the viewer's imagination.

Another signature trait of Cowboy Bebop is its music: Yoko Kanno composed a soundtrack made up of almost entirely of jazz music. Some of her work on this show even defies categorization. She and her band, The Seatbelts, improvised some tracks to finished footage at the moment of recording. Bebop's soundtrack exists not as a mere afterthought, but as the backbone to nearly everything else about the series; numerous scenes eschew dialogue entirely and rely on music to carry the experience.

[adult swim] chose Bebop as the first anime to air on the block; the show debuted on the same night of the network's premiere in August 2001. Bebop aired regularly on the network for well over a decade after its American TV debut, which made it one of the network's longest-running shows. Toonami still has the rights to air the show, but if you cannot watch it on TV, you will have little trouble finding it elsewhere: Bandai released the show on DVD several times (including a remastered "Remix" version), and Funimation later rescued the license so it could re-release the show on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital video.

As the tagline suggests, Bebop frequently evokes both Westerns and Film Noir, though the single biggest influence on the look and feel of the series comes from '80s and early '90s Heroic Bloodshed action movies directed by John Woo (e.g. A Better Tomorrow and The Killer). Lupin III also serves as a visible influence, as the main trio comes off like a futuristic version of Lupin, Jigen, and Fujiko. Underneath the sci-fi and action flick surface lies an overall plot line influenced mainly by the most Japanese of all Japanese cinema, the Yakuza picture — a relatively unknown genre in the West.

A movie adaptation of the series, Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' on Heaven's Door (simply Cowboy Bebop: The Movie outside of Japan) was released in 2001. The movie's story takes place during the canonical events of the series; Word of God says it fits in between episodes 22 and 23 of the series. You can find the film on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital platforms with relative ease, as Sony Pictures never let it go out of print or fall into licensing hell.

Bebop also received two video game adaptations: a Star Fox-esque PlayStation game and a beat-em-up PlayStation 2 game (Serenade of Remembrance) based on the series. Though the latter, at least, was meant to, they never saw release outside of Japan, so if you want to find the scene from Cowboy BeBop at His Computer, you will have to import the PS2 game or watch a playthrough.

A live-action adaptation has sat in Development Hell for years. Keanu Reeves once said that he would love to play the role of Spike Spiegel (at the very least, Reeves called himself a fan of the series), but because of the long wait for the adaptation to enter production, he has since decided to decline the role if it ever presents itself (mainly due to age). In 2017, the adaptation has been reworked from film to a TV series co-produced by Sunrise.

Bebop creator Shinichiro Watanabe later created a spiritual successor in Samurai Champloo, then parodied his own work in Space Dandy.

"Bang..."


The Real Trope Blues:

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     A-H 
  • Abandoned Mine: in "Heavy Metal Queen."
  • Absent Aliens: There was passing reference to life on Ganymede, but nothing intelligent, and it may have only been there after terraforming.
  • Absolute Cleavage:
    • Judy from Big Shot.
    • Faye also has her moments.
  • The Adventure Continues: When Ed and Ein leave the ship to follow Ed's father.
  • 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.
  • Afro Asskicker: Many of the black characters, thanks to the show's aesthetic (and fashion sense) being anchored in The '70s.
    • Abdul Hakim, who kicks out a metal bathroom door hard enough to dent it.
    • Parodied with Coffee and Shaft in "Mushroom Samba", who don't quite realize they're in a Comic Relief episode.
    • Spike himself, of course. For a given definition of afro.
  • An Aesop: In "Toys In The Attic", where each (human) character is given the chance to explain, via voiceover, "the lesson" that life has taught them.
  • 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.
  • Almost Lethal Weapons: The show takes after Heroic Bloodshed movies, so this one's fairly common.
  • All Deserts Have Cacti: Io in the Mushroom Samba episode. Could be considered a Justified Trope since all the planets are terraformed and therefore not natural anyway.
  • All Just a Dream: Spike and Julia both seem to believe their entire lives are simply dreams. Also implied by the endings of "Toys In The Attic" and The Movie.
  • Alternate Aesop Interpretation: Played with In-Universe in "Toys In The Attic." Each member of the crew monologues a different Aesop to the same story, although they all end up being Spoof Aesops in one way or another.
    • Jet believes it's divine justice — for what exactly, he's not entirely clear, but if something bad happens to you, then surely you must have done something to deserve it.
    • Faye says, basically, that Humans Are Bastards and the only way to get ahead is to scam other people before they can scam you. It's eat or be eaten, everyone's out for themselves first, and there's nothing else to be learned. Of course, she's also the first to break down and beg for pity when it's her own neck on the line.
    • Ed keeps it simple and ironic ("If you see a stranger, follow him!"), which doesn't seem relevant but has certainly worked out for her, up to and including stopping the "mystery space creature" once and for all by eating it in her sleep.
    • Spike's lesson, Played for Comedy, is the most applicable to their current situation, and by extension, completely useless elsewhere. Although you could certainly make a case for this simply being an extension of Spike's philosophy, seen elsewhere in the series, that you have to take things for what they are and react in the moment ("Be like water"), as opposed to trying to fit everything into a preconceived set of beliefs about how the world is supposed to work.
  • Always Someone Better: When Spike gets in a hand to hand fight, he nearly always wipes the floor with his opponent while making it look like he's barely even trying. That is, until he meets Ed's father, who handily beats the tar out of him with the same appearance of not even making an effort.
  • Ambiguous Situation: The ending has Spike, grievously wounded, collapsing in front of what remains of Vicious's gang. The director said that whether he lives or dies is entirely up to the viewer.
  • Anachronism Stew: Old school dogfights IN SPACE? 20th-century handguns alongside cities on Mars? Why not? And then there's the soundtrack...
  • 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.
  • Anti-Hero: Most main characters are Pragmatic Heroes, with moments of Nominal Herodom on a bad day.
  • Arc Words: Dreams. "He lived his life as though it were a dream..." and "It's all a dream."
  • Asleep for Days: Spike after being beaten up by Vicious in "Ballad of Fallen Angels".
  • Attempted Rape:
    • Of the Dumb Blonde waitress in "Heavy Metal Queen".
    • Also of Faye in "Jupiter Jazz Pt. 1"; in this case, she intentionally provokes it so she can work out some frustration through beating the crap out of her pursuers.
  • Ave Machina: The philosophy of Scratch, who think humans can Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence through Brain Uploading.
  • Awesome McCool Name: Damn near everyone. In Faye's case, the doctor honestly thought it would be cool to name her after his favorite love song.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Spike and Vicious do this in a flashback.
  • Badass Crew: The crew of the Bebop, of course. Yes, all of them. That does include the dog.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Vicious. Spike too, in a different way.
  • Badass Longcoat:
    • Vicious is almost always seen wearing one of these.
    • Spike wears one from time to time as well, most often when he ends up meeting Vicious again.
    • Andy from "Cowboy Funk" wears a very nice duster.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": The 20th century television show that the VCR collector is watching in "Speak Like a Child".
  • Balance, Speed, Strength Trio: Spike has a balance of speed and strength and certainly takes the most physical punishment of the crew, Faye is agile and quick on the draw but not quite as tough, and Jet is heavily muscled, has a metal arm, and favors heavier guns than the others, though he's also a thinker and planner, unlike the rest of Bebop.
  • Battle Couple: Spike and Julia, in one episode.
  • Bar Brawl: The one that breaks out in "Heavy Metal Queen" is one that those various bounty hunters won't soon forget. A few others take place in other episodes as well.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Faye, Ed, and Judy (the host of Big Shot).
  • Barrier-Busting Blow: All over the place.
  • Beard of Sorrow: Vincent Volaju, the main antagonist of Knockin' on Heaven's Door, used to be clean shaven and have short hair, judging by the picture taken when he was still in the military. However, after the events that lead to his Sanity Slippage, he grew a beard and apparently stopped cutting, or even combing, his hair.
  • Beauty, Brains and Brawn: Faye is the Beauty, and despite his hulking appearance, Jet is the Brains, while as the best fighter, the lanky Spike is the Brawn.
  • Beleaguered Bureaucrat: When government officials are portrayed positively, they will probably be this.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Don't call Spike 'Vicious'. Just don't. Ironic in that calling Spike 'Vicious' triggered a very vicious reaction indeed. He doesn't like being compared to Andy either.
    • V.T. doesn't like bounty hunters, and does a complete 180 on her initial friendliness to Spike when she finds out what he does. It's because her husband was a bounty hunter, and died on the job. Spike manages to mend fences by revealing that he knew him.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Never underestimate Ed, no matter how flighty she may seem.
    • Spike acts laid-back, and never seems to take personal offense to people trying to kill him. He's not even coldly methodical, he's just an easy-going cowboy. Right up until you piss him off.
  • Big Bad: Vicious in the series.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Rocco towards his blind sister Stella, in "Waltz for Venus". Jet also claims this is his reason for helping Meifa, in "Boogie-Woogie Feng Shui".
  • Big Eater: Ed, and also Faye (especially when she wakes up from being in stasis for 50 years).
  • Big "SHUT UP!": Both Spike and Faye give one to Andy. Later in the same episode, Spike and Andy give one simultaneously to their bounty target The Teddybear Bomber.
  • Big "WHAT?!": Judy cuts loose with one of these when she learns, on air, that Big Shot has been cancelled.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • "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.
  • Black and Grey Morality: The villains and the Bebop respectively.
  • Bland-Name Product: All over the place, eg. "Boofeater's Gin".
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands:
    • Wen and Spike have a Mexican Standoff where they do this to each other in "Sympathy for the Devil".
    • In "Waltz for Venus", Faye does it to the denizens of the Bad-Guy Bar she finds herself in.
    • Tongpu does it to Spike in their last confrontation.
  • Blaxploitation: The Mushroom Samba episode leans heavily on paying homage to the genre.
  • 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.
  • Blood from the Mouth:
    • In "Jupiter Jazz (Part II)", when Spike finds the dying Gren after the latter's ship crashes, shot down by Vicious.
    • Also, in the penultimate episode when Vicious brutally murders each of the elders of the Red Dragon syndicate.
  • Blood Knight: Many characters, and thoroughly deconstructed. One of the major themes of the show is just how empty a life of nonstop violence can be, how monstrous a person someone like Vicious has become — yet we can see how the only time Spike really comes alive is when he's fighting. As part of the Bittersweet Ending of the series, Spike goes to face his past even knowing that it will kill him — even suspecting, perhaps, that he deserves it for the things he did when he was still part of the Red Dragon. One of the main things he's fighting for, in the end, is to find out whether he's really any different from Vicious.
  • Bloodstained Glass Windows: Featured in "Ballad of Fallen Angels".
  • Blown Across the Room: Generally averted, but does happen occasionally.
  • Blush Sticker: Ed has these permanently, and is the current page image for the trope.
  • Body Horror:
    • When Spike shoots Wen in "Sympathy for the Devil" and he undergoes Rapid Aging, then dies.
    • Also the eco-terrorists turning into apes.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Besides Jet, Ed's father certainly qualifies.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: The final scene is Spike staggering on the stairs, then pointing his finger like a gun to the remaining Red Dragon members and saying, "Bang", before collapsing. Spike's final fate is unknown.
  • Book Ends:
    • 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 the dub of one episode: when the crew has nothing to eat, he mutters that he wishes he had some green peppers.
    • The very first episode and the very last (two-part) episode of the series have several parallels:
      • The names of the first and last episodes, "Asteroid Blues" and "The Real Folk Blues," respectively, are both references to the same style of music.
      • An unsuspecting bartender gets shot in the head. Each shot signals the beginning of a Bar Brawl.
      • The first episode is about a pair of Star-Crossed Lovers, Asimov and Katerina, who want to leave their violent past behind them and run away from it all to live in peace. The last episode is about a pair of Star-Crossed Lovers, Spike and Julia, who want to leave their violent past behind them and run away from it all to live in peace. Things don't go well for either couple.
    • "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.
  • Boom, Headshot!:
    • How Udai dies, right before he's about to kill Jet.
    • Several Dragons die this way in the fight at Vicious' execution.
    • Bartenders tend to get headshot before all hell breaks loose (see Book Ends above).
  • Bottle Episode: "Toys in the Attic" takes place entirely aboard the Bebop.
  • Bottomless Magazines:
    • Vicious' mooks wield automatic weapons which keep firing after they're ''dead''. Averted in that Spike is shown reloading his pistol quite a few times.
    • Mad Pierrot's cane gun in "Pierrot Le Fou" can be fired as rapidly as he feels like, despite it having no conceivable place to store any ammo besides the one round in the chamber.
  • Born in the Wrong Century: Jet thinks Udai Taxim was.
  • Bounty Hunter: The premise of the show in general.
  • 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".
  • Brick Joke:
    • 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.
      Andy: Call me Musashi, haha!
    • Added to the dub, where Faye claims to be 'delicate' in "Sympathy for the Devil". In "Waltz for Venus", she arrives to bail out Spike and fires all over the place at the villains.
      Spike: I wish she'd be more delicate!
    • 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 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.
  • Bulk Buy Only: It's feast or famine aboard the Bebop.
    • In one episode, Ed supplies the crew with a bottomless bag of mushrooms, which were supposed to be psychedelic mushrooms worth a fortune to the right buyer but turn out to be ordinary shiitakes.
    • Runs in the family, it turns out: as a Call-Back in her farewell episode, Ed's father pays the bounty Ed herself posted with eggs. In both cases, the crew ends up eating the same thing prepared multiple ways for days on end, ending up well and truly sick of them in the process.
  • Bullet Time: Combat drug Bloody Eye is more or less a form of weaponized Caffeine Bullet Time, allowing the user to perceive the world in slow motion and react accordingly. Spike easily counters this in an Establishing Character Moment for himself and the series, however, quickly realizing that this isn't much help if you can't anticipate your opponent's moves, and it relies entirely on being able to see them... so he wears a poncho and sombrero and tosses up tables and furniture, all to keep Asimov distracted:
    Spike: [chuckling] You trust your eyes too much, Asimov! You're not a chameleon, you know — can't see everywhere at once!
  • Burial in Space: Gren in "Jupiter Jazz, Part II".
  • Camp Gay:
    • Julius and the other transvestite prostitutes that Spike runs into on Callisto.
    • Also, the couple in the seedy hotel Faye storms while picking info in "Waltz for Venus".
  • Can't Grow Up: Wen from "Sympathy for the Devil". Subverted as by the end of the episode he not only starts aging again, but he makes up for lost time...
  • Captain's Log: Usually delivered by Jet.
  • Cassette Futurism: It has a very 1970s aesthetic, including computer files that look like long-playing records, which is appropriate since it is set in the '70s- the 2070s.
  • 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!?"
  • Centrifugal Gravity: The Bebop has a section that spins to produce gravity.
  • Chef of Iron: Jet can always be counted on to whip something up to eat (when there's food to cook), even if he only has one or two ingredients to work with.
  • Cherubic Choir: Used a few times, and associated closely with the death or near-death of a major character each time.
    • "Green Bird" in Session 5, "Ballad of Fallen Angels", after Spike is blown out of a stained-glass window following a brutal fight with Vicious, seeing his life flash before his eyes as he falls. Offset by a comedic counterpoint when Spike wakes up as a Bandage Mummy, being nursed back to health and sung to — but by Faye, rather than Julia. Spike tells her she sings off-key, Faye hits him with a pillow hard enough to fill the room with a cloud of feathers, then storms off in a huff. End episode.
    • "Space Lion" in "Jupiter Jazz", the two-part mid-series finale. It serves as a memorial theme for Gren, in Laughing Bull's words, a "lost soul who has finished his battle on this planet," as he takes the long way back to Titan.
    • "Blue", the final track heard in the series. The juxtaposition of the choir along with the same long shot panning up to the stars that came with Gren's death in "Jazz" only adds to the controversy over whether or not the series ends on Spike's death.
  • The City Narrows: The area around the port on Mars.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The music box from "Jupiter Jazz".
  • Chekhov's Skill:
    • 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.
  • Chess Motifs: "Bohemian Rhapsody" is full of them.
  • Chiaroscuro: Used all over the place, eg. some shots of Spike playing pool.
  • Church of Happyology: Scratch, the Heaven's Gate-inspired cult in "Brain Scratch". Londes himself is an Expy of the HG's founder, Marshal Herff Applewhite.
  • Chromatic Arrangement: Going by clothes, Spike's suit is blue, Jet's shirt is pinkish red, and Faye's whole ensemble is yellow. Going by hair, Spike's is green, Faye's is Purple, and Ed's is bright red.
  • *Click* Hello:
    • "Gateway Shuffle". Spike does it to the leader of the Space Warriors terrorist group.
    • Faye gives one to Spike before he heads off to confront Vicious.
  • Clip Show: Subverted, at the time. When the show was almost canceled halfway through its initial run following a series of school violence incidents in Japan at the time, the studio put out a clip show, "Session XX", cobbled together from the yet-to-be-seen episodes, with voiceover from the characters.
  • 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.
  • Creepy Cathedral: Where Spike and Vicious have their bloody reunion in "Ballad of Fallen Angels."
  • 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.
  • Come with Me If You Want to Live: Meifa does this to Jet when they get shot at by gangsters in the cemetery.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: Throughout the series, with various one-off characters being based on various celebrities, actors, athletes, or otherwise.
  • Con Man: Whitney from "My Funny Valentine". Faye is a female example.
  • Conspicuous CG:
    • 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.
  • Conspicuously Light Patch: Shows up occasionally.
  • Continuous Decompression:
  • Conveniently Close Planet: The reason for Moon debris falling to the Earth.
  • Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind:
    • Gren rescuing Faye in "Jupiter Jazz".
    • Fad rescues Jet from Udai Taxim this way.
  • Cool, but Inefficient: Subverted with Vicious's katana. Not only does it look badass, but he regularly wields it against enemies armed with guns, and is still a force to be reckoned with!
  • Cool Gate: The hyperspace gates.
  • Cool Plane: Spike, Faye, Vicious and other characters have their own personal fighters which they use for Old School Dogfighting.
  • 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.
  • Cowboy Episode: It's the name of the show and heavily informs the tone and aesthetic, but the most direct and prominent cases are in episodes like "Mushroom Samba" and "Cowboy Funk", both parody episodes.
  • 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.
  • Crapsack World:
    • 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 in the Asteroid Belt 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.)
  • Creepy Child: Wen, the harmonica-playing kid from "Sympathy for the Devil" who is also Really 700 Years Old. Carries a Slasher Smile and a big pistol.
  • Creepy Cool Crosses: The church in "Ballad of Fallen Angels".
  • 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.
  • Cue the Sun: At the end of the finale.
  • 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 little shrines in people's bathrooms.
  • Culture Chop Suey: The Cowboy Bebop universe seems to be a mishmash of Eastern and Western cultures, (not unlike Firefly, another later Space Western sci-fi series) with multiple languages and ethnicities. It's implied this is a result of the rapid, mishmash evacuation of Earth.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • The series is full of them, really, considering it's a World of Badass.
    • 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 badass.
    • 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.
  • Darkened Building Shootout:
  • Dark Reprise: "See You Space Cowboy", the lower and even sadder version of the ending credits theme ("The Real Folk Blues", which wasn't exactly happy to begin with...) that plays near the end.
  • Dark-Skinned Blonde: Abdul Hakim is shown as this before his Magic Plastic Surgery. Jet's friend(?) Johnathan from "Bohemian Rhapsody" is another example.
  • Dead Guy on Display: Vicious puts Mao's body on display at the opera he was going to attend to make a statement about Mao and to lure Spike out of hiding.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Spike. Not that Jet and Faye don't engage in snarking every now and then, but Spike easily outdoes them.
  • Death Equals Redemption: Jet seems to forgive Fad for betraying him (and causing him to lose his arm along the way) after his death. He even places his revolver in his hand so it looks like he went down fighting.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Many flashback scenes are like this, including those of Spike and Jet, as well as the opening of "Pierrot Le Fou".
  • Department of Redundancy Department:
    • Spike refers to a ship as an "old ancient relic".
    • Ed's father mentions that his goal is "peaceful peace".
  • Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: Wen from "Sympathy For The Devil" is defeated by a bullet crafted out of a special gemstone.
  • Destination Defenestration: Happens to Spike in "Ballad of Fallen Angels."
  • Destructive Savior: Spike's penchant for destruction during the pursuit of a bounty head racks up serious bills, which is one of the reasons why the Bebop crew live in Perpetual Poverty.
  • Detonation Moon: Earth's Moon was blown to pieces by the Astral Gate accident in 2021, causing a series of disasters, tidal waves, and meteor impacts that are still ongoing to the present day, prompting the mass evacuation of Earth and the rapid colonization of the Solar System. Which, incidentally, explains the low-population Retro Universe future of the series.
  • Did You Die?: Faye asks Ed if she's dead when she receives an electric shock from her computer which knocks her on her back.
  • Did You Actually Believe...?: Vicious says this to Julia when he's hunting down Spike.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: After finally being reunited, it's not long before this happens with Julia and Spike.
  • Dirty Cop:
    • 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.
  • Disappeared Dad: Meifa's father. Jet suggests that Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You. (It turns out he does).
  • Dissonant Serenity:
    • Space Land, a Disneyland-esque park which the Mad Pierrot chooses for his extremely one-sided duel to the death with Spike.
    • Done beautifully in "Ballad of Fallen Angels", as Spike is hurled out of a church window just after having dropped a grenade at Vicious's feet. He remembers his past with Julia over the lilting strains of "Green Bird".
    • "Ganymede Elegy" has the folksy acoustic guitar song "Elm" play during the climactic chase scene.
  • 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 decided to wear socks outside, but was completely unable to keep her footing and immediately discarded them.
  • Dog Food Diet: When Faye finds that only canned dog food is left in the fridge she scarfs it down right in front of a hungry Ein.
    Faye: If you don't work you don't eat. You're a hunting dog; hunt up some food!
  • Do Not Adjust Your Set: "Mom" ("Twinkle" Maria Murdoch) does this to all of Ganymede in "Gateway Shuffle".
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: When Big Shot is cancelled, Judy shouts at Punch and gives him a Dope Slap. It's Played for Laughs, of course.
  • Do Well, but Not Perfect: Jet's advice to Spike when they visit a casino.
  • Downer Ending: May not apply depending on how you interpret the ending, but if you subscribe to the belief that Spike died at the end, then Faye's story is rather depressing. She spends the series trying to regain her memories, only to find that there's nothing left for her from the past and that she needs to move on with the friends she currently has. And then two of them leave with little more than a message saying goodbye and one of them runs off to his death because HE is unable to let go of the past himself. The fact that the last shot we see of her in the series is her sobbing alone puts it home pretty well.
  • Dramatic Gun Cock: All over the place (the series has Noisy Guns in general).
  • Dramatic Space Drifting: When the ship runs out of food, or fuel, or both, all of which happen at least once over the course of the series.
  • Dramatic Wind: When Faye finds her old house and discovers there's nothing left but ruins.
  • Dream Within a Dream: Within a dream, within a dream... Dreams, memory, and the past are all intricately wrapped together in the narrative of the series. Part of the reason Spike spends so much time asleep is because he's lost the ability to tell when he's asleep or when he's dreaming — as well as whether he's alive in the moment, whether these things are happening to him now, or if he's simply remembering the past. This turns out to be something he shares with Julia, as well as Vincent in The Movie.
    Spike: [narrating the Post-Episode Trailer for "Ballad of Fallen Angels"] And I awake from my dream again, as if I were peeling an onion. It's a dream no matter how far I go. I can never reach reality, trapped in an endless nightmare.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Subverted. Jet asks a bartender to leave the bottle... before smashing a gangster over the head with it.
  • Dude, Where's My Reward?: The crew almost never gets paid on any of the jobs that happen onscreen. For that matter, they willingly pass up some of their biggest scores out of the goodness of their hearts.
  • Dwindling Party: In "Toys in the Attic", when each member of the crew gets bitten by the blob monster in turn until only Spike is left. And then Ed eats it in her sleep.
  • 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.
  • Elevator Failure:
    • A plummeting elevator almost kills Spike and Jet when exploring the ruins of old Tokyo.
    • Inverted in another episode where an elevator is sabotaged to go up to the roof, where a bomb was planted.
  • End of an Age: Similar to late Westerns like The Wild Bunch and Ride the High Country Bebop gives the sense that the short-lived Wild West IN SPACE! era has already peaked and is rapidly coming to a close.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: Ed, Breaking the Fourth Wall in the Post-Episode Trailer following the space horror episode "Toys in the Attic", in an especially triumphant example of Trailers Always Lie:
    Ed: [narrating over the clips of Heroic Bloodshed and mournful saxophone of "Jupiter Jazz"] And so, they all passed away, every one. It was a short series, but thanks for your support. That was the last episode. May they all rest in peace. Amen. And for the next series, we bring you Cowgirl Ed! Ed is the main character! [giggles]
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: Spike for Julia.
  • 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.
  • Everything Sounds Sexier in French:
    • La Fin ("the end", the bar owned by Jet's ex-girlfriend Elisa in "Ganymede Elegy".
    • Spike visits a pool hall with a French name in one episode.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: The Space Warriors, ecologists gone bad, try to release a serum that devolves humans into rabid apes as part of an artificially-induced Gaia's Vengeance.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: While Vicious threatens to impale Spike through the shoulder with his katana, Spike prepares to shoot Vicious in his shoulder:
    Vicious: The same blood runs in you and me: the blood of a beast who wanders, desiring the blood of others.
    Spike: I've bled all that kind of blood away.
    Vicious: Then why are you still alive?!
  • 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 an office tower on Mars.
  • Explosions in Space: One of the many ways the show takes Acceptable Breaks from Reality when it comes to Space Does Not Work That Way (see Space Is Noisy).
  • Extreme Graphical Representation: Frequently whenever computers are used, but Ed's hacking in "Jamming with Edward" takes it to a whole new level.
  • Extreme Omnivore: It seems sometimes that Ed will eat literally anything, included spoiled food. Spoiled food that is independently mobile.
  • Eyes Are Unbreakable: Jet has a big scar that goes right through his right eye, though the eyeball itself is perfectly fine. He does have a piece of metal bolted to his face next to the eye though. Averted with Spike, who reveals in the final episode that he lost one of his eyes years ago and uses an artificial one now. If you look at him after the reveal, you can see his eyes are different shades of brown.
  • Eye Scream:
    • "You will shed tears of scarlet."
    • In the first episode, we follow a criminal attempting to smuggle a massive amount of "Bloody Eye", a drug that's applied, well, ocularly. At the end of the episode, the bounty attempts to take more Bloody 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.
  • Face Death with Dignity:
    • 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.
  • Failure Is the Only Option:
    • 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 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.
  • Faking the Dead: Whitney does this to Faye in "My Funny Valentine".
  • Famous Last Words:
    • "Bang." - Spike
    • "It's all a dream." - Julia
    • "As you wish." - Vicious
  • Fan of the Past: Doohan likes to maintain older models of starships. He also has in his possession the space shuttle Columbia.
  • Fanservice: Faye is fanservice incarnate. Though it's implied she does this on purpose, to distract men. Judy from Big Shot seems to be an intentional example for the sake of the show's ratings.
  • Fantastic Drug: Asimov from "Asteroid Blues" has stolen a large supply of Bloody Eye from his employers, a stimulant which heightens the user's strength and senses, and greatly enhances reaction time, effectively letting them act in slow motion.
  • Fast-Roping: Spike and Jet do it when exploring an elevator shaft on Earth.
  • Fat Bastard: Whitney Hagas Matsumoto has turned into this since the last time Faye saw him. He says he had fat implants to disguise himself, since he's on the run from the cops... for largely the same kind of lightweight cons he pulled on Faye herself.
  • Film Noir: Plays a major influence on the series and applies to most of the more serious episodes, especially the finale.
  • Finger Gun: Used by Spike in "Sympathy for the Devil" as well as the last episode.
  • Final Battle: The Real Folk Blues, Part 2.
  • Finishing Stomp: Tongpu's fate when a giant animatronic cartoon dog turns him into paste.
  • Fleeting Passionate Hobbies: The ending of "Cowboy Funk" shows that Andy has given up his devotion to being a Cowboy Cop... to become a Samurai Cowboy.
  • Five-Man Band: Mostly averted. More than many shows, there seems to be a deliberate effort made to show how people are rarely as simple as their basic archetypes. While the crew does occasionally function superficially as a loose and fairly dysfunctional band, the exact roles tend to fluctuate as each character gets their time in the spotlight, with the structure of the cast having more in common with a Slice of Life comedy/drama than a more conventional action or procedural show. See Ensemble Cast, Four Temperament/Philosophy Ensemble, Rotating Protagonist, and Power Trio/Three Plus Two for a better sense of the team's usual dynamics.
  • The Florence Nightingale Effect:
    • How Julia and Spike fell in love.
    • 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.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the very first episode, Laughing Bull tells Spike he'll be "targeted by a woman, and then… death". 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.
  • Four-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.
  • Freudian Excuse: For Pierrot from Episode 20 and Vincent from The Movie. Both are the result of Playing with Syringes, and both have been driven mad as a result.
  • Freudian Trio: With Jet as the Superego, Spike as the Ego, and Faye as the Id.
  • Fridge Logic: Used in-universe in the episode preview pertaining to "Jamming with Edward".
    Spike: Wait, if you made up that name, how can you be the Fourth?
    • In the original dialogue, it's more a case of Lost in Translation as Spike is unfamiliar with the concept of generational suffixes.
  • Friendly Local Chinatown: The equivalent shown on Mars is Moroccan. Episodes set elsewhere on Mars may give this impression, but its population is 50% Chinese.
  • Friend on the Force: Jet has a few, befitting his status as an ex-cop.
  • 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.
  • Gaia's Lament: Earth.
  • Gas Mask Mooks: Spike (and also Faye) get chased by a group of them in "Jupiter Jazz".
  • Gatling Good: Faye's Redtail and several other ships have rotary guns as either main armament or turrets.
  • Genre-Busting: One of the Ur Examples for anime.
    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.
  • Genre Roulette
  • Glass Eye: Spike's right eye is an artificial replacement, and is of a lighter shade of brown.
  • Goggles Do Something Unusual:
    • 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".
  • Gory Discretion Shot:
    • Vicious killing a mob leader with his sword is shown from the back.
    • There's also the "tears of crimson" scene. With Vicious too, of course.
  • Grand Finale: The two-part "The Real Folk Blues"; its iconic ending scene is widely considered to be one of the greatest endings (and, in some eyes, the greatest ending) in the history of anime.
  • Gratuitous Japanese: Strangely, for a show translated from Japanese, Ed uses some in "Jupiter Jazz" when she's tracking Julia on the computer.
  • Great Off Screen War:
    • 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.
  • Great Way to Go: Played for Drama, interestingly enough.
  • Guns Akimbo: Spike does this from time to time.
  • 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.
  • Half-Arc Season
  • Handguns: Spike, by preference, to the point where he'll go Guns Akimbo rather than switch to more powerful weapons.
  • Handy Cuffs: In "Pierrot le Fou", while Tongpu is being taken along a passageway by two guards his hands are cuffed in front to him. He takes advantage of this to eliminate the guards and escape.
  • Handy Feet (Skilled Feet): Ed can type with her toes.
  • Helium Speech: In "Waltz For Venus".
  • He Knows Too Much: Played with: Anyone who Tongpu meets becomes his newest target, and he does not stop hunting them until they are dead.
  • Heroic Bloodshed: Any episode featuring Spike, Vicious, and the Red Dragon Syndicate.
  • Heroic Dog: Ein, somewhat. He manages to get a Moment of Awesome at least.
  • "Hey, You!" Haymaker:
    • Used by Faye to catch the Teddybear Bomber.
    • Spike gives one to a criminal at the beginning of "Bohemian Rhapsody".
  • Historical In-Joke: The space shuttle Columbia in "Wild Horses".
  • Hoist by Their Own Petard:
    • Happens to the Space Warriors in "Gateway Shuffle" when the vial containing their biological weapon smashes, complete with an Oh, Crap! look from "Mom" (their leader).
    • One of Udai's criminals tries to flee the scene through the airlock... and promptly spaces himself.
    • 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.
  • Hollywood Hacking:
    • Apparently Ed can hack into literally anything, including satellites, from her PC.
    • 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.
  • Homage: The series is famous for it.
  • 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.
  • How Dare You Die on Me!: Spike says this to Rocco before leaving to get help after he's shot. He dies anyway.
  • 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)".
  • Hypnosis-Proof Dogs: Invoked when the Bebop crew plug their corgi Ein into a cult's website which would hypnotise any human trying to search it. Unbeknownst to them, Ein is actually a hyperintelligent "data dog", and manages to hack the site almost instantly to furnish the cult leader's location.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • 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.

     I-R 
  • I Am Dying Please Take My Macguffin:
    • In "Gateway Shuffle". It turns out to be a biological weapon.
    • Another one in "Sympathy for the Devil". It's the ring which Spike uses to kill Wen.
  • I Can't Hear You: VT's choice of music in "Heavy Metal Queen" leads to a lot of this, including in the post-credits preview from the previous episode.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The episodes are called "Sessions". See Titled After the Song below for further info.
  • Ignored Enemy: Teddy Bomber.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy:
    • 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 Bloody Eye vials.
  • Implacable Man:
    • Ed's father. He stands there unflinchingly when she drives the ship right up to him.
    • 'Mad Pierrot' Tongpu, who is completely unstoppable regardless of fire, bullets or obstacles but not kittens.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Faye is a good enough shot to blow out the tires of a mobster's car. Twice.
  • Improbable Weapon User:
    • Ed. Water pistols full of "stink bug gas".
    • Ed's dad, who takes out Jet with an egg.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Rhint in "Ganymede Elegy".
  • Infrared Xray Camera: Spike has a portable infrared device aboard the Bebop that comes in handy in one episode.
  • In Medias Res: The film is reportedly set between episodes 22 and 23 of the series, and seems to be aimed at "people who want more Cowboy Bebop," and not at "people who want to see what this Cowboy Bebop is all about." The plot isn't hard to follow, but we get very little backstory for the world and the characters.
  • In Space, Everyone Can See Your Face: Spike and Faye don space-suits with clear face-plates in a scene or two.
  • Insecurity Camera: In "Black Dog Serenade", Jet notices he's being watched by a camera and promptly shoots it.
  • Insignificant Little Blue Planet: To quote Jet, "Nothing good comes from the Earth."
  • Insistent Terminology: Ed calls Faye "Faye-Faye" in one episode, even though Faye tells her not to.
  • Instant Sedation: When Spike confronts Vicious and is shot with a tranquilizer dart. He's also blown backwards, so it looks like he really did get shot.
  • 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.
  • Intellectual Animal: Spike is afforded the opportunity to save Ein by the latter carefully executes his escape from Hakim's car by searching for and utilizing the car door button and jumping out of it.
  • Intoxication Ensues: The hallucinogenic mushrooms from "Mushroom Samba".
  • I Owe You My Life:
    • Spike says this to Shin when he helps him and Julia escape from Vicious' men in the finale.
    • Julia to Faye as well after saving her from Syndicate hitmen.
  • ISO-Standard Urban Groceries: Spike carries a bag of them when he runs into Andy on his horse, and there is the inevitable "groceries spilling all over the place" scene.
  • 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.
  • It Came from the Fridge: The "mystery space creature" from "Toys In The Attic" turns out to be a Ganymede rock lobster, or something that spawned from one, after being left in an unpowered fridge in the Bebop's cargo hold for a whole year.
  • It Has Been an Honor: When Spike faces the possibility of his ship burning up in "Wild Horses", he calmly lights a cigarette and tells Jet about his secret whiskey while calling him "buddy."
  • It's Personal:
    • Spike's Final Battle with Vicious after Julia is killed.
    • He gets some help from Shin, who feels this way about his brother dying because of Vicious.
  • I Want My Jetpack: The extremely heavy terraforming of the solar system to the point of somewhere like Io resembling the American Southwest by the 2070s, the huge, sprawling colonies on some of the aforementioned terraformed planets/moons and the first part of a Portal Network being completed in 2021.
  • 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.
  • I Will Find You: Spike towards Julia.
  • 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.
  • Just Testing You: In "Stray Dog Strut":
    Driving Lab Tech: Is this [dog whistle] on? I can't hear it.
    Glasses Lab Tech: It's a frequency too high for humans to hear.
    Driving Lab Tech: [Beat] I knew that. I was testing you.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: They're Vicious' Weapon of Choice, for one.
  • Kids Are Cruel: In "Pierrot Le Fou," the villain is a super-powered killer whose mind has regressed into a child-like state. Jet comments that "There's nothing as pure and cruel as a child."
  • Kill It with Fire: Spike tries to do this in the episode "Toys in the Attic" against the blob monster.
  • Kill Sat: In "Jamming with Edward".
  • Klingon Promotion: In "The Real Folk Blues (Part I)," Vicious kills the leadership of the Red Dragon and takes their place.
  • Knockout Gas: Comes in convenient aerosol cans in the future, apparently. Hakim Abdul uses a can to knock out Ein (although it only works for a few seconds), while Faye later uses a lipstick-sized container to take down a hijacker in "Waltz For Venus."
  • 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.
  • Ladykiller in Love: Whitney.
  • The Last DJ: Jet was this when he was a cop.
  • 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.
  • Lemony Narrator: All the characters get in on this in the fourth wall-shredding next-episode previews, the frequently stonefaced Jet in particular.
    • Jet basically says that nobody but "musty old guys" are going to want to bother to watch "Black Dog Serenade", which focuses on his past and finally explains how he lost the arm. He also says that "Speak Like A Child" basically has no plot which, of course, is the point but "at first glance, it's interesting." Made funnier if you've ever seen the English dub of Outlaw Star, since Beau Billingslea also did the voiceovers for that series.
    • Ed narrates the preview for "Jupiter Jazz (Part I)" as if the whole rest of the crew died from their injuries in "Toys in the Attic", saying she's the lead of a new series, until Spike and Faye burst in to protest that "there really is a next episode!"
    • The preview for "Wild Horses" has Ein bark the preview, with Spike pretending to understand him until, to Spike's disbelief, Ein actually speaks the title at the end
    • The Three Old Men do the preview for "Mushroom Samba", but don't actually know anything about the episode and just bicker with each other before running out of time.
    • Cowboy Andy ("Just call me Musashi!") does a mock preview for "Brain Scratch", over Spike's heated protests.
    • Inverted with the preview for "Hard Luck Woman", which features a lot of typically Ed-centric goofy Comic Relief scenes, while Ed hums an oddly bittersweet little ditty over top of them. Because it's Ed's last episode before she and Ein leave the Bebop for good, and Faye's B-plot in the episode ends with her wandering through the ruins of her past life, only to find there's nothing left.
    • Played for Drama in the preview for "The Real Folk Blues (Part II)," where Spike is trying to be his usual casual self, but Faye is repeating a kind of monotone Survival Mantra in the background, while Jet is rambling morosely to himself about how knowing Spike helped him, and neither of them seem to be able to hear Spike talking — which just adds further fuel to the fire over whether or not the final episode ends with Spike's death.
      Faye: [startled] ...Huh? It's over?
  • 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.
  • Little Stowaway: Ed hiding in Coffee's car.
  • Live-Action Adaptation: Currently in Development Hell.
  • Loan Shark:
    • The reason Elisa has to close her bar in "Ganymede Elegy".
    • Faye has to deal with loan sharks of her own.
  • Lock and Load Montage: Spike takes out and loads a shotgun before escaping with Julia.
  • 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.
  • Lord Error-Prone: Andy, who's also a partial spoof of the Evil Counterpart as well.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: Happens a few times.
    • 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.
  • Mad Scientist: Edward has a very slight touch of this.
  • Magical Native American: Laughing Bull.
  • Magic Plastic Surgery: Techniques must have advanced pretty far since The '90s.
    • Abdul Hakim goes from being a punkish-looking Dark-Skinned Blonde to a Scary Black Man with an afro. His mugshot also says he was 6'2" before his surgery, but that might just be a translation/metric system error (the character's inspiration, NBA player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, is 7'2").
    • Meanwhile, when Whitney Hagas Matsumoto reappears in Faye's life, he's gained about a hundred pounds. He says he had it surgically implanted as part of a disguise — whether or not to trust him is left up to the viewer.
  • Magic Skirt:
    • Ed's shirt. Most apparent when she's hanging upside down at one point with her arms over her head, and her shirt hangs in the air just above her navel.
  • Male Gaze: Whenever Faye is onscreen, pretty much, with extra emphasis on her long legs.
  • The Man Behind the Curtain: Dr. Londes, the antagonist of "Brain Scratch" and cult mastermind, turns out to be a young boy in a coma.
  • The Man in Front of the Man: In "Sympathy for the Devil", the Bebop crew tries to track down an old bounty head called Zebra, who seems to be masquerading as a paralyzed man living with a young boy. Only after searching the memories of one of Zebra's dying friends do the crew find that Zebra is really disabled and is in the clutches of the boy, who, due to a freak hyperspace gateway incident, doesn't age and is much older than he looks.
  • Matrix Raining Code: Shows up sometimes on computers, notably when Ed disconnects Scratch from the network.
  • May–December Romance: The rest of the crew teases Jet about having a crush on Meifa, who is at least half his age.
  • Medium Awareness: In 'Cowboy Funk', Spike jumps when he hears someone walking by whistling, a reference to the echoey, sourceless whistling that precedes Andy's every appearance. Overlaps with Left the Background Music On.
  • Memento Macguffin:
    • Jet's pocket watch in "Ganymede Elegy". At the end, he throws it in the water to show that he's finally over Elisa.
    • The music box from "Jupiter Jazz".
  • Mexican Standoff: "Ballad of Fallen Angels" features one between Spike and Vicious. Subverted; it lasts about two seconds.
  • Mineral Macguffin:
    • The ring Spike uses to defeat Wen.
    • The sunstone from "Boogie Woogie Feng Shui" also counts.
  • Mind-Control Eyes: During the crew's Mushroom Samba.
  • Mob War: "Ballad of Fallen Angels" starts out with two captains from rival syndicates trying to work out a truce to avoid this. Vicious has other plans, since he'd love nothing better than all-out war.
  • Mood Whiplash: Both subverted and played straight for effect.Part of what makes the series work so well is its control over mood and tone, shifting easily between hot-blooded action to heartrending sorrow to goofy comedy with remarkable grace, often many times over the course of a single episode.
  • More Dakka: Dogfights between ships tend to involve ridiculous amounts of gunfire (see Gatling Good).
  • Mortal Wound Reveal: When Spike and Julia are on the run from the Syndicate, he contacts Annie and discovers she's been shot right before he arrived and is dying.
  • 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 
  • Ms. Fanservice: Faye, Judy from the Show Within a Show, Big Shot, and Julia.
  • Mushroom Samba: The episode is the Trope Namer. Ed, assigned to search up some food for the starving, stranded crew, stumbles onto a bounty who smuggles mushrooms. After seeing the effect they have on Ein (he hops around like a wind-up toy), she tests them out on the rest of the crew, each of whom has their own reactions, all very much in character, and, if you're paying attention, symbolic of their character arcs:
    • Faye hallucinates shrinking down to tiny size, a torrent of water falling down on her and filling up the bathroom, and fish swirling all around her as she tries desperately to swim. She's trapped in a world she doesn't understand, full of people she can't relate to, trying to fight the current. She wakes up on the floor, having eaten a bunch of toilet paper.
    • Jet has what seems to be a very invigorating conversation with his bonsai trees where he realizes he's actually much happier than he thinks he is except he keeps forgetting who he is and what he's saying — he keeps getting in his own way when it comes to what he wants. He wakes up having applied/eaten a bunch of lipstick.
    • Spike dreams he's walking up a staircase that never ends. He receives some sage advice from a frog, which he of course ignores and keeps walking. Back in the real world, he's simply standing in place, lifting his legs up and down but not actually moving... until he wakes up on the roof of the Bebop. Probably not conducive to escaping his whole All Just a Dream mindset.
  • Myth Arc: Spike's search for his lost love Julia.
  • 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.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: A meta example in the trailer for "My Funny Valentine".
  • New-Age Retro Hippie:
    • A space colony of pot-smoking hippies appears in "Bohemian Rhapsody".
    • Jet disguises himself as one in "Cowboy Funk".
  • Nigh Invulnerable: Tongpu, again. It takes everything Spike has, with a bit of help from Faye, to even incapacitate him long enough to be killed by a gigantic animatron.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted. Spike is seen at least once coming out of the bathroom, and Faye spends part of "Mushroom Samba" there after eating spoiled rations.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • "Yuri Kellerman", the crazy Conspiracy Theorist from "Jamming with Edward", is clearly a play on the self-proclaimed "psychic" (read: con-man) Uri Geller.
    • The Teddy Bear Bomber is clearly an expy of Ted Kaczynski, although he's portrayed as more of a Well-Intentioned Extremist (and also a Technical Pacifist).
    • The bounty head in "Heavy Metal Queen" bears more than a passing resemblance to Woody Allen. To drive the point home, the family restaurant where Faye finds him is named Woody's.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Spike's first encounter with Pierrot - but Spike is the one taking the beatdown. Every other time, Spike's the one administering to his hapless foes.
  • Noir Episode: Not an entire episode, but most flashbacks involving Jet are like this. The series finale "The Real Folk Blues" might count as well.
  • No Name Given: V.T. We don't find out her full name until the end of the episode (as well as why she hates bounty hunters, despite being Spike's friend).
  • No-Paper Future: Lampshaded in "Bohemian Rhapsody" when the Gate Corporations's boss suspects some people are using paper for their complaints just to harass them.
  • No Pronunciation Guide: About the only thing in common between the spelling and pronunciation of V.T.'s last name is that it starts with a T. No wonder no one can guess her real name. Turns out it's Terpsichore (pronounced terp-si-CORE-ay), who was The Muse of Dance from Greek Mythology. She took the name of her bounty hunter husband when they married, which is how Spike is able to guess it.
  • No-Sell: Spike can't so much as knock Ed's dad off-balance.
  • No Woman's Land: In a not-entirely-uncommon Western plot, the town on Callisto where most of "Jupiter Jazz" takes place is a collapsing company town with no women living there. Then Faye arrives...
  • The Noseless: Ed, when not shown in profile.
  • 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...
  • Not So Different: Vicious tries this on Spike while lecturing him. It doesn't work, coming from Vicious — but if anyone else makes the same comparison...
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: In her last appearance, the female co-host Judy of the bounty-hunter show is revealed to be an example of this.
  • Off Bridge, onto Vehicle: All the time. It's an action series, after all.
    • Twice in "Stray Dog Strut": the first time, in an extremely straight example has Ein and Spike jump off a bridge onto a fishing barge — only for Ein to jump off the barge and knock both him and Spike into the water, leaving Hakim behind. Then, during the climax of the episode, jumps out of a moving car, off a raised highway over water, forcing Spike to divert course to catch him on top of his ship.
    • In "Boogie Woogie Feng Shui", Jet and Meifa jump off the top of a stone wall and land on a passing bus to avoid the two pursuing gunmen.
  • Older Than They Look: Faye, thanks to being a Human Popsicle, as well as Wen from "Sympathy for the Devil".
  • Old Media Are Evil: Scratch delivers a rant about the evils of television to Spike, despite appearing on a TV set, on a TV series at the time.
  • Old-School Dogfight: Any dogfight involving Swordfish and Red Tail.
  • Ominous Multiple Screens: Londes appears in this form when Spike confronts him.
  • One Bullet Left: Fad purposely only loads one bullet in his revolver before saving Jet from Udai Taxim. This is because he plans to commit suicide by tricking Jet into shooting him.
  • One Last Smoke:
    • Spike has one in "Wild Horses" when he thinks his ship is about to crash. It doesn't.
    • Fad has one before he dies in "Black Dog Serenade".
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Ed's real name is unknown- although it may be Françoise- and V.T. from "Heavy Metal Queen" is really named Victoria Terpsichore.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Vicious believes himself to be this to Spike.
  • Only 0.2% Different: "Twinkle" Maria Murdock developed a retrovirus that acts on the 0.2% genetic difference between humans and apes to make monkeys out of the entire population of Ganymede.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Spike is flabbergasted when Faye bumps into him and apologizes like she really means it. The reason is that she's on her way to find the answers to her questions about her past life.
  • Otaku:
    • 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, and nearly has a heart attack when Spike tries to fix an issue by kicking the player and destroying it entirely.
    • 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 
  • Our Product Sucks: Many of the previews, usually courtesy of Jet, who gets to let out more of his wackier side instead of needing to be The Reliable One.
  • Out of the Inferno: Wen and Pierrot both do this.
  • Outrun the Fireball: IN SPACE!, no less.
  • 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. So nice they used it twice, in fact — once for Gren's death in "Jupiter Jazz", and again for Spike's could-be death in "The Real Folk Blues."
  • Parental Abandonment: Edward's father. Twice.
  • Parental Substitute: The rest of the Bebop crew for Edward, and also Jet for Meifa, briefly.
  • 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).
  • People Jars: Faye when she's cryogenically frozen.
  • Percussive Maintenance: Spike is fond of it. Subverted when he kicks a malfunctioning Betamax player, which just breaks it entirely.
    "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.
  • Pillow Pregnancy: In the first episode, a woman smuggles drugs in a fake belly.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Faye wears one to the masquerade ball in "Cowboy Funk" which also features ridiculous amounts of cleavage.
  • Pin-Pulling Teeth:
    • Spike, while fighting Vicious' men in "Ballad of Fallen Angels".
    • He does it again when storming the Dragons' headquarters in "The Real Folk Blues, Pt. 2".
  • Pirate Parrot: Vicious's cormorant.
  • Playful Hacker: Ed is generally like this, but that doesn't mean she won't cause harm. She remotely took over an empty police vehicle for a joy ride, and crashed it by accident.
  • Playing with Syringes: "Pierrot Le Fou" is about a result of this running afoul of Spike.
  • Please Don't Leave Me: Faye, and, more often, Jet usually end up giving speeches to this effect to Spike every time he goes off to his possible death at the hands of Vicious and the syndicate.
  • Plot Coupon: The videotape from "Speak Like a Child", among other examples.
  • Plucky Girl: Meifa in "Boogie Woogie Feng Shui."
  • Post-Episode Trailer: In standard anime style, narrated by the characters, breaking the fourth wall all over the place and almost always Played for Laughs, even after (and before) some of the series's darkest episodes. As the series goes on, the narration becomes increasingly disconnected from the clips onscreen. Which turns out to fit the tone of the series quite well.
  • Power Trio: Spike, Jet and Faye fit this before Ed signs on and teams up with Ein. See also Balance, Speed, Strength Trio, Beauty, Brains and Brawn, Chromatic Arrangement, and Freudian Trio.
  • Pretty Freeloader: Faye, whenever she's not actually hunting bounties.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: When Spike confronts Wen at the end of "Sympathy for the Devil", he shoots him right into the center of his forehead with a bullet that will cause him to start aging again. The bullet wound is simply a small bloodless hole. The bullet alone should've been enough to kill him.
  • Price on Their Head: Every one of the fugitives that Jet and Spike are chasing has this as an incentive for the heroes to catch them. It rarely works out.
  • Prison Ship: In "Black Dog Serenade", group of convicts including Jet's old nemesis from his detective days, Udai Taxim, hijack a prison transport headed for Ganymede.
  • Private Eye Monologue: Jet, being a former detective, supplies one occasionally, such as at the beginning of "Boogie Woogie Feng Shui".
  • Psychopathic Manchild:
    • The Space Warriors (or, at least, what's left of them), who all whine, fight, and talk like spoiled children being lead by their "mother", whom they refer to as such.
    • An better example is Mad Pierrot, who is even more of a psychopath and even more of a manchild. In his case though, it's a result of mental regression rather than a failure to grow up.
  • Psycho Serum: Bloody Eye.
  • Punch-Clock Hero: Supposedly, though just how much they're really this and how much they just insist they are is up for debate. Sometimes getting their bounty means doing the right thing for the situation surrounding it... sometimes.
  • The Purge: After Vicious makes his play for power in the Red Dragon in Episode 25, the Red Dragon sends assassins to deal with everyone connected to Vicious — including the crew of the Bebop.
  • Put Down Your Gun and Step Away: Subverted in "Ballad of Fallen Angels" and the movie.
  • Quivering Eyes
  • Rapid Aging: Wen in "Sympathy for the Devil".
  • Rapid-Fire Typing: Ed can do this with her feet.
  • Rated M for Manly
  • Raw Eggs Make You Stronger: Ed's father does this.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: Faye shoots the wall in frustration when Spike leaves the crew to confront Vicious on his own.
  • Recurring Extra: Antonio, Carlos, and Jobim, a.k.a. the three old men.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning:
    • Tongpu in "Pierrot le Fou".
    • Anyone taking the Bloody Eye drug in "Asteroid Blues".
    • Vicious' pet bird has red eyes as well.
  • Reflectionless Useless Eyes: The only detail in Stella's blind eyes is a black-to-gray gradient.
  • Retro Universe: Set in 2070s, but the clothing, hair-styles, music and general mood come straight from the 1970s.
  • The Reveal: One or more for each character's history.
  • Revenge by Proxy: Vicious tries to get back at Spike by targeting Julia.
  • Reverse Polarity: Faye does it to a missile in "Honky Tonk Women".
  • Rich Idiot with No Day Job: Andy from "Cowboy Funk".
  • Ridiculous Future Inflation: From a western standpoint, the money sums mentioned in the series seem ridiculously inflated (including Jet not being particularly angry after Faye makes off with 20,000 woolongs from the Bebop's safe in "Jupiter Jazz", or Spike repeatedly calling a two and a half million bounty in the very first episode a "small fry" who's not worth his time). However, the same sums probably seem more reasonable to Japanese viewers, since the Woolong's value was patterned on the Yen, 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 pass out because he's worn out and wounded 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 passes out.
  • Right Behind Me: Spike does this to Faye more than once.
  • Ringworld Planet: Most stations are ring-shaped.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge:
    • Once again, Tongpu.
    • Spike goes on one after Julia is killed.
  • Rooftop Confrontation: Watanabe seems to be fond of this trope, as it happens several times:
    • Between Spike and Vicious.
    • Between Spike and Andy after a Climbing Climax.
    • Also between Gren and Vicious.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Space Land from "Pierrot Le Fou".
  • Rotating Protagonist: The series begins and ends on Spike and he's pretty much the face of the show, but it's an Ensemble Cast at its core, with each main cast member other than Ein getting spotlight episodes dealing with their inability to let go of the past — or in Ed's case, her remarkable ability to do just that. The early dynamic of Spike as The Hero and Jet and Faye as his sidekicks quickly falls by the wayside, with some episodes barely hardly featuring Spike at all.
    • "Ballad of Fallen Angels" and "The Real Folk Blues" deal specifically with Spike's past on Mars, betraying his best friend and leaving behind the love of his life. "Knocking On Heaven's Door" takes a more surreal approach to this, as a microcosm of the series with Vincent serving as a Composite Character/Foil to both Spike and Vicious. Episodes that end with a physical showdown like "Pierrot Le Fou" or the much lighter "Cowboy Funk" also tend to focus more heavily on Spike.
    • Faye gets three episodes detailing her forgotten past, each more tear-jerking than the last: "My Funny Valentine", "Speak Like A Child", and "Hard Luck Woman" (despite sharing the latter with Ed). "Jupiter Jazz" (both parts) is also very much her and Gren's story, more so than the rest of the main cast, despite the presence of Vicious. In each of the aforementioned episodes other than "Hard Luck Woman", and also in her introduction in "Honky Tonk Women", Faye ends up running away from the Bebop and by extension, closeness to others, her looming past, responsibility, etc.
    • Jet doesn't get his first spotlight episode until after Ed joins the crew, starting with a return trip to his home satellite in "Ganymede Elegy", later followed by his past as a cop in "Black Dog Serenade" and "Boogie Woogie Feng Shui" in the back half of the season. Jet-centric episodes tend to be melancholy noir-ish detective stories.
    • Ed episodes "Jamming With Edward" (her introduction), "Mushroom Samba", and "Hard Luck Woman" are, like most of her screentime, almost pure Comic Relief. Even Chessmaster Hex of "Bohemian Rhapsody" is a more lighthearted episode villain than most of the others.
    • "Toys In The Attic" makes a particular point of rotating through each protagonist in turn, giving each one a chance to narrate their worldview... all while being hunted by a Blob Monster that might or might not be an alien in an episode that is ambiguously implied to be All Just a Dream.
  • Ruins of the Modern Age: Old Tokyo.
  • 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".
     S-Z 
  • Sacrificial Lion: Lin's brother, Shin. He turns against Vicious to help Spike, but dies.
  • Sadistic Choice: Vicious gives one to Julia - kill Spike or they both die.
  • Samurai Cowboy: Cowboy Andy - call him Musashi!
  • Sassy Black Woman: Coffee from "Mushroom Samba".
  • Scannable Man: During his introductory episode, Whitney Hagas Matsumoto mentions to Faye that they're fairly standard among the citizens who live on that moon. Except he's lying, and he's an former prisoner and wanted man himself. In the following session, we see that all the escaped prisoners have similar tattoos — on the side of their necks, rather than the bakc. Presumably different prison systems have different protocol for it.
  • Scary Black Man: Played with.
    • Abdul Hakim fits the trope to a tee: deep-voiced, extremely strong, gigantic, and violent (although before his Magic Plastic Surgery he was a Dark-Skinned Blonde, so make of that what you will).
    • Udai Taxim is a sociopathic mob enforcer and fairly chilling, but not necessarily because he's black. He wears glasses, and is notably thin and slightly built, much smaller than Jet and about even with most of his fellow jailbreakees — all of whom badly underestimate him, since despite the difference in size, Taxim can still hold off Jet, mechanical arm and all. And then it turns out that he didn't carry quite as much of the blame for Jet's predicament as Jet always thought, since Fad had sold him out before they even arrived on the scene.
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: Udai has them.
  • Schizo Tech: Characters who own starships capable of traveling faster than light through hyperspace gates will call each other on computers and phones that seem to come straight out of the early 90s. In planetary colonies, space-capable personal aircraft share parking lots with internal-combustion cars. Characters don augmented-reality goggles while they shoot small arms that exist today. Ship-mounted beam weapons do exist, but they are rare and seldom-used even then, with most ship-to-ship firefights happening with autocannons and missiles.
  • Screamer Trailer: Twice:
    • Parodied in the preview for horror parody "Toys in the Attic" is played entirely deadpan with an over-the-top narrator reading copy as if it's for a horror movie from The '50s, as the characters scream in terror/agony in the background.
    • Played horrifyingly straight in the preview for "Pierrot Le Fou", which is just Mad Pierrot laughing maniacally over dead silence. It works very well, especially coming after the relatively light episode that was "Wild Horses."
  • Second Person Attack: Combined with a "Hey, You!" Haymaker from Faye in "Cowboy Funk", in one of the most iconic clips of the series.
  • Self-Deprecation: The episodes' trailers often contain this.
  • Senior Sleep Cycle: Jet tries to interrogate one of Dr. Londes' old colleagues about his whereabouts. He promptly falls asleep, leaving Jet with no useful information.
  • Sexophone: Appears in "Jupiter Jazz" when Faye is at Gren's apartment.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: They're bounty hunters, but most episodes end with them not getting paid for one reason or another. The show is really about how they, and the bounties they hunt, are all trying to escape the past, and about why that's doomed from the start.
    • "Speak Like A Child", a comedic example. Jet actually says as much as much in the preview for the previous episode. The tape is worthless to everyone but its intended recipient, all Spike and Jet's efforts to get a Betamax player come to nothing because they accidentally grab a VHS player, and the episode's main problem eventually resolves itself without intervention from the cast (a proper Betamax player is sent to the Bebop in the same way the tape was). However, because of who the package's recipient is and what its contents are, the ending is very somber.
  • "Mushroom Samba" has Ed and Ein chasing down a bounty hunter, only to let him go, since the mushrooms he's smuggling are worth more than his bounty. Except the mushrooms he pawned off on them are just a bunch of regular non-psychedelic shiitakes.
  • Shonen Hair: Spike and Ed.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns:
    • Ed and Ein spend pretty much all of "Jupiter Jazz" back on the ship, and are seldom seen in the more harrowing episodes, such as "Pierrot Le Fou". Space horror parody episode "Toys in the Attic" reverses this, with Ed being the second-to-last character featured and the only one unaffected by the monster because she fell asleep.
    • In episode 23, "Brain Scratch", the body of Jobim, one of the Three Old Men, is laying in the rubble by the television tower.
    • Happens gradually in the build-up to the final two episodes — Ed and Ein leave the ship after one final set of wacky antics with Ed's father and the only moment of semi-seriousness for Ed in the whole series, 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.
  • Shoot Out the Lock: Faye does this to Whitney's handcuffs.
  • Shoot the Fuel Tank: Spike tries this as a way of dealing with Mad Pierrot. It doesn't work.
  • Shoot the Hostage Taker: Faye gets used as a Human Shield by syndicate goon who orders Spike to drop his gun. Spike responds by shooting the goon in the head before he could finish his sentence.
  • Shout-Out: see the subpage.
  • Shown Their Work: The firearms in the show are strikingly detailed and accurate, including accurate and consistent serial numbers and trade dress. Spike's Jericho 941 R even has the detail of an aftermarket guide rod, a common alteration of the gun according to IMFDB.
  • Show Within a Show: Big Shot gives info on fugitives in a rather silly manner, which mostly just informs the audience, as the crew already knows most of what is said and even some more.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Ed is purported to be a "seven-foot-tall ex-basketball pro, Hindu guru, drag queen alien" before the crew actually meets her in "Jammin' with Edward".
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Spike delivers one to Dr. Londes and fires his gun at the monitor he's appearing on. Subverted in that it doesn't work, but luckily, Ed is working on disabling the signal.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Lin and Shin.
  • Silent Credits: The beginning of the last episode does not include "Tank!".
  • Silent Whisper: In "The Real Folk Blues, Part 1" Julia whispers something at Spike. We never find out what she said until the end of the next episode.
  • Sincerity Mode: Spike is flabbergasted when Faye bumps into him and apologizes like she really means it. The reason is that she's on her way to find the answers to her questions about her past life.
  • Singing Simlish: "Wo Qui Non Coin" has a verse in Japanese and a verse in French-sounding gibberish. "Green Bird" is written entirely in a made-up language of Yoko Kanno's own devising.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Andy and Spike. They dislike each other intensely because, for all they deny it, they're a lot alike.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Subverted; Faye and Spike bicker constantly, but it never gets past a proto-UST stage.
  • Slasher Smile:
    • Vicious rarely smiles, but given his personality, it can't be anything but this when he does. In his first appearance, the only time he comes close to smiling is when he and Spike are in back to back in a fight for their lives in a flashback.
    • Pirate/hacker George from "Wild Horses" gets in a couple of good ones when he takes over the Bebop with his computer virus.
    • Tongpu has one of these so madly twisted you can hear his teeth grinding.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Leaning more on the cynical end but still is around the middle of the scale.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Ed and Hex have a week-long chess match in "Bohemian Rhapsody". Hex wins.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Spike, Jet, and Faye, the heroes of the show, all smoke.
  • Soft Glass: Cowboy Andy bursts through a plate-glass window on his horse and both are unscathed.
  • Solemn Ending Theme: "The Real Folk Blues" as the answer to the intro theme "TANK!"
  • Something Blues: The ending theme, as above. Also, bookending the series are two of these, the first episode titled "Asteroid Blues", then the two-parter finale is again titled "The Real Folk Blues".
  • Soundtrack Dissonance:
    • Intentionally employed with the cheery Space Warriors jingle playing over a scene of dead and wounded diners.
    • Sometimes, you don't even need visuals.
    • Also, the fight between Spike and Pierrot in a theme park. The merry fanfare gets more distorted and horrifying the more you and Spike realize he's completely outmatched and about to die.
    • Beautifully employed here when Vicious throws Spike out of a church window.
  • Space Friction: Only during dogfights. When low on fuel, the crew makes the lack of friction work to their advantage.
  • Space Is Cold:
    • A very rare aversion. Spike exposes himself to direct space a few times in the show and seems none the worse for wear, not counting the lack of air.
    • In "Mushroom Samba", though, when Faye gets on his nerves he irritatedly tells her that he'll expose her to absolute zero.
  • Space Is Noisy: The whole of the show chooses to go for fun rather than realism by reproducing all sounds in space, including guns, energy weapons, engines and collisions.
  • Space Opera: Defied in one of the mid-episode intertitle cards. The show claims not to be a "Space Opera" but instead a "Space Jazz", owing to its frenetic pace, modern sensibility and slightly anarchic tone. Also it's called "Bebop" and has a jazz soundtrack.
  • Space Trucker: "Heavy Metal Queen" focuses on searching for one.
  • Space Western: They even use the term "cowboy" as slang for the various bounty hunters.
  • Space Whale Aesop: Spike's lesson from "Toys In The Attic": "Don't leave things in the fridge." Because you never know when your old leftovers might coalesce into a Blob Monster and start picking off the crew of your starship one by one.
  • Spare a Messenger: Toyed with. Pierrot le Fou leaves very few survivors to tell the tale of his attacks, only to eventually hunt them down and kill them anyway.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Spike in the spinoff manga Shooting Star, in a sense; Spike's fate in the original series is ambiguous already, 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).
  • Splash of Color: In some of the Deliberately Monochrome scenes, eg. the rose that represents Julia.
  • Stab the Scorpion: Vicious stabs a scorpion in a flashback to when he and Gren fought together in the war on Titan. Vicious still has no qualms about setting Gren up to take the fall for his crimes after the war, however.
  • Standard Snippet: The Blue Danube Waltz plays in "Toys In The Attic" over a montage of the incapacitated Bebop crew drifting in zero gravity, in a direct homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Spike and Julia.
  • Stars Are Souls: Inverted. Everyone has a representative star, and it goes out when they die.
  • Stoners Are Funny: The hippies from the squatters' colony in "Bohemian Rhapsody".
  • Storming the Castle: Spike's one-man assault on the Red Dragon in the Grand Finale.
  • Straw Misogynist: Crops up throughout the series, but with enough self-awareness (and enough strong female characters) to show the flaws at work behind those kinds of assumptions. Jet can't even quite bring himself to believe there's any fundamental difference between human beings of either gender, even as he's saying it:
    Jet: Betrayal may come easily to women, but men live by iron-clad codes of honor.
    Faye: You really believe that?
    Jet: I'm trying to, real hard.
  • Stripperific: Faye's wardrobe.
  • Stylistic Suck: The preview for "Mushroom Samba" has the Three Old Men doing the preview, except they don't know what the episode is about and spend the whole recording bickering, to the point where they don't even manage to get in the title.
  • Suicide by Cop: Fad baits Jet into shooting him in self-defense... but leaves his gun empty, out of repentance. See One Bullet Left.
  • Super Reflexes: This is one of the effects of the Psycho Serum Bloody Eye, with both Asimov Solensan and Vicious being notable users. One scene of the former using it even has him stare down a bullet as it comes within centimeters of his face before dodging and then killing the shooter.
  • Surprise Checkmate: Edward in "Bohemian Rhapsody".
  • The Syndicate: The Red Dragon are a legitimate business on Mars as well as a vicious crime syndicate.
  • Take That!:
    • 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.
  • Taking the Bullet: Lin dies to protect Vicious.
  • 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.
  • Terrain Sculpting: The recreation of the Nazca Lines (and, thanks to Ed, a giant smiley), by the MPU satellite.
  • That Came Out Wrong: Jet tells Meifa he's not old enough to be her father, but he is old enough to be her boyfriend... or older brother...
  • Terrorist Without A Cause: Subverted with Teddy Bomber; he does have a cause, but nobody cares what it is and he keeps getting interrupted before he can finish telling anybody.
  • Theme Naming:
    • 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).
      • It even denotes how important they are plotwise. Ed and Ein are mostly just comic relief characters who leave the crew before the finale even begins. Jet is important in plenty of dramatic episodes, but his plotline is basically over before the show starts, most of his episodes involve resolution with various people he's known and in the finale he's put out of commission pretty early in the story. Faye has the second biggest plot line involving learning her past and she gets to fight off Triad members with Julia. And Spike is the main character with the finale being all about him.
    • 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 Shot", 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.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock:
    • Spike does this to the contaminated refrigerator in "Toys in the Attic".
    • Spike does this to himself in "Heavy Metal Queen". It's the only way his plan would work, trust us.
    • He threatens to throw Faye out the airlock for annoying him in one episode.
  • Tired of Running: Many of the bounty heads go out this way, sacrificing their own lives to ensure their actions don't cause any more harm to others. Katrina Solensan in the very first session, for example, kills Asimov herself when she finally comes to believe that there's no happy ending waiting for the two of them after what they've done. This is one interpretation of the series finale: rather than forgetting the past, it's about, as Jet says in the final preview, facing up to it, meeting your fate — whether to accept it, or, perhaps, to fight it.
  • Titled After the Song:
    • "Stray Dog Strut": "Stray Cat Strut" by the Stray Cats
    • "Honky Tonk Women" by The Rolling Stones
    • "Ballad of Fallen Angels": "Fallen Angels" by Aerosmith
    • "Sympathy For The Devil" by The Rolling Stones
    • "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 
    • "Toys in the Attic" by Aerosmith
    • "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen
    • "My Funny Valentine" by Rogers and Hart (also where Faye's surname was picked from)
    • "Black Dog Serenade": "Black Dog Blues" by pre-World War II blues artist Blind Blake.
    • "Speak Like A Child" by Herbie Hancock
    • "Wild Horses" by The Rolling Stones
    • "Pierrot Le Fou": Named after a post-modernist French film from 1964 of the same name.
    • "Hard Luck Woman" by KISS
    • "The Real Folk Blues" by Muddy Waters (the lyrics of the ending song, also called "The Real Folk Blues", references this.)
    • "Knocking on Heaven's Door" by Bob Dylan (copyright problems prevented this from being used as the title of the movie when it was released stateside)
    • "You're Gonna Carry That Weight": a reference to the second-last song on the Abbey Road album by The Beatles.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Faye Valentine (Girly Girl) and Edward (Tomboy), Faye is considered a tomboy but compared to Ed she's a Tomboy with a Girly Streak.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Ed's father really likes eggs.
  • Trailers Always Lie: Played for Laughs in the previews. As the series goes on, the narration for the next-episode previews becomes increasingly surreal and often says nothing about the actual plot of the episode in question, in keeping with the dream-logic sensibilities of the show's writing.
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • Not the preview trailers for the series, but the DVD episode selection screen for the last episode shows Julia's full death scene.
    • One common trailer does show Wen holding a gun and getting shot in the head which probably made the real villain of the episode obvious.
  • Traintop Battle: An incredibly goofy example caps off Ed's big day in "Mushroom Samba", where a drug dealer spends several minutes running away from a small girl and her even smaller dog.
  • Translation Convention: The Bebop-verse can be seen as highly multilingual, though the language preferred by the protagonists is most likely Chinese. The evidence:
    • The Bebop can frequently be seen anchoring in a Martian Chinatown.
    • In one scene, 'No Smoking' signs can be seen in various languages. Out of all those, Jet picks the one in Chinese to point his finger on.
    • Faye is from Singapore.
    • Jet can be seen reading and writing e-mails in Chinese.
    • Spike used to work for the Triads.
    • The universal currency is the Chinese-sounding "Woolong".
  • Transgender: Gren from "Jupiter Jazz: Parts 1 and 2".
  • Trench Coat Warfare: When Spike storms the Red Dragon Syndicate's headquarters in the last episode, he enters through the lobby and pulls grenades and handguns out of his Badass Longcoat.
  • True Companions: Faye describes the crew to be this close as early as episode 5. It probably isn't really the case until episode 13.
  • A Twinkle in the Sky: In episode 3 "Honky Tonk Women" and episode 19 "Wild Horses"
  • 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.
  • Unorthodox Holstering: Jet's old partner Fad has a particularly cool version.
  • 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 are you?!
    Gren: I am both, but I am neither.
  • 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.
  • [Verb] This!: In "Mushroom Samba", Shaft says "eat this!" when he pulls out a grenade launcher which he fires at Domino.
  • Video Phone: The in-universe equivalent to the cell phone uses video feeds on both ends of a call.
  • Villain of Another Story: The Van of the Red Dragon syndicate are the overlords of one of the worst crime syndicates in the solar system, but they never directly threaten the main characters and frankly seem apathetic to their existence for nearly the entire series. Only after Vicious makes his move to assassinate and oust them do they send agents after Spike in a belated effort to tie up loose ends.
  • Villainous Breakdown:
    • Tongpu has one when Spike finally defeats him.
    • Dr. Londes has one as well when he realizes he's failed to convert Spike to his cult.
  • Watching the Sunset: Jet seems prone to doing this.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Tongpu is a psychotic, unstoppable, bulletproof Psychopathic Manchild. He has exactly two weaknesses, both psychological: A pathological fear of cats due to the experiments that he was subjected to, and feeling pain, induced in this case by Spike hurling a knife (a projectile too slow to be stopped by Pierrot's experimental shield) into his thigh.
  • Weapon of Choice: The show likes its guns.
    • 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 almost exclusively armed with their one gun each (respectively a P99 and a Glock 30).
    • Faye also seems to have a thing for automatic weapons: she's introduced pulling a submachine gun out of a paper bag, and her tiny ship is armed with dual gatling guns.
    • Jet's old partner Fad favors his trusty revolver.
    • Udai Taxim and Vincent Volaju like their knives.
    • A Blood Knight who refuses to leave his war behind, Vicious wields a katana... and a lot of strategically-placed high explosives.
  • 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 a Piece of Junk: The general reaction to the Bebop.
  • 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.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • The ending of the series leaves quite a few things unresolved, such as the ultimate fate of Jet and Faye and Spike.
    • In addition, MPU was never heard from again after "Jamming with Edward".
  • When Things Spin, Science Happens: The Bebop (and other ships) has a rotating section which, in a case of Shown Their Work, is probably a gravity generator of some kind.
  • Whole Plot Reference: "Toys in the Attic" is basically a Lighter and Softer spoof of Alien, right down to the flamethrowers and Thrown Out the Airlock scene.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Gren and the other transvestites on Callisto.
  • 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.
  • Word Salad Lyrics:
    • "Ask DNA" at times.
    • "Live In Baghdad" from the episode "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.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: More than likely a case of the artists/writers not being overly familiar with the imperial system, but Abdul Hakim's mugshot says he's 6'2", and for this to be true, everyone else would have to be in the 4-5 foot range. Hakim's head nearly touches the ceiling in many shots, he has to duck to get through doors, he towers over the noticeably lanky Spike, etc.
  • Yakuza: Spike typifies the classic "noble yakuza" protagonist, while Vicious is an equally classic example of the "nihilist yakuza" villain.
  • Younger Than They Look: Jet is often told he doesn't look thirty-six.
  • Zeerust:
    • In-universe example. Faye mistakes a thermometer for a cell phone because it looks like it has an antenna. When was the last time you saw a phone with an antenna?
    • And the rest of the technology in the show, which is as a whole (intentionally) clunky and boxy.


SEE YOU SPACE COWBOY...


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Anime/CowboyBebop