"What happens when technology subdues humanity? When humanity is no longer defined by being human."
— Tagline from Stand Alone Complex's Adult Swim promo in early 2000s.
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex a TV anime series and adaptation of Shirow Masamune's Ghost in the Shell manga, tells the story of Public Security Section 9, a covert counter-terrorist task force working for the Japanese government in a Post-Cyberpunk future. Led by Major Motoko Kusanagi (a no-nonsense female cyborg), Section 9 specializes in the rising threat of cybercrime facilitated by the ubiquity of cybernetic bodies/implants in the future.Stand Alone Complex features digital cel animation produced in full widescreen and a soundtrack by Yoko Kanno. Although the plot leans action-heavy and contains loads of political intrigue, it also features a strong focus on philosophical discussions of dehumanization through technology and synthetic life.The world of Stand Alone Complex differs from the worlds of the two Ghost in the Shell feature films and the original manga: while the feature films and the manga focus on Motoko Kusanagi and her evolution into something beyond human after her encounter with The Puppetmaster, Stand-Alone Complex doesn't have The Puppetmaster show up in any form and Section 9 (including Kusanagi) exists as a fully functional team.Stand Alone Complex has two twenty-six episode seasons, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C: 2nd GIG. Fans often abbreviate both seasons (for obvious reasons) as "GITS:SAC" — pronounced "Git-Sack" by the uncouth — and "2nd Gig". Like The X-Files and many other Speculative Fiction TV series, Stand Alone Complex has one-shot episodes that follow a single case ("Stand Alone") and episodes that follow the series' ongoing Story Arc ("Complex") involving an eluvise hacker known as "The Laughing Man". 2nd Gig offers three types of episodes — "Individual", "Dividual", and "Dual" — and its Story Arc relates to a terrorist group known as "The Individual Eleven" and its "leader", a mysterious individual named Kuze.As noted above, the Ghost in the Shell franchise has four separate but equally legitimate continuities: that of the manga itself, that of Mamoru Oshii's films (which themselves recreate and compress specific parts of the manga into movie form) that of Stand Alone Complex, and Ghost in the Shell: Arise (Which takes place as a prequel of sorts to the whole franchise). None of the individual continuities have any direct relation to one another aside from setting and characters, though both movies and Stand Alone Complex make references to/offer recreations of specific scenes from the manga.A 2006 Made-for-TV Movie, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: Solid State Society, takes place two years after the end of 2nd Gig; the story follows Section 9 as it struggles to deal with both Motoko's departure and a volatile refugee situation triggered by the actions of someone known only as "The Puppeteer".In 2011, Kodansha Comics released a Stand Alone Complexmanga written by Yu Kinutani. Volume One is a shot-for-shot manga interpretation of the first episode, and Volume Two is a retelling of the second episode, TESTATION. Volume Three is a retelling of the 7th episode: IDOLATOR. Volume Four covers episode 14: ¥€$.Game developer Nexon (of MapleStory, Mabinogi, and Dungeon Fighter Online fame) announced on December 14, 2012 that it acquired the rights to develop an online game based off the entire series.This show has a Shout Out page and a Headscratchers page. You can watch the series on Hulu (only in the U.S.).
The entire Ghost in the Shell: Stand-Alone Complex series contains examples Of the following tropes:
Actually That's My Assistant: While visiting the facilities of Meditech, Kusanagi and Togusa are greeted by a human and a clanky robot who introduce themselves as Prof. Iwasaki and his assistant. In fact Iwasaki has downloaded himself in the robot, while the other is his android helper.
Adaptation Expansion: A rather unusual example in which the manga expands upon the anime episodes. The few volumes of the manga are faithful retellings of the episode each volume represents, but pad out the story a bit more by creating new scenes. For example, in "Testation", certain scenes are extended to give more backstory to Takeshi Kago and his parents.
Pragmatic Adaptation: On the flip side of this is the third volume of the manga, which covers the 7th episode IDOLATOR. An unusual case in which the well recognized scene where Motoko fights off two female android bodyguards is replaced with Marcelo Jarti pulling out a grenade, pulling the pin and leaving the room, forcing Motoko to jump back out of the building and have Batou's Tachikoma catch her with a wire. Later on when the team starts searching for Jarti in the warehouse, Batou's encounter with Kanekichi Gondo in the men's bathroom plays out differently. Togusa also ends up saving Motoko by shooting one of the Jarti clones in the head just as he gets Motoko in a sleeper hold.
¥€$ plays out differently from the episode as well, specifically by having Fem get the jump on Motoko, resulting in a drawn out fight between them after Motoko's left arm gets nicked by one of Fem's shotgun coins. The fight doesn't end until Batou finally steps in and grabs Fem, just before she's about to drive a spike through Motoko's eye. Fem is also given an extensive backstory to justify her desire to assassinate Kanamoto Yokose.
Advantage Ball: Section 9 usually holds it with their combined skills and information gathering/manipulation. It's only when they are outnumbered that they lose it.
Adult Fear: The project of the Puppeteer in Solid State Society involves taking children (of parents classified as abusive) and wiping the parents memories so they never knew they existed.
And then it happens to Togusa and becomes even more nightmarish when it forces him to personally deliver his daughter to it.
A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Various androids and programs show their fair share of faults, including the sniper assisting program that tried to compensate Saito's own natural skills, but the Uchikomas count in particular. Enough to become an in-universe Scrappy.
Air-Vent Passageway: When Batou is snooping around in Zaitsev's office, he hides in the ducts when Zaitsev returns unexpectedly.
Alas, Poor Villain: The runaway HAW-206 tank from TESTATION is played for empathy because it has the brain of it's recently deceased designer controlling it inside.
All Love Is Unrequited: The Major doesn't seem to reciprocate Batou's fairly obvious feelings for her, At least, not in any fairly obvious ways. If she doesn't want you to see it, you won't... unless you look very carefully at how she treats Batou compared to everyone else. They are definitely closer, but on a pure platonic level.
An Arm and a Leg: Cruzkowa loses her cybernetic arm when fighting Togusa. It contains a bomb.
The Major loses her left arm when fighting Gayle.
And I Must Scream: In the episode MAKE UP, the villain took a woman's brain out of her cybernetic body, and dumped it in the trash. Apparently, she was quite alive at the time, but without a body, it's not like she can call for help.
This happens to the Major when she's Strapped to an Operating Table and finds out too late that the doctor is an assassin. She starts by immobilizing the Major's body, then shuts down the vision of her eyes.
The dub attempts to give a British soldier a proper accent in Poker Face, and in the first season, there's a British secretary woman who doesn't seem to know how to properly pronounce "Aramaki".
Played straight in "Angel's Share", where almost none of the ostensibly British characters have British accents.
"Captivated" prominently features a Russian character who has no accent whatsoever.
Thoroughly averted by the CEO character in the Jameson-type body, who has an extremely strong Texan accent in the dub. Kusanagi even comments on "That lame Texan accent" although they should be technically speaking Japanese, not English. note The Kansai dialect of the Japanese language literally cannot be translated into English. The closest that dubs can mimic it is with Texan or Southern accents, so the series justifies the use of saying "Texan accent" to give viewers some sense of familiarity.
Anti-Hero: Section 9 is very dedicated in their mission to protect the population and fight injustice. However, doing their job according to the law seems to be an even lesser priority to them than for most of their enemies.
Anti-Villain: The Laughing Man in the first season, and Kuze in 2nd Gig. Both arguably become Anti-Heroes by the end of the series, with the secret Man Behind the Man in both seasons being the real bad guys.
Batou: Man, this old lady has a lot of tricks up her sleeve.
Armor-Piercing Question: Ghoda delivers one to Section 9 after they find out that they were used as a decoy to recover stolen plutonium. Motoko has to admit that he had a point: No matter how good the members of Section 9 are, they would easily be wiped out in a fight against an enemy who has numbers on their side.
Arrested for Heroism: The first season climaxes with Section 9 trying to avoid this. Played straight when Togusa is arrested for using his gun while technically being off-duty when he tried to save a distressed civilian.
Arrow Cam: Used when Saito is sniping a target, such as when he's shooting at the rogue Spider Tank in the second episode.
Artificial Limbs: Everything from a single arm and artificial eye (like Saito) to full-body prostheses (like the Major and Batou). Also, nearly everyone has their brain cyberized.
Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence: While it's never confirmed, there is some implication that Kuze might have done this by successfully uploading his consciousness to the net. At the end of the first season, Motoko seems to have spent a good month or so wandering around the net without a body, if her dialogue with Aoi is any indication.
As You Know: Frequently when Section 9 are discussing details of a case with Aramaki.
Bait-and-Switch Gunshot: Subverted twice. Once at the end of Jungle Cruise, where Marco excitedly begs Batou to shoot him just as Togusa rounds the corner and yells for Batou to stop, and once during Night Cruise, where a pimp holds a gun to Gino's head and yells "BANG!". In both instances, the victim reacted as though they were shot before the reveal.
Bavarian Fire Drill: Section 9 pretends to be from the sanitation department and a maintenance crew ... in the same episode.
Battle Discretion Shot: In ANNIHILATION, a group of Umibozu mooks sneak up on Borma right after he says goodbye to Paz. We only hear see the ensuing fight.
Batman Gambit: The Chief's plan at the end of Season 1, definitely. He was counting on his team surviving the purge and still trusting him afterwards.
Battle Trophy: In the second season, Kuze keeps Batou's knife after beating him in a fight. He reclaims it in the final episode, when Kuze surrenders.
Beat the Curse Out of Him: Or in Borma's case, getting the curse beat out of him just before it can take over his mind. In SELECON, Borma is going through some essay files while doing research on the Individual Eleven with Ishikawa and Aramaki. He tries to move all the essays into a folder, but moving the last one on the list in with the others triggered a nasty virus that almost shut down his brain. Ishikawa had to step in and knock him out with a solid right hook.
Being Watched: The Major and Batou can intuit when they are being spied on.
BFG: A number of weapons. Saito usually gets the armor-piercing anti-tank sniper rifles, Batou is fond of heavy machine guns and rocket launchers (when available) and one episode has Ishikawa armed with a Big Frigging Glue Gun.
Berserk Button: Never ever try to directly kill Motoko. EVER. You might just live to regret it...
"HEY SAITO! FORK OVER THAT WEAPON NOW!!!"
She one-arms an anti-matériel sniper rifle that's bigger than she is, charging the weapon after each shot and all.
Related to the above, it's typically a very bad idea to go after Togusa and/or his family. The team is especially protective of him and his kin and will go to great lengths to ensure the welfare of them.
Speaking of Togusa, in an episode of 2nd Gig , after witnessing a women being killed in a domestic dispute by her boyfriend, Togusa completely flips out on the man. He doesn't kill him though, but he did threaten to. At the end of the episode though, Section 9 does it for him behind his back......allegedly.
Bilingual Bonus: One for Japanese viewers. A lot of Japanese people don't speak English, so the foreshadowing about the Laughing Man's identity comes under here.
For non-Japanese viewers, it would have to be the episode "Chat! Chat! Chat!" There's an individual chat room for each of the people speaking, and the whole time the rooms are being updated (the break is lampshaded with a deletion of the cache on the server). In some posts, it would look unconventional to see a few posts as Shift-JIS art and some Squeeing in another post. In fact, there are also viewers on those chatrooms who are quite attentive.
Out of curiousity, how many times has J.D. mentioned the word "source" while in this room?
#68: That would be 38 times.
Another case: Each episode has a Japanese title and an English title. They don't mean the same thing.
In the first season, Secretary-General Yakushima is arrested and brought to justice for his crimes, and Section 9 was able to reunite and continue their work, but we see that some never-explained event happened to Serano prior to being able to testify in court regarding the scandal, and the Tachikomas are all gone. They do come back though.
In the second season, the refugee island of Dejima is spared from being nuked, and Ghoda eventually gets his comeuppance, but Kuze is murdered in the process, and the Tachikomas have (again) sacrificed themselves to stop the worst-case scenario from happening. Though, in this case, Section 9 tried using Uchikomas instead, since they were suppose to be a superior model. They were less than pleased with how they performed.
In Solid State Society, the Puppeteer has been killed, Munei's brainwashing program is revealed and shut down, and the Major reunites with Section 9, but the children who were abducted are returned to their homes, where they must again face their abusive parents, or spend years waiting for their cases to percolate through the judicial system.
Black and Gray Morality: Crosses over with Good Is Not Nice. Section Nine may be the good guys, but they regularly hack private databases, engage in blackmail, are familiar with torture, kill people, and generally break the laws that would have applied if they weren't above them. It's referenced repeatedly that the only reason they get away with these actions is though Aramaki's brilliant diplomacy.
Black Box: Cyberbrains. It's never shown what they look like on the inside, only the outer casing. The interior is implied to be organic, though.
Bluff The Eavesdropper: At one point, the Major realizes that the Tachikomas are observing her meeting with Batou. She and Batou proceed to hold two conversations simultaneously: they speak audibly to mislead the Tachikomas, while using their neural implants to message each other wirelessly and say what they really mean.
Blush Sticker: A Tachikoma, in one of the closing omake animations.
Bodyguard Babes: Marcello Jarti has two female android bodyguards protecting him. They don't last very long against Motoko.
Bondage Is Bad: Marco Amoretti's MO is to tie up his female victims before skinning them alive.
Book Ends: The first season begins and ends with Major standing on a rooftop, and Batou appearing in a helicopter rising past it.
The second season's first and last episodes involve Major Kusanagi shooting a villain in the head, causing it to explode rather violently. This is also a callback to the prologue in the manga and The Movie.
Both the end of the first episode of the first season and the end of the last episode of the 2nd series deal with stopping the defection of a high ranking official to another country.
Season 1, Episode 7;
Inspector:"...I conclude that this person is Marcelo Jarti."
Boom, Headshot: This is standard operating procedure when fighting cyborgs, as aiming for the center of mass is not a guaranteed kill - only destroying the brain case is.
Bottomless Magazines: Rarely for the show, played straight in one episode when a deranged mook sprays a hallway with gunfire, pinning down Togusa until he can return fire.
Brain/Computer Interface: Most cyborgs have jacks in their necks which can be used to plug into computers or even another person's brain.
Brain Uploading: The practice of "ghost dubbing," which is highly illegal in the Ghost in the Shell universe due to the effects of said dubbing on the original, who suffers severe brain damage and eventually dies.
Brick Joke: In the first episode, we learn that Japan's Minister of Foreign Affairs likes to swap his brain into robot geishas when he's out having a good time, which causes him to be kidnapped via his brain being put in a box while his body is stolen. Much later in the beginning of 2nd Gig, Section 9 sees him at the party for "people of particular tastes" they're staking out, and comment that he hasn't changed much. We also get a closeup of him while the Tachikomas discuss whether the partygoers should be called "perverts" or "eccentric."
Bridge Bunnies: Section 9 employs numerous Operator androids to cover various tasks around headquarters.
Bring News Back: Togusa and the head of the Sunflower Society argue over which of them should leave with the file containing the list of cyberbrain sclerosis victims when the offices are stormed by corrupt NSS officers.
Broken Pedestal: Batou looked up to Zaitsev as an idol. It seriously angered him to find out he was a spy.
Brown Note: Several interesting takes on this, including one which turns people into fanatical terrorists.
Though it only works on people with a tendency towards fanaticism in the first place. Other people get far less dramatic reactions: a journalist assumes more radical views and later becomes suicidal, while a professor of sociology just becomes convinced that he's studying a text that does not in fact exist.
Bulletproof Vest: Not that they really need it, given that most of Section Nine are cyborgs of some sort, but they prefer to wear body armor and combat bodysuits when they're expecting trouble.
In Solid State Society, bulletproof vests worn over street clothes for a raid, as opposed to combat bodysuits, serve to show how the core team have moved on from being the tip of the spear, and that things have changed significantly from two years ago.
Calling the Old Man Out: Proto calls out on Aramaki for allowing a secret raid on Ka Rum's island estate in Solid State Society.
Proto: "Is that wise, sir? I don't believe she gave you authorization for this."
Aramaki: "If no one finds out that I'm the person who opened up Pandora's Box, then I didn't break my word to the Prime Minister."
Canis Latinicus: The refrain "nalyubuites', aeria gloris" from the theme song "Inner Universe". While nalyubuites' is correct Russian (meaning "watch in awe"), aeria gloris is not grammatical in Latin.
Camera Abuse: Particularly noticeable during the bombardment of Dejima towards the end of 2nd Gig.
The opening scene of the series recalls that of the movie: the Major is standing on a building, then leaps down to catch a criminal.
The scene with the Major graphically blowing a man's head apart then dropping out the window and vanishing near the end of the season two opener is also from the movie.
Both seasons are loaded with callbacks to the 1995 film, of which Kamiyama is a huge fan. There's at least one every couple of episodes.
NOT EQUAL has a call back to MISSING HEARTS when a Tachikoma lifts itself into a narrow tunnel saying "I hope I don't get stuck again".
CASH EYE shows the former Foreign Affairs minister show up to an exclusive party with a Geisha android sex bot, his first appearance in the first episode also concerned him getting into trouble that started with some Geisha androids.
EXCAVATION refers back to ESCAPE FROM when a Tachikoma connects to a discarded cyberbrain and dejectedly notes that the last time was probably a once-in-a-lifetime thing.
During 2nd Gig, Aramaki has the Laughing Man's library checked for a copy of an important text they can't seem to find anywhere, figuring if they can't find it there, they're not going to find it at all. The library doesn't have it. Because it doesn't exist.
Chekhov's Gun: Batou gives his favorite Tachikoma some natural lubricant in Episode 2, which allows it to self-activate in Episode 12, thus sparking a chain of events that eventually leads to all of the Tachikoma being disbanded... and developing individual ghosts.
Chekhov's Skill: The punch that Zaitsev uses to knock out Batou when they spar for the first time. At the end of the episode, Batou challenges Zaitsev to a fight when arresting him and says he'll let him go if he can punch him out again. Subverted in that Batou blocks it - he let Zaitsev win the first time.
A Child Shall Lead Them: In "Not Equal" Eka Turkuro, a girl who was kidnapped by a terrorist group called the New World Brigade, reappears as the leader of the group 16 years later. Except she's not really Eka, she's her daughter. The real Eka? The old woman no one noticed.
Click Hello: CAPTIVATED has Batou doing this to Cruzkowa immediately after she and Motoko engage in a Mexican Standoff with each other.
Also, the man who kills Nanao sneaks up behind him and does this.
Cloning Body Parts: A company in the first season grows cloned organs in genetically engineered pigs for its clients as a combined insurance policy (since you can have the organs implanted in you if there's an accident) and investment (since you can opt to sell your unused cloned organs). This was borrowed from the second manga volume.
Colon Cancer: Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex: 2nd Gig and Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex: Solid State Society.
Compilation Movie: The Laughing Man and Individual Eleven cover the main story arcs of the first and second seasons, respectively.
Averted in RE-VIEW when Togusa hides behind a desk to evade a group of gunmen and gets hit anyway by a stray bullet.
Conspicuous CG: Noticeable in the first season opening, as well as some brief moments during some fight sequences. Curiously averted with the Tachikomas, who are animated in 3D first and made to look 2D with some particularly good looking cel-shading programs, right down to any battle damage they receive.
Virtually every mode of transport, be it car, jet, copter, or monorail, and in addition to all these, robotic weaponry, is animated in blatant 3D. Although the animation's impressively refined, it's jarring when any one of these gets blown to bits and what's left of them mid-explosion gets drawn in 2D animation.
Also, the collapsing bridge near the end of 2nd Gig is quite obviously CG. Still looks good though.
Conspiracy Theorist: Episode 9 revolves a group of them who gather in a chatroom to discuss the Laughing Man.
Continuity Nod: In the 3rd volume of the Stand Alone Complex manga, Section 9 is watching a news report discussing famous South American war hero Marcello Jarti supposedly returning to Japan. The scrolling news ticker at the bottom of the screen mentions that Kenbishi Industries' stock jumped significantly after the debut of their latest tank, a nod to the 2nd episode, TESTATION.
Remember Aramaki's missing brother from season 1? He makes a cameo appearance in 2nd Gig so Kuze has someone to explain his plans to.
Contemplate Our Navels: In-universe, the Tachikomas' tendency to do this makes Motoko worry about their efficiency as fighting machines and that they might become too intelligent.
Batou has a rather lengthy inquisitive conversation with Gouda when the two meet up at the site of the Individual Eleven's (minus Kuze) cluster suicide. They ping-pong a discussion about dreams of power; what would drive a person to such extremes, and how they could possibly succeed with their wild-eyed intentions. They agree it's all factored on desire, knowledge, and an "X factor," pure luck. However, Batou was actually prodding at Gouda to see if he could get him to admit to following any of these dogmatic ideals himself- since Section 9 correctly suspects Gouda is quietly brewing ominous plans in secrecy. But, he's effectively caught on, kept all his bases covered, and behaved so passively and resigned thus far, he's shown not a shred of nervousness at any given time, which would help give him away as "guilty." By the time they finish speaking, you could cut the tension in the air with a knife. In the end, Batou manages to insult Ghoda's pride just enough that Ghoda reveals something that only the creator of the Individual 11 virus could know, and he challenges Section 9 to try and stop his plan.
In Solid State Society, Batou's Stratos is replaced by a Ford GT. The Major can't help but point out his change in taste.
The Major herself has a green Ferrari F430 Solid State Society that she apparently modified herself. Her security mods are what tip Batou off that the car is hers, right before it gets wrecked during their fight with Ma Shaba's powered armor.
The animators must have a fetish for Lamborghini's as it's not uncommon to see Murcielago's (their top of the line model when the series was made) driving around town in both S.A.C. and 2nd Gig. Also, during ¥€$, Batou stumbles upon a garage filled mostly with Lamborghini Countaches.
Many of the cars featured puttering about in Stand Alone Complex are actual concept cars from the 2001 Tokyo Motor Show. Honda's Dualnote hybrid sports car concept, then one of the firm's proposals for a replacement for their NSX supercar, makes quite a few appearances. The then-new Mazda RX-8 also shows up a few times.
C Ontinues in Solid State Society where Aramaki is driven around in the Infiniti Kuraza concept car from the 2005 Detroit Auto Show.
Cool Code Of Source: When Ishikawa is hacking, lines of code tend to scroll down the screen far faster than any human could possibly read them. As a cyborg, it's likely he has no problem, though.
Cool Plane: The Tiltrotor that Section 9 uses, the helicopters the Umibozu use, and the wasp-like Jigabachi helicopters from the second season all qualify.
Cop Killer: A plainclothes officer working the Laughing Man case is killed in what appears to be a car accident. Until Section 9 learns that the accident was engineered by the bad guys in the first season in order to prevent another investigation of the case.
Cyberpunk / Post-Cyberpunk: Ghost in the Shell has been classified by some commentators as Neo-Cyberpunk or Post-Cyberpunk rather than classic 1980s Cyberpunk, in that the protagonists of GITS work for the government and hunt down terrorists instead of being urban guerrillas and streetpunks fighting against governments and mega-corps. Most noticeably, while GITS shows a global community still suffering from the aftereffects of a third and fourth World War, the society in those nations that we get to see has not utterly collapsed and segregated into corporate wage-slaves living in gated communities ("arcologies") on the one hand and the rest of the population living in dismal slums outside the system. The Japan of GITS, while being something of a police state with government and intelligence service controlling the propaganda permeating the media, still has an urban middle class, nature resorts and traditional society. Even the poor and the refugees in their ghetto are not "invisible" and "falling through the cracks" (except in a social sense). Instead, cyberbrain interconnectedness is widespread and surveillance by public cameras, spy satellites and the Net is all-pervasive.
Cyberspace, specifically of the Metaverse variety (see the episode where Major Kusanagi visits a chat room, for an example), though not the central theme.
Cyber Punk Is Techno: Played straight and subverted with the soundtrack, which also includes Jazz, Punk Rock, Folk, Easy Listening, Hip-Hop, and Funk, among other genres.
Dangerously Genre Savvy: The Umibozu commander in the endgame of SAC, who counters every single play Section Nine throws at him.
David Versus Goliath: In the Stand Alone Complex manga's Tachikomatic Days bonus chapter, the Tachikomas are sent to a construction site to earn more experience and learn. They decide to challenge a gigantic Power Loader commonly found in strip mining pits in protest to doing menial labor. The boss shows up in a smaller version commonly found in construction sites, and proceeds to instantly beat them all. Played for laughs of course.
Dead Unicorn Trope: The series' subtitle is the in-universe name for it. A "stand alone complex" refers to copycat activities (criminal or otherwise, but in the context of the show mostly criminal or terrorist) which mimic a supposed original that doesn't exist.
Designated Girl Fight: Rarely for the series. The Major enters a hotel room in pursuit of Marcelo Jarti and has to fight his two android Bodyguard Babes, whom he left behind to delay her while he escapes.
Die Hard on an X: Die Hard in a... wine bank. Interestingly played in that it was a double hostage situation, with the ex-mob bank robbers holding Aramaki and his friend, and the mob-bribed police ready to swoop in and kill them all. Aramaki plays the John McClane role hilariously as he starts ordering the would-be hostage-takers around so that they can all get out alive.
Digital Avatar: See Cyberspace example above. Called attention to by the Tachikomas in one episode. While they use full avatars, most of the team use a generic "labeled triangle in circle" to identify themselves.
Distress Ball: Despite an overwhelming amount of experience and knowledge about political and domestic affairs, Aramaki falls victim to this when he hears his brother was arrested under (falsified) drug trafficking charges. Justified in that he was previously shown to be upset over his dedication to keeping his personal and professional actions separate, to the point of refusing to help the daughter of his former best friend. His guilt over this contributes to his resolve cracking and decision to personally investigate his brother, according to the dialog at the end.
Divided States of America: The United States has been split up into the United States Of America, the Russo-American Alliance, and Imperial Americana. The 50 states are almost evenly divided up between the three, though Imperial Americana takes up the largest portion of the country. They also play a major part of the storyline in 2nd Gig.
Do Androids Dream?: A main general theme of the GITS franchise. Not only do the Tachikomas do this, but the humans themselves do as well, though in the opposite fashion: at what point does a human stop being a human, if there is such a point?
Does Not Know His Own Strength: The Major had difficulty controlling her prosthetics when she first became a cyborg. The opening sequence of the first season show her crushing a doll due to being unable to control her hand properly. Incidentally, full-prosthetic cyborgs have a theoretically limitless amount of strength (all comes down to technology,) so there are laws put in place preventing citizens from using their bodies to jump around as a faster form of transportation in order to cut down on property damage. There are many instances in the series where Motoko, Batou, or the Tachikomas survive free-falls from heights that would easily kill them, but they land with very minimal (if any) damage to themselves or the surroundings.
The United States of America now consists of the states of Washington, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Utah, New Mexico, and Wisconsin.
The Ameri-Soviet Union consists of Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, and the entire New England area.
The American Empire (Imperial Americana) makes up the largest part of the country, with all the states east New Mexico, south of South Dakota, and south of the New England area. Washington D.C. is part of this country. While the above two are only given brief mentions in the anime, the American Empire is the cause of trouble for Section 9 in the series, either manipulating them for their own ends, or by being racist, incompetent military leaders who are trying to find a way to stabilize their own economy through foreign affairs.
Empathic Environment: Mentioned by the Major after the Laughing Man returns and the sunset tints everything the same colour.
Enemy Mine: When Aramaki is held hostage by ex-mobsters in episode 16, he convinces them to work with him to escape when the police show up.
Enhance Button: Used by Togusa when investigating some photos a friend from the police force died trying to get to him.
Epic Fail: The credits sequence for the second season of Tachikomatic Days plays out like a scene from Dig Dug, with a Tachikoma using the air pump to inflate a Jamison-type robot. The Tachikoma somehow manages to inflate itself instead.
Ethereal Choir: In the soundtrack, although not as much as the movie had (eg. the song "Stamina Rose").
Everything Trying to Kill You: The Laughing Man: the real one, rather than the many impersonators that cropped up over the years - gets fed up with the latest police corruption scandal and gives a dire (if vague) warning to the police commissioner to come clean during his next speech, or else. Because of the sensationalism of the literal Memetic Mutation of the Laughing Man, people from all walks of life come out to try assassinating the commissioner, each claiming to be the real Laughing Man. The police conspirators even had their own fake set up but were totally unprepared for sheer numbers who showed up to take a shot at the commissioner. The kicker is that apparently the real Laughing Man didn't even do a thing other than issue a threat; the imitators did all the work without even being mind-controlled.
Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Major Kusanagi is almost always simply referred to as "the Major" Of course, she doesn't introduce herself as just "The Major" to people, and close friends are exempt. In fact, she hates it when anyone calls her by her name while she's on duty.
Every Car Is a Pinto: Some cars blow up extremely easily, such as Yamaguchi's in the crash where he dies.
Evil Plan: Ghoda in the second season. He's the one controlling Kuze.
Expanded Universe: The light novels, Playstation 2, and PSP video games are all written by the storywriters for the series itself, and are considered Stand Alone Episodes.
Expendable Clone: It's possible, though very, very illegal and expensive, to copy a person wholesale, right down to the essence of what could be called their soul. The "illegal" part mostly comes from the fact that "ghost dubbing", as it's called, requires the subject to be so thoroughly analyzed that it's taken apart, a process few individuals can survive more than a few times. With all that said, however, it is possible to create lots of copies of the same guy, and one episode deals with a South American revolutionary leader who seemingly has an endless supply of body-doubles...
In Solid State Society, Raj Puhto from the collapsed Seok Republic.
Eye Scream: If Saito's flashback in episode 14 of 2nd Gig is to be believed.
The one who died in the knife fight at the end of "MAKE UP".
The Faceless: The Laughing Man superimposes his logo over his own face and that of people he controls.
Faking the Dead: Part of Section 9's plan while evacuating their headquarters is to leave several prosthetic bodies laying around in the hopes that they'll be confused with those of the actual members.
Fantastic Slur: One of the Tachikomas mentions that "cyborg" is considered a slur by some people.
Fetish: In-canon; in Cash Eye, the leader of a bank corporation admits he has a fetish for having sex with women who have fully-prosthetic bodies. He'd rather do it while said bodies are running, but the women inside are inactive.
The first episode of the first season has an elderly minister who likes swapping his brain into that of a sexy geisha whenever he gets drunk. Unfortunately this sets him up as a prime candidate for a Grand Theft Me when his brain's exposed.
Firing One-Handed: Togusa does it with an assault rifle in NOT EQUAL, although it isn't shown that he hits anything either.
In RE-VIEW, Gayle (the head of the DEA squad that storms the Sunflower Society's offices) also does it, although in this case it's a hint that he's a full-body cyborg, and Togusa is no match for him.
In ERASER, Kusanagi fires Saito's anti-tank rifle at Gayle one-handed, in revenge for him almost crushing her skull beneath the foot of his Powered Armor. Of course, two-handed wasn't exactly an option at the time; she only had the one arm left from the battle.
Fish Eye Lens: Used in episode 2 at various points, specifically when showing Motoko or Batou from the camera view from inside their Tachikomas.
Forced to Watch: Serial killer Marco Amoretti links with his victims' brains so they can view themselves being tortured and murdered from his perspective.
The SST team who plugged into Eka Turkuro's brain were apparently horrified by what they saw.
Foreign Language Theme: The opening and ending themes for both seasons and Solid State Society are either performed in Russian and English (with a little Latin in the first season's opener) or entirely in English.
Listen closely to the conversation between Aramaki and Ghoda in episode four of 2nd Gig. That seemingly unimportant line: "...And of course, the occasional manipulation of public opinion" during Ghoda's description of CIS duties becomes very important later on.
During the last episode of 2nd Gig; blink and you'll miss it when the Tachikomas transfer themselves off their satellite, setting up their return in Solid State Society.
Freeze-Frame Bonus: Each episode's title card includes a multi-paragraph description of the opening scene which doesn't appear onscreen long enough to read in full.
Friendly Enemy: Zaitsev becomes friends with Batou, unaware the whole time that Batou is tailing him on suspicion of espionage.
Gainaxing: Sano is introduced in SCANDAL through a lingering shot of her cleavage. This is the first clue that she's a Femme Fatale.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: SCANDAL has a lot of fairly blatant Les Yay in the scene where the Major goes to get her body replaced, such as Kurutan enthusing over how great the Major's body is and wondering what she could do with it.
Good Is Not Nice: Not at all. The methods used by the heroes are really not much different than those of the villains. Their aims are.
Good News, Bad News: The Major delivers some to Aramaki when he's in the hospital at the end of SCANDAL. One is about the case, the other is about his brother.
Good Old Ways: Inverted in the Season 1 finale. It's Aramaki who's calling old-fashioned paper books obsolete, and the young Laughing Man who's defending them.
Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Whenever Section 9 smokes, it's of the Smoking Is Cool variety (eg. Ishikawa really shouldn't be smoking while working on his computer; Batou doesn't need to smoke because he's a cyborg, etc.).
Gorn: The scene where the Major blows off Gouda's head at close range, as well as Marco Amoretti's murders in the episode JUNGLE CRUISE.
Gory Discretion Shot: When Nanao is killed by a gunshot to the head. Only a few specks of blood can be seen onscreen.
Government Agency of Fiction: Several, most notably Section 9 itself. The other Sections all have their own territories and obligations, and many take on the roles equivalent to many real life agencies.
Section 1 deals with criminal investigations within the territory of Japan. Think FBI.
Section 2 is controlled by the Ministry of Health and Welfare. They police any and all matters regarding any illegal testing or experimentation of new biomedical technology or drugs. They would be the ones in charge of the Laughing Man incident if not for the fact that they're backed up by the use of micro-machine technology and therefore can't get involved. (Have to let a neutral, unbiased 3rd party take care of that.)
Section 3 deals with drug-related crimes. Trafficking, smuggling, etc. Basically equivalent of the Drug Enforcement Agency.
Section 4, seen at the end of 2nd Gig, is a squad of Rangers from the Japan Ground Self Defense Force. Think Green Berets or Navy S.E.A.L.S.
Section 6 deals with intelligence gathering on international crime and terrorism. They have the authority to carry out hits on members of other Sections if they find sufficient evidence to support a crime linked to that person. Think CIA.
Section 9 is a cyber-warfare counter-terrorism unit. The blurring of technology and humanity usually means that some form of cyber technology (no matter how small) will be involved in almost any crime committed within Japan.
Grand Theft Me: The first episode involves a government official with a fetish for swapping out his brain into a sexy female robot body, and this leaves him open for attack by a spy who swaps his own brain into the official's body. Fortunately they were able to recover the real minister's braincase.
Gratuitous English: Dramatic reveal moments are made somewhat narmful by Japanese voice actors saying things like "Stando Arone Conpureksu". In the Major's conversation with the Laughing Man at the end of the first season, where he replies to her questions with the English "yes" and "no", because its his native language (see Bilingual Bonus, above).
Groin Attack: During the shootout in Kusanagi's mansion, Batou gets his crotch stomped on by a pissed-off mook in Powered Armor. Even though Batou's a full-body cyborg he doesn't find it a pleasant experience. However, the mook wasn't so much stomping on his groin, but rather the entire midsection of Batou's body.
Motoko escapes from one mook who has her in a headlock this way.
Guile Hero: Aramaki. Without his skill at politicking, Section 9 would not be able to operate. Especially evident at the end of the first season. The Major, Batou and Saitou also have elements of this, using mind games to gain the advantage in a fight.
Guns Akimbo: The Major wields twin pistols when fighting Gayle in ERASER.
Hand Signals: Multiple examples in both series. One notable examples is Motoko and Batou using this when they infiltrate a youth reform facility for fear of having their comms intercepted/destroyed/hacked after losing contact with Togusa.
Harmless Villain: Most of the people that Section 9 goes after are political criminals more than violent ones.
Have You Told Anyone Else?: Aramaki presents the prime minister with evidence of the cyberbrain-sclerosis cure scandal that indicts a lot of people in power, including the vice-minister. The PM asks how many other people know. You can guess what happens next.
Heart Drive: Anyone with a cyberized brain has the capability of transferring it over into a new body as long as it remains safe and undamaged.
Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: In Saito's flashback in "Poker Face" initially Kusanagi, Batou and Ishikawa are all wearing the white UN Peacekeeper helmets until he starts sniping them, at which point they remove them. It's justified because the stark white of the helmets is actually endangering them by making them easier to see, the former two are full-body cyborgs, and they find out firsthand that the helmets might as well be tissue paper when faced with a high-velocity round when Saito takes out several of their helmeted comrades.
Hero Killer: The Umibozu. They don't actually kill any members of Section 9 ( except the Major, and even then she had no intention of actually dying), but when they go after them it's the first time Section 9 is so thoroughly defeated.
He Knows Too Much: Whenever Section 9 discovers the identity of a potential key witness who is not already in custody, they'll inevitably arrive at a police cordon around the murder scene.
He Who Fights Monsters: Episode 10 revolves around this and until the last minute it seems Batou will fall prey to this.
Hollywood Hacking: Skilled hackers like Ishikawa are able to whip up cyber-vaccines in a matter of minutes. Notably, the Laughing Man is said to be able to hack into computer networks and replace other people's faces with his logo in real time.
Hollywood Healing: Togusa gets mortally wounded in REVIEW, but is well enough to drive just a few episodes later. This is possibly justified by better medical technology in the future, but he's still not a cyborg who can simply swap bodies like the Major can (and does).
Hollywood Police Driving Academy: The Car Chase in ANNIHILATION shows the police being terrible drivers in general, including crashing into other cars, although they catch up with Togusa and Aramaki eventually.
Homage: The opening titles for 2nd GIG homage The Matrix, with Section 9 looking badass in trenchcoats, a green tint on some shots, and a scene of Motoko and Kuze that happens nowhere in the actual show styled after Neo's meeting with the Architect.note This is an homage coming full-circle, as The Matrix was pitched as a live-action Ghost in the Shell and owed much of its style to the original movie.
Idiot Ball: An offscreen moment for Ghoda in 2nd Gig that gets him into a lot of trouble down the line. When manufacturing your own terrorist group, it's generally a good idea to give them something remotely resembling a coherent ideology.
The refugee sniper who fired the first shot. Although this is thanks to the JMSDF's jamming.
I Know You Know I Know: When Batou is tailing Zaitsev, both begin to suspect the other of being up to something suspicious. They both are - Batou is under orders to investigate him for espionage.
In the episode POKER FACE, Saito thinks that the Major doesn't have control software installed for mid-range aiming, based on her shooting. It turns out that was deliberately being inefficient to mislead him, allowing her to blind him with a sort-of Scope Snipe.
Impairment Shot: When Aramaki is drugged in SCANDAL and Batou links with his brain, his vision becomes blurred and staggering.
Impersonation Gambit: In EQUINOX, the Major, pretending to be the Laughing Man kidnaps the CEO of Serano Genomics in order to get some incriminating dirt on Yakushima's role in the cyberbrain sclerosis affair.
In a Single Bound: Cyborgs can jump much higher than unaugmented humans and Section 9 uses this to their advantage, such as when Batou jumps on the roof of a garage to avoid a pack of robotic guard dogs. There are laws in place to prevent property damage (such as Motoko's landing impact in the first opening) but despite that, jumping from location to location would sometimes be a more effective means of travel.
Information Wants to Be Free: The micro-machine industry muzzled the discovery of the cure for cyberbrain sclerosis. Laughing Man wants to expose them.
Infrared Xray Camera: Section 9 uses something like this to spy on suspects through walls, eg. when Batou is staking out Nanao's apartment.
Innocuously Important Episode: The heartbreaking episode Affection in 2ng Gig seems to be just a standalone episode made to shed some light on The Major's tragic past. Turns out it explains a lot of Kuze's past too, and shows how he and The Major met when they were much younger. This does not become explicitly apparent until the end of the season.
In-Series Nickname: The other members of S-9 have been known to call Motoko as "Queen Kong" and "Major She-Ape" when she's not around to hear it. The Tachikomas simply refer to her as "God".
Internal Reformist: As mentioned on the page, Section 9 is Type 2 with a healthy dose of Type 1 thrown in. They are a police force who for the most part believe in doing what is right for the future of the country in order to maintain peace and order. This means exposing the very corruption within the government that allows them to exist if need be.
Intrepid Reporter: One appears outside the Superintendent-General's home after the Laughing Man's ghost-hacking incident, which annoys him greatly.
Kaiju Defense Force: The JSDF has a strong presence in the series. The Major, Batou, Ishikawa and Boma served in the JGSDF in World War III/IV. Aramaki and Kubota were ex-JGSDF officers before the former went into Public Security service and the latter to the Ministry of Defense.
Expanding on Batou's background, he served in Latin America as a Ranger-trained soldier who witnessed Project Sunset.
Hideo Kuze was an ex-JGSDF mechanized infantry soldier who served in Korea during World War IV.
Yakushima served in the JMSDF prior to joining politics. Daido possibly served in the same branch prior to joining the National Police Agency.
A dead man's son turned assassin was a famous JGSDF officer who was involved with the "incident" in Okinawa.
The lighthearted "Tachikomatic Days" shorts at the end of each episode are much lighter in tone than the rest of the series and indeed the rest of the franchise. They're meant as humour to lighten the mood of the viewers after watching the episode.
Logic Bomb: The Tachikomas use a variant of the liar's paradox on an Operator android, because they were curious about a new device that S9 had just tested out, which she was guarding.
Lost in Translation: When the Tachikomas realize they may have to fight against the Jigabachi helicopters in Natural Enemy, they try to make up an excuse that they have stomach aches so they can back out. The reference here makes more sense in Japanese, as it's made more obvious how the spider-like Tachikomas would be fighting against the wasp-like Jigabachis. Various species of wasps and hornets have been known to prey on spiders, especially the infamous Japanese Giant Hornet.
Lotus-Eater Machine: A variant. One of the Tachikomas brings back a mysterious cyberbrain core which seems to have trapped a number of people inside a theater in cyberspace which repeatedly shows a film so beautiful and sad that none of the viewers ever wish to leave: they only want to discuss the film. Could be considered a Shout-Out to the film from David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest. The Major dives in to save them. Her assessment of the movie? She tells the rest of the team it was okay, but when she watches it she is moved to tears.
Male Gaze: The Major is often shown from interesting angles.
Played for laughs in a 2nd Gig episode where a street kid is enthusing about the Major's body - the camera angle makes it look like he's staring at her breasts, when he's referring to her cybernetic modifications.
Mega Corp.: Serano Genomics is the most prominent.
Memento Macguffin: The Major's watch and Batou's exercise weights, as discussed in "Barrage".
Memetic Mutation: The Laughing Man's very existence is a central and clear demonstration of this - both in-universe and out.
Mental Picture Projector: All you have to do to see inside someone's cyberbrain is to hook it up to a monitor. Ishikawa monitor's Motoko's progress as she brain dives into the derelict movie director's cyberbrain.
Mildly Military: Although it appears this way on the surface, it's subverted. Section Nine are True Companions, and will joke around sometimes, but there is a definite pecking order. The Major can and will pull rank whenever she feels her natural leadership abilities aren't enough. And nobody argues with Aramaki. And on the rare occasion this trope is played straight, it's justified in that Section Nine is a small black ops team and gets a lot more leeway than the regular military.
Milkman Conspiracy: In Solid State Society the titular Society consists mostly of elderly people with no children who want to impact the society by participating in kidnapping and brainwashing of abused children and leaving all their assets to them after their family histories have been rewritten, thus hoping to save them.
Miraculous Malfunction: The Tachikomas become sapient partially due to the natural oil that Batou gave to his "personal" Tachikoma.
Mood Whiplash: The rather cheerful "Tachikomatic Days" omake sometimes cause this. For example, the episode BARRAGE ends with Section 9 disbanded and most of the main characters arrested. This is followed by a tongue-in-cheek segment describing "The Life Cycle Of The Tachikoma".
More Dakka: Batou loves this trope. Also, some of the gunfights can go in this direction, especially if Powered Armor or gunships are involved.
The Tachikomas have miniguns which can spray ridiculous amounts of dakka at targets.
Mundane Utility: It's well-established that thermoptic camouflage is foiled by water, so the Major deals with the cloaked Umibozu troops by turning on the fire sprinklers.
Musical Spoiler: In the episode TRIAL, the instrumental intro of I Can't be Cool is played over a speech by Togusa. I Can't be Cool is usually played when The Major is hacking. Later in the episode it's revealed that she hacked Togusa's brain to deliver that speech.
My Country, Right or Wrong: Section 9's purpose for existence is to protect the country from terrorism and uphold the law. This means that if need be, they will uproot the government's own administration if they are found guilty of committing a form of terrorism against the people of Japan.
Mythology Gag: Almost every scene is recreated or referenced from start to finish from the original manga across the series. Solid State Society almost entirely recreates scene for scene the "Human-Error Processor" manga. The tank/Armor Suit battles are perhaps the most obvious.
Much of the Etorofu episode in 2nd Gig was largely lifted from the manga, including the cyborg Koil, the geofront and the visit to Sagawa Electronics.
There's a recreation of a scene where Pazu interviews someone, asking for the current face and name of a person they're looking for, all while remaining invisible throughout the conversation, then departing with a comment on how it must be nice to be a Desk Jockey.
During a standoff in 2nd Gig, Batou shoots a cornered refugee girl in the mouth to keep her from triggering an explosive wired into her jaw. This is lifted from one of Shirow's other works, Appleseed, which takes place in the same continuity as GITS.
It's likely that Prime Minister Kayabuki's surname is a reference to Margaret Thatcher - the kanji used translates as 'reed thatch'.
Names to Run Away From Really Fast: The Umibozu, a JMSDF special forces squad named after a deadly Japanese Sea Spirit. They live up to their name in spades at the end of Stand Alone Complex, especially when they were infamous for retaking Nemuro from invading armies.
Ninja Maid: The android maids at the mansion in ¥ € $ also serve as security. They have hidden weapons built into their arms and are programmed to respond to threats.
Nintendo Hard: The Stand Alone Complex video game is subject to this. Particularly because, like the anime, it assumes that Viewers Are Geniuses and subjects the player to some serious Trial-and-Error Gameplay (such as the first level, where the only real way to gauge if a distance is short enough to not get sniped is to attempt it), a control scheme comparable to Halo with no in-game learning curve (the tutorial is off of the main menu, and the first level assumes you've completely memorized and mastered every single aspect), frequent checkpoints but very infrequent save points, and all while other characters will talk at the bottom of the screen about very important things in the level and plot that won't be repeated if you happened to miss it because you were busy trying not to die. It doesn't help that the dialogue itself assumes not only once again that Viewers Are Geniuses, but that their full attention is dedicated to listening.
It should also be noted that many of the PS2 game's conventions of gameplay and interface were lifted almost directly from the game Oni by Bungie Studios, which was published several years before it. However, Oni itself was inspired almost entirely by Ghost in the Shell, bringing the inspiration full-circle.
No Celebrities Were Harmed: Eka Turkuro (a girl kidnapped by a terrorist group who becomes a member of it) is clearly based on the infamous case of Patty Hearst. There is even a shot of her holding a gun which is similar to a famous photo of Hearst.
No Such Agency: Officially, Public Security Section 9 doesn't exist... publicly anyway. Localized police forces and other military units know of them, but they're not suppose to talk about them (not that S9 ever gets involved in such a way that they would need to.) As mentioned in other tropes on the page, loopholes in the system allows them to exist off the record. When S9's identity did go public near the end of the first season, Aramaki had to make sure that they were "officially" wiped from existence, even though he was fighting against military forces who really were trying to wipe them from existence.
Noodle Incident: At various points in the series, the novels, and the Playstation 2 video game, the Nemuro Landing Operation is mentioned. The game mentions it the most, but it's never explained what this operation was, beyond an amphibious landing at Nemuro, Hokkaido. It is mentioned that Motoko, Batou, and the Umibozu were all involved in it though. The PSP game goes into the most detail, but still doesn't explain exactly what it is.
Obfuscating Disability: the Laughing Man went into hiding by hacking the computers of a mental hospital for children and youths and creating a fake identity of being a patient suffering from severe mental disabilities and being almost unresponsive to other people. Which is particularly ironic as his Calling Card was an image that included the quote from The Catcher in the Rye: "I thought what I'd do was, I'd pretend I was one of those deaf-mutes." The context of the quote is more telling still; it's taken from a passage where the narrator decides in a flight of fancy that he'd run away and live a life of seclusion, far from the falseness and ugliness of society.
Oh Crap: When Ishikawa finally decodes the faces of the last three members of the narc squad, he realizes they're the two friendly-looking "hobos" talking to the chief in the refugee district. Another one from the viewer when it's revealed the third is the doctor performing the body-swap on the Major.
Organ Theft: Several episodes revolve around it, such as the medical students from episode 8.
Our Souls Are Different: "Ghosts", the sum of a person's consciousness, are referred to constantly. They are explicitly stated to be impossible to reproduce. Whether machines can have them or not is a topic of debate in-universe.
Over The Shoulder Murder Shot: This occurs in episode where Batou recognizes the tactics of a serial killer from a CIA black op during a war. During the flash back they come upon a whole village brutally flayed alive and left to die. The killer in the flash back demonstrates this trope as Batou reaches out to touch him.
Paranormal Episode: There are no fantasy aspects except for the 2nd Gig episode "Kusanagi's Labyrinth - AFFECTION". Major Kusunagi finds herself cut off from outside contact and seemingly alone in an empty city. She finds The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday: a store that somehow has stored memories and cyberbodies from her own past. The owner who tells her a story very similar to what happened to her when she was a child.
Aramaki gets bothered by an Intrepid Reporter in his car in episode 23, although he does get a photo of his long-lost brother from him.
Passive Rescue: The Laughing Man gives the Major one near the end of the first season by giving her control of her body again. To be fair, it's unlikely he'd have been able to take out the assassin more directly.
People Jars: When Motoko and Batou discover the cache of replacement bodies that Marcelo has stored in a warehouse.
Pinned to the Wall: Towards the end of the second season, Kuze defeats Batou by driving a large metal pipe through his leg and into the concrete (they're both full body cyborgs, so this isn't fatal; it just holds him in place). The former claims Batou's combat knife as a trophy before leaving.
Pin-Pulling Teeth: Batou does this a couple of times during the shootout in Kusanagi's mansion, though as a full-body cyborg his teeth might be a lot tougher than those of an ordinary person.
He also does it in NOT EQUAL when fighting the Human Liberation Front.
Plot Tailored to the Party: Nobody's ever totally useless, but some episodes manage to make use of everyone of note in Section 9. In TESTATION, for example: The Major and Batou follow an out of control automated tank on the freeway, supported by Tachikomas; Togusa uses his police skills to politely interview, then interrogate, the person most likely to have sabotaged the tank; Aramaki puts the pressure upon the tank's production company's corporate heads to get them to cough up its secret weaknesses; Saito tries snipes the tank with a mounted anti-tank rifle, but is foiled by its defenses, and Ishikawa gets to deliver the coup de grâce with a corporate-supplied glue-bazooka. (Pazu and Boma are still third-stringers, unfortunately, but they get their fair share of action as well.)
Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: Kaori Kawashima, a woman who held a vendetta against Pazu just because he slept with her twice despite saying that he never sleeps with the same woman twice. She fell in love with him and wanted to become him after that. Fuse their love together into one being and all that. She was not able to kill Pazu in her fight against him. The real Pazu won in the end.
Psycho for Hire: Gayle. In the raid on the Sunflower Society, he casually kills his own men to make it look like his squad was acting in self-defense.
Psycho Lesbian: Sano, the Narcotics squad member, has elements of this. She is blatantly flirtatious towards the Major while trying to kill her during her body-swap operation.
Punch Catch: When Batou is ordered to investigate Zaitsev, a former silver-medalist boxer and his idol, he starts off by sparring against him in a match. He intentionally lets Zaitsev knock him out with a move known as the prosthetic blind spot. When he later discovers that Zaitsev is a spy, he confronts him and challenges him to another boxing match to settle things once and for all. Zaitsev confidently tries to use the prosthetic blind spot on Batou, but his punch is caught in Batou's hand. Batou counters with a right hook and knocks Zaitsev out.
Quality Over Quantity: A dilemma that Section 9 has to deal with. The Big Bad of the second season points out that no matter how good the members of Section 9 are, they would still lose if they were out-numbered. Batou later has to decide whether he should decrease the difficulty for new recruits to join S9, knowing that doing so would reduce the overall quality and potential each member has. Ultimately, in Solid State Society, Section 9 has expanded it's ranks.
Ramming Always Works: In BARRAGE, the Tachikomas try to take out the Armed Suit threatening Batou by slamming into it with their bodies. And it works when the one with an explosive shell does it.
Rapid Aging: Eka Turkuro. It's implied to be caused by the stress of her long captivity, although it's never really explained how it happened.
Recruiting the Criminal: Motoko and Aramaki try, albeit unsuccessfully, to recruit The Laughing Man in the finale of Season 1.
Remote Body: Major Kusanagi (and presumably other characters) can remotely control robot bodies. At the end of the first season she uses this ability to avoid being killed.
Replaced the Theme Tune: "GET9" was used as the theme song in some rebroadcasts instead of "Inner Universe" in the first season. "CHRisTmas in the SiLent ForeSt" replaced "Rise" in the 2nd. The ending themes were changed as well.
The Reveal: At the end of EQUINOX, the Laughing Man is shown to be Major Kusanagi in disguise.
Ridiculously Human Robot: Well, cyborgs, anyway; a full-body cyborg can look just like any human and even has skin and all the senses a human would have.
This trope is hilariously inverted with the Jameson-type cyborgs; they're literally just a small box with four little legs and a single telescoping arm on top; they're technically human but their bodies are as inhuman as you get.
Ripped from the Headlines: The episode about kidnappings by the Northern Territories Mafia which is being denied by a prominent politician probably takes from the story of kidnappings by North Korea that were being denied by a prominent politician.
Robo Cam: Batou's vision through his cybereyes. Also, the Tachikomas.
Robosexual: Humans who prefer to have sex with robots are not unusual in the series at all (eg. the minister from the first episode who has a fetish for swapping bodies with robot geishas).
Roofhopping: Section 9 does it from time to time (check out the opening credits).
Robot Buddy: The Tachikomas, cute and bubbly killer robots.
Robot Girl: The various female cyborgs and androids, such as the Operators at Section 9 or the maids in ¥ € $.
Robot Hair: The Operator androids in all have synthetic hair to help them closer resemble humans. People who opt to switch over to prosthetic bodies also have bio-synthetic hair, even though they're now cyborgs instead of being complete robots. In the later category, The Major is unusual for selecting an unnatural colour for her hair.
Robotic Reveal: Towards the end of 2nd Gig, Proto is revealed to be a prototype bioroid when he coughs up white blood after being injured.
Rogue Drone: Subverted. The HAW-206 tank that escapes in the second episode is no rogue, but a scientist who uploaded himself into it so he could see his parents one last time after his natural body had died.
Rooftop Confrontation: The Individual Eleven practice a ritualized Mutual Kill on top of a rooftop; it ends with a sword-fight when one of them changes his mind. All of this is aired live by a news helicopter.
Rule of Symbolism: The Major giving Kuze an apple, which he eats before he dies, Batou using a cross to save the major, Kuze's superstructure and heaven, the list goes on.
Sadistic Choice: In Solid State Society. The Puppeteer hacks Togusa's cyberbrain after he doesn't have Section 9 stop the investigation, explains the process of the abductions and leaves him two options, let them take his daughter or kill himself.
Save Sat: In the final episode, the Tachikomas ram the satellite containing their AIs into a nuclear missile to save the lives of Section 9 as well as 40,000 refugees and soldiers, all while singing a happy children's song that celebrates the importance of life, showing that they understood the concept of death, and weren't afraid to die for a good cause.
Say My Name: Batou, after the Major is shot in the head: "MOTOKOOOOOOO!". When she gets better, the other Section 9 operatives mock him for it.
At the beginning of ERASER, the Major does it when she and Aramaki burst into the operating room to see Togusa, who's been shot.
Scary Shiny Glasses: Sano has them for a few scenes. She starts off innocent enough, but then they turn scary when she reveals what her intentions are with Motoko.
Schizo Tech: Sort of. Despite all the futuristic technology, anachronisms like floppy disks and 2G cell phones still appear (although those were the standard at the time the show was created).
Scope Snipe: The Major does this to Saito in a flashback in POKER FACE. Unlike most of the examples of this trope, he survives. He also predicted this would happen to him when he ran through the scenario in his head.
The Scrappy: In-universe, in Solid State Society, Section 9 acknowledges that while the Uchikomas are suppose to be technologically superior to the Tachikomas they replaced, their AI's weren't capable of advanced development. They just acted like robots with a flat monotone voice, much to the expressed dislike by the members of Section 9. They were eventually.. well, scrapped. With a little help from the Major, The Tachikomas are brought back and reinstated. The SSS Omake even expresses how the Uchikomas just want to be loved, but are incapable of experiencing or understanding it.
Security Cling: Done wordlessly between Kuze and The Major in the last episode, as they embrace in the face of a nuclear strike.
Seriously Scruffy: Usually shows up when the team are burning the midnight oil (along with many empty or half empty boxes of pizza and cigarette stubs). Mainly Ishikawa (and whoever ends up helping him), since he does most of the research related work. Togusa also falls into this when he's investigating the death of a former colleague in "Interceptor".
Sexbot: One episode in the first season revolves around all sexbots of a particular model committing suicide. The 2nd Gig episode CASH EYE has a bunch of corrupt politicians holding a party to show off their sexbots, which the Major infiltrates by posing as her own boss' sexbot.
Shaggy Dog Story: NIGHT CRUISE has no relation to the overall storyline, follows a one-shot character for 90% of the episode, and features the Major and Batou in what could easily be cameo appearances.
Shrouded in Myth: Just who or what The Laughing Man is gets discussed to some good length in CHAT CHAT CHAT. If only those people knew that the real Laughing Man was there in the chatroom discussing it with them.
Sigil Spam: The Laughing Man's logo, which he plasters all over the place.
Skyward Scream: Batou, at the end of BARRAGE; he's mocked for it by Ishikawa in the finale.
The first season falls in as a Type 4: Arc-based Episodic continuity- which explicitly identifies each episode as either "Stand Alone" (episodic) or "Complex" (part of the series arc). The episodic ones rarely contain any reference to other episodes.
2nd Gig takes a Type 3 approach- Subtle Continuity. Episodes are split up into Individual, Dividual, and Dual types. While many of the Individual and Dividual episodes may seem like Stand Alone episodes, every episode focuses on at least some minor detail that plays a larger part later on as the entire story builds up. Individual episodes focus on the story in regards to the rising tensions with the refugees in the country and the Individual Eleven. Dual episodes focus on the government's (and more specifically, Ghoda's) involvement in the story. Dividual episodes focus more on the members of Section 9 and how they get involved in the whole story.
Slow Electricity: At the end of the 2nd Gig episode "Embarrassment", the crew of a Coast Guard ship sees the lights of Nagasaki going out in sections after the city's power is cut.
Somebody Set Up Us the Bomb: We find out that Borma specializes in bomb analysis and defusing in 2nd Gig. His talents are called in later into the season when an entire city is evacuated when a supposed nuclear bomb is discovered in a skyscraper.
Cruzkowa seemingly lets Togusa pull of one of her arms. It turns out to be rigged to explode.
Batou / Bateau (the former is the correct spelling, though the later would be more correct if spoken by a French speaker.)
Bouma / Borma (pronounced as the former, but written as the latter.)
Pazu / Paz (pronounced as the former of the two names.)
Ghoda / Gouda (both are technically correct as they are both acceptable romanizations of the same kana sequence. The first is the most accepted one in print, though, because the second one is a type of cheese.)
Spider Tank: The Tachikomas, all other tanks shown in the series, though they're closer to "Crab Tanks" since they have arms that can grasp things. One model resembles a scorpion.
Spot the Imposter: A duel between two Pazus. It's never made clear, but close examination, showing "ripped flesh" and no blood, reveals that the real Pazu won.
In the Playstation 2 game, Motoko yells at Batou early on in the game because she hates it when he calls her by her name (instead of Major) while they're on duty as members of Section 9. At the end of the game, while Motoko is engaged in melee combat with a Criminal Doppelgänger of herself, Batou figures out which one is the real Motoko when the fake responds to him calling out her name, and shoots her accordingly. He knew the real Motoko isn't that easily distracted.
Spy Satellites: An entire network of them over Japan, which Ishikawa and Borma hack into in one episode. Yes, all of them.
Spy Speak: Zaitsev talks to his handlers this way (eg. using "brewing coffee" as code for "sending data").
State Sec: Public Security Section Nine. Well armed with military equipment and staffed with ex-military operatives, they conducted intelligence ops and law enforcement. Operating with great autonomy and great leeway, they only answer to the Prime Minister or the Minister of Home Affairs. They are also one of the few heroic examples of this trope.
Storming the Castle: Multiple examples, such as the raid on the restaurant in the series opening.
Super Cop: All of Section 9, but especially Motoko and Batou.
Super Window Jump: Batou bursts through the window of a hotel room to rescue Imakurusu from the DEA. He gets assassinated at the end of the episode though.
Surprisingly Good English: The lyrics of both seasons' opening theme has this, along with surprisingly good Russian, thanks to Origa.
SWAT Team: Several appear, mostly Riot and SWAT cops from Niihama PD, with Section Nine occasionally called in to resolve situations they can't handle. There's also the Narcotics Suppression Squad, a SWAT Team made up of Dirty Cops run by the Ministry of Health, and at one point Batou and Saito rescue a Coast Guard SST operator.
By Solid State Society, to show how things have changed.
In the manga, Fem is portrayed as this, having a good reason to go after and kill Kanemoto Yokose. Her father was a successful businessman, and Yokose managed to gain his trust when she was seven years old. Only shortly after that, Yokose sabotaged the corporation and set things in motion to completely take over the company and run it into the ground. After paying off the employees, Fem's father was gruesomely killed. Fem and her mother were forced to live on the streets in poverty, but her mother couldn't handle it and hung herself soon after. Fem was taken to an orphanage where she spent the rest of her life learning to become an assassin just to get her revenge.
Taking You with Me: The Tachikomas who blow themselves up to stop an armed suit from killing Batou.
Talking Is a Free Action: Exploited in ¥€$. Fem thinks that she's all alone in the bedroom of the man she had been hired to kill, and decides to monologue out loud about the problems of capitalism before she kills him. Motoko takes this time to sneak up and arrest her.
Motoko: "A smarter hitman would have shot first."
Tap on the Head: Whenever people are knocked out, they seem to recover with no ill effects. Justified in that a titanium brain case provides much more trauma protection than a skull would.
Techno Babble: Par for the course with the franchise, but it's not as bad as the movies. It does use much more use of philisophical babble instead though.
Terrorists Without a Cause: The Individual Eleven's ideology makes absolutely no sense. Picking up on this is what allows Kuze to escape the group's programming in time.
Theme Music Power-Up: In the first season, if "Run Rabbit Junk" is playing, Section Nine is either doing something awesome, or is about to.
This is lampshaded in the 'Tachikomatic Days' omake to 2nd Gig ep. 24 - NUCLAR POWER, which features the Tachikoma superhero Tachikoman, who's theme song is, needless to say, "Run Rabbit Junk."
When the Major regains control of her body and overpowers Sano in SCANDAL (with a little help from the Laughing Man), "Flashback Memory Stick", a remix of "Inner Universe" plays.
There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Justified in that due to prosthetics, people can sometimes withstand a lot of firepower. Averted in several cases where someone was able to cause a final act of killing because they weren't shot enough to kill them.
Tomato Surprise: Played for humor in "C: The Man Who Dwells in the Shadows of the Net – CHAT! CHAT! CHAT!" is both a sort of recap episode, and advances the plot. It consists largely of Motoko, as her avatar, discussing the case in an online chatroom that consists of fully 3D environments with user characters, spectators, and is more like a cyberspace talk-show than IRC. The ending reveals that Motoko, in reality, has been driving a car for the duration of the episode, much to Batou's horror when he realizes, as he's been sitting in the passenger seat of said car.
Transhuman: One of the key themes of the franchise itself, just about everyone in the series has an artificial body to some extent.
Try Not to Die: Aramaki says this to the Section 9 crew in season 1 after finding out that Section 9 is to be shut down by force.
Twenty Minutes into the Future: The series takes place between 2029 and 2032, but technology is not that far out of reach of modern science to invent. In fact, this series has served as inspiration for modern science to go out and make such futuristic technologies.
Übermensch: Hideo Kuze, with his plan of trying to emigrate his followers onto the web to create a new society, and his charisma. Ghoda probably falls under the last man type.
Uncanny Valley: The tachikomas invoked a discussion about this in MACHINES DÉSIRANTES. When they learn that a computing device designed to assist Saito in sniping was not going to be put into use, they begin to address the issues of robotic AIs and androids looking and acting human, noting that the Operator androids seem to blend in just fine because they were designed to carry out simple tasks, but didn't have AIs that could question their own programming. The conversation drifts towards the genetic structure in humans and their offspring, which itself eventually leads to the them questioning the concept of death, and what would happen if they were to be scrapped. One tachikoma seems to think that the Major doesn't care too much for them, and think that by acting more "robotic", specifically speaking in monotone voices, she might be more comfortable in accepting them. It was too hard of an act for them to continue pulling off after she left the room.
Undercover Cop Reveal: At the end of EQUINOX, we discover that the Laughing Man who met with Serano in the coffee shop was Motoko Kusanagi in disguise.
Unstoppable Rage: The Major, usually quite level-headed, totally flips out on Gayle after he blows her arm off. It's not often that you see a mech pilot begging for mercy from someone on foot...
Unusual User Interface: Most characters have the standard back-of-the-neck network jacks. Printed media contains mostly barcode-type data that can be translated by a cyberbrain. It allows the media to put far more words on a page than normal.
Used Future: The world is recovering from two world wars. Society in Japan seems fairly normal, though it has its fair share of problems relating to the rest of the world. Not every machine or building is in pristine condition. In fact, the Refugee Districts are buildings built upon other buildings, just adding on more and more on top of the decay.
The Verse: The critical technologies and themes of another work Shirow Masamune worked on, Real Drive, are near-identical to the critical technologies and themes of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex from prosthetic bodies, cyberbrains and the social benefits/disadvantages thereof, to Operator androids and radiation-scrubber technology. Likewise, the geographical map of the world shown in episode 25 of 2nd Gig and Proto's reveal prove that the series shares the came continuity as Appleseed, which takes place around 100 years further down the timeline.
Viewers Are Geniuses: Tons of philosophy and literary references tossed about. And they rarely repeat themselves. They won't spell out many things (like the locked car door at the end of the first season, which has been interpreted as a cyber-brain hack, a bomb, and simply indicating that the guy's car was broken into) as they assume the audience memorized everything in the Complex episodes beforehand.
In-universe, this is justified by widespread cybernetics. How deep and cool could you sound if you had high-speed internet in your head? They even Lampshade it:
Aramaki: "I've been listening in for a while, but without an external memory device, I can't follow your conversation at all."
Villain with Good Publicity: The Laughing Man, who has become a Memetic Mutation in-universe. His popularity, or at least his widespread social influence, is reflected when him merely making a threat against the Police Chief's life leads dozens of others, with no other prompting, to try murdering him. The South American revolutionary hero detailed in an earlier first-season episode might also qualify, though we only have Section 9's word to go on.
Visible Invisibility: Transitions between total invisibility and translucent distortion invisibility. There's at least one instance where the Major seems able to see a cloaked mech suit even when it is using its optical camouflage, and the narc squad in the same episode is explicitly stated as using cloaking technology that isn't perfect, so it seems that both types are viable. The protagonists usually don't employ their invisibility for long periods of time, presumably because it drains the batteries quickly.
Voices Are Mental: The cyber-telepathic "voices" of the characters sound just like their speaking voices with an electronic reverb added.
Vomiting Cop: Togusa is so disgusted by the recording of Marco Amoretti torturing and flaying a woman that he has to leave his car and throw up over the side of a bridge.
Wall Jump: The Major does this while she's doing a training exercise with some rookies at the start of AFFECTION, who have been tasked to track her down. She dashes out of the window of a women's bathroom and jumps out, jumping off the building across the street before flying through the air.
War Memorial: Section 9 is assigned to stop an assassination attempt on a foreign vice-minister who is paying his respects to the Kagoshima War Dead Memorial from Non-Nuclear World War IV.
Wax On, Wax Off: The Tachikomas in the Stand Alone Complex manga are sent to a construction site to earn more experience points by observing and learning more about the environment. They get tasked with shoveling dirt, which they protest because they're far more advanced and capable of doing more advanced tasks. They decide to challenge a power loader to prove they're worthy of stronger tasks, but all become overconfident and are easily beaten by the site foreman. They go back to shoveling dirt with a new appreciation for the task they're doing.
We Will Not Use Photoshop in the Future: Averted. The Tachikomas point out that because it's so easy to falsify data and memories, that not even live broadcasting over television or the net can be taken as the truth.
The Laughing Man does this in live action by hacking into the cyberbrains of anyone who witnesses anything he does and makes them see the infamous logo or otherwise erases himself out of the viewer's eyesight, such as what he did to Batou.
Batou himself does almost exactly the same thing afterwards; hacking a mech pilot's eyes to show his (Batou's) decapitated body where the pilot was expecting it to be. In the future, Adobe is clearly the world's most powerful corporation.
Weapon of Choice: While the members of Section 9 are shown using various weapons across the series, in heavy combat situations, they are mostly seen using the standard issue Seburo C26a assault rifle, and environmental variants. The weapon was inspired by the FN F2000. Even Togusa, who prefers to use his Mateba Autorevolver, uses this weapon in gunfights.
Additionally, most Section 9 members wield the Seburo M-5 pistol (chambered for the 7N7 5.45x18mm pistol cartridge) as their primary sidearm, exceptions being Togusa with his afore mentioned Mateba 2008M (a futuristic version of the real life 2006M) and Batou, who wields a futuristic Browning BDA variant chambered for .45 ACP and called the M-7.
Why Am I Ticking?: A security guard at the wine bank in ANGELS' SHARE has a bomb strapped to him while he's unconscious which is discovered by the police when they break in. Thankfully it's not real, just a fake made using the old analog clock to buy them some time.
Will They or Won't They?: Batou and Motoko, to the point that even their voice actors are well aware of it and poke fun when they speak at conventions. No real resolution is ever reached, aside from a very faint Maybe Ever After in the end of Solid State Society. Batou puts him arm around her and she doesn't throw him into the pool. Yes, that's the closest their romantic and sexual tension ever comes to going anywhere.
Word Salad Lyrics: Many songs in the soundtrack combine multiple languages, such as English, Russian, and Latin in "Inner Universe" or Italian and English in "Velveteen".
World Half Empty: The political atmosphere in Japan is fairly nasty, between season 1's corporate corruption and season 2's refugee crisis. Other places in the world aren't faring much better. It's not a Crapsack World by a long shot, but the heroes don't always win.
World War III: According to a series co-writer World War III erupted in 1996, and Non-Nuclear World War IV erupted in 2020. It's never made totally clear which countries fought which, though it can be discerned from context that the USA fought China during WWIII. Batou once monologues about how Berlin was destroyed in both wars.
Would Hit a Girl: In general, people are not afraid to hit Motoko. Not that it does them any good, but they try.
Would Not Shoot a Good Guy: Yes, they would. Whether or not the guys gunning for them are "good" is debatable, since they're Black Ops types who specialize in erasing people, but they are definitely working for their government and Section 9 doesn't hesitate to defend themselves lethally against them.
What the Hell, Hero?: Batou straight up executes one of them, even after hacking the guy's eyes so that he thinks that Batou is dead.
Yanks with Tanks: The American Empire is the strongest of the three successors of the ex-USA, alongside the remnants of the USA and the states that allied with Russia as the Russo-American Alliance.
Yoko Kanno: This series' soundtrack is usually regarded as one of the best, if not the best soundtrack she has ever composed.
You Keep Using That Word: "Vaccine" is consistently used to refer to a cure for a cyber-virus, never as a preventative measure.
The same for the Murai Vaccine - it doesn't prevent Cyberbrain Sclerosis, it just suppresses it.
You Killed My Father: Yu's motive for assassinating the Vice-Minister of China is that he's responsible for his mother's death. And that of his wife, since he and his father share the same cyberbrain.
Younger than They Look: An old woman found in NOT EQUAL - she's a young girl who was kidnapped 16 years ago, and has been rapidly aged by her experiences as a hostage. Togusa is visibly shocked to learn she's younger than he is.
Your Head Asplode: And does it ever. The animation crew seems to have a somewhat disturbing liking for these; there's a head that explodes in some form or fashion in the first/last episodes of both anime seasons. Up to and including the Major herself.
Justified Trope. In a world where you can have your brain put in a cyborg body, only a devastating head-shot is a confirmed kill (The Major escaped this fate by sending a remote controlled body in her stead).