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Anime: Neon Genesis Evangelion
Counterclockwise from top left: Ritsuko Akagi, Misato Katsuragi, Gendou Ikari, Asuka Langley Soryu, Rei Ayanami. In the seat: Shinji Ikari. In the background: Evangelion Unit 01.
Not pictured: Sanity.

"This is a giant robot saga the same way Twin Peaks was a cop show."
Comic Buyer's Guide

Neon Genesis Evangelion (Shin Seiki Evangelion) is a 26-episode science fiction/action/drama anime series which aired on Japanese television in 1995-96. In 1997, Gainax followed the series with the film Death and Rebirth, a Clip Show revision of the series which condensed many of the series' episodes into an hour-and-a-half timespan (while also expanding a few scenes). Death and Rebirth also featured the first half-hour of The End of Evangelion, a full-length movie that brought the story to a much more definitive (but by no means less controversial) conclusion than the television series did.

In the year 2000, a global cataclysm known as Second Impact changed the entire world. The event annihilated Antarctica (which caused global flooding), shifted the planet's axis (which caused global climate change), which in turn resulted in geopolitical unrest, causing several devastating wars, some of which went nuclear; when peace was finally reestablished, half of Earth's human population had perished from flooding, famine and war. Fifteen years later, fourteen-year-old Shinji Ikari finds himself summoned to the fortress city of Tokyo-3 by his estranged father, Gendou, for a single purpose: to pilot a Humongous Mecha called an Evangelion and battle physics-defying beings known as Angels, which threaten to destroy what remains of humanity (though the show does not explain exactly how they plan to do so, and for what reason, until much later).

What starts off as a relatively standard Humongous Mecha premise, over the course of the series, gradually transforms into a dramatic character study rife with psychological analysis, religious references, genre deconstruction, social commentary, and exploration of themes such as societal alienation, depression, and the repressive pain of human subjectivity. Prior to Evangelion, people considered this approach unprecedented and revolutionary — and after Evangelion's runaway success, numerous other anime producers created shows with a similar approach (with varying degrees of success).

Evangelion defined the career of its creator, Hideaki Anno, whose personal battles with depression at the time of its creation directly inspired many of the show's themes. Anno has since come to fully own it, even as it's spun off into numerous extra adaptations which either play on the themes of the anime or ignore them to varying degrees. See the franchise page for details on those.

Plans for a Live-Action Adaptation were announced by WETA back in May 21, 2003. However outside of concept art, the film has since been languishing in Development Hell. Fans have noted that the movie Pacific Rim is a Spiritual Licensee of the series (albeit one with less focus on drama), and may be the closest thing to a live-action adaptation that the series could receive. A crossover with the Transformers franchise has also been teased.

An episode guide has recently been finished.

Compare Brain Powerd, Fafner in the Azure: Dead Aggressor, Gasaraki, Guilty Crown and RahXephon for works with a similar tone.

Contrast FLCL, GaoGaiGar, and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, each pretty much the polar opposite of Evangelion, the first and last of which are made by the same studio.

For similar anime in general, compare Revolutionary Girl Utena, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, and Serial Experiments Lain.

For other TV shows with a similar theme and narrative, see: The Prisoner.

For a similar setting and story in the field of Tabletop Games, see: Cthulhu Tech.

For a similar story and themes in video games, see: Drakengard, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Spec Ops: The Line, Xenogears, and Shadow of the Colossus.

The Neon Genesis Evangelion franchise serves as the Trope Namer for the following tropes:

  • Assimilation Plot: Used to be called "Instrumentality", but was changed after it was realized how spoileriffic that title is.
  • Mind Rape: Arael's invasive mental contact with Asuka, described as such during the scene.
  • Rei Ayanami Expy: Rei ended up as something of a Fountain of Expies.
  • Unfamiliar Ceiling: The Japanese title of the second episode. Ironically, Shinji ends up in the NERV medical ward so often it eventually becomes a familiar ceiling.
  • Zettai Ryouiki: Literally "Absolute territory", but has since taken a life of its own.

It also provides examples of the following tropes:

    open/close all folders 

  • After the End/Just Before the End: The series is perpetually stuck in an area of both states, taking place right after the second horrific cataclysm, and right before the inevitable third one.
  • Ambiguous Robots: The Evas themselves. While it's said that they're "organic" to an extent, it's left vague as to how much. In supplemental material, and if you watch close enough, it turns out the Eva's are entirely organic, with the armor that they're wearing being the only mechanical pieces.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: SEELE, Omniscient Council Of Vagueness that it is, has led one for an undefined amount of time, ever since the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. By following the Scrolls' predictions and manipulating everyone in their path, their goal is to bring about the Human Instrumentality Project via Third Impact, effectively bringing about the entire series because of it.
  • Apocalypse How: Second Impact was a Planetary event that bordered on Societal Collapse. The explosion melted the Antarctic ice cap and shifted the Earth's axis; coastal regions were flooded, and the entire ecosphere was thrown into chaos. Wars broke out, some going nuclear; many species went extinct; the oceans around Antarctica are completely dead; and roughly half of humanity is dead. The driving force behind the creation of NERV is that Third Impact will raised the severity to Total Extinction.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: The AT Fields and the LCL, whose nature is barely explored, and, to a lesser extent, bakalite.
  • Artistic License: Misato having a RHD Renault A310. Can be justified that she probably had brought the automobile to a professional car shop that converted the vehicle from LHD to RHD and from gas to electric.
  • Bath of Poverty: Asuka, who suffered a mental breakdown after being Mind Raped by an Angel and ceased being able to pilot her Eva, is found by Nerv personnel in a destroyed house sitting in a tub filled with nasty brown water. (Please let that have been rust...) Things just keep getting worse for her from there.
  • Behemoth Battle: The eponymous EVA mechs are used by NERV to fight angels, which resemble weird giant aliens with no uniform appearance. the only thing that qualifies them as "angel" is that they have a "blood pattern blue".
  • Cataclysm Backstory: The Second Impact, which killed off half of humanity and scarred the survivors deeply.
  • Citadel City: Tokyo-3, designed to fight back against the angels. Defense systems surround the city, buildings can retract underground, and there are structures holding scaled-up weapons to support the EVAs.
  • Driving Question: Many, but possibly the biggest one is the nature of the Evas, which is also the closest one to getting a straight answer.
  • Drop the Hammer: Jet Alone Prime's primary weapon.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: What apparently happens if an Angel ever merges with Adam. It happens anyway, but through other means. All sentient life is seemingly reduced into sludge, forming a Hive Mind.
  • Five-Man Band: While the five Children superficially resemble this quite nicely, it is ultimately averted. Not only are their personalities far too complex to fit the typical characterizations of their positions; the Children are also never all together at once and thus never truly become one team. In fact, they can each be seen as a subversion of one of the roles in a typical Five-Man Band:
  • Evil Only Has to Win Once: Should an Angel ever manage to penetrate into the depths of Tokyo-3 and manage to merge with Adam, the need for protection will be rendered moot.
  • Exact Time to Failure: The Evas can run for precisely 5 minutes disconnected from their power cord... except almost every time this happens they simply go berserk and kill the Angel anyway. It's also used a few other times to add drama to incoming disasters.
  • It's Always Spring: Justified. The Second Impact caused a dramatic shift in the Earth's axis, not only causing worldwide environmental damage, but also forcing significant climate changes (Japan, for example, is now trapped within an eternal Heat Wave). The End takes place on December 31st, and the weather looks just as it did when Shinji first arrived in Tokyo-3, some months earlier. It's Always Sunny in Tokyo-3, indeed.
  • Kaiju: The show is directly inspired by Ultraman, and has as much in common with this mini-genre as Humongous Mecha.
  • Mission Control: Misato, and occasionally Ritsuko, serve as this for the pilots.
  • New Neo City: Even moreso in Japanese, where Tokyo-3's name translates as "New Tokyo No. 3". Justified, though, in that it is, in terms of Evangelion's alternate-history, Exactly What It Says on the Tin — after the original Tokyo was destroyed, at least THREE new cities were built around Japan, all named New Tokyo.
  • Omniscient Council of Vagueness: SEELE, who plan to use the arcane prophecies of the Dead Sea Scrolls to create their Assimilation Plot.
  • Our Souls Are Different: Souls are, in the Evaverse, not an ethereal/theological concept, but proven to exist as a form of entity/energy there is present in all living things, and controls the thought pattern, personality, and the sense of the self in a being, and a whole (though relatively young) field of science, "metaphysical biology" is dedicated to the study of souls. It appears that souls are also capable of being split into fragments (although doing this seems to inevitably cause some sort of insanity in the person it happens to) which can remerge with other fragments of the same soul, and being extracted from its original host and transferred into another.
  • People in Rubber Suits: A truly bizarre in-universe example. This is basically what the Evas are.
  • Precursors: The mysterious "First Ancestral Race" left Adam and Lilith on Earth, at least according to the first draft and one video game that pretty much just exists to deliver supplemental material. The show itself merely alludes to them; In episode 21, Gendou points out to Fuyutsuki that the Geofronts found under Antarctica and Japan were "left behind by someone, who was not us."
  • Rapid-Fire Typing: Played straight (as a Justified Trope) and subverted in episode 13, when it takes Ritsuko a significant amount of time to dismantle and restructure the Magi in order to program a back-hack for the attacking Angel.
  • Reality Warper: An AT-Field, the primary weapon of the Evangelion mechs and their enemies the Angels, is basically the territory within which you can alter reality to your own designs. It's mostly used to create Deflector Shields, but there are plenty of more exotic applications as well.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: The Evas bleed and seem to have at least some kind of personal set of emotions. It turns out, of course, that they're not really robots at all.
    Ritsuko: We call it Evangelion. It is a synthetic cyborg created to fight the Angels.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: Well, it's not ENTIRELY inaccurate.
  • School Uniforms are the New Black: Shinji will wear his school uniform even when he goes out at night to wander the streets of Tokyo-3. Rei is also an example.
  • Science Fantasy: NGE is among the very softest science fiction. Those Humongous Mecha? They are revealed to be biological. CLONED FROM ANGELS! Who are aliens. Aliens with weaponized pseudo-Christian Kabbalah and existentialism-based force fields. And with human-like DNA but a different wavelength color(!?). All predicted by the Dead Sea Scrolls. The bodies of wizards and scientists alike are strewn across the field.
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism:
    • The Geofront has one. It's meant as a last-ditch attempt at preventing an Angel from making contact with the Captured Super Entity kept underground. Naturally, it ends up getting abused.
    • Eva-00 has one as well, as (presumably) the other Evas. It does its job when Rei explodes her Eva around Armisael.
  • Single Specimen Species: Despite the common denomination of Angels, each of them is completely different from the others, with the exception of the red core near their center. Well, it's more accurate to say that most of them are completely unique...
  • State Sec: NERV. They are not only funded directly by the UN (actually SEELE), they have special legal protection and are the sole organisation operating Evas. There was one instance where an American admiral was forced to cooperate by a NERV captain, which shouldn't be possible in real life; in another example, the same captain requested a prototype weapon from the Japanese military and immediately got it without any red tape (they just waived a requisition order in their faces and had Rei's EVA fetch the cannon). It is said that their expenses involving Eva repairs and collateral damage could immediately bankrupt a small country. They also happen to have an Elaborate Underground Base as their main headquarters and a Captured Super Entity in the basement.
  • Tokyo Is the Center of the Universe: Why are the Angels attacking Tokyo-3? Turns out that the "Black Moon" from which all life on Earth emerged just happens to be right underneath Japan, and their ultimate goal is to get in there and reunite with Adam. Subverted when Adam wasn't there originally and they were completely heading the wrong direction, and then played straight after episode 8 when Gendou has Adam brought there.
  • The War Room: Central Dogma's command center, with Mission Control, natch.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?: An in-universe example. All of the religious terms given to the elements of the seeding system cloud their (rather mundane) purposes. For instance, the "Spear of Longinus" is a control rod; the "Dead Sea Scrolls" is an instruction manual/troubleshooting guide.
  • When It All Began: Second Impact
  • Zeerust: No New Fashions in the Future? Check. Cassettes? Check. Video games? Asuka loves her Seca.

See the Character Sheet for more spoileriffic details, particularly with the main characters.

  • Action Girl: Asuka, Misato and Rei. Asuka, in particular.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Ritsuko, and to some extent Gendou.
  • The Alleged Boss: Misato is qualified. Her orders come off as more motherly than bossy, and she acts like a sister at home.
  • Angst: Shinji may provide the cover image, but don't be fooled. EVERYONE has something to angst about.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Invoked, come episodes 25 and 26. "The you which exists in my mind and the me which exists in your mind" is this.
  • Apocalypse Cult: The members of SEELE like to dress themselves up in Judaeo-Christian Kabbalistic occult symbolism while bringing about their plans to awaken the Eldritch Abominations.
  • Badass Adorable: Shinji, Rei and Asuka all qualify for this trope in one way or another.
  • Big Bad: SEELE. All the catastrophic events that take place in the series are all by-products of their plan to bring about Human Instrumentality. However, they may or may not subvert this by the end of End of Evangelion, as the rest of humanity may or may not be happy with the result.
  • Child Soldiers: The pilots, who are even called "Children" both individually and collectively.
  • Common Eye Colors:
    • Shinji has blue eyes in the anime, presumably to play off the sense of innocence or purity that provides, but he has brown eyes in the manga for more of an everyman look.
    • In the first volume of Raising Project, his eyes are brown on the cover and blue in the first chapter artwork.
    • Yui has light green eyes in the manga.
  • Conspicuous Gloves: Gendou always wears gloves, and they cover burns he receives in an early episode rescuing Rei. He later has an embryo Eldritch Abomination implanted in one of his hands, which make the gloves even more necessary.
  • Cosmopolitan Council: The members of SEELE.
  • Creature Hunter Organization: This is one of the roles of NERV, being the ones in charge of the Evangelions who were made specifically to fight angels.
  • Cyber Cyclops: Unit 00, and some of the failed Evangelion heads in End.
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype: Half the characters are first presented as classic anime stereotypes, but as the series progresses they are revealed to be extremely messed-up individuals whose behavior is an endless source of troubles.
  • Deus Angst Machina: The Trope Codifier.
  • Dysfunction Junction: One of the defining examples of this trope in anime. The psychological issues of virtually every single member of the main cast could fill a sizable portion of the DSM-IV.
  • Everyone Went to School Together:
    • There are a lot of trios in Evangelion. One of these trios is Ritsuko, Misato, and Kaji, who went to college together. There's also Gendou, Yui, and Fuyutsuki; Yui was Fuyutsuki's favorite student at university, and Gendou was his advisee and Yui's boyfriend. And then there's obviously Shinji, Asuka, and Rei, who are all in the same homeroom.
      • Kensuke, Touji, and Shinji, complete with an endearing label from Asuka.
      • Justified, as the Marduk Institute is not real: Unit 01 and 02 have the souls of their respective pilots’ mothers; the deal with 00 is never fully explained. Presumably, the attack on unit 03 was predicted in the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the fourth pilot could have been anyone, as Misato said everyone in Shinji’s class was a candidate.
  • Fatal Flaw: Pretty much every major character has one. Some have more than one. It could be said that during Instrumentality they are all forced to face them.
    • Shinji: A crippling fear of being rejected and hated by others.
    • Asuka: An overwhelming need to validate her own existence through the approval of others, which eventually leads to self-esteem so low that it renders her unable to pilot an EVA.
    • Rei: A general disregard for her own life, due to being a clone, as well as being incapable of understanding the feelings of herself or others, also due to being a clone.
    • Misato: Much like Shinji, an overwhelming fear of rejection. As opposed to Shinji, she deals with it by never allowing her relationships to deepen to the point where she can be hurt to be begin with.
    • Ritsuko: An inability to live outside of her mother’s shadow, despite her attempts otherwise.
    • Gendou: An inability to let go of his late wife, leading to much misery for his son and the rest less the entire world.
  • Finger Tenting: Gendou is pretty much the poster boy for this trope, appearing in this position very frequently throughout the series, to the point that it’s sometimes referred to as the ‘Gendou Pose’.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: The ultimate result of the raping of Asuka's mind. The montage played as she is assaulted suggests that the angel isn't so much poisoning or impregnating her, but shining an incredibly powerful mirror into her mind, so that all the ideas of her present and memories of her past (very powerful and uncomfortable ones) align themselves perfectly inside her head to create an overwhelming and arguably unbreakable dread - one that demands she acknowledge that her life isn't worth living.
  • Guilt Complex:
    • Shinji, in spades. It’s his fault Touji’s sister got hurt because he should’ve been more careful when fighting the Angel that almost killed him. It’s his fault Asuka hates him because he can’t do anything right. It’s his fault he had to kill Kaworu because he could’ve chosen to Take a Third Option. It's his fault Asuka died because he couldn’t get his Eva out of its restraints in order to save her...
      • This behavior is so ingrained in him that some fans think it was a minor breakthrough for him when he was angry at his father during the Unit 03 incident. But then he goes back to kicking himself in the head again.
    • Misato also blames herself often for things she had no control over.
  • Hero Killer: The Mass-Produced EVA series.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Touji and Kensuke, eventually extended to Shinji until the Unit 03 Incident.
  • Hot-Blooded: Deconstructed in more ways than one. First Asuka, who at first seems to be the typical Hot-Blooded Ace Pilot. It becomes apparent however, that her sense of self worth is possibly even worse than Shinji's, and that her brash attitude covers up the fact that she requires the praise of others for validation. The trope is further deconstructed when characters in combat fly into berserker rages which prove either to be completely ineffectual or come at great cost to the characters.
  • Hot Scientist: Ritsuko, and her mother in the flashbacks.
  • Humongous Mecha: The Evas, and the unmanned Jet Alone that matches them in size.
  • Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter: Ritsuko is probably the straightest example, but one might also be able to make a case for Misato, Rei, and Asuka.
  • Mama Bear:
    • All the Evas, but particularly Unit 01 to Shinji. This goes as far as the Unit 01 moving and behaving like a raging bear.
    • Misato definitely deserves a mention for her very protective attitude towards Shinji and even the other pilots, whenever their safety was an issue. She even goes as far as to slap Ritsuko when she felt Shinji's life was being threatened.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Gender role subversion runs rampant in Evangelion, especially with Shinji and Asuka. Played for drama in that Shinji wants Asuka to be more feminine, and Asuka wants Shinji to be more masculine, but they just end up clashing against each other due to wanting the other to change first.
  • The Masochism Tango:
    • Shinji and Asuka's "relationship".
    • This can be the case with Touji and Hikari in the background, but it never gets developed because of the Unit 03 incident. Amusingly enough, Asuka is quick to put two and two together in this case.
  • The Men in Black: NERV's Intelligence Division Mooks.
  • Never Be Hurt Again: This can be said to be one of the central themes of Evangelion at work. All characters want to avoid getting hurt in varying degrees. Even SEELE's ultimate plan can be said to be this trope taken to the extreme.
  • Took a Level in Badass: While Asuka has already proven to be a capable fighter, her taking on not only one but nine Mass Production Evangelions in End Of Evangelion and seemingly succeeding right after snapping out of her catatonic state clearly tops the previous displays of her fighting ability.
  • Rescue Romance: Although their relationship is really too complex to point to one thing as the source of Asuka’s feelings for Shinji, it seems probable that him diving into a volcano to save her probably had something to do with it. However, when you consider that she wasn’t just rescued by him, but also shown up by him by doing something really heroic looking, it takes on a new light. Considering her Inferiority Superiority Complex, being rescued while also being outshone by Shinji likely left her feeling very conflicted which is probably the reason she has so much difficulty acknowledging her feelings for him, even to herself.
  • Running on All Fours: Evas when Berserk.
  • Sempai/Kohai:
    • Ritsuko and Maya
    • Surprisingly absent from Shinji's school, where all pupils seem to be the same age and in the same grade. This is a deliberate subversion, as all of the students in Shinji's class are potential Eva pilots.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Kaji may actually be the most damaged of NGE's cast, just the best at hiding it, says Sadamoto. Misato is also one, and Shinji and Asuka too by the end. Gendou is one as well.
  • Solar and Lunar:
  • Stress Vomit: Maya Ibuki does this after seeing Unit 01 devouring another angel...
  • Sunglasses at Night: With the exception of flashbacks, Gendou is never seen without his scary shades, even when NERV suffers a station-wide blackout in Episode 11.
  • Theme Naming:
    • More stylistic naming instead of thematic, but characters all have their last names in kanji and their first in katakana.
    • Many characters are named after WWII battleships and carriers and related terminology (e.g. IkariJapanese  ‘anchor’). See the Trivia tab for more.
  • Trauma Conga Line: This trope could easily be named "Shinji Ikari Syndrome". However, most of the main characters suffer from this to different degrees as well.
  • Twinmaker: Rei Ayanami appears as three clones over the course of the series, each replacing the last.
  • Urban Legend Love Life: Misato and Kaji are both perceived (possibly even by each other) as far more flirty and promiscuous than they actually are.
  • Villains Never Lie: Seen when SEELE turns Ritsuko against Gendou and Rei in Episode 23 by telling her the truth, that Gendou sent her to be interrogated (and possibly raped) instead of Rei, because she is not as vital to his plans. This causes her to realize she was being used the entire time.
    • Gendou, on the other hand, averts this. He repeatedly lies to Kaji about the nature of Adam up until he is killed by SEELE.
  • Weakness Turns Her On: One way of looking at the causes of Asuka's attraction to Shinji.
  • With Friends Like These...:
    • Despite being friends since college, Ritsuko keeps Misato in the dark about all of NERV's most important secrets until near the end of the series. She also gets into frequent (and sometimes physically violent) arguments with Misato about how to handle situations which could endanger the pilots, and while she never misses an opportunity to poke fun at Misato, her jibes become very cruel after things really blow up between Misato, Shinji, and Asuka. It gets to the point where their relationship at the end of the series can best be described as just a few steps away from getting into full-on We Used to Be Friends territory. And eventually, after the events of Episode 23, it ends up there. It may be argued with some justification that Ritsuko never really considered Misato or Shinji "friends," and was just manipulating them the entire time.
    • Asuka probably deserves mention as well, though in her case the trope is deconstructed since her hostile behavior ends up driving most potential friends away.
  • The World Mocks Your Loss: Rei embodies this trope for Shinji due to her kind of being a clone of his mother...sort of.
  • Yamato Nadeshiko:
    • Rei Ayanami is a reminiscent Yamato Nadeshiko. A "good old fashioned woman" who is reserved, modest and pretty, who also will fight for her family and country when necessary. Rei is reserved, beautiful and has little to no concerns fighting to the death to either protect or save the world/Shinji/NERV.
  • Yandere: The Akagis. Like mother, like daughter.

  • 108: Kaiji notes that SEELE has 108 dummy corporations working for its UN front.
  • 10-Minute Retirement: Shinji does this frequently: when he runs away in episode 04, when he leaves Nerv after the Unit 03 debacle, when he breaks down in the movie...
  • Action Insurance Gag: Both the TV series and the manga by feature Misato getting angry about her car being thrashed via N2 Mine going off close to it and having payments left.
  • Adam and/or Eve: The names humanity gave to the Seeds of Life: Adam and Lilith, Lilith being Eve's predecessor as the first woman.
    • For more fun: The short-hand term for Evangelion is "Eva", the form of "Eve" in most European languages, including most importantly Greek and Latin. The parallel is easier to see when you consider Evangelions are made from Adam's flesh, as Eve was made from Adam's rib.
  • Achilles' Power Cord: The Evas need an external power source and an early episode even has Shinji do a power cord transfer at one point to move into an area that his current cord doesn't reach. If the connection is severed, they can only function for a limited time on backup power.
  • After School Cleaning Duty: Shown in one scene where Shinji and Rei stay behind to clean the school, and Shinji causes Rei to blush by remarking on how she has very motherly mannerisms, and would perhaps be good as a housewife.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot:
    • Mostly averted; the MAGI computers never turn evil, but the most human of them betrays Ritsuko at the worst possible moment.
    • Subverted with the Evas when you find out they aren't actually robots.
  • Alien Geometries: Leliel. That cool marble looking thing that can disappear and reappear at random? That's its shadow, its four-dimensional shadow made of anti-matter.
  • All According to Plan: Used by Gendou and SEELE to indicate that current events have not upset "the plan". Considering that they ultimately have different motives, by the end of the series it becomes clear that this is just lampshading that with a few exceptions most of the individual fights against Angels have little bearing on the larger plot.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Numerous instances, most notably Gendou's silent line and the final scene of End.
  • Anti Escapism Aesop: Shinji Ikari occasionally tries to avoid his interpersonal problems and self-loathing, and at one point he even says, "What's wrong with running away from reality if it stinks?!" The show makes it apparent that trying to avoid problems will not make them go away, and, ultimately, he repeatedly steps up to take on any challenge he has to. This culminates in Shinji rejecting instrumentality at the climax of The End of Evangelion. Instrumentality being the ultimate form of escapism (a literal escape from reality).
  • Apocalypse Wow:
    • The brief scenes of Second Impact in the series.
    • Third Impact in End.
  • Appendage Assimilation: Unit 01 tears off one of Zeruel's "arms", and reshapes it to replace the arm that was torn off earlier in the battle.
  • Arc Symbol: Both SEELE and NERV's logos. The former is Lilith's face, and has a similar portrayal to Big Brother Is Watching You, which is what the corportation really is. The latter is a fig leaf, which has a very distinct shape, and is the leaf Adam and Eve used to hide their nakedness after eating the fruit of the Tree.
  • Arc Words:
  • Artistic License – Biology: A fairly mild form of it; it is SF biology, after all. Though it might be argued it's meant as metabiology and actual science has very little to do with the show.
    • It's also not what a Hayflick limit is. The Hayflick limit is the number of times a (non-stem) cell can divide. Why is there a limit? Because cells that don't have it are cancerous.
  • Ascended Fridge Horror: NGE takes the idea of a child as the pilot of a Humongous Mecha and strips it down to spotlight the fact that these shows are basically about Child Soldiers. We think.
  • Assimilation Plot: NGE was the former Trope Namer, but Instrumentality was deemed too spoileriffic.
  • Awesome but Impractical:
    • This applies to pretty much every bit of technology NERV owns. The Evas themselves are badass and extremely powerful, but can only operate for a couple of minutes on a battery, and have various unpredictable problems caused by their only-vaguely-understood operating principles and immature pilots.
    • In universe: the Jet Alone, a gigantic nuclear-powered mecha that lacks the Eva's AT field, making it pointless for Angel defense.
  • Baka: Part of Asuka's catchphrase. According to her, Shinji, Kensuke and Touji are also the "stupid trio" — this is rendered as "the Three Stooges" in the dub.
  • Because Destiny Says So: According to the Dead Sea Scrolls. There is, however, an interesting interplay between destiny and human will.
  • Berserk Button: Has its own page.
  • BFG: Any Eva gun, but especially the Positron Rifle, which is the size of a train and utilizes the entire power output of an industrialized country.
  • Big "NO!": Asuka, at the end of her Mind Rape.
  • Big "Shut Up!": From this exchange in episode 16:
    Makoto Hyuga: Misato-san, are you tired?Japanese 
    Misato Katsuragi: There’s a lot going on, private stuff.Japanese 
    Ritsuko Akagi: Kaji-kun?Japanese 
    Misato Katsuragi: Hey, you shut up!Japanese 
  • Bittersweet Ending: The conclusion of Shinji's battle with the last Angel (Kaworu) comes across as this. The Angels are gone and mankind is safe - but Tokyo-3 has been ruined; Kaji is dead; Touji is a cripple; Kensuke, Hikari, and their families have moved away, taking Pen-Pen with them; Asuka is catatonic; Ritsuko is in prison; Misato is a nervous wreck; Rei is "the third one"; and Shinji is utterly broken psychologically after having to kill the only person who has offered him unconditional love in the course of the whole series. The worst is still to come.
  • Black Box: The Angels are described this way by the scientists "not in the know"; they also complain about how dangerous using the S2 organ is, since they know nothing about it.
  • Blame Game: When the Jet Alone goes rogue, the various executives and private investors related to the project are preemptively doing this by trying to avoid the direct responsibility of giving the self-destruct code.
  • Blue with Shock: Several instances.
  • Bloody Horror: Gendou takes control of Shinji's biomech and forces him to kill Unit 03 against his will forcing him to experience (through the mech) ripping someone apart and having blood splattered all over him. It was traumatic enough to teach Shinji to never disobey Gendou's orders.
  • Body Horror:
    • Certain angels will invoke this with infectious attacks, like Bardiel and Armisael.
  • Break the Cutie: Every last character you found the faintest bit sympathetic, in End of Evangelion, and several other instances that begin much earlier. Shinji and Asuka (especially Shinji) embody this trope.
  • Bright Is Not Good: The last two episodes are a complete psychological breakdown (and recovery!) which feature the most desaturated, brightest colors in the series at many parts.
  • Broken Bird: All the female characters, by the time it's all said and done. Of course, more than one were very broken already...
  • Bug Buzz: Cicada chirps frequently accompany outdoor scenes. The reason given for this is that Japan has been in a perpetual summer since Second Impact, and since the ecosystem is returning to its former state, cicadas are coming back to Tokyo-3. They're also used to dramatic effect in episode 4, where Shinji is overwhelmed by the din of cicada sounds at one point.
  • Bury Your Gays: Of course, all the relationships end badly, so Shinji and Kaworu's relationship is not unique here. It is unique in that Shinji is Ambiguously Bi (as it it's uncertain if he just sees Kaworu as a friend or if he loves him) and that he's the one that has to kill Kaworu.
  • Butt Monkey/The Chew Toy: NERV itself, including the people who work there, are constantly hit time and time again. In the earlier episodes this can be rather funny, as in episode 12 where NERV undergoes a blackout resulting in huge problems with maintaining functionality, widespread problems in accessibility, everyone's jobs being disrupted- cue the following:
    Fuyutsuki: Regardless of the cause, it would be disastrous if an Angel were to attack right now.
    Voice over speaker: Radar has detected an unidentified object.
  • Cataclysm Backstory: The Second Impact.
  • Charge Into Combat Cut: This happens with the first Angel in Episode 1. We only find out how the first battle went through flashbacks in Episode 2.
  • Chekhov's Classroom: Early on in "Magma Diver", Shinji is doing homework on thermal expansion. That episode's Angel, Sandalphon, which is able to somehow withstand the heat and pressure of swimming in magma, is defeated by pumping its body full of coolant.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Rei says she was born to be an Eva pilot, and when she stops being that, she will cease to exist. Neither is metaphorical.
    • The Jet Alone foreshadows a much greater conspiracy.
    • The AT Field? Everyone has one.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Touji's sister is his motivation for getting in Unit-03. SEELE's also a bit of a Chekhov’s Gunman.
  • Clip Show:
    • About half of episode 14 is a clip summary of the first half of the series, packaged as an internal SEELE report about Gendou’s activities, and some commentary from Shinji’s classmates.
    • Episodes 25 and 26 of the original TV-broadcast re-uses old footage all over the place, albeit with entirely different dialogue.
    • The Death sequence of Death and Rebirth is a clip show version of the entire series...26 episodes packed into 70 minutes. But then again, it also contained some new scenes that would later be used in the Director’s Cut episodes, and some scenes from what appears to be an Alternate Universe in which Asuka and Rei are friends, Kaworu interacts with them and with Shinji freely, and the four are part of a string quartet at school.
  • The Comically Serious: Some of the bumbling, useless UN officers.
  • Cooldown Stroke: In End of Evangelion, when Asuka touches Shinji's face in the same way that Yui had done earlier, which stops him from strangling her.
  • Creepy Cool Crosses: The Angels' energy blasts, and the shot of Misato's pendant in the final sequence of End of Evangelion, among many others.
  • Creepy Doll: Asuka's mother, Kyoko, kept one around during her confinement in a mental hospital, talking to the doll as if it were Asuka. The creepiness of this skyrockets when Kyoko asks the doll to "die with [her]", and later when Asuka discovers her mother hanged both herself and the doll.
  • Cross-Popping Veins:
    • Asuka, continuously.
    • Misato, whenever she finds Kaji flirting with and/or groping another woman.
  • Cryptic Conversation:
    • Gendou and Fuyutski's interactions are made almost entirely of this trope.
    • Any scene involving SEELE.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Happens every time the Evas go berserk, and the first time the Dummy Plug is activated.
    • In End of Evangelion, Asuka's fight against the JSSDF and the MP first.
  • Curtain Call: At the Grand Finale, all of the named characters of the show appear at one final scene, congratulate Shinji on his epiphany, and then congratulate you, dear viewer.
  • Darker and Edgier: Zig-Zagged with the manga. Some consider it even darker than the anime, with Evil Manga Kaworu, Touji dying instead of getting injured after Unit 03 is destroyed, Gendou's villainous traits being played up, and having him outright saying to Shinji's face that he doesn't love him. On the other hand, the main characters (especially Shinji) are generally more mentally stable than in the anime, and while the movie had an Esoteric Happy Ending, the manga ending is more bittersweet, if not a downright Earn Your Happy Ending.
  • Darkest Hour: Taken Up to Eleven in The End of Evangelion.
    • One might argue that they already go here in the battle between Unit 03 and Unit 03, and again in Unit 01 vs. the last Angel.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Notoriously in The End of Evangelion, where Shinji masturbates next to a comatose Asuka.
  • Defeat Equals Explosion: When the Angel's cores are destroyed, they explode and leave a lake of red gunk.
  • Defusing The Tykebomb: Rei's the Apocalypse Maiden and Shinji's interactions with her is akin to him wandering around a powder keg with a zippo, not having a clue the crap's flammable. Surprisingly, it works to some extent, and in the movie Shinji becomes the tykebomb and Rei takes a stab at defusing him.
  • Description Cut/Ironic Echo Cut:
    • Episode 11 sets up long chains of both. After all, the whole point of the episode is how the characters, while isolated by a power outage, still manage to think the same.
    • The Death segment of Death & Rebirth is practically nothing but these.
  • Destructive Romance: Oh yeah. The fallout of the one between Shinji and Asuka is provides the impetus for many of the events of the plot, especially towards the end of the TV series and in EOE. When you really get down to it, Eva is essentially the story of the most dysfunctional romance ever.
  • Determinator: Deconstructed by Asuka, since playing it straight leads to her breakdown when she is no longer able to keep up.
  • Diabolus Ex Machina: The double-bladed swords used by the M-P-Es suddenly turning into copies of the Lance of Longinus.
  • Downer Ending:
    • Episode 26, depending on interpretation (the ambiguity of Shinji's epiphany doesn't help.) Whatever the hell happened, at least Shinji ends it finally happy.
    • Played very straight by End though; although a brighter future is possible, the film ends with Shinji weeping.
      • An even darker ending, "Last B", was in the storyboard stages for End at some point. It starts with Shinji lying on the beach while holding hands with someone. He notices that he will probably never see his friends again, but that he also will keep on living anyways. He then squeezes the hand he is holding and sees a short flash of Rei. It is then revealed that nobody is lying next to him, and the hand he is holding belongs to that arm Rei lost earlier in the film.
  • Do You Want to Copulate?: Rei has no visible reaction whatsoever to Shinji seeing her naked, then falling on her and accidentally groping her. In the manga, she actually looks surprised but doesn't say anything.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Ritsuko Akagi in End of Evangelion.
  • Dude, She's Like, in a Coma!: First subverted when Shinji tries to kiss Asuka in her sleep, but ultimately decides against it. Then, in End of Evangelion, Shinji pleases himself over a scantily clad and comatose Asuka.
  • Dying for Symbolism: Really, all of these are up to anybody's guess, but in End of Evangelion Kaworu's death possibly represents the death of Shinji's sanity, Asuka's death could mean the death of Shinji's hope, Misato's death could represent the death of Shinji's love (Gendou might count), and the god-like Rei's death at the end could mean the death of Shinji's fear and return to peace. This movie is virtually the definition of Mind Screw, so you may have a different interpretation.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The manga ending. After enduring a slightly different version of the events of the End of Evangelion, humanity seems to have been given a fresh start. Even the Earth seems to have recovered, with the first scene showing a heavy snowfall on Shinji's hometown, whereas before Japan endured an eternal summer. However in return everyone who survived (Shinji, Asuka, etc.) have lost all their memories of the time they spent at Tokyo-3, and have all went their separate ways. That said, as Shinji's chance encounters with both Asuka and Kensuke at Tokyo demonstrate, it's still possible to re-establish ties anew, and as Shinji muses, the future is now full of possibilities.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Strongly evoked by the Angels and even more by Adam and Lilith.
  • Empathic Weapon: Due to synchronization, the pain an Eva feels when it is damaged is felt by the pilot, and at a high enough synch level, the pilot actually suffers the same wounds. Asuka's fight with the MP Evas in End graphically demonstrates this, as she appears to lose an eye and have her guts ripped open inside her plugsuit, and actually has her right arm split in two as a result of the MP Evas' fake Lances damaging Unit 02. Thankfully, we don't see what happens when the Eva is Impaled with Extreme Prejudice at the end of the fight. The trope is also deconstructed in that Shinji's empathy with his Eva is psychologically dysfunctional. For example, Shinji describes Unit 01's destruction of the possessed Unit 03 along the lines of "Father used my own hands to hurt Touji," despite the fact that (a) it was the Eva's hands, not his own hands, and (b) he was not in control of the Eva at the time; the dummy plug was. Also, Shinji's apology to Asuka when he fights the Kaworu-controlled Unit 02 can be seen as Shinji seeing the Eva as an extension of Asuka, so that attacking it is at some level equivalent to attacking Asuka.
  • "End of the World" Special:
    • Shinji remade the world in the manga ending. Probably.
    • Rei invokes this in End, giving the responsibility to Shinji.
  • Epiphanic Prison: End of Evangelion thrust Shinji into one. His solution? Destroy the world.
  • Everybody Laughs Ending: It has precisely one, during an ending scene that is Actually Pretty Funny, with Shinji and Asuka getting into a spat that is broadcast live to the whole NERV complex.
  • Eye Scream: A few times.
    • Sachiel pierces Unit 01's right eye all the way to the other side of the skull.
    • The End of Evangelion scene where Unit 01 bursts through Lilith/Rei's eye has come to symbolize for many how much of a Mind Screw End is.
    • Also from End: the scene where the MP Eva's Lance of Longinus hits Unit 02 in the face, and the resultant injury to Asuka.
  • Eyes Do Not Belong There:
    • In the manga, as a result of swallowing Adam, Gendou has a large eyeball in the middle of his left palm.
    • In End, Rei/Lilith manifests a huge eye in her forehead that the Unit 01/Tree of Life is absorbed into.
  • Famous Last Words
    • "What took you so long?"Japanese  - Kaji
    • "Liar."Japanese  - Ritsuko
    • "I did wrong by you, didn’t I, Shinji."Japanese  - Gendou
  • Fearful Symmetry: The Angel Israfel, in the episode "Both of You, Dance Like You Want to Win!"
  • Fighter Launching Sequence: With mecha instead of fighters.
  • First Church of Mecha: Evas were made as a substitute for God, apparently.
    • It's more complex than that, but there's no way to explain it in short. Oh, and they aren't just a substitute for God, going by the Japanese notion of 'kami', the Evas pretty much are Gods.
  • Five Rounds Rapid: Conventional military efforts tend to do precisely jack against the Angels.
    • There is one notable exception when the UN Pacific Fleet defeats Gaghiel by getting two battleships inside it and firing their cannons by remote, then self-destructing the ships and killing it. They did have Unit 02's help though.
  • Flash Back: Episode 21 is dedicated entirely to this, delving into the lives of the adult cast, pre- and post-Second Impact.
  • Flawed Prototype: Jet Alone. To be more specific, there were two Jet Alone models created. The first appeared in the television series. The second was improved and renamed Jet Alone Prime, appearing in the game Evangelion 2 for the PS2.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In Episode 7, the representative from Japan Heavy Chemical Industries mockingly compares Evangelion Unit-01 to "A hysterical woman".
    • In Episode 9, Asuka struggles to synchronise her movements with Shinji and gets angry when Rei does it with ease. This is a first indicator of her fragile ego and of the Assimilation Plot triggered in End of Evangelion.
    • In Episode 11, Ritsuko talks about the three Magi supercomputers and how each one contains an aspect of her mother, Naoko Akagi. She talks about how much she admired her mother as a scientist and how much she hated her as a woman. In End of Evangelion Guess which personality belongs to the Magi supercomputer that chooses Gendou's scheme over Ritsuko?
    • In Episode 22, Hyuga talks with Misato about the production of EVAs 05 through 13 having begun in several countries around the world. They finally appear in End of Evangelion as the tools of SEELE.
  • Freudian Excuse: Oh boy, where to begin? Every single main character is mentally unstable to some degree, as are most of the secondary characters. Given the crap they have been going through for the last 15 years, everyone has very good reasons for it.
  • Furo Scene: Numerous instances, but most memorably Asuka's in episode 22...which, typically for the series, is not so much titillating as it is disturbing, what with it showcasing her mental breakdown and all.
  • Gainax Ending: What The Prisoner was for the UK, Evangelion was for Japan. After 24 episodes of mecha action and conspiracy plotting, the show ends with a look into Shinji's psyche, where he ultimately finds peace of mind. Some fans consider End Of Evangelion (the alledgedly planned ending that is also concurrent with the TV show's last episodes) to be this, but ultimately it provides more of a conclusion than the TV series, not least because it follows up on a lot of the Foreshadowing from the series and closes many of the running plotlines due to its blatant Kill 'em All nature.
  • Gambit Pileup: As the series goes on, it becomes increasingly difficult to know who knows what, who has what interests, and who's leading the game.
  • Gambit Roulette: A whole lot. Yui could have arranged her own "accidental" death in order to save humanity from being lost forever to Instrumentality. She would've been counting on Gendou's undying love for her to have him rescue her soul to inhabit Unit 01 where she could build up Shinji's confidence and ensure he was at the center of Instrumentality so that he could resist it and convince Lilith/Rei to let anyone come back who had the strength of will to rebuild their own AT Field.
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man:
    • Kaji does this to Misato in episode 15 — also notable as one of the few (only?) scenes in which he is completely sincere.
    • Happens twice in End of Evangelion:
      • Shinji tries this to get Asuka out of her coma, but it doesn't work.
      • Misato does this to Shinji later to try to get him to
  • Giant Eye Of Doom:
    • Shinji comes face to face with his Eva, in episode 2. Here's looking at you, kid.
    • In a way, Matariel, because it has camouflage that looks like eyes, and its actual working eye cries tears of acid.
    • Sahaquiel is a gigantic eye with wings that bombs the planet from space, leaving giant craters that get ever closer to Tokyo-3. It's taken to an even greater extreme in Rebuild.
    • The explosion of Third Impact in End of Evangelion is shaped like an enormous eye that literally brings widespread death and destruction in its wake- thought it could be an artsy Shout-Out to Anno's previous anime, Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water.
  • Good Morning, Crono: Spoofed in the final episode, when Shinji is shown what his life could have been like — a clichéd shounen series.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: All that is shown of Kaworu's death in the anime is the silhouette of his head falling into the LCL lake. The manga represents his death as Shinji strangling him in a field similar to where they first met.
  • Goth Spirals: The Lance of Longinus and Lance form of Unit 01 qualify.
  • Government Conspiracy: The coverup regarding Second Impact.
  • Grasp the Sun: Asuka in the End of Evangelion.
  • Grilling the Newbie: Shortly after Shinji arrived in his class, there were already rumors he was the Eva pilot after his first fight. The moment he innocently confirmed it, everybody (save Hikari, Kensuke, and Touji) surrounded him to ask him questions related to the Eva.
  • Hammered into the Ground: During the episode "Both of You, Dance Like You Want to Win!", Shinji and Asuka are defeated when they first face the Angel. Each of their Evas somehow end up buried head-downwards with legs sticking up in the air.
  • Hates Being Touched: The Absolute Terror Field is essentially weaponized personal space. Later in the series it's revealed that all humans have A. T. Fields holding their shapes together, created by their fear of intimacy and rejection. There is a persistent Urban Legend among fans that "Absolute Terror" is a pre-existing psychological term, but this is false.
  • Heart Drive: The Angel's cores; they're the major weak point and a source of limitless life energy and "immortality."
  • Heroic Albino: Rei is actually a Double Subversion. She's borderline obsessed with making a Heroic Sacrifice. She's also the series' Apocalypse Maiden and when Gendou gets her to cause Instrumentality she demonstrates she opposes it, rather graphically. She tries to reason to Shinji that everyone has the right to life and when Instrumentality does occur Rei reverses it.
  • Heroic BSOD: Shinji and Asuka are the king and queen of this trope towards the end of the series, though it's debatable who's the king and who's the queen.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Multiple, and subverted in some cases. It's worth noting that part the series' mocking of the Yamato Nadeshiko concept is a deconstrucion of the entire notion of a selfless sacrifice. Of all the characters who fight the Angels, everyone with the singular exception of Rei has an ulterior, personal motive for doing so. Shinji and Asuka both pilot eva for the validation of others, Misato fights the Angels in an attempt to escape her father's influence, Gendou and Fuyutsuki both want to see Yui again (and Fuyutsuki will be killed if he doesn't), and Ritsuko does it for Gendou's affections. The only person who truly makes the sacrifice for the sake of humanity is Rei, and part of the meaning of her character is to show how creepily detached, lonely and suicidally uncaring about one's own life one would have to truly make a "selfless" sacrifice for humanity itself, as opposed to doing so for a personally selfish reason such as of glory, honor, or personal validation.
  • He's Back: Played straight with Shinji; subverted with Asuka, who comes out of her coma, but simply dies fighting 5 minutes later.
  • Hidden Eyes:
    • Shinji and Asuka on various occasions.
    • Shinji's uncle, aunt, and bullies in the manga.
    • Yui does this a few times, too.
  • High-Pressure Blood: The Angels, and Unit 01 in the first episode, spray enormous fountains of blood that can literally paint the town red. The Rei/Lilith hybrid actually paints a stripe of blood on the moon when she dies. Justified, perhaps, when you consider how much blood there is in something taller than office buildings and what's needed to move it around, and when you consider how much pressure is required to pump blood in an organism that size.
  • Hint Dropping: Asuka does this towards Shinji a couple of times. Since Shinji is too socially inept and unsure of himself to pick up on these attempts, this also fuels much of Asuka's anger towards him. Ironically, her anger towards him is also a big part of what keeps Shinji from realizing how she feels.
  • Hit Me, Dammit!: Touji tells Shinji to hit him back as a "macho" way of apologizing. The manga adaptation subverts the trope, with Shinji deciding it'd be more interesting to have Touji owe him one instead. In Rebuild, he actually hits Touji right away.
  • Hive Mind: This would be part and parcel of Instrumentality as envisioned by SEELE — the souls of all of humanity combined into a gestalt where individuality would be completely erased.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The only reason Unit 01 wakes up when it runs out of power during the Zeruel battle is because Zeruel's merciless — and rhythmic — beating of Unit 01's core simulated a heartbeat in the entry plug.
  • Hope Spot: Most notably Asuka's very brief recovery in End.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: The events of End of Evangelion, according to Word of God, occur on New Year's Eve. That's right, we never see Christmas as this is Japan, and everyone gets Tanged to death just before 2016 comes. Great.
  • Hot for Teacher: It's implied that Maya may feel this way about Ritsuko, who is somewhat of a mentor towards her. In an Alternate Universe, this trope is played more straight.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Kaworu.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: The reason for the plot. The First Ancestral Race sent Adam to Earth, and Lilith ended up there too. Lilith didn't know what to do, so she just used her blood as the basis for life. This life, the Lilim/human race, ended up populating the planet. So the Angels are now trying to reunite with daddy and eradicate the human race so that they can have their own planet.
  • I Can't Do This by Myself: In End of Evangelion, Shinji says this to Asuka when the burden of creating a new world falls on his shoulders. She refuses.
  • Immune to Bullets: The Angels are for the most part immune to conventional weapons, and super-weapons only slow them down. Only an Eva can hurt most of them, due to their usage of "AT fields".
  • Incest Is Relative/Interspecies Romance: Shinji's attraction to Rei, and vice versa. They can even date or marry in some of the wacky schoolday video games and the mangas based on them.
  • Infant Immortality: In a blink-and-miss-it moment, this is averted in Episode 19 when Unit 02's head crashes into the shelter and kills several people, including a baby that was audibly laughing a few seconds earlier.
  • Instant Expert: Triply subverted in the first two episodes. At first, everyone's really excited because it looks like Shinji just might save the day, despite having absolutely no experience piloting the Eva unit. Then he trips, gets beaten up rather brutally by the Angel, and the next thing we see is him waking up in a hospital bed. However, it turns out that he really did turn around and beat the Angel...but this turns out to be due less to Shinji's own abilities and more to the fact that the Eva units are actually alive and intelligent, and more specifically because Yui Ikari's soul is inside Unit 01. It's Mama Bear doing the fighting, not Shinji.
    • It becomes more and more apparent as the series goes on that the "pilots" were chosen according to the "it's not what you know, it's who you know" principle ... they're there to keep the Evas from going berserk and are, almost uniformly, a hindrance as far as the whole fighting angels thing goes; the Evas would be much more effective without them.
  • Internal Monologue: Lots of it, most notably in episodes 14, 16, 20, and 22, and encompassing the entirety of 25 and 26.
  • It Sucks to Be the Chosen One: Hoo boy. Just take a look at episode 1 where Shinji is emotionally blackmailed into fighting a monster that shruged off an N-2 mine.
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: The series has a lot of foreshadowing and little revealed details in the first half, and it takes a while for the latter half to start revealing more details about Seele’s conspiracy, the nature of the angels and the Evas, etc. Generally, the show requires some serious attention to detail and details that receive fairly little attention to understand in full.
  • Kavorka Man:
    • Gendou, hence the ReDeath meme "IT'S GENDO!".
    • Shinji also, as he is fourteen, lacks self-confidence and social skills to a spectacular extent, isn't particularly handsome, and still has at least Rei, Asuka, and Kaworu expressing interest in him, with some continuities taking it up to a pretty huge Unwanted Harem.
  • Killed Off for Real: Kaji; Naoko Akagi; Kyoko Soryu; Misato's father; and Touji in the manga.
  • Kill 'em All: The movie looks like it, though it depends on your interpretation whether what happened to them actually counts as death. It is certainly implied that there can be a potential Everybody Lives.
  • Last Episode Theme Reprise: Episode 26 features "THE HEADY FEELING OF FREEDOM" and "Good, or Don't Be.", both of which are instrumental versions of the opening.
  • Latex Space Suit: The plugsuits for both sexes have a button that once pressed automatically makes the suit shrink to conform to the pilot's body. However, it is shown in episode 8 that they don't conform entirely to the pilot's body, with Shinji rather embarrassed to wear Asuka's shapely, feminine plugsuit, and Toju and Kensuke taking a humourous interest in Shinji's chest as a result. This is subverted in episode 10, "Magmadiver," where Asuka wears a special plugsuit that expands to a balloon-like shape and causes her no small amount of embarrassment.
  • Light Is Not Good: And comes with Mind Rape, in the case of Arael.
  • Literal Metaphor: Kaworu's leitmotif. Notice that he's entering Heaven's Door as the choir sings "Und der Cherub steht vor Gott". Also, "Einen Freund geprüft im Tod" could describe his relationship to Shinji, other interpretations notwithstanding.
  • Living Relic: Revealed near the end of End of Evangelion to be the ultimate fate of Unit 01, and by association Yui Ikari.
  • Living Shadow: Leliel, the 12th Angel.
  • Locked in a Room:
    • Asuka and Shinji's training to fight the Seventh Angel is a variant; they're not actually locked in a room, but they do have to spend almost every waking moment together.
    • Kaji and Misato in an elevator during the attack by the Ninth Angel.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: At some level, the Evas. Some of the Angel's attacks (notably Leliel's, Arael's, and Armisael's) and Instrumentality are this.
  • Lovecraftian Superpower: The Evas are literally Powered by a Forsaken Child, and Leliel (Alien Geometries), Iruel (nanites), Sahaqiel (Cast from Hit Points), Arael (Mind Rape), Armisael (more Body Horror), and Giant Naked Rei (Assimilation Plot, Go Mad from the Revelation, and associated tropes, in addition to dissolving) all certainly qualify. Not to mention the And I Must Scream factor of the dummy plug: Picture being unable to control your body, but you can still feel the bloodlust of the thing controlling your body, only to learn that it just killed one of your closest friends.
  • Lovecraft Lite: Despite the Cosmic Horror Story atmosphere, humanity manages to be competent in the technological sense with the Evangelions. The punching out doesn't negate the psychological sacrifices, however.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Or rather, Mother. Unit 01 contains the soul of Shinji's long lost mother. Unit 02 actually holds the maternal aspect of Asuka's mother, Kyoko. At least that helps explain the term "Eva", which was made from Adam. Sounds like Everybody is Mecha Jesus In Purgatory, huh?
    • Foreshadowed by Shinji's reaction the first time he's inserted in the entry plug: "It smells like blood... But I feel comfortable in here." He's nestled in a fluid-filled chamber inside a being that has the soul of his mother embedded in it. Pregnancy metaphor, anyone?
  • Madness Mantra: A favorite of the series. To wit:
    • Shinji: "I mustn't run away, I mustn't run away, I mustn't run away..." (Used as Arc Words, to the extent that they're practically his Catch Phrase)
    • Asuka: "I don't wanna die... I don't wanna die... I don't wanna die... I don't wanna die... I don't wanna die... [skip a few] I DON'T WANNA DIIIIIIIIIIIE!!"
    • Shinji: "I can't take it anymore... I can't take it anymore... I can't take it anymore... I can't take it anymore... Ican'ttakeitanymore... Icanttakeitanymore..."
    • Asuka: "I'll kill you... I'll kill you... I'll kill you... I'll kill you..."
  • Marilyn Maneuver: Asuka's introduction.
  • Marshmallow Hell: Misato accidentally does this to Shinji when they, along with Asuka, Touji, Kensuke, and Kaji, are stuck in a too-small elevator.
  • May-December Romance: At the very least, toyed with.
  • Metaphorically True: In EOE, Asuka's Madness Mantra of "I'll kill you" towards the MP Evas is basically this when you consider the sequence where Instrumentality begins to fall apart. The scenes toward the end with Shinji, Kowaru and Rei imply that Shinji ultimately chooses to reject Instrumentality because they made him regain faith in the possibility of finding love and happiness with other people in the real world. When he does return, Asuka is the one that he finds. Recall that the MP Evas die when Instrumentality and the GNR fall apart after Shinji leaves and Yui is able to leave with the Lance of Longinus.
  • Merger of Souls: The Third Impact as envisioned by Seele would've resulted in all human beings on the planet having their souls merged into one singular whole, with all individuality dissolved. Although the process is initiated in the middle of the End of Evangelion movie, it fortunately gets aborted before it reaches the point of irreversibility.
  • Million-to-One Chance: Ritsuko likes to predict that there's a 0.000000001% chance of Misato's plan succeeding, with lower probabilities as the series progress. There's also a subversion since the chances were actually 100% each time, as the happenings ride on a pretty accurate prophecy-based schedule.
  • Mind Screwdriver: Yes, this is what End was meant to be.
    • Even the English DVD of The End of Evangelion is screwy, being shiny on both sides so it's difficult to tell which side goes up.
  • More Than Mind Control: Manga Gendou uses Shinji's insecurities and loneliness to try to convince him he's every bit as evil, desperate and vengeful as he is.
  • Murderer P.O.V.: Kaji's death.
  • Murder-Suicide: Attempted by Asuka's mother, except the "Asuka" that was murdered was the rag doll that Kyoko thought to be Asuka. It's not clear whether Asuka's more angry that her mother committed suicide or that she didn't get to die along with her.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Shinji's reaction to his Dude, She's Like, in a Coma! moment.
  • Myth Arc: The Angel war, NERV, the Evas, and the tangled web of secrets surrounding all three.
  • Never My Fault: Shinji is a universal target for people unfairly shifting blame.
  • Nightmare Fuel Coloring Book: Shown in The End of Evangelion and the Director's Cut version of episode 22. The drawings are implied to be of Asuka's design.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The instances of Unit 01 going berserk, and the activation of the Dummy Plug. Honorable mention however, is the end of Episode 19, where we bear witness to a horribly vicious one.
  • Non-Indicative First Episode: Anno reportedly complained about the first episode being "a failure" and out of tune with the rest. It was supposed to create an atmosphere of total despair.
  • No Periods, Period:
    • Averted for Asuka in both the anime and the manga—her period causes her a realistic amount of discomfort, shame, anxiety, pain and mood swings. Her written-out thoughts show that "menarche" is as much a source of anxiety for her as "sex".
    • Possibly implied to be the case with Rei by a cryptic piece of her dialogue in episode 14.
  • No Sense of Personal Space:
    • Asuka, to both Kaji (mostly) and Shinji (when she's not shunning him).
    • Kaworu in the manga, which is one of the reasons Shinji doesn't like him. This actually leads to a rather funny scene where Kaworu barges into Shinji's shower stall looking for soap, then wonders why Shinji's freaking out.
  • Nostalgia Heaven: The end of the last episode, if you get past the Mind Screw location.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: When Ritsuko's team discovers Rei II's body in the destroyed entry plug, we're never shown what's inside. Considering how often this is horribly averted in the rest of the anime, it's surprisingly effective.
  • Nuclear Weapons Taboo: Assuming that N2 mines really are "non-nuclear".
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: During the Jet Alone incident, Misato has to deal with a five-person chain of command to force a deactivation command on the mech, who ultimately agree to grant her clearance... effective upon the arrival of the paperwork. Note that this is during an imminent nuclear disaster. After being given this message, she says "screw it", takes charge, and deploys Unit 01 to hold it steady so she can hang onto Jet Alone's back and manually input the shutdown command.
  • Official Couple: Amongst the tangled mess of unspoken/unrequited feelings, manipulations, and misunderstandings, Misato and Kaji as well as Gendou and Yui are stands out as the closest things the show has to this trope.
  • Omniscient Morality License:
  • 108: The number of dummy corporations set up by SEELE and NERV to fund the Marduk Institute.
  • One-Woman Wail: The track "INTROJECTION" from the album Neon Genesis Evangelion III.
  • Only 0.2% Different: The Angels because of panspermia. And it gets found out because a sequence in the Angel's Hard Light tissue is somehow comparable to a human genome.
  • Out-of-Clothes Experience: Especially Shinji and Rei, but it happens once or twice to Asuka too. And to manga Yui. Also, to humankind in The End.
  • Overly Long Gag: The elevator scene.
  • Over-the-Shoulder Murder Shot: Unit 01 does this to an Angel in an incredibly disturbing scene.
  • Panty Shot:
    • Played straight in episode 8: Asuka + sun dress + breeze = "viewing fee".
    • Subverted twice in the manga, first when Touji tries to teach Shinji how to turn cleaning the stairs into a peeping opportunity and gets caught by Hikari, and then when Shinji, Touji, and Kensuke first meet Asuka in the arcade.
    • Implied in the Alternate Universe sequence in episode 26, when Rei thinks Shinji looked up her skirt, as well as in one of the Petit EVA shorts, when both Shinji and Unit 01 get a look up Asuka's skirt while tunneling under the school grounds (don't ask, just go watch the clip).
  • Pillar of Light: The explosions set off by the Angels Sachiel and Zeruel turn into crosses and in one instance, an inverted cross. Likewise, the N2 mine, the only conventional weapon capable of harming the Angels, forms a pillar of light when it explodes. Second Impact also qualifies - twin pillars this time.
  • Possession Implies Mastery: Significantly averted: Unit 01 keeps going out of control and doing things that Ritsuko and her staff can hardly believe. This is presumably because NERV didn't so much "invent" the Evas as copy them from the Angels that they possess.
  • Precision F-Strike: The English dub of the series uses moderate swearing throughout, but does not drop the F-bomb until the movie, at which point it does so twice in suitably memorable fashion.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: Averted. While the Angels are often pondered upon as possible messengers from God, all existential rage by any character is directed either at society in general or at oneself.
  • Raging Stiffie: Shinji gets one when he overhears Misato and Asuka’s slightly erotic-sounding tomfoolery at the onsen. Fortunately, the only one who notices is Pen Pen.
  • Readings Are Off the Scale: At one point Shinji reaches a 400% synchro rate with the Eva. This means he dissolves into the LCL in the entry plug.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Subverted with Gendou Ikari, who dies guilt-ridden and without making amends with his son.
  • Rescue Introduction: Shinji meets Misato when she rescues him during the First Angel's attack.
  • The Reveal: Quite a few later on, but like everything at that point in the show, there are times when it can get a little hard to figure what exactly is being revealed.
  • Riding into the Sunset: Occurs in a very odd and somewhat disturbing fashion in EoE as after Instrumentality is overturned, Unit 01, fossilized and still carrying Yui's soul, flies into space accompanied by the Lance of Longinus, beginning its "eternal reminder" journey.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Post-its all over the guts of the Magi; quantum physics graffiti in the room where Rei was born; random religious symbols and artifacts strewn about the place; graphs from a particle accelerator...heck, we're talking about a massive underground complex full of crazy here.
  • Sacred First Kiss: Subverted. Shinji and Asuka kiss, but it's painfully unromantic, it doesn't lead anywhere, and she never does stop bullying him, although she does later on seem to be pissed off that he wasn't more enthusiastic about it. A different subversion happens in the manga; Shinji and Asuka are just about to kiss, but are interrupted by Kaji and Misato.
  • Sanity Slippage: Oh so much...
    • Episode 22, in particular, pretty much revolved around Asuka's mental breakdown.
    • Shinji goes through a gradual one over the latter half of the series, and finally cracks in End.
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: Gendou, to emphasise him being a case of Four Eyes, Zero Soul (well, actually a subversion).
  • Screamer Trailer: The show and, by extension, its director are very fond of this effect.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot:
    • At one point, Misato and Kaji are in bed together, nude. The "camera" turns away, and stays focused, unmoving, on a nearby table while you hear the two of them going at it.
    • End features a couple. The "Shinji wanking" sequence is an Unsexy Discretion Shot; we hear what's going on but only see the output. Later on, Shinji is treated to a trippy flashback of Misato and Kaji screwing around in college. We mostly just see their feet, but the movement (and Misato's squealing) during the scene makes it decidedly more graphic than any of the TV sex scenes.
  • Shapeshifting Excludes Clothing: After a certain event, the only thing left of people are their clothes and pools of orange fluid.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: While supporting characters with a more comedic disposition appear less and less frequently (especially after Touji loses a leg in Unit-03), when Pen Pen is sent off to live with the Horaki family in episode 24, you just know this episode will be extra-dark.
  • Sinister Geometry: Ramiel. Unlike other Angels, defeating him required a very precise shot that Shinji had only two chances of making, using all of the electricity in Japan, as it was impossible to approach or shoot from a distance otherwise; this made Ramiel arguably the strongest Angel in the series.
  • Sixth Ranger:
    • Asuka, who joins in episode 8 and disrupts the social equilibrium and harasses Shinji to the point he starts to regress.
    • Kaworu Nagisa, who joins in episode 24 and is revealed to be the last Angel, except humanity.
  • Slap-on-the-Wrist Nuke: N2 Mines. Although they are devastatingly effective against unshielded targets (Tokyo-3 and the Geofront in End), their effectiveness against the Angels ranges from significant (Israfel takes six days to recover from one) to minimal (Sachiel is damaged but heals very quickly) to useless (Sahaquiel and Zeruel are completely unfazed).
    • They are also used against Asuka in End, one of which hits Unit 02 in the head, and another that is stopped with a punch. In the manga, these are, however, left out during Asuka's seemingly final battle.
  • Smash Cut: Often, usually skipping from an Eva having its butt whooped to a replay of the damage.
  • Smoking Hot Sex: In episode 20, Misato says she only smokes after "things like this".
  • Solemn Ending Theme: Several different versions of "Fly Me to the Moon".
  • Spirit Advisor:
    • Yui Ikari to Shinji and Gendou — and also to Fuyutsuki in the videogame Evangelion: Another Cases.
    • In The End Of Evangelion, Rei and Kaworu become this.
  • Stealth Insult: Implied when Rei tells Asuka she’ll befriend her only if ordered to. Given that she befriends Shinji without being ordered to and defies Gendou’s orders twice later on—when told to attack the Angel-possessed Unit 03, because Touji was inside, and when told to allow him to initiate the Third Impact the way he wanted, this could be either a verbal slap to the face or a case of character development.
  • Suggestive Collision: Shinji falls with Rei, causing him to land on top of her, with one hand on her breast. Being an Emotionless Girl, she doesn't react in any way.
  • Surrealism: Eva's usage of metaphor and symbolism to depict characters' psychological experiences is a heavily surrealist technique. The most notable instances of this are probably the Mind Rape and sandbox sequences, although really it's omnipresent throughout the series.
  • Surreal Horror: The series periodically slips into this, particularly during encounters with the Angels and The End of Evangelion.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: "Non"-nuclear mines.
  • Takes One to Kill One: The Evas are basically the only weapons humanity has which can go toe to toe with the Angels themselves, partially because they are derived from Angels.
  • Tanks for Nothing: In both the opening episode and the movies, tanks will fire massive barrages at the Angels, and do no damage at all.
  • Techno Babble: Averted. The technological jargon makes sense if you make an effort to follow it, even though there is a lot of it.
  • Teen Genius: Asuka claims to have a college degree, but it's never addressed.
  • Tell Me About My Father:
    • Shinji asks both Rei and Kaji about Gendou at different points. Neither of them offer up much info.
    • He also asks about his mother at one point... to Gendou, of course, so it had much the same result.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • In episode 11, when the power goes out in the city, one of the characters comments that it would be really bad if an Angel were to appear now. Cue next scene, showing an Angel appearing and approaching the now defenseless city.
    • In episode 22, Asuka complains about how the Angel hasn't shown up—just before she gets hit by its Mind Rape beam.
  • Through His Stomach: Hikari's method for getting close to Touji.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: It's debatable whether the final two anime episodes really happened or were all taking place in Shinji and the other protagonist's heads.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: Shinji's only moments of 'happiness' are so far and few they deserve their own drinking game. Let's see: when Gendou or Misato actually praise him overtly; when Rei reacts somewhat warmly to his presence; when he can hang around with Touji and Kensuke; when he thinks he's fusing with his mom; when Kaworu stands close to him looking handsome and saying ambiguous things. That's all. Every form of comfort has gotten out of his reach by the time The End of Evangelion happens. But congratulations, Shinji and all the children of the world!
  • Toilet Humor: In the first Petit EVA short, Unit 01 trades lunches with Shinji...but its lunch is nothing but batteries. Unit 01 expects Shinji to eat, so he does. The last scene shows Shinji coming out of a bathroom stall holding his butt and groaning.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Humanity, being the ultimate result of the terraforming process started by Lilith, is collectively the 18th Angel, and every single living thing on Earth is just protoplasmic ooze held bodily together by energy fields which are the physical manifestation of the ego. Angels are another, alternate conception of humanity, with the ability to exert physical control but with limited self-understanding.
  • Transformation Trauma:
    • Especially in End of Evangelion where Rei merges with Lilith and embryonic Adam and becomes a giant... something... and subsequently ushers in the infamous "Everyone hugs and turns into Tang" sequence.
    • On the other hand, the trauma is noticeably absent in the case of Gendou merging his hand with Adam. Heck, he's so stone-faced about it that in the manga, he even eats Adam in a very insane and squicky scene. Later, when Adam appears as an eyeball in his left palm, Gendou's reaction is basically "Oh, there you are."
  • Trauma Swing: During Asuka's Mind Rape and during a flashback to Shinji's childhood in The End of Evangelion. However, unlike other examples of this trope, neither one actually sits on a swing.
  • Tricksters: The Evangelions, Rei, Lilith and the Angels (with special mentions to Kaworu in all versions, Adam, and Iruel) are noteworthy examples. Yui (especially as a Spirit Advisor) is a more debatable case, and let's say Gendou is very mysterious and manipulative.
  • Tsundere:
    • Anime: Asuka is a glorious Type A; Misato has a few tsundere characteristics too.
    • Manga: Some fans view manga!Shinji as a tsundere character, mainly in his sarcastic treatment of Asuka and Kaworu.
    • Non-canon: In Shinji Ikari Instrumentality Project, Yui is a Type B with violent approaches and Hilarity Ensues, whereas Rei tends to be a Type B who gives the cold shoulder to Shinji whenever she can't deal with her feelings towards him.
  • Twenty Minutes into the Future: Despite the series being set 20 years after its production, technology seems to have developed fairly little, the only obvious exception being the ubiquitous use of laptops in classrooms. Justified, given the tremendous effort needed to rebuild the world after the Second Impact.
  • Two-Keyed Lock: In episode 13, Hyuga and Aoba unsuccessfully try to do this to shut off the MAGI system before an Angel (which has taken the form of a computer virus) can infect it.
  • The Unreveal: So many examples, but two very noteworthy [and memetic] examples are who killed Ryouji Kajinote  and "Ritsuko Akagi, the truth is..."Japanese .
    • The manga had this to offer out for the latter - "Ritsuko Akagi. Until now, your work was quite exemplary. I did love you."
  • Unusual Euphemism: One episode mentions thermal expansion in several different scenarios. One of these scenarios involves Shinji hearing Asuka and Misato giggling and talking about touching each other while at a hot spring. Shinji looks down and complains about "thermal expansion".
  • Unwanted Harem: Shinji is quite pimpin', for a skinny teen with a crippling social phobia.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: SEELE's ultimate plot.
  • Vibroweapon: The Progressive Knives, the enormous combat knives each Eva unit carries. They can hurt Angels, but are generally a last-resort weapon.
  • Wall Slump: Misato's death in The End of Evangelion, where she leans against the wall to hide her mortal injuries after being shot from Shinji, then collapses against it when he leaves.
  • The Watson: Sometimes Maya, sometimes Misato, sometimes Shinji. Actually, so few characters know what's really going on that they all have their Watson moments.
  • We Have Been Researching Phlebotinum For Years: Shinji, a slightly disfunctional boy, witnesses an Eldritch Abomination attacking the city then is promptly thrown into the cockpit of a Humongous Mecha that's not really a mecha at all: it's alive and is VERY bloodthirsty. It takes a few episodes until he gets the explanation about what the hell is going on but never gets told about what he's piloting until three episodes from the end. It's unclear which is worse: that he was told so late or that he was told at all. Regardless which one is true, Shinji got an all-expenses-paid visit to the Despair Event Horizon for his effort.
  • We Have Reserves: The Reiquarium.
    • All of Shinji's classmates are potential Eva pilots.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Shinji; one of the central pillars of his character is to do something to get Gendou to acknowledge him.
  • What Measure Is A Nonhuman:
    • Shinji angsts about this after the double whammy of learning Rei's secret and being ordered to terminate Kaworu.
    • There's also the little thing about the Angels' nature.
  • What the Hell, Dad?:
    • You'll be saying this to Gendou quite a bit. Shinji does in the manga but not in the anime.
    • Asuka actually inverts this in End Of Evangelion when she realizes her mom's soul is in Unit 02. She sees it as her mom protecting her in battle.
  • White Mask of Doom: Several of the Angels have what looks like white masks with little more than eyeholes.
  • Working with the Ex: This applies to Kaji and Misato, who was none-too-pleased when she found out that Kaji would be staying with NERV after delivering Asuka and Unit 02, and lashed out at him at nearly every chance she got afterwards. The bickering led Ritsuko to comment that they sounded like an old married couple.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Shinji, over and over and over...

  • Adult Fear: While the plot focuses mainly on adolescent characters, the themes of self-loathing, social phobia, and the inevitability of hurting and being hurt by those close to us strike a nerve for many adult viewers, which is to say nothing of the conspiracy-related plot threads and the horrific portrayal of war (and the notion of being attacked by your own government and countrymen) in The End of Evangelion. It's also worth noting that the series contains what is probably one of the most thorough and realistic portrayals of manic depression in any medium. All of this is a case of Real Life Writes the Plot: Hideaki Anno was going through a very rough patch in his life.
  • Adults Are Useless: Zigzagged. Adults can't pilot the Evas, but they made, maintain, prepare, and otherwise function as integral team members around them. Played more strangely by the quasi-military setting, as the adult characters can go from a supervisory body to the pilots, to genuine help, to active hinderences and back, some times within the same episode.
  • The Anti-Nihilist/Be Yourself: Played in a straight but horrifyingly cynical way.
  • Cannot Spit It Out:
    • A central theme of the series is that characters can't admit their deeper feelings for one another, and/or can't find the right way to comfort those they care about. So many examples, it's almost easier to list the aversions, and even the aversions tend to have a tragic cast to them.
    • Asuka is a simultaneous example and subversion; she has no problem letting everyone know the "depths" of her feelings for Kaji, but this becomes a way of deflecting attention from her developing feelings for Shinji.
    • Another exception: Kaworu, the final Angel, is the only character in the whole series (and possibly the only person in-universe since the death of Yui) who expresses love to Shinji in so many words.
    • Misato finally comes to terms with just how deeply she cares for Kaji...after he's dead.
    • Even Gendou admits to his fear of bonding with his son once his vague apocalyptic plan has failed and he realizes he's going to be killed.
  • Catch Phrase: In the anime, Shinji is constantly saying "I mustn't run away!"; also Asuka's repeated refrain of "What are you, stupid?" Let's also not forget all the times when Gendou tells Fuyutsuki to "handle the rest of this" "Scenario" and variants of "So," "Yes," and "I understand."
  • Contemplate Our Navels
  • Cosmic Horror Story: But the Psychological Horror of it all is also coupled with contemplations on existentialism.
  • Cyberpunk: Evangelion has quite a few transhumanist, cyberpunk and post-cyberpunk traits, such as The Singularity.
  • Family-Unfriendly Violence: So much, it is rumoured the series generated a reinforcement of censorship laws in Japan.
  • Fatal Flaw:
    • Asuka’s brash character and abusive behaviour towards Shinji, especially after he outdoes her in the synchro test, completely messes up the group mentality and damages Shinji psychologically to the point he has to struggle to recover.
    • Shinji’s tendency to sink into hopeless depression before struggling with his challenges ultimately lead to him being too late to save Asuka in episode 25'.
    • Naoko Akagi’s lingering affection for Gendou prevent her from destroying Nerv and preventing the Third Impact when Gendou brings Rei to initiate it.
  • Four Is Death: Unit 04 explodes on its activation test. Unit 03, the actual fourth Evangelion, is infected by an Angel and eventually killed in a brutal manner by a dummy plug-controlled Unit 01. The pilot was, naturally, the Fourth Child, who just became the fourth person his new girlfriend makes lunches for.
    • When Shinji reaches 400% synchronization rate, his body disintegrates into LCL.
  • Grey and Gray Morality: Opponents NERV/SEELE and the Angels share a common goal: to defeat the opponent and initiate Third Impact for their own ends. NERV and SEELE want to hijack it and start the Human Instrumentality Project, and the Angels want their planet back.
  • Humans Are Flawed/Humans Are the Real Monsters/Humans Are Special: NERV and SEELE's motivation is that humanity, as it exists, can't be happy. Kaworu, despite having been raised (and perhaps created) by SEELE values the achievements of human culture and respects Shinji's ability to pick himself up and keep going after heartbreak instead of giving up on life the way Gendou and SEELE have. The belief that humans, not Angels, should have the future is the motive for his Heroic Sacrifice, and he later appears after Third Impact as a Spirit Advisor and the symbol that not all Humans Are Bastards: he's the one person to ever show pure, untainted kindness to Shinji, and if even an Angel can do that...
  • Humongous Mecha: A mecha series that uses both Super Robot and Real Robot tropes, and promptly deconstructs them.
  • Irony:
    • The show was meant as a deconstruction of Merchandise-Driven Giant Robot series. It has become the most heavily marketed, publicized, referenced, and rereleased animated production ever.
    • Rei, who throughout the series is tormented by the knowledge that she is replaceable and struggles to establish an identity of her own, has become one of the most archetypal anime characters in history, and most of her "clones" lack the Hidden Depths of her character.
    • Euangelion means good news in Greek. Considering how it "ends," it's not exactly good news.
  • Lonely Together: Basically subverted. The conditions are there, but the characters are ultimately too screwed up to really help each other, as demonstrated by scenes like Misato's failed attempt to console Shinji after Rei's death. Asuka in particular is very bitter that Shinji only wants to be with her because he doesn't have anyone else.
  • Love Dodecahedron: Played for angst rather than laughs. Here's a schematic diagram.
  • Love Makes You Evil: And that man's said evil—or at least, morally ambiguous Batman Gambit—makes the whole world suffer.
  • Messianic Archetype: Yui Ikari, the self-sacrificial Rei Ayanami, and Kaworu "He Died For Your Sins" Nagisa. Shinji even has a few "temptation scenes" involving the choice of rejecting the world completely and being Tanged forever or, in the manga, of going ballistic on humanity with his Luciferian dad. Granted, he's a darkly ironic and/or pathetic kind of messiah.
    • "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."
  • Number of the Beast:
    • Ritsuko uses a "Type 666" firewall to protect NERV's MAGI from hacking by SEELE in End of Evangelion.
    • In "Rebirth" Misato is seen in (or in the bay next to) parking bay 667, which the English voice actors joked was the Neighbour of the Beast.
  • New Wave Science Fiction: When you boil down the Cyberpunk elements and enter the Angel's domain, that's where things get really far out. Classical Anti-Hero? Check. Starfish Aliens? Check. Post modernism? Dear Anno, there's so much subtext. Much of the controversy about this series stems from, in addition to Real Life Writes the Plot, using anything (and EVERYTHING) as a symbolic device, to the point of inconsistent meanings per symbol.
  • Oedipus Complex: The relationship of the Ikari family, and whenever a character's parent comes up.
  • 108: The Marduk Institute, ostensibly an advisory group put together to select Eva pilots, is actually just a group of 108 dummy companies owned by NERV and SEELE.
  • Parental Abandonment: Evangelion deals with its consequences.
  • Poor Communication Kills: A major theme of the series. And they're not kidding about the "kill" part.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Asuka and Rei, who've taken up where Kei and Yuri left off and ran with it. 3-4 paired figure sets a year for more than a decade. Also notice that their hair and eye colors are inverted — Rei's red eyes and blue hair vs. Asuka's blue eyes and red hair. It even carries over to their Evas once Asuka is introduced.
  • Sex Is Violence: Loosely implied throughout the series, then made Squick-inducingly obvious during The End of Evangelion.
  • Save The World Climax: Every fight has the fate of humanity hang in the balance, but it's all a plan by a few fractions of humanity to initiate the end of the world on their own terms. As their plans collide, the end of the world ends up in the hands of a mentally fractured teenager, with disastrous results.
  • Science Fantasy: To the point it’s hard to tell which genre is used sometimes.
  • Tragedy: The fatal flaws of the characters should tell you something.
  • War Is Hell: With everything involved in that Crapsack World, Child Soldiers have it even worse. The End of Evangelion is where it is at its highest point.

  • The Abridged Series: Evangelion Abridged.
    • There's also another few, most notable out of them being Reborn Zombie's Evangelion Abridged and The Puerto Rican Pizza Dude's A Parody of Evangelion, although the majority of the latter seems to have been banned by Bandai Channel. The former is still active, the latter seems to have gone dormant.
    • LittleKuriboh made a one-episode abridgement for a charity event.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The manga, to a degree. Some fans consider some of its changes to be an improvement upon the original anime. More attention is devoted to character relationships, several filler plots (including some of the less consequential Angels) are cut altogether, and a very controversial scene (you know the one) is changed to be more acceptable and more appropriate. On the other hand, Asuka's screentime (so to speak) is cut down some, although the core parts of her story are preserved, and others are addednote , expandednote , or alluded tonote .
  • Adaptation Expansion: The manga details more of the odd relationship between Shinji and Rei, gives Kaji a tragic backstory, makes Kaworu much more prominent, and the battle with the MP Evas is expanded since Shinji gets in on the action.
  • [adult swim]: Aired on the network during the mid-2000's, bringing about a Newbie Boom.
  • All There in the Manual: There are a few guidebooks that attempt to elucidate the series. Given that it's intentionally left up to the reader, they are less than helpful. There's also a PS2 game (Neon Genesis Evangelion 2) that contains a large amount of backstory for the series, including on the "First Ancestral Race". The in-game info is based on interviews with Hideaki Anno; however, since it's never been confirmed, the canonicity is technically up for debate.
    • It's worth noting that the voice actress for Ritsuko, Yuriko Yamaguchi, practically spells out Gendou's silent line from The End of Evangelion in her essay in the film's theatrical pamphlet, but non-Japanese fans are still scratching their heads nearly fifteen years after its release since the essay was never made available to them. The manga version of events further complicates the mystery by offering a different version of events leading up to the line (which is actually "heard" in the manga), and some fans believe that the manga line could also apply to the original version events despite obvious differences in characterization and the line's incompatibility with Yamaguchi's essay.
  • Alternate Continuity: Especially noticeable in the video games and mangas Girlfriend of Steel 2 and Shinji Ikari Raising Project as well as in Neon Genesis Evangelion: Campus Apocalypse and the Hobby Japan-exclusive "sequel" Evangelion ANIMA.
  • Alternate Universe: In the omake at the end of End of Evangelion, and during the Third Impact sequence in episode 26; the latter has of late become an official Elseworld with its own manga.
  • Anime Theme Song: "A Cruel Angel's Thesis" is definitive of the franchise.
  • Artistic License – Physics:
    • That's not what a Dirac sea is... at all. The show also fails quantum physics forever by throwing it around as a metaphor combined with Rule of Cool.
    • An in-universe example for whoever came up with the "Second Impact" cover story. Regardless of speed, a meteor as small as they described would airburst from friction, not capable of surviving our atmosphere long enough to hit the ground. Also, regardless of speed or angle, it would take a gigantic (dozens or hundreds of kilometers) stellar body to knock the Earth's axis off enough to cause the changes in seasons shown (for that matter, how would Adam's self-destruct be forceful enough to cause that?). Not to mention that an impact that destructive would hurl a shitload of ejecta into the atmosphere, causing a global nuclear winter that would lead to far more negative long-term effects than shown in the show (maybe Adam's explosion was focused up and out, not down?).
      • Adam was in the process of terraforming the Earth to support Angelic life as opposed to Lilim life. That's what caused the climate changes, not his subsequent explosion when they did whatever it was they did to regress him into embryonic form. That Earth is still habitable at all is only because they shut him down before he could finish. That it was caused by the explosion itself is just part of the cover story.
  • Author Appeal: The Judeo-Christian overtones, giant Adams, etc. probably also count as Author Appeal, when you compare Eva to Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water and other Gainax/Khara series. So do the angsty characters, ethical debates about biotechnologies, DNA imagery, etc.
  • Author Tract: Having been inspired by Anno's own battle with depression, the series contains numerous in-depth discussions of the human condition and concludes with a lengthy expose on the thought process that leads Shinji to overcome his own depression, go on living and reject the Assimilation Plot he finds himself a part of.
  • Author Avatar: Word of God says Shinji is this, but Anno has mentioned that there are small aspects of himself in every main character; for instance, he is a vegetarian like Rei and was edgy (before his marriage) like Asuka.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Played straight, averted, and subverted, depending on which part or version of the story you're talking about.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Many. For example, the Japanese title for the last episode is "The Beast That Shouted "I" at the Heart of the World." The fact that "I" is pronounced the same way as "ai," the Japanese word for "love," triggers a second meaning. "The Beast that Shouted Love at the Heart of the World" is a classic science fiction story (and also the title of an anthology) by Harlan Ellison. There are also numerous songs in English, from the original compositions used in The End of Evangelion and Rebuild to "Fly Me To The Moon" and "Hallelujah" in the TV series. Additionally, there is a lot of English and German terminology, and some unsubtitled dialogue in German, especially in the English dub.
    • In particular, the legendary Lyrical Dissonance of "Komm, Süßer Tod" is completely lost on The End of Evangelion's original audience, as the song wasn't even subtitled for the film's Japanese release.
  • Bishonen Line: Kaworu. If you're familiar with this trope, the revelation doesn't come as much of a surprise.
  • Book Ends:
    • The bookend Reis, one in the first episode and the other in End.
    • Another easily-overlooked example, probably Fridge Brilliance: Shinji's first line inside Unit 01 is "Kimochi warui" (something akin to "I feel disgusted/unwell.") This is more famously Asuka's last line in End.
    • Episodes 1 and 24 have an interesting case of bookends. In episode 1, the Angel towers over Shinji. In episode 24, however, Unit-01 towers over the Angel.
    • The boat Ritsuko is riding during her first appearance is visible in the foreground during her death scene.
  • Bragging Theme Tune: Played straight, despite the lyrics being about Shinji.
    • Shinji does save the world multiple times and becomes a god during the final. So it is not like it is incorrect.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Both the original ending and Evangelion: Death include visual references to a theater stage. The End of Evangelion takes it even further. A young Shinji is shown building a sand castle of the GeoFront...and then the camera backs up and shows that he's under stage lighting. Later on, there is a live-action sequence, which includes equivalents of several of the characters. The latter is even described as being a "dream" and "not Shinji's reality," hence the postmodern overtones of the movie.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: As the series progresses to its final episodes, all attempts at making jokes are dropped.
  • Covers Always Lie: A mild example at the back cover of End Of Evangelion's DVD; Touji and Kaworu are shown wearing plug suits, even though Touji does not appear at all and Kaworu only at the very end of the series.
  • Cut Short: Not the series itself — controversial as it is, the TV ending does wrap things up pretty neatly, if only from a thematic standpoint. Rather, in the original cut of Death and Rebirth, the "Rebirth" episode just...ends. Right in the middle. This effectively pissed off a number of Japanese fans who saw the movie in theaters (and Western fans who bought the VHS/DVD) expecting the final conclusion to the series, only to find out that they had to wait for The End of Evangelion.
  • Deconstructor Fleet: The series took a lot of the nagging questions about Humongous Mecha series and anime in general - "Why are all the central protagonists the same age?" "Why would a vehicle care about its pilot's mental state?" "Why are the mecha's abilities so closely matched to their enemies?" "How did the main character suddenly become the best fighter with zero experience?" etc. - and returned pretty much the most depressing, terrifying answers possible.
  • Depending on the Artist: The show's artwork and animation quality varied a good bit from episode to episode. For example, episode 19 has noticeably thicker lineart in close-ups, 16's coloring is somewhat lighter and saturated, and 9 brought us a very bishie Shinji. Episode 11, having been animated with help from Ghibli, has received some flak for the significant difference in art style. Also, due to the budget shrinkage that led to, well, you know, much of episodes 21-24 needed to be redrawn for DVD, leading to further variation in the styles. Also, see Off Model below.
    • For some reason, whether Misato has lipstick on or not rotates, sometimes several times in the same scene.
    • Most of the female characters' hair lengths change frequently, particularly Misato who sometimes has fairly long hair and sometimes it appears to only reach down to her collarbones.
  • Deranged Animation: Numerous examples, but especially episodes 25 and 26 and The End of Evangelion.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The less said about the points related to Freud Was Right, the better.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady:
    • Shinji is essentially a Gender Flip of Nadia (see here for notes from Sadamoto himself). He was described by Sadamoto as looking like "a boyish young girl" (more evidence here), and was made as such to distinguish him from the mecha heroes at that time. Shinji's feminine facial features are brought up by Misato in the first episode, and during the eighth and ninth episodes he's made to look like a girl from nothing more than a wardrobe change.
    • One of the official games that had its scripts designed from interviews with Anno also had Fuyutsuki say that Shinji looked just like Yui and then crossdress Shinji for the role all while saying how beautiful "she" looks; Fuyutsuki's actions soon become overtly sexual.
    • Shinji and Kaworu also make rather pretty girls with little more than a hair and eyelash change (and breasts); in the GenderFlip version of episode 24, longer haired Shinjiko ends up looking like a young version of Yui.
  • DVD Commentary:
    • The Movies feature commentaries by Amanda Winn Lee, her husband and Taliesin Jaffe, which are generally beloved/despised (some have even nicknamed it "Commentary of Evil") for being mostly riffing, with a lot of conjecture about the possible meanings behind the films' abstract symbolism, and details on the process of dubbing the films and remastering the audio.
    • The Platinum Edition of the TV series featured commentaries on several episodes as well, albeit less memorable ones.
  • Easter Egg:
    • Spike Spencer (Shinji's English dub actor)'s famous rant about the original ending from Shinji's POV, which includes gems such as "W-what's an Eva? Is that sort of a Freudian thing, I real?" and "I mustn't run away, I mustn't run — okay, I got that, good, okay, now if I were to run away, let's analyze that, where the fuck would I go!?" Take a listen. It's even better if you think about how much Spencer's Shinji voice sounds like Larry the Cucumber from Veggie Tales.
    • End of Evangelion has an awesome one. Early in the movie when Misato checks the computers, the screen with orange text has her saying "So that's what happened during Second Impact". However, the text is in fact a brief bio of Studio Gainax with IMPORTANT-LOOKING, ALL-CAPS phrases like SECOND IMPACT and ADAM inserted at random.
  • Expy
    • Shinji, Ritsuko, Asuka, and Kensuke are similar to Nadia, Electra, Grandis, and Jean from Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, respectively. Also, Asuka may be viewed as a partial expy of Jung Freud of Gunbuster fame.
    • Additionally, the later Gainax productions FLCL and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann seem to exist to represent how Shinji would have turned out if he was raised more successfully. Gainax staff have said that while creating the male protagonists for their recent major productions, they asked themselves how Shinji would have turned out if he had been brought up in different circumstances.
    • The Evas themselves are loosely based on the God Warriors, giant radioactive cyborgs from Hayao Miyazaki's Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, which Anno worked on during his brief stint as an animator for Studio Ghibli.
  • Fan Disservice: Many instances, with Shinji masturbating over a comatose Asuka and the more bizarre aspects of the Rei/Lilith hybrid in End of Evangelion being two of the most extreme, as well as the "naked Yui tempting Shinji" sequence in the manga.
  • Fan Fiction: Attempts to fix the story through massive fan rewrites, or crossovers with everything from Warhammer 40,000 to the Cthulhu Mythos to Star Trek have become so prevalent that they now deserve their own subgenre of the craft.
  • Fanservice: Every character below the age of 31. The anime actually lampshaded this in the "next episode" previews, as Misato always promised "more fanservice!"
    • Ironically, episodes that Misato promised would have fanservice, always seemed to have less than episodes where no such promise was made in the previews.
  • For Want of a Nail/In Spite of a Nail: A number of the Alternate Universe works differ in varying degrees. Evangelion ANIMA in particular takes place three years after the anime wherein Third Impact never happens in part due to Kaji staying alive to warn NERV of SEELE's planned attack.
  • Filk Song: Everything by Fight Star. Also "A Thousand Angels" and "With Me Now" by Rachel Macwhirter.
  • Gag Dub: Evangelion Re Death, which is notable not only for becoming one of the first highly popular and meme-spawning Gag Dubs in Western fandom, but for doing so years before the genesis of Youtube and the Abridged Series phenomenon.
  • Gainaxing: Especially Misato.
  • Gender Flip: Several fans have theorized that the three leads are examples; noting how few would speak ill of a sad little Moe Shinji, Hot-Blooded Jerk Ass Asuka, and The Stoic Rei were they the opposite genders. This video shows a nice example of that idea.)
  • Genre-Busting: It's simultaneously a Giant Robot, Real Robot and mecha Deconstruction, a sci-fi thriller, a psychological drama, and a trippy Postmodernist diatribe.
  • Genre Shift: The series moved from a shonen magazine (Shonen Ace) to a seinen magazine (Young Ace), more due to its infamous Schedule Slips than for actual changes in the content.
  • Geodesic Cast:
    • The casting for the show pretty much revolves around the Power Trio, with a few characters even being part of more than one. In fact, the only two characters that don't fit into a trio are Pen-Pen, that Jet Alone guy, and the students' teacher...crap, that's three!
    • A meta example also appears in the American dub of the series, as the voice actors for the Bridge Bunnies and the voice actors for the pilots all got married after the production for the series was done. Tiffany Grant (Asuka) married Matt Greenfield (Hyuga), Amanda Winn (Rei) married Jason C Lee (Aoba), and Spike Spencer (Shinji) married Kendra Benham (Maya).
  • Gratuitous English: Frequently. Also, each child pilot is referred to as a "Children" in the Japanese soundtrack: Rei Ayanami is called the "First Children"; Asuka Langley Soryu is called the "Second Children"; Shinji Ikari is called the "Third Children"; and so on.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: The title itself is gratuitous Greek which would translate into English as "New Beginning Gospel" or "Gospel of the New Genesis" which may be more appropriate considering the way Shinji and Asuka are left at the end of End of Evangelion...
  • Gratuitous German: Gehirn = brain, Nerv = nerve, Seele = soul. Also, Asuka's dub dialogue features the occasional German word or phrase, and she has an entire conversation in German on the phone in one episode. And her German is so bad, it does worse things to a German-speakers ears than Arael did to Asuka's mind.
    • In the case of Asuka, the English dub was even more fond of this trope (with Asuka shouting "PERVERSER MENSCH!" ('perverted human') where the Japanese original had the much less cumbersome "ecchi!", just to name one of the many examples). However, it's safe to say that the English voice actresses for her had a somewhat better grasp of the language and got the pronounciation at least kinda right.
  • Heavy Mithril: Kinda. British rock band Fightstar are fans of the series and titled several songs from it. Their song "Lost Like Tears In Rain" even ends with the line "It's Neon Genesis".
  • If You Can Read This: The show's scripts are periodically used as dummy texts.
    • On the other hand, in one episode freeze-framing the show during a particular scene will reveal a shockingly detailed account (written in Surprisingly Good English, no less) of the official cover story for Third Impact.
    • Misato, in End, was reading what really happened at Third Impact. If a curious person decides to read it, they find that it's really a company biography detailing the history of Gainax with words like GEHIRN inserted in all caps here and there to make it look plot relevant to the casual observer.
  • Inverted Portrait:
    • At an early point in the opening credits, Asuka and Rei's naked silhouettes pan over the screen in the background. Asuka is upside-down while Rei is upright.
    • Rei's silhouette can be seen, reflected upside-down in water, spinning against the dark blue background of the Closing Credits.
  • Kudzu Plot: Invoked by, and at the same time resulting in the Mind Screw.
  • Leave the Camera Running: Appears frequently in the later episodes since the studio was getting increasingly short on money and time. This resulted in lots of still images, many scenes showing the characters from a great distance, and liberal use of Stock Footage, presumably to save some coin for the scenes where the Animation Bump was needed (and it was well worth saving the money for those stunningly animated fight scenes.) Notable examples include:
    • Misato watching the train Shinji has apparantly boarded leave the station.
    • The elevator ride with Rei and Asuka. The Directors Cut version at least mixes it a little bit up. That is to say, Asuka moves briefly and only once. The same shot is reused in Evangelion: 2.0, but for a much shorter amount of time (making its inclusion a bit of a joke for fans).
    • Misato being questioned by SEELE after Leliel's defeat: the longest still shot in the series at 80 seconds.
    • Shinji holding Kaworu in Unit 01's hand for one full minute before he crushes him.
    • Asuka curled up in Unit 02 at the bottom of the lake.
    • Misato and Shinji's Last Kiss.
  • Licensed Game: A number of games were created for Evangelion, including Neon Genesis Evangelion 64, a Nintendo 64 adaptation of the anime and End of Evangelion; Evangelion: Jo, a PS2/PSP adaptation of the first Rebuild of Evangelion movie, anime, and EOE: and Neon Genesis Evangelion: Battle Orchestra, a PS2 Platform Fighter.
  • Lonely Piano Piece
  • Lost in Translation: As a result of the varying translators and distributors, some nuances of the screenplay, particularly several instances of Arc Words and phrases, are lost or at least obscured by the English translations, especially in the dub. This is acknowledged in the DVD commentary of End of Evangelion.
  • Lyrical Cold Open: "Zankoku na Tenshi no These."
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Komm, Süsser Tod", legendarily so. (It used to be right at the top of that trope's page.)
  • Meaningful Name: Quite a few:
    • "Shinji" ironically evokes the words for "truth" or "to believe" and can also mean "divine child." Shinji's name is even punned on in Rebuild 1.0; Misato exhorts Gendou to "believe in his own son", invoking of course the word shinji.
    • "Rei" can mean, among other things, "zero," "ghost" and "cold."
    • "Yui" puns on the word "yui" meaning "the only one."
    • "Gendou" is "limit" or "boundary."
    • "Ikari" uses the character for "anchor" (part of the nautical theme), but with a different character would be "wrath" or "anger."
    • "Nagisa" means "shore", but if you split the kanji in two you could read it as either "messenger" or "dead person."
    • The Japanese word given to the Angels, "shito," actually means "apostle" and in the original draft they were named accordingly in English. The "shi" in it is the same as in "shisha" (messenger; the literal meaning of Greek angelos and the Aramaic term it served as the translation of) and "tenshi" (heavenly messenger, i.e. angel in the English sense). It also sounds very close to the Japanese word for "person" or "human being," "hito", maybe hinting at one of the deep secrets of the series.
    • The Angels' appearances and attacks are based on their names: for example, Sandalphon, the angel of embryos, starts off as an embryo in a volcano; Arael is the angel of birds; Israfel, who's beaten with music, is the angel of music; Kaworu aka Tabris is the angel of free will, and chooses to die rather than kill humanity, i.e. kill Shinji.
    • "Evangelion" comes from "eüangélion", the Anglicanized version of the Greek word meaning "gospel" or "good news", which has led the series' title to sometimes be interpreted as "New Century Gospel" or "New Beginning Gospel".
    • "Seele" is German for "soul"; "Nerv" for, well, "nerve"; and "Gehirn" for "brain".
  • Medium Blending: The real-life photographs scattered throughout the series, particularly in the last two episodes, and an entire live-action sequence in The End of Evangelion.
  • Mind Screw: This show is the codifier for this trope in anime, especially in End. The fact that it also named Gainax Ending should definitely tell you something.
    • The plot basically goes like this: some aliens attacking Earth, and they need to be destroyed. The show is constantly setting you up for a big reveal by hinting at the truth and constantly introducing new plot threads that come from the aliens. And then... nothing. The final episodes, which in any other show would have given you The Reveal, got rid of the "alien attack" element and let the "psychoanalytical drama" element completely take over.
  • Mood Whiplash: Touji's just been nearly mortally wounded and is scarred for life? Cue cheery rendition of "Fly Me to the Moon".
  • No Pronunciation Guide: In the English dub, "Eva" is pronounced like "ey-va" in the series, while in End Of Evangelion it's closer to "evva".
    • Going by the Greek/Latin form of both "evangel" and "Eve", it should be pronounced "ey-va". Going by the Japanese, it's either or.
  • Our Angels Are Different: And how! Ironically, these are a lot closer to the actual, very trippy angel descriptions in The Bible, such as "beryl-coloured wheel within a wheel, each rim covered with eyes" and the like. Of course, they're not really angels, though. They're aliens. But they weren't meant to be.
  • Postmodernism: Oodles of it, especially in The Movie. The show is so postmodern the leaders of the superflat movement claim it as one of its precursors. Now that's some homage...
  • P.O.V. Sequel: The End of Evangelion is generally considered to show the the series' ending in a relatively objective light, whereas the last two episodes of the series show Shinji's personal experience.
  • Product Placement: Asuka plays a Sega Saturn in episode 22. Also, Yebisu/Yebichu beer. The manga has UCC Coffee and Coca-Cola vending machines, and also an iPod in recent chapters.
  • Psycho Strings: Unit 00's leitmotif and its derivative, "The Beast." End also has the track "The End of Midsummer."
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: The series uses various pieces of classical music for half or more of its soundtrack. The frequency of classical music appearing goes up as things get worse. Also when they started to run out of money.
  • The Renaissance Age of Animation: Released around the same time as Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z's dubs to start the North American Anime craze of the mid-late 90s.
  • Rousseau Was Right: Hidden so carefully under a thick veil of cynicism that you'd be forgiven for missing it entirely. But at the end of the day, all of the characters — even Gendou and SEELE — want nothing more than to be loved and accepted, and their actions, however twisted, all stem from their fear and misunderstanding of themselves and others. See the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism entry for more details.
  • Same Content, Different Rating: The Evangelion manga moving from Shonen Ace to Young Ace, thus cementing its Seinen demography since 2009. The actual reason for moving was Sadamoto's infamous Schedule Slips and the fact that Young Ace's editorial puts less pressure on their manga-ka because the magazine is less mainstream than Shonen Ace but still is just as popular. With that said, the actual contents in the series did not change at all to justify its newfound mature demography. If it wasn't for Sadamoto's tight schedule Kadokawa Shoten surely would have transfered Evangelion to just another Shonen magazine.
  • Scenery Gorn: The End of Evangelion is unprecedentedly, lovingly meticulous in its depictions of violence and destruction on a massive scale.
  • Scenery Porn: Especially notable whenever Shinji runs away.
  • Self-Deprecation: Hideaki Anno said a few horrible things about Evangelion.
    Anno: "I don't know why everyone loves this show so much, the characters are so sick!"
    Anno (to a man who spent all his money for textbooks on Evangelion merchandise): "You're an idiot. Study harder."
    Anno: "This show really is interesting, isn't it? I never realized how interesting it was."
  • Shadow Archetype: A good example is Gendou-Shinji: Gendou gives a pretty good idea of an embittered, corrupt and still antisocial adult Shinji. The Evangelions are also pretty good shadows for the pilots' mothers and possibly the pilots themselves. The Angels may also represent humankind's basest instincts.
  • Ship Tease: Shinji/Asuka. Shinji/Misato. Shinji/Kaworu. Shinji/Rei. Kaji/Ritsuko. Gendou/Ritsuko. Maya/Ritsuko. Touji/Hikari. Plenty of others.
  • Shout-Out: See here.
  • Signature Style: This work pretty much codified Anno’s. Just look at his works from before this series (Gunbuster and Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water) and after (Kare Kano, Love & Pop, Shiki-Jitsu), noticeable on this trope’s entry on his page and vice-versa.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Falls on both the idealist end and the cynical end simultaneously, via Ambiguous Situations and playing planetary extinction and Meaningless Villain Victory completely straight, simultaneously.
  • Soaperizing: the point where the last 2 episodes abandon the rest of the plot.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Evangelion loves this trope. Examples include:
    • At the beginning of Asuka's Mind Rape, the freaking Hallelujah Chorus starts playing while we see them go through a traumatic Freak Out.
    • The battle with the Seventeenth Angel in Episode 24, accompanied by a rousing rendition of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy".
    • The ending credits of Death, a visage of an apocalyptic landscape with an overwhelming sense of foreboding, set to Pachelbel's "Canon in D".
    • The brutal fight with the Mass Production Evas and confrontation between Ritsuko and Gendou in The End of Evangelion, set to the soothing strains of Bach's "Air on the G String".
    • And of course, Instrumentality itself, mind-melting psychological trauma of epic proportions, accompanied by "Komm, süsser Tod", an original composition featuring upbeat, jazzy soft rock with lyrics about suicide.
    • In an ironic twist, "Komm, süsser Tod" ends up being used in an entirely different soundtrack dissonance moment in Super Robot Wars Alpha 3. In sharp contrast to the nihilistic lyrics, an instrumental version of the song is played during the upbeat ending for the Evangelion campaign, which sees the events of the film averted and most of the cast alive and happily reunited.
    • This series exemplifies this trope so much that examples alone could fill an entire page.
  • Spell My Name with an "S":
    • Somewhat justified with Ka(w)oru. The Japanese spelling would correctly be transcribed Kaworu, but the "w," depending on speaker, can become near silent to totally none existent. More generally, the "o" particle in the language is in fact "wo," but with the same issue, typically being transcribed without the "w" in romaji.
      • The synch tests a few minutes into episode 24 show that the official romanization of his name is "Kaworu." This also shows up on the Mass-Produced Evas' dummy plugs.
    • Asuka's last name as well. Is it Soryu, or perhaps Souryu or Sohryu?
  • Spoiler Opening: Played straight and subverted. The opening is loaded with information from all over the series, including prominent shots of all major characters and Evas, thus spoiling their introduction up until nearly a third of the way through the series. On the other hand, the opening also contains Foreshadowing of events right up to The Movie that viewers will not appreciate as such except in retrospect.
  • Squat's in a Name: The Angels' names and some terminology may be biblical, but the series itself has nothing to do with Christianity.
  • Stealth Pun: When Sachiel shanks Unit-01 through the eye in the second episode, it went berserk and jumped several city blocks at the Angel. Well, what do you expect from a one-eyed, one-horned flying purple people eater?
  • Stock Footage:
    • Note how much time the characters spend on elevators and escalators in most episodes; also, Eva launch sequences. The end of the Unit 01 vs. Kaworu scene was also the longest still shot in anime history back then and might still be (but the end of the "Ode to Joy" sounded good!). Let's also not forget the original episodes 25 and 26, which consist almost entirely of reused footage, as the studio had run out of budget by that point.
    • The same clip of Shinji eating breakfast is reused several times, as is a clip of Misato drinking beer.
    • And one scene of a forest being destroyed was actually recycled from Nadia.
    • The clip of Shinji waking up with a start in the hospital is used numerous times.
  • Super Robot Wars:
  • Surprisingly Good English:
    • The American pilots who fly Unit 03 to Japan and NERV employees heard during its activation test speak perfect, unaccented English accompanied by Japanese subtitles. This is because Gainax actually had an American in-house translator, Michael House, working for them at the time of the show's production, and used him to voice the roles, along with two of his friends.
    • Several vocal pieces in The End of Evangelion soundtrack, namely "Thanatos ~ If I Can't Be Yours", "Escape to the Beginning", "Komm, Susser Tod", and the unused "Everything You've Ever Dreamed" are performed in English, by British and American singers, with natural-sounding lyrics. Rebuild does this for numerous tracks, as well.
    • Averted, however, in the case of German. Asuka, who is German by birth, sounds even to a native English speaker distinctly not German when speaking in that language. This in itself is a bit of a meta-inversion of the trope in question: native English speakers tend to be, for obvious historical reasons, much more familiar with German phonetics than native Japanese speakers, making it more obvious to English viewers when a speaker is failing to approximate fluent German speech, whether or not the English viewer could themself fluently speak any dialect or extraction of German.note 
  • Surprisingly Good German: While the Japanese voice actress for Asuka struggled with German, her English dub VA nails it.
  • Suspiciously Apropos Media: Sometimes the characters will be watching a movie or TV show, or listening to the radio, or, hell, really any indirect dialogue, and what is being said always relates to their mindsets, their situations, their world at large, or philosophic inquiries that appear later in the series.
    • For example in episode 4, The Hedgehog's Dilemma, after Shinj slips out of his 10-Minute Retirement he and Misato stare at each other at the train station right after his train leaves. The woman at the intercom then says:
      Woman: If you are accompanied by small children, please keep them close.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: Whenever "The Beast II" plays, something's going to die.
  • Theme Naming:
    • Most characters' family names are those of Japanese ships that were sunk during World War II. Additionally, Asuka's second family name, "Langley" complements this scheme too: Langley was an American ship sunk in World War II. Similarly her mother's second family name Zeppelin in this case references a German aircraft carrier that wasn't completed (just like Kyouko's mind was left fractured).

      Maya Ibuki is both an example of the theme and an exception — while the HIJMS Maya was sunk at Leyte Gulf, the Ibuki would have led the Imperial Japanese Navy's "next generation" cruiser class, but the keel was never laid and the class was canceled.
    • The few important human characters that don't fall into this category are named after ship parts, and Nagisa (shore) is close as well.
    • Hikari and her two sisters Kodama and Nozomi are named after Shinkansen lines.
  • There Are No Therapists: The world would fare better with them.
  • This Loser Is You:
    • Shinji gets this treatment a few times. It's been theorized that Shinji, and even the whole show, were meant as Take Thats against otakus. What makes it funnier is that Shinji might be an Author Avatar of Anno himself, so he'd be including himself as a target with that giant middle finger.
      • Funnier, or possibly sadder, since Anno genuinely doesn't have a very high opinion of himself.
      • Sadamoto confirms in the manga's Bonus Material that Shinji is based on Anno.
    • Kensuke notably averts this: despite being an otaku, he functions normally in society, is quite charming, takes his army roleplay hobby with a grain of salt, and can rely on the knowledge he accumulated as a military otaku to correctly notice that Misato got a promotion (something even Shinji didn’t notice).
  • Title Scream: The eyecatches originally had this during the show's development. These versions can be heard on the S2 Works CD soundtrack set, where they are marked "F-0" and "F-1."
  • Training Montage: Shinji and Asuka training for the second battle with the Seventh Angel.
  • Trope Overdosed: Need we say more?
  • Troperiffic: Deconstructing them, playing them straight, codifying them, and subverting them among other things. Just look at the length of these pages.
  • Unbuilt Trope: Many examples (leading to its Seinfeld Is Unfunny status among some modern viewers).
    • The most obvious is Rei, who would appear to be a brilliant Deconstruction of the Emotionless Girl archetype if not for the fact that she more or less created it.
    • Many tropes that Eva deconstructs have actually been deconstructed in older Super Robot Genre shows, notably the ones that come from the 1970's; in fact the stream of Lighter and Softer shows that defines the Super Robot Genre as a whole isn't so apparent in the 1970's era of Super Robots.
  • Unfamiliar Ceiling: Played with. Shinji is peeved because the NERV sickbay's ceiling is becoming too familiar to him.
  • United Nations Is A Super Power: It having undergone heavy reforms following the Second Impact and the Valentine Treaty of February 2001. To illustrate, all of the world's national militaries are explicitly under direct control of the UN - and are effectively subordinate to UN Special Agency NERV.
  • Unrobotic Reveal: Twice, first with the Evas and then with the dummy plugs.
  • Video Phone: A variation is used, featuring full-sized holograms when Seele is talking to Gendou.
  • Vocal Evolution: The voice actors' performances become more nuanced and multidimensional as the series does. This is more obvious in the English version, but it is true for the Japanese original as well.
  • The Walrus Was Paul: A possible interpretation.
  • Weirdness Magnet: Primarily Shinji, as the plot mainly revolves around the Mind Screw that happens to him (and let's face it, how often do you accidentally fall on a naked blue-haired clone of your dead mother?); Misato, due to her wacky angel-beating schemes and zany alcohol problem; Gendou has psychosis-induced plot-distorting abilities and lacks a sense of ridicule, especially in the manga and (on 'shrooms!) in Shinji Ikari Instrumentality Project; the rest of the cast, to various degrees.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Episodes 18 to 24, each to varying degrees, given the amount of information these episodes supply.
    • To a lesser degree, Episode 14. Even though half of it is a clip show and nothing particularly dramatic happens, it's the point at which the show begins to switch tracks from a by-the-numbers mecha show to a bizarre Mind Screw with existentialist undertones. Notably, this is the first episode with a mind trip sequence, as well as hints about the connection between the pilots and their EVAs and the first appearance of the Lance of Longinus.
  • With Friends Like These...: By around episode 8-10 the DVDs brought this up. When your best friend is a Death Seeker you know you have this.
  • Writer on Board: End of Evangelion apparently subverts this; Anno has made several statements (supported by hints in the TV series) to the effect that it was the planned ending, but there are still fans who say otherwise. A lot of people believe that the hospital scene is nothing but this.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Misato and Kaji (dark purple and sorta greenish respectively); both can be argued to be stylized blacks. Rei and Kaworu are subversions; her blue hair and his gray hair are side effects of her being partly cloned from Lilith and him being the 17th Angel.
  • Your Size May Vary: The Evas are exactly as tall as they need to be to look cool/imposing/sinister in whatever shot they're in.

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alternative title(s): Evangelion; End Of Evangelion; The End Of Evangelion; Neon Genesis Evangelion
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