I Choose to Stay: Subverted. Although Guts returned to the Hawks after leaving them a year earlier, he was determined to leave again after rescuing Griffith and helping out the Hawks - this time, with Casca. However, after seeing the extent of Griffith's mutilated state, Casca feels that it is her responsibility to take care of him and tearfully tells Guts that she can't go with him. Guts, on the other hand, tells her that if she stays behind then he would stay behind to be with her, but Casca tells him that he needs to go alone in order to find his own dream, no matter what. It's interesting to add that before this confrontation, Judeau had just gotten through lecturing Guts to take Casca with him - by force if necessary - but we'll never know how either scenario would have ended.
Later averted post Eclipse, when Guts sets out on his two year long Apostle slaying rampage instead of staying with Casca. Tragically, it's implied that Casca is in the child-like state she is in because she had nobody to help her work through her trauma, because Guts, the only other person who had experienced it, left instead of trying to help her.
I Did What I Had to Do: Griffith's reasoning behind his Face-Heel Turn, not that the audience has much sympathy. Guts gave a more sympathetic one when Casca accused him for being the reason for Griffith's and the band's downfall, sincerely feeling sorry for what has happened but not sure what he could have done to correct what has already taken place.
Inertial Impalement: Casca scores her first kill this way. This happens when the nobleman who had supposedly taken her under his wing tries to rape her. Griffith offers his sword to Casca so she has something to defend herself with, but since at the time Casca was just an ordinary peasant girl, she couldn't have killed the nobleman without this trope. Casca even lampshades this herself:
I don't know whether I stabbed him or if he fell onto the blade. It was my first kill. I was so scared I couldn't cry and couldn't move. I just gripped the bloody sword tightly.
I See Dead People: In Berserk: Millennium Falcon Hen Seima Senki no Sh? Guts sees the ghosts of his comrades from the original Band of the Hawk; Judeau, Corkus, Pippin and later pre-eclipse Casca.
During the first encounter Guts is told that while they find their death's unfortunate the ghosts of Hawks present do not hate Griffith for it. Instead they like to think that because of the nature of their deaths their lives had meaning and it is alright as it was for Griffith's dream.
Right after this because the Guts stating he was fighting to avenge the fallen Hawks the ghosts start to fight him because of his future plans to battle and possibly kill Griffith stating they are still Hawks even after death and Griffith is their leader so they must defend him. Then the player (as Guts) much fight and defeat them all at once. The use of the original VA's doesn't make the conversion or fight any easier. "Watch Here"
I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Judeau tries and succeeds to help Guts and Casca start a relationship together despite his own feelings for Casca.
In fact, when he has mere moments to live, one of the last things he says is intended to remind her of Guts and cheer her up a bit.
If I Can't Have You: Griffith's thought of Guts leaving the Band? If he couldn't have him stay, he'd rather kill him in one of several different ways that he contrived in his head.
If We Get Through This: Played to a similar effect when the Hawks are about to depart on their Griffith rescue operation. Rickert is unable to go with the healthy Hawks because of his broken arm, but Judeau reassures the young lad that once they come back with Griffith, he would be the first one to hug him. Little did either party know that it would be the last time they would see each other...
Not to mention that Guts and Casca were looking forward to the end of this mission, since they had planned on departing from the Hawks and starting a life together. The poor, lovestruck fools.
I'm a Humanitarian: The Apostles. In the first episode of the anime, we first find this out by implication. After the scene where Guts is menaced by the demons, we hear a woman's scream, then immediately segue to the Baron cutting a steak. Given the conversation that follows, we can assume it wasn't beef... In the manga, it comes right out and says that he's a monster who eats human flesh, and many references are made of the Count's cannibalistic tendencies.
Eats Babies: Most Apostles qualify for the aforementioned two. They don't care if the one they're eating is an innocent baby. No, they don't. In fact, the fresher and more tender the meat, the better!
Idealized Sex: Averted, even in the case of Guts and Casca. Though the Official Couple of the series, Their First Time is far from perfect, with Casca bleeding during penetration and wincing in discomfort, and Guts being a bit too rough and frantic with Casca due to his inexperience. Oh, and the part where he suffers a mental breakdown from reliving his childhood rape and nearly strangles Casca. After a cool down, the two have much "fluffier" sex after.
That, and the Skull Knight is most decidedly not a human anymore. He shed his mortal body as far back as when the Godhand first came for him, but he didn't do so by becoming an Apostle. And as his dialogue with the witch indicated, Guts is essentially traveling down the same path that he did, starting with his use of the Berserker Armor.
Impaled Palm: Happens to Guts during his fight with the one-hundred mercenaries, where an archer shoots at Guts but he blocks it with his hand to protect his vitals. He then breaks the arrow with the same palm, kills the archer, and presumes fighting with one hand.
This trope is yet another example of the horrendous type of torture Griffith went through for a year.
A pregnant (not that this was known at the time) Casca is raped by the demon Femto after his creation. This drives Casca insane and corrupts the fetus into a demonic-like grotesque.
Emperor Ganishka's demon soldiers are created by dumping heavily pregnant women into an enormous artificial womb that radiates the woman full of demonic energy. The now-demonic fetus rips its way out of the uterus and joins the others.
When she first joined the Hawks as a child Casca had long hair at the start of the Golden Age Arc (several years later) it is cut super short but grows out slight through out then after the eclipse it has become long again.
Inciting Incident: It was like any other day for young mercenary Guts: take up a contract with some snob general, kill some Giant Mook for him, get paid, get lost. On this day, however, he was Being Watched...
Indecisive Deconstruction: While Berserk acts as a Deconstructor Fleet for most traditional shonen tropes (despite not, itself, being shonen), it takes a more nuanced approach with the idea of following your dreams. It acknowledges that people need something to strive for in order to become stronger, but at the same time: 1) Not everyone can have what they want, 2) Many people's dreams can actually be quite destructive, and 3) Dreams you had as a child SHOULD be abandoned, as they are usually for childish things that aren't worth the effort it would take, or the sacrifices that would have to be made, to get them (ie Griffith is prepared to sacrifice countless lives because he wants a castle).
Infant Immortality: Averted. In Berserk's World Half Empty, there is no such thing. Children and babies are just as likely to be brutally murdered as their parents and Miura makes it a point to show it to us VERY clearly. Hell, even the main characters' unborn child is not spared from a cruel fate.
Inherent in the System: Why life in Midland sucks. True in both the temporal sense (the setting is the Dung Ages; power is concentrated in the hands of a privileged few and war is constant) and the metaphysical (bad people are rewarded with near-unlimited supernatural power; good people are demon chow).
Since being raped by Femto and taking on an infantile mind, Casca has become this, possessing no sense of shame or modesty whenever unclothed. This serves partially as comic relief, but is also played quite a bit for drama, since Guts is still very much sexually attracted to Casca and tries to restrain himself from sexually abusing his insane ex-lover.
And in a rare male example, Griffith, who is quite comfortable being in the nude around others.
Isma is a more straightforward example, having no aversion to standing butt naked in front of Isidro and quick to ditch her clothing when she has to jump into the water. Unlike the examples above, she is not evil and is otherwise a perfectly normal teenage girl... who happens to be a Merrow.
Isma: Tits? Don't worry, they didn't get smaller.
Innocent Flower Girl: The girl whose family aided the Griffith rescue team and gave Griffith a bouquet of flowers. And boy.DO.WE.MEAN.INNOCENT. High mortality is a given for this trope, but did she really deserve to go out that way?! Jesus Christ!!
Intimate Healing: Casca to Guts - on orders from Griffith, and she sulks about it afterwards - and later Guts to Casca.
Intimate Psychotherapy: When Guts had an emotional breakdown from reliving his childhood rape while making love to Casca, rather roughly at first, and then goes so far as choke her, he at first attempted to walk away and deal with his issues on his own. Casca, however, gave Guts a Cooldown Hug and the two proceed to have sex again, though more gentle this time around. After this, Guts's dark childhood ordeal is not talked about again.
Invulnerable Horses: HA! Horses and any other animal are just as likely to get bumped off in a gruesome fashion just as the humans are. Do you know how many horses have been decapitated in this series? Hell - Wyald once punched a horse in the face to get the upper edge on Guts. You don't know whether to decided if that was bitch move or badass.
Irony: Though there are several cases of irony throughout the series, the most iconic would pertain to the fates of Griffith and Casca. Ever since Griffith first saved her from being raped by a nobleman, Casca was able to successfully evade future sexual assaults either by her own merit or being saved by Guts, and Griffith was the person that Casca looked up to the most. During the Eclipse, Casca ultimately gets raped by none other than Griffith as his very first action as demon lord Femto. To add more drama to this is when you look into Casca's character development throughout the Golden Age Arc, where her central struggle focuses on the feelings she has toward Guts and Griffith: she wanted to be of importance to Griffith, but realized that she had no place in his heart, and found love with Guts. The climax to this struggle comes during the Eclipse when she is raped by Griffith. In a sense, Casca is "finally" with the man she desired to be with from the beginning, but in a cruel and horrific way. Fate has not been kind to this woman.
Also, how Farnese turned from a rampant, Pyro Maniac Knight Templar whose motivation was to burn heretics and accused witches, of which half of the motivation went to her own gratification, to a soft-spoken student of witchcraft who merely wants to be of use to others around her.
The series in general just loves throwing cosmic irony at the audience, for obvious reasons.
It's All About Me: When push comes to shove, this is how all would-be Apostles act. The lives of their supposed loved ones mean less to them than their own pain, so they have few qualms against letting other Apostles consume them just to have a new lease on life as an Apostle.
It's Going Down: The Tower of Conviction near the end of the Retribution Arc.
Jerkass Façade: Despite his comparatively noble intentions, Guts often pretends to be a heartless, sociopathic, sadistic Jerkass in order to keep anyone else from being hurt by the Demons that hunt him incessantly.
Arguably, he primarily uses the Jerkass Façade as a psychological-defense mechanism in order to avoid fully facing the horrors that he lives through and the things that he is forced to do in order to survive.
Also arguably he simply is a Jerkass, just also with a bit of Jerk with a Heart of Gold thrown in. He doesn't hesitate to use children as shields or bait when fighting physically more powerful foes, and he butchers anyone who happens to be in his way regardless of whether or not they have perfectly understandable reasons for being there, such as the Knights of the Holy Chain, who were after him largely because he left a path behind him consisting of butchered, unarmed men and women (the bug-creatures once they'd been slain) and barnfulls of burned children (the 'elves' once they were killed).
Kick the Dog: Gambino does this both literally and figuratively throughout his appearance. In fact, he probably deserves some sort of distinguished achievement award - the man manages to Kick the Dog by petting the dog!
Kick the Son of a Bitch: Of all the people he killed and/or maimed, Guts mostly takes on absolute bastards who totally deserved what they got.
Isidro is actually highly competent for his age, being able to put up a good fight against a pirate captain. However, he fails to acknowledge that he's simply not in the same league as the adversaries his party primarily deals with.
Killed Mid-Sentence: An anonymous captain who criticizes Guts for showing how exhausted he is (he just sprinted up several stories of a spiral staircase, killing nonstop). Just as he's telling Guts that he's already lost by showing weakness, his head is cleaved in two.
Kill 'em All: The Anime ending, when all of the Hawks were killed off.
Kill It Through Its Stomach: Happens when Guts wears the berserker armor for the first time, when an apostle eats him when he just put on the armor, but Guts rips through its stomach.
Kill It with Fire: Used effectively within the series several times, no matter the situation.
Kill the Cutie: Colette, right at the beginning. Interestingly enough, there a only a few more instances where this happens to minor characters.
The Kingdom: Why, little 'ol Midland, of course, which has been bullied by not only one empire, but TWO over the span of the series, before Griffith came into action. However, this might all change now that Griffith is basically in charge of the place now that Falconia has arisen, bringing on the age of darkness. Fun times.
Kneel Before Zod: A cruel example, even for this trope. When Griffith is reborn as Femto, Guts' arm is caught between the jaws of the apostle Borkoff, and is thus forced into a kneeling position when Griffith presents himself to him in his reborn form. Then, to make it even more cruel, Griffith begins raping Casca in front of Guts making it quite a despicable act of dominance and submission.
There's only one thing we can do as knights. We are going to protect the people from demons.
Knight of Cerebus: Played straighter in the TV series, since it wasn't as darkin atmosphere (that and the ever persistent presence of General Adon). When Nosferatu Zodd turned up with his prophecy, we knew that things were going to take a less optimistic turn in the story, but despite that the series managed to included a good dosage of comedy. It wasn't until the complete introduction of the Godhand and their newest member, Femto that we knew that shit was getting seriously ugly.
Subverted: The order itself is a ceremonial guard composed of young nobles whose parents wanted them to have the prestige of military service minus the risk associated with actual warfare. Farnese was all Knight Templar, however, and often ordered them to mete out some brutal punishment to supposed heretics.
It should be noted that Guts had one very Knight Templar moment near the end of the Golden Age Arc when he is about to depart from Godo's:
Guts: " (Fear me...) For a good future... you'll be the first... (That I'll kill... I'll erase you all.)"
La Résistance: The Midland resistance against the Kushan occupation of the capital of Windham was headed by Sir Laban and Minister Foss.
Lady and Knight: Charlotte and Griffith respectively, though it's zigzagged all over the joint what with Charlotte being the bright lady character type and Griffith being the knight who (literally) looks bright but has dark intentions.
Guts and Casca also have shades of this during the Retribution Arc and is also zigzagged. Casca is the bright lady, though to her pursuers she is a dark lady. Guts is the dark knight, though he's more of gray knight. Casca became an even bigger threat to the inquisitors and the Holy Iron Chain Knights when they found out that the infamous Black Swordsman, deemed as an omen of evil, came to St. Albion to save her.
A Lady on Each Arm: Griffith: such a studdly man at his ball. The ladies tried this on Guts too, but he failed to be as enthusiastic as his companions. Well, until shecame along - and swept him into herarm!
Lady of War: Farnese, though this is subverted when we find out she can't fight. Casca is a straighter example, even though she wasn't from a privileged background.
Large Ham: Adon Coborlwitz, the commander of the Blue Whale Knight Corps (or the Blue Whale Assault Knights in the anime.) His brother Samson is a caricature of that.
Laughing Mad: With all of the madness that happens in this universe, expect it to happen a lot.
Jill laughs during the climax of the fight between Guts and Rosine, when the slimy, deformed corpse of a child that was undergoing Rosine's apostle spawn transform spilled from its cocoon. Jill remarked that the experience pretty much ruined her childhood.
Law of Inverse Recoil: It's zigzagged a bit, since Guts has a cannon (which shouldn't produce recoil) but since it's attached to his arm as a prosthetic, thus it is not open-ended and is smaller in size, he gets a powerful recoil with each blast. And that recoil has both saved his lifeand done some damage.
Layered World: The Berserk universe in general (until the fusing of the worlds by Griffith).
Left Hanging: For those of you who haven't read the manga and have only watched the first anime series, you're probably wondering how Guts got back from the Vortex and whether or not Casca survived her ordeal during the Eclipse, since the anime ends on one of the weirdest - but nonetheless tragic - notes possible. Also, you're probably wondering what happened to Rickert in episode 22.
Leg Cling: A variant with the infamous volume 13 cover. A shirtless, bloodsoaked Guts is depicted cradling a naked Casca in his (severed) arm, while he holds a broken sword in the other arm and has a sinister smirk on his face. The backdrop of the scene is full a demons, and Guts looks quite manly and victorious in the moment... If only it had actually played out like this in the actual story.
The Legions of Hell: Demons are everywhere, and their masters are the four known as the Godhand.
Five, actually, depending on the time period.
Or less, taking into the following into account: that the number in the far past isn't clear, that an Eclipse takes place every some 216 years, and that Void is credited as the eldest of the Godhand, we should presume that their number has changed over the years.
Leitmotif: Well, "Guts" of course, though it's actually used whenever something really sentimental and emotional is happening, like when Griffith is talking about what the true meaning of friendship means to him, pretty much whenever Guts talks about dreams and ambition, and probably most remembered as the music that is played during Guts and Casca's love scene.
This is inverted later when Guts wears the Berserker armor, and whenever the helmet is worn it signifies that his inner beast is in the driving seat
Lewd Lust, Chaste Sex: A variant during Guts and Casca's love scene. While Miura was pretty descriptive and realistic when they have vaginal intercourse, no visual detail is given when Guts gives Casca oral sex, other than showing panels with Guts spreading her legs apart, and then Casca looking down and shuddering in pleasure. Extra odd because Miura does not typically shy away from showing some amount of detail even in the case of oral sex - both fellatio AND cunnilingus.
This even occurs in the third movie - which had two rated releases partially for this scene.
Light Is Not Good: Griffith has white hair and white armor, he is nicknamed the White Hawk, and nearly everyone loves him. He is the Big Bad. Do the math.
And, as if the church wasn't already bad enough (it is, after all, inspired by the medieval catholic church), Inquisitor Mozgus becomes a angel-like pseudo-apostle covered by white feathers and having a light breath.
Lighter and Softer: Never thought you'd see the words "light" and "soft" when mentioning anything Berserk related, huh? Well, all things considered, the first anime series was a lot softer on the gore and the sexual assaults - two things that Miura just looooves to draw for us in all of its horrific detail - to the point where the presence of assaults was cut in half due to the anime cutting most of them out. And, as disturbing as it sounds, Casca's on-screen rape in the last episode was WAAAAAY MORE DOCILEthan how the manga depicted it. We probably aren't going to be so lucky when these new movies come out...
Also arguably the arcs after Guts gains his new True Companions, compared to the ones before it where he travels alone and pretty much kills everything in his way. There's a lot more humor thanks to more Plucky Comic Relief characters, and while there are still mass genocidal events, there's a good chance things won't turn into a Kill 'em All fest. Also, there hasn't been a single rape scene after the Qliphoth arc...not anywhere near Guts' party, anyway.
Like a Badass out of Hell: The Skull Knight pulled one of these upon saving Guts and Casca from the Godhand's clutches during the Eclipse.
Limited Animation: The Nineties' anime series got a lot of mileage out of panning over still frames to represent large, hard-to-animate battle scenes, usually accompanied by an Art Shift from a standard anime style to a more watercolor-looking style.
Lost Love Montage: Every once in awhile, Guts will have flashbacks of the good times he had with Casca before the Eclipse happened, often reminding him of the one time he felt true love in his life, his big mistake of leaving her behind for two years, or how their relationship is fragmented for the time being. *sniff*Poor Guts.
The Lost Woods: Berserk has presented two of these. The first was the forest where Rosine and her minions dwelt in conjunction with their valley of doom. Then there was the forest in the Enoch story line, in which, although no map was presented, it was evil on one side (Qliphoth) and then good on the other side (Mansion of the Spirit Tree), more or less.
Love at First Punch: The eventual romance between Guts and Casca all began with them sword-fighting to the death. The literal first punch came after Casca was told by Griffith to lay with Guts for two days after he fell ill, and Casca showed her chagrin for the act by punching Guts square in the, er, guts.
Love Dodecahedron: Berserk is less big on that than many other series but Triang Relations show up every now and then, partly due to the fact that Guts is a Chick Magnet. So far: Judeau had a crush on Casca, who had a crush on Griffith, who himself is attracted to Guts who has a thing for Casca. All of which is settled when Casca reciprocates Guts' feelings right before things go to hell. After the Eclipse, Farnese and Shierke have a crush on Guts, who loves only Casca but she can't love him back any more due to her mental condition. Farnese herself is courted by Roderick and used to have a flirtatious relationship with Serpico, and Schierke has a Puppy Love thing going with Isidro, who in turn has a similar relationship with Isma. And on the enemy's side, Griffith is lusted after by Sonia but he is already betrothed to Charlotte, while Sonia has formed a close relationship with Irvine and Mule, her beleaguered attendant.
Love Epiphany: Casca finally realizes that she is in love with Guts after he left the Band of the Hawk, but still didn't want to accept her feelings due to her pride as a soldier under Griffith, who she fought so long for to earn his love and respect, but finally accepted that for his plan to succeed, he'd have to marry Princess Charlotte and needed Guts' strength the most, leaving her no room to be Griffith's sword or woman.
Love Will Lead You Back: Played with. Swallowed in anger and grief, Guts left Casca to seek revenge. He was gone for two long years, and one could wonder if he ever had any intentions on returning to Godo's place had the Child not popped up to give Guts a premonition that Casca was in danger. Upon receiving this message, Guts rushed back to Godo's, but only to find Casca has been missing for a month. After a night of soul searching - aided by a Lost Love Montage - Guts recommitted himself to Casca and vowed to never leave her again. Now he only had to find her.
Low Fantasy: During the Golden Age Arc, Berserk starts out as a low fantasy, taking place in a primary world where fantastic beasts are not suppose to exist and characters attempt to rationalize these phenomena. The story then quickly descends into Dark Fantasy territory when the plot approaches the Eclipse and the world begins to unravel into a secondary world, though still retaining the attitudes of a low fantasy (i.e. lots of gray morality, not-so-shiny heroes, humans are dominate, etc.). Eventually, the series has become even less of this as it went along.
Ms. Fanservice: And for the guy readers... well, practically every female character who goes topless or completely nude in a consensual way could count, but we'll give special designation to Casca, for guys who like level-headed, tomboyish (and perhaps dark-skinned) Action Girls, and Slan for the guys who are total kinks.
Made of Evil: The Behelits, Berserk Armor and a couple other things.
Made of Iron: Guts, who can be beaten to a pulp by a monster the size of an elephant and still be on top form the next day. Averted in the case of Griffith, who ends up crippled by torture.
Justified, as elf dust has powerful healing properties. This is lampshaded by the elves when they complain how much they've had to work over such a short time.
Basically, a person's ability to take damage and heal disability free is measured by how important they are to the plot. Griffith needed to be crippled, Guts needs to stay in top form, mooks are unimportant.
The most hard to ignore case of this comes when Guts recovers from a MASSIVE, nearly fatal beating by Wyald fast enough to be in sufficient fighting shape to take on the legions of hell with his bare hands probably only twelve hours later. There was no elf dust involved either.
Although when something weighing at least a hundred pounds is swung into you with the amount of force Guts is (somehow) capable of producing, splattering is understandable.
The Magic Comes Back: Griffith's ascension as Femto and subsequent rebirth into the human world caused it to slowly merge with the supernatural world. It finally becomes a permanent change during the battle with Emperor Ganishka.This is a bad thing. Remember those trolls attacking the village of Enoch? Now they're everywhere, and that's just for starters.
Makes Just as Much Sense in Context: So, while Guts and Casca are separated from the Hawks, General Adon shows up with a troop of mercenaries that he hired to catch Guts. Guts makes a path for Casca to escape, when Adon sends some men after her in order to kill her. When they catch up to her and eventually over power her, the mooks are mad that she was able to kill some of their comrades, so they want to thank Casca for doing so... by raping her. THEN killing her. Um, okay then.
Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: Briefly played for immense drama in volume fourteen during the aftermath of the Eclipse, when Casca miscarriesthe child she was pregnant with in front of Guts. Upon seeing the fetus (which is malformed, mutated, and ALIVE) Guts is not sure if the baby is his (since he and Casca had sex before the Eclipse happened) or was conceived through Casca's horrific rape at the demon lord Femto's hands. Guts is so distraught that he even begins panicking at the possiblity. "Luckily" for Guts, the Skull Knight, who is present, confirms that Guts is the father, but the child was nonethelss tainted by the rape. This news didn't make Guts any happier,mind you.
Literally, even—after being imprisoned, his helmet never came off again until the Eclipse.
A Man Is Always Eager: Although both he and Casca are the least sex-crazed characters in Berserk, Guts is shown to be a bit less nervous about initiating sex with Casca as this is his first time as well. And afterward, Guts is shown to be very eager about making love to Casca a hundred - no, a THOUSAND - more times.
This of course plays into Guts's Heartbroken Badass status later, as he is not only desperate for Casca's emotional love, but also her physical love and his beast within uses this longing for his own desires.
Manipulative Bastard: Griffith. He WILL emotionally manipulate you one way or another. In fact, at least in the manga, Guts finally realizing that Griffith is using him for his own goals is a key motivation for him to leave the Hawks.
Mars Needs Women: Most male apostles or evil spirits won't hestitate to have their way with any human female in the vacinity.
Mark of the Beast: Inverted in that Griffith was the one who made the Deal with the Devil, but those who are given the mark are to be sacrificed to demons; thus it's called the Mark of Sacrifice. It'll bleed when the individual is near a demon.
In her backstory, Casca mentioned that she was the youngest daughter out of six siblings (and added that it was unusual that none of them had died of starvation up to the point of her being taken away...).
Messianic Archetype: Griffith and Guts can both be seen as this trope. Griffith is a dark version of this, in reality being a Dark Messiah who is also an demonic demigod, as he was "crucified" but was then "resurrected" in the demonic sabbath of the Eclipse. He has currently "ascended" onto his throne that is Falconia. Guts is becoming a straighter example as the story progresses. He has the unusual birth down, and he is against the populace's belief that Griffith is The Chosen One, and has since gradually begun gathering "disciples" and little by little, people who would have normally been afraid of Guts are growing to admire him. Wanna know what's really fucked up about this? See below.
Million Mook March: The Kushan Empire loved doing this. Didn't do much to intimidate Guts OR Griffith, though.
Minor Injury Overreaction: Gambino reacted quite violently and a bit like a brat when Guts managed to cut him on the cheek during his childhood training, ending with Gambino giving the kid an even nastier cut across his nose which ended up physically scarring him for life. On a more comical side, Guts himself is quite Afraid of Needles and acts like a baby whenever he has to get sewn up.
Misery Builds Character: Though it isn't explicitly stated, a large portion of the backstory goes into showing why Guts is such a hardened (and therefore exceptional) warrior. Most of his life has been misery heaped on tragedy, forging him into an inhumanly durable person.
Off course, the story allso points out that there are limits to this, and sometimes there isn't much character left when the dust settles. Poor Casca...
Mistress and Servant Boy: Farnese and Serpico's relationship. It was on a more twisted level back when Farnese had a limp grasp on her marbles, but now she is much more lax and is more preoccupied with serving others. Still, Serpico is still loyal to her and her first before anyone else.
Monster of the Week: The early concept was for Berserk to be this kind of series and it follows this system during the Black swordsman arc. It soon abandons it tough.
Mood Whiplash: The first thing Guts sees after being in a coma for a few days after the Eclipse is Erika comically falling on her butt. Guess Miura really needed a lighter moment after all that insanity.
Mooks: Thousands and thousands of them, all meeting grisly deaths. The series' kill count is remarkable - one site, that only counts into the high two hundred chapters, lists it as well over a thousand.
Guts kills 100 in a single battle at one point. He only gets better at it.
Moral Event Horizon: Enforced, In-Universe examples occur whenever a Crimson Behelit is activated. As Griffith finds out, you have to be willing to cross it in order to join the Godhand and become a powerful demon yourself.
Moral Myopia: Guts is loyal to his friends. If you are a hapless soldier/guard who gets in his way, he won't think twice about slicing you in two. Even if you were just doing your job and not hurting anyone. Guts is also somewhat apathetic about people he doesn't know. During his darker moments, he would probably say that if you can't be strong enough to defend yourself, you could at least be smart enough to stay out of his way.
Morality Pet: Puck for the borderline-sociopathic Guts of the first issues. Post-eclipse Griffith/Femto seems to be fond of Sonia, the rookies and the refugees that accompany him for the second, demonic Band of the Hawk, though since he was a first-class Manipulative Bastard from the start, it's difficult to tell how genuine this affection might be. His total lack of remorse over everything he did during the Eclipse does not encourage the idea that he considers people anything more than tools anymore.
Also, Guts' new team is pretty much a cage full of adorable pet hamsters for him (though they have a nasty bit). Ever since they were assembled, Guts' mood and behavior have become a lot more mellow, not only because now he doesn't have to take care of Casca all by himself (which caused him stress in a verybad way), but because they're collectively the voice of reason behind his combat action now. Guts even lampshaded this once by saying that he knew that he was wrong when a bunch of women and children start telling him what to do.
My Greatest Failure: Guts's greatest failure, without a doubt was being unable to save Casca from being raped by Femto. Also, he came to realize how much he screwed up by leaving Casca when the two of them needed each other the most, but instead decided to drown his sorrows in killing Apostles, which didn't help him very much in the end.
This is more of an Anti-Hero variation, since Guts still profoundly hates the Godhand and Apostles, and even admitted to himself that even though he may have lost the right to avenge the Band of the Hawk he would NEVER FORGIVE GRIFFITH for what he did to Casca.
My Kung-Fu Is Stronger Than Yours: After facing off with Nosferatu Zodd for the first time, Guts's goals in life became centered around training himself and becoming stronger so that the next time he encountered Zodd or another bigger enemy, he'd win (or, at best, survive). Then, more serious stuff settled into the plot - like the Eclipse - and Guts's eyes were set on one thing and one thing only: Revenge. With that, Guts would get into battles without really caring how much stronger his foe was. Later on, the trope was re-introduced with the appearance of Isidro.
Mysterious Past: Out of all of the recurring characters, and even some of the villains, Rickert and Schierke have no backstory given about how they came to be with their wards. Judging by the track record of the other characters of this story, they probably weren't happy ones.
Later used with Emperor Ganishka's demonic daka army, which are "born" when pregnant women are dunked into a vat of demonic amniotic fluid which instantly mutates the fetus which then proceed to claw their way out of the mother's womb.
Myth Arc: In essence, the tumultuous personalities of Guts, Griffith, and Casca are explored as well as their relationships to each other throughout the series. Their relationship pretty much influenced the fate of the entire world as it always comes down to these three. This is great and enticing to the reader, but the unfortunate myth stall kind of sours it.
Near Villain Victory: The eclipse is a very VERY close call or counts as an actual victory since Guts is completely and utterly defeated by the demons and pinned down with injuries that will kill him in a few minutes while Casca is driven insane and the band of the Hawk is already eradicated. Only the Skull Knight's arrival keeps the story from ending right there.
Never Sleep Again: Ever since he got the brand, Guts can only get some shut eye when he finds a spot in full sunlight. Eventually he gets so conditioned to this he can't fall asleep at nighttime anymore even when he knows he is in a safe spot.
Nice Hat: Irvine, seeing that he's the big hat wearer of the series, but Guts also deserves some special mention, since he wore the coolest looking hat during the victory ball fiasco that made him look all the more badass.
Guts assumed that Griffith would eventually get over his leaving. Boy was he wrong. To make it worse, had Guts stayed a little while longer (or had Casca not gone and told Griffith that he was leaving) then maybe Griffith wouldn't have a massive breakdown and derail everything he worked for and the whole group could have a happy ending. (of course that would have been a boring manga)
In an attempt to kill Griffith, the Skull Knight appears to have broken the entire world!
Griffith is at first unsure whether he should accept the God Hands' offer despite them trying to tempt him but Guts scaling the mountain tips him over the edge as he blames Guts for his current state
Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: All that Earl Julius's assassination attempt on Griffith did was increase Griffith's popularity, as it appeared that he saved Princess Charlotte from an assassination attempt. This incident also gave Griffith more of an excuse to eliminate the Earl as an opponent.
Nipple and Dimed: A bizarre case. Miura has no qualms with sex and nudity, even the full frontal male one. No problems with showing genitals very clearly, orgies, paedophilia, rape in all its forms and all kinds of explicitly sexual things that few manga writers would dare to show so clearly on panel. So it's pretty strange that no man on his pages is shown to have nipples... when women's are clearly shown at every turn!
From some screencaps of the next movie(s), that's apparently going to change. NSFW.◊
Noble Demon: As hard as that might sound in Berserk, but Locus and Irvine (as well as some of the other apostles in the New Band of the Hawks) are pretty nice and friendly.
No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Guts delivered one of these to Griffith during their first rematch... and then got his ass handed to him by Griffith. During his Black Swordsman days Guts enjoys torturing Apostles after having beaten them
Non-Action Snarker: Evarella. She's pretty judgmental for someone who doesn't do anything.
No Periods, Period: Averted - Casca insists on fighting during her period and nearly gets killed because it's taking her edge off.
A family helps the Band by giving them a place to stay while on the run from the army of Midland after rescuing Griffith, because they believed that he and the Band were innocent of the crime of treason. Then, Wyaldand his Black Dog Knights came along, and, well...
Early on in the manga, a young Guts is shot with an arrow and falls off a cliff, prompting the bowman to proclaim, "He won't survive the fall."
The entire Eclipse, which Guts was not suppose to survive. Zodd is quite surprised that Guts defied his prophecy although Guts, as well as Casca, who also survived, is unconscious at the time due to the severe physical and emotional trauma. They were both saved by the Skull Knight before the apostles could finish the job.
At the end of volume 21 of the manga, after the Tower of Conviction fell after the mock Eclipse the Kushan army comes and Guts and Casca are surrounded while the other surviving party members escape. No one thinks that they could avoid capture. Moments later, to their surprise, they see Guts escaping with Casca (and Puck) on horseback into the horizon, chopping up Kushan soldiers all the way.
Griffith's plot armor is actually hinted at as he is destined to be a God Hand, who are able to affect causality and thus make sure that he survives until the Eclipse. For this very same reason they can't kill Guts who the Skull Knight says is outside the effects of fate
After his second match with Serpico in a basement filled with pilliars that limit Guts movements, he wins because the ceiling collapses after he strikes the final pillar collapsing a section of the ceiling before his opponent can kill him. When asked if he planned it Guts admits that he didn't and that a lot of his fights seem to be like that.
No Woman's Land: In this Crapsack World, everybody has it hard, but it's especially hard if you're a lady, where you're in danger of getting raped by anyone, anything, anytime, just 'bout anywhere. Not only that, but your husband/father/brother are more than likely jerks to you, and may even try to rape you too. If you're lucky, you just might escape with your life but most likely, you will be raped and THEN you will also be killed or eaten alive. If you're not kept around for reproductive purposes that is, in which case your baby will rip trough your womb and gut you like a fish. If you're a title character, you are not given anymore immunity than the background women - in fact, that just makes you more ample prey. It's Inherent in the System.
Now That's Using Your Teeth: Guts has saved his life more than a few times by chomping on his enemies' weapons. Claims this is the only way to use your mouth in battle. Also:
Cutlass Between the Teeth: Guts uses his teeth in order to use other weapons when he's incapable of using his own two hands, such as when he used his teeth to pull the trigger to his cannon arm when he was incapacitated by the Snake Baron.
Offing the Offspring: First occurs when Gambino tries to kill Guts but this leads to Guts killing him instead. Then Guts tries this on his own tainted child. It is also presented as Emperor Ganishka's rather disproportionate and overall lame Freudian Excuse when his mother tried to kill him so that his half-brother could get the throne (just considering that others have had fates a zillion times worse than this in the Berserkerverse).
Then came the time when Guts was facing off Wyald, his second encounter with an Apostle. He took it a lot better than with his fight with Zodd, but it was one of the few other times that we see Guts tremble with fear.
Likewise, Wyald as a few of these himself, such as when Guts pulled the most epic of cock-blocker in order to save Casca from being raped by him, and then it gets better when 1) Wyald sees that Griffith does not have the behelit on him when he's near death, and then 2) look who's right behind him.
When the Hawks were transported to the Nexus where the Eclipse ceremony is held (a.k.a. Hell), and the realization of what the God Hand meant by "sacrifice" hits them.
The entire Eclipse ordeal was littered with Oh, Crap, one tragic expression after the other. It was basically a Mass "Oh, Crap!" convention.
Of particular note is the the look of absolute, unlimited and all-consuming horror on Guts' face when he realizes that Femto, a.k.a. GRIFFITH, is going to rape Casca, right in front of him.
When you mention that, Casca has this subtle, but nonetheless horrified look in her eyes when Femto kisses her that just about any survivor of sexual assault can relate to that says, "oh no. NO."
In a very startling addition in the third film, the Godhand - including FEMTO - have an Oh, Crap moment when Guts, through sheer willpower, almost breaks through a forcefield that Femto erected in order to prevent Guts from saving Casca.
When Farnese found out how the world really worked in volume 17.
There is also "Murder" on the official soundtrack. This track was infamously used during the Eclipse, and that chanting gave the scene all the more terror.
One Curse Limit: Once branded as a sacrifice, no one else can sacrifice you, which is good considering that you aren't even suppose to survive being branded the first time around, and are by this time still being trailed by the demons who want to claim your soul from the first ceremony.
Opposing Combat Philosophies: Midland and Tudor had different armies. Tudor seemed to favor brawny Mighty Glacier units that were themed after huge animals, including the Black Rams, Whale Corps, and Holy Purple Rhino Knights. Meanwhile, Midland preferred lightning fast units, most successfully the Band of the Hawk, and designated their best as "white," such as the White Dragons, and White Tigers.
Out with a Bang: The Female Apostle's modus operandi - she transforms from her human form (a naked woman) mid-coitus and devours her victims. It works on Corkus during the Eclipsenote although he only gets to second base, but she doesn't get so lucky with Guts later on.
Outrun the Fireball: At the end of volume 10, the Bakiraka woman ignites a huge fireball in the sewer that the Griffith rescue team has to outrun. Luckily for Griffith's sharp eye and Pippin's large hammer, they are able to evade it unscathed.
Outside-Context Villain: One of the main reasons why even weaker Apostles and minor supernatural beings are such a threat to humans.
Overdrawn At The Bloodbank: Everyone and everything bleeds a LOT. Guts himself is almost constantly dripping blood (especially from his brand), but he never seems to run completely dry. It's occasionally lampshaded when Guts needs to interrupt his battle to patch up, but his blood loss is still pretty unrealistic.
Overshadowed by Awesome: The bakiraka assassins are pretty hardcore, hyper-trained badasses who can kill off groups of mooks in seconds. But every time they go against Guts or Griffith they are beaten back rather easily. Although Silat recently earned a lot of kickass credentials by refusing to fall under the sway of Griffith and continuing to walk his own path in the new world.
Parents in Distress: Although tainted with evil, the Child does love its parents enough to protect Casca by manipulating the very demons that are out to get her in order to fend off would be assailants, to giving Guts cryptic messages warning him that Casca is in danger. The little guy gives a rather heroic sacrifice by using the last of its strength to protecting Casca at the Tower of Conviction.
Casca's parents sold her to a noble as a servant (though he wanted her for services other than cleaning and cooking.)
Farnese and Serpico both share a father who is emotionally and physically distant from both of them (especially so in Serpico's case since he was born out of wedlock). Serpico's mother died under the traumatizing circumstance of her being burned at the stake as a witch by both he and Farnese, and Farnese's mother was always out partying, which was not good for her development.
Isidro is an inversion of the trope, as he left his parents for some reason.
Schierke's birth parents are never mentioned and it as never explained how she came to be under the guardianship of Flora, but now that she's dead Schierke definitely qualifies.
Rosine, like Isidro, is an inversion, but on a more diabolical level, as she sacrificed her parents to the Godhand in order to become an apostle.
"Humans are weak. But we want to live. Even if we're wounded or tortured, we feel the pain."
Paying for the Action Scene: The second part of Guts' Establishing Character Moment (after he makes a demoness Go Out With A Bang) has him enter a Bad-Guy Bar, put a few coins on the bar telling the barkeep "for the disturbance". Before the barkeep can ask for clarification, Guts has started attacking the mooks, destroying them and the furniture, leaving one alive (and more than happy to take a message to the Evil Overlord).
Perilous Old Fool: Jill's dad. Give him credit that he did actually manage to shot Guts.
Perspective Flip: The coming of the Anti Christ is part of the entire lore. Which is Guts. Wait, Something's wrong here. Why is Griffith a Messianic Archetype again? Why is he acting like a Messiah? People see Guts as a child-slayer and demonic conqueror? Oh dear.
Was first used after the Eclipse, when Guts is out of it for a few days after the trauma he had sustained and he had a dream that the Band of the Hawk were riding off, leaving him behind.
Was also used non-canonically in the Sword of the Berserk video game. When Casca briefly regains her sanity, Guts is desperately trying to keep her conscious, but the couple only have a few moments together before the effects of the mandragora fade, returning Casca to her insane state. All Guts can do is hug her, crying, "My love... come back."
In the second movie, Casca says, "Please don't go," as Guts walks off after he defeats Griffith.
Plot Armor: Even this trope gets deconstructed. The band of the hawk is unbeatable, no matter how dire the situation. But an evil god is providing it and when the planned moment comes for the armor to fall off the bodies pile up sky high. Maybe Guts is an exeption sice he just keeps going on sheer willpower no matter how fatal his injuries seem.
Arguably Corkus, as well, and much less slapstick and annoying about it, too.
Pointy Ears: A handful of characters, human and non-human, have 'em.
The fact that Guts' ears, while still human, are somewhat sharper than other humans (the same can be said for his teeth) has led to considerable fan speculation about what exactly he might be. Being born from a dead woman with no known father means anything is possible.
Also, it was because Casca was mute that got her the attention of Mozgus, since she didn't - nor couldn't - curse at the other supposed heretics. Understandable, since back in the day, people who had any sort of impairment were more than often seen as weird and in alliance with the devil. Apparently, a young and beautiful insane woman is more likely to be in league with the Dark Prince than his own crew of malformed minions.
Power of Friendship: Camaraderie is probably the second most important theme in the series, with Guts learning to work with comrades and forming bonds with them, and also the after affects of having such bonds broken in very tragic ways, most notably between he and Griffith An important highlight in the Golden Age arc was when Griffith talked to Charlotte about what he defines as a true friend. Guts overhears this and takes it to heart.. Upon forming his new True Companions, Guts remarks to himself that he never thought he'd have comrades again after the events of the Eclipse. Relates to the power of trust below.
Power Of Hate: Yes. Guts had shades of this as well as his standard Unstoppable Rage. When he wasn't slicing away at Apostles, some of which he had no connection to, Guts spent his spare time thinking about that one Apostle in particular that he hates above all else... And Mr. Uber-scary-hellhound-beast helped with that. However, Godo later deconstructs this when he lectured to Guts that hate is where a man goes to when he is really afraid and is overwhelming with sadness. Guts' power of hate was eventually displaced by...
Power of Love: After realizing his mistakes, Guts gave up his two-year vendetta in order to come to Casca's aid and to keep her near him so that he doesn't loose her to anyone or anything again. Not to mention it caused Guts to chisel off an arm with little hesitation in order to save Casca from Femto. That's pretty damn powerful.
Also invoked a couple of times. What's the last and best way to bring Guts back from being drawn over to his Super-Powered Evil Side, or from just going on another blinding, roaring rampage of battle? Remind him of his love for Casca.
Power of Trust: Because of Guts traumatic childhood, he rarely trusts people, not even allowing a tap on the shoulder. After joining the Band of the Hawk, and learning the value of camaraderie, he slowly opens up to certain members of the band. However, the events of the Eclipse reverted Guts back to his original mistrustful self, possibly to an even greater degree. Puck the Elf eventually earns Guts's trust so that he becomes his first travel companion. During the Conviction Arc, however, he trusts the hot blooded Isidro enough to save Casca while he fought off monsters, and after that when he and Casca travel together but he almost rapes her when his inner beast got the better of him he allows Isidro, Serpico, and Farnese to come along with him, entrusting them all to help him fight monsters while protecting Casca. He even admitted to himself that under any other circumstance, he would not have let them come with him, but because of the difficulty of fighting demons while protecting someone who was incapable of protecting themselves, Guts was at his rope's end.
Griffith also displayed a Power of Trust moment during Guts's first mission with the Hawks by entrusting him with the task as being the rear guard, even though Guts didn't want to be part of the band and was at a high flight risk at the time. The event began to change Guts's way of thinking toward the Hawks.
Pragmatic Adaptation: The anime toned down on the violence as well as the occasional slapstick comedy, and focused more on the emphasis of ambition and friendship (albeit in the negative way) instead of on the series long supernatural plotline in order to give the series a dark, serious, and realistic atmosphere. Some also believe that by omitting Guts's emotional breakdown from being raped as a child and the Skull Knight's presence when he saved Guts from the Eclipse made him look like a stronger person and more likeable to the audience. Despite all this, along with some of the plot holes and lack of explanation for some scenes, the fans were pretty accepting of these changes to the anime.
Pregnant Hostage: In essence, Ganishka made his demonic army by collecting pregnant Midland women and then tossing them in a demonic vat, demonizing their babies and having them claw themselves out of the womb. Casca had shades of this during her horrific ordeal of being held captive and raped by Femto when she was pregnant.
Don't forget the adorable Collette, who was all shy and helpful and bashful around Guts, and also died horribly the same issue that she was introduced simply for being near him. Does that count as Kill the Cutie?
How could anyone miss younger Casca's obvious fawning over Griffith when he rescued her?
Pretty in Mink: A few furs, especially among the royalty and nobility, given this show's setting. One standout is a dress Charlotte wears with a trim of white fur, but arranged as lines of puff balls.
Primal Fear: No. Berserk doesn't stop at Nightmare Fuel and Adult Fear. Now we have those fears that everyone can relate to, including the valued reader: a fear of the dark (Guts virtually cannot sleep at night because he has to fight off monsters and evil spirits the whole time), being eaten alive (happens too often with both monsters AND humans), blood and guts (chances are that you will NOT die in one piece), giants (those goddamn scary apostles), monsters and scary beasts (again, those damn apostles - AND just about every supernatural creature is out to get you. It's a surprise that unicorns and fairies haven't been wiped out), bugs (Rosine and her little minions), snakes (um, the Great Goatheads phallis), and probably dozens more. Alas, the one that takes the cake is the sadism and the squick (and for added horror, the humiliation involved). What's the worse thing about being apprehended by the guards and going to a trial that might end with your execution? No, it's not the actual trial (or even the actual execution). It's:
Princess for a Day: Subverted.  Casca and the rest of the Hawks are allowed to dress up in fancy clothes and enjoy an evening at a ball held in Griffith's honor. However, the ball was also used to announce the Hawks' risen status to nobility! Too bad that status was short lived.
Pyrrhic Victory: One of the results of the above, since although the Hawks succeeded in their mission of rescuing Griffith, not much good came out of it since Griffith was too physically damaged to lead the Hawks to their former glory again.