A tall, blond-haired man who seems to have disaster follow him wherever he goes. He is feared by the people of Gunsmoke as a ruthless, destructive killer. Supposedly responsible for the annihilation of July City, Vash has quite the bounty placed on his head—60 billion double-dollars, dead or alive! Constantly hounded by often entire towns of people wanting to claim the reward for his capture, Vash is always wandering, never staying in one place for too long (and leaving behind a lot of property damage). In reality, Vash is not a homicidal maniac, but a complete and utter goofball who actually refuses to kill anyone, despite the huge pistol he keeps with him at all times, a prosthetic arm that can switch into a machine gun, and a switchblade in his boot. He has an extreme fondness for donuts (and sometimes alcohol). He claims to be a "hunter of LOVE AND PEACE, searching for the mayfly known as Love". Still, it just may be that he only puts on a facade of being a harmless moron...
Tropes that Vash atoned for:
Anime Hair: Vash's blonde (and later black) hair usually stands straight up and is aligned with his head's contours in such a manner that his head has a distinctive V-shaped silhouette, with the top looking like a brush.
Arm Cannon: His left arm is a prosthetic which houses an unfoldable gun that he grips with the same hand when it's deployed. His trademark handgun can also merge with him when gripped to form an extremely destructive Wave Motion Gun.
Bring My Red Jacket: One of the most iconic ones in anime, up there with Alucard and Ed, also makes him noticable in bounties and to those after him.
Broken Ace: Vash is without question the greatest gunslinger on the planet, he's apparently immortal (in terms of never aging), he has an actual Healing Factor and incredible resistance to pain, and he is dedicated to saving everyone, no matter who they are. Unfortunately, Vash lives in a world that leans considerably more towards the cynical side than his ideology requires, and so it is repeatedly deconstructed in various subtle and direct methods throughout the series. Case in point, Vash's dedication to preserving human life over all else has left him horribly mutilated and caused a huge bounty to be placed on his head as a result of the property damage that results whenever he gets into a fight (and in a Vicious Cycle, this just makes things worse; more people come to kill Vash for his bounty/terrible reputation, Vash escapes after causing yet more horrific property damage, reputation gets worse & bounty gets bigger attracting more gunmen). When finally forced to admit that he simply can not save everyone (namely, when he has to shoot Legato dead to save the lives of Milly and Meryl), he suffers a Heroic BSOD that almost kills him.
Byronic Hero: Vash is a nice, down-to-Earth guy who really just wants to enjoy a quiet life as he drifts from town to town, gaining friends, flirting with women and spreading his message of "love and peace". He is a staunch pacifist, and only ever uses the minimum amount of force to resolve a situation. His past ensures that people in his wake are almost invariably hurt, however, and his idealism only seems to make it worse.
Determinator: He will do whatever he can to save someone in trouble. In-Universe, the red trenchcoat he wears is the same colour as the red geranium flowers his mother figure claimed represented courage and determination, and which she was very fond of.
Destructive Saviour: He saves thousands of lives every day, but causes HUGE collateral damage in doing so.
Fastest Gun in the West: Although he is indeed very skilled at gunplay, most people who chase after him do so for the enormous bounty on his head, and most people who run away from him assume he is skilled without any actual evidence to back it up.
The Fettered: Absolutely abhors killing, and always goes to enormous lengths to ensure nobody gets killed, even if it means putting himself in trouble.
Fun with Acronyms: In The Lost Plant, six years after Knives' defeat, and going back to his old runaway life, Vash goes by the name VTS to keep at least some lower level thugs off his back.
Glowing Eyes of Doom: Rarely happens, but if you piss him off enough to push him into this mode, you're so screwed...
Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: He can't help but give aid to those who need it, even though he usually puts himself at great risk when doing so.
Heroic BSOD: Multiple times, particularly after he murders Legato.
Heroic RROD: Although not the case in the anime, the manga reveals that every time Vash uses his powers it slowly kills him as Plants were engineered to be that way because they were so powerful. How long they have before it does is dependent on how black their hair has become.
Living Forever Is Awesome: Do you see him angst about his immortality? No. You see him angst about his brother's Evil Plan and how to save people without killing others. He's dedicated to Rem's ideals and goals.
Another example of this trope is more in leiu with the title of the series then his name. It refers to the three guns on hi: His standard pistol (which Knives made for him), the gun hidden in his prosthetic arm and lastly the arm cannon he can transform his arm into thats capable of leveling a entire city.
Overly Long Name: Once falsely gives the name "Valentinez Alkalinella Xifax Sicidabohertz Gombigobilla Blue Stradivari Talentrent Pierre Andri Charton-Haymoss Ivanovici Baldeus George Doitzel Kaiser III."
Walking Wasteland: He doesn't have that power by any means it's just that his enemies and bounty hunters, in addition to the fears of other people due to his abnormal powers and finally the collateral damage he causes, make him want to justifiably want to be alone made lonelier once you realize he's technically immortal and outlive anyone he knows even if he tried to settle down.
Wrong Genre Savvy: With his idealistic desire to protect others and the massive collateral damage he causes, he'd fit right in a Shounen universe like Fairy Tail or One Piece, unfortunately, he lives in a realistic and pessimistic space Old West universe filled with people fearing the abnormal, crazed and powerful bounty hunters after his head and finally his Ax-Crazy brother planning to destroy the foundations of his ideals through his arguably more threatening assistant whose ruthless methods of preventing an "all protect "scenario eventually drives Vash to a corner.
An insurance agent for the Bernadelli Insurance Company, she and her associate Milly were given the task to search for Vash and apply "damage control" to the so-called disasters he leaves behind. She is often seen typing records of her and Milly's exploits on a typewriter, to send back to the company. She is nicknamed "Derringer" because of the array of derringer pistols she carries under her poncho. In the anime, it takes her a while to realize that the goofy, donut-scarfing man that she and Milly always seem to run into is THE Vash the Stampede.
Can Not Spit It Out: She falls in love with our favorite blond goofball in both the anime and in the manga, but in the anime she seems to have a lot of a harder time expressing those feelings. And she can never pluck up the nerve to tell him how she feels. Awwwww. When she finally does seem about to tell him, Milly comes in for a Moment Killer.
Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Meryl is the tiniest woman we see in the series, while Vash is one of the tallest men.
Meryl's assistant and fellow Bernadelli agent, Milly is plucky and cheerful, and in the anime is constantly trying to convince Meryl that above mentioned man is the real Vash. She's also incredibly tall, and nicknamed "Stungun" because like Meryl, she conceals a weapon underneath her clothes — a huge stungun that can pin enemies to walls without killing them. She likes pudding.
Bifauxnen: In the anime and the beginning of the manga, Milly also wears masculine clothes, like suspenders. In the manga, she eventually goes for a slightly girlier look and cuts her hair.
Berserk Button: Like Vash, she hates seeing people mistreating and/or killing each other but particularly if they are family (when facing a man who had earlier pointed a gun at his own parents, she took several swings at him, any of which would likely have knocked him clean out of his boots if they had connected. Also:
"You should never get between people and their pudding!" "Wastage of pudding is punishable by heaven!"
The Ditz: Subverted; she may not be very intelligent, but she is actually much wiser than Meryl.
Genius Ditz: In the anime, Milly not only figures out who Vash is several episodes before Meryl, she wins a chess game Wolfwood is sure he's losing with one move. Milly is clearly smarter than she appears.
Technical Pacifist: She carries a "stungun" that can fire X-shaped crosses capable of knocking over a truck.
Nicholas D. Wolfwood
That cross is so heavy because it's full of mercy.
"I picked up my first gun at the age of seven. And I shot. I remember how strangely easy it was to pull the trigger. I actually laughed. Because that one shot was all that was needed to silence that sickening piece of garbage who had the nerve to call himself my guardian. It was that simple. And so I was free."
A wandering priest that carries a portable confessional box and The Punisher, which is pretty much a mobile weapons platform (it's a rocket launcher, machine gun, and a pistol rack all-in-one). He tends to call Vash "Needlenoggin".
Child Soldier: He was recruited by Chapel to become an assassin for the Eye of Michael at a very young age. The accelerated aging causes by his chemical enhancements to makes him appear to be in his thirties while he is only in his late teens in the manga.
Crystal Dragon Jesus: Dresses and acts somewhat like a Protestant minister, but does things more in line of a Catholic one (such as hearing confessions). In the manga, he's a member of the Eye of Michael, which claims to worship Plants. In the anime, he's intended to be the successor to the current Chapel the Evergreen, of the Gung-ho Guns, which would basically make him a priest of Knives.
Death by Sex: Sleeps with his friend/love interest of sorts, Milly. Dies in the same episode.
Double Reverse Quadruple Agent: The anime doesn't go much beyond a morally-conflicted Double Agent, but between the Eye, Chapel, the Guns, Vash, and the children manga Wolfwood is playing a lot of sides at once. Although he's not in control at all.
Dying Alone: But only in the anime; he's with Vash in the manga.
Dying Moment of Awesome: Manga only: the last moments of his life, from the moment he defeats the robot gang to his complete owneage of Chapel and Lazlo.
"What the hell family do you think you're from!? I'm gonna tie you up in a reed mat and dunk ya!"
Nun Too Holy: He claims to be a priest, but he not only hears confessions for money (admittedly, there were times in history where priests would sell "forgiveness" for money and land), he's also a chain-smoking hard-drinking killer who, in the anime at least, paid for the orphans he took care of by being a gunman for hire.
Obi-Wan Moment: In the manga, he shares one last quiet drink with Vash in the rubble of the orphanage he just saved by killing Chapel and defeating Livio/Razlo. The last thing he sees before his body finally gives out is confetti thrown by the children in gratitude as a ship carries them off to safety. The contrast between this scene and the brutal fight before it is incredible.
Perma Stubble: Though he is mostly clean-shaven in Trigun Maximum.
Poisonous Friend: Killed one of the Gung-ho Guns because he thought Vash's idealism didn't cut it. In the manga Knives sent Wolfwood to follow Vash for this very purpose.
Since the anime replaced his epic execution of Rai-Dei with the Zazie incident, after making Zazie no longer The Worm That Walks, and put Rai-Dei in August, there's an oddly chilling little scene amid the rubble when Rai-Dei, who had somehow survived being at ground zero probably due to Vash's Heroic Willpower alone, sees Wolfwood, expresses recognition, and starts talking about how they have to get together and kill that monster, Vash, while they can. Wolfwood nonchalantly shoots him dead and drives away. This is implied to be done on command from their mutual employer, but he clearly thinks it's an okay idea.
Redemption Equals Death: In the manga he dies after stopping the Eye of Michael from destroying the Orphanage where he grew up, and redeems his childhood friend of Livio.
In the anime, after a heated argument with Vash regarding killing Zazie the previous day, Wolfwood opts to adapt Vash's lifestyle. When he fights his mentor later that day, Wolfwood manages to get away with getting a few non-lethal shots at him and letting him live. As soon as Wolfwood turns, Legato manipulates Chapel via mind control into shooting Wolfwood. Presumably, Wolfwood didn't shoot back even after seeing Chapel raise his gun again.
Pragmatic Hero: Unlike Vash, he sees no problem with killing enemies if the situation requires it.
Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits: In the anime, they have a Cyborg, cripple, a sniper, a saxophone player, a one eyed lady, a samurai, a kid, a priest a puppet master, a man with a strange spike shooting weapon tied by strings to his body and one Venom Expy in the group.
It's even more bizarre in the manga The cyborg is actually a Collective Identity for a group of midgets, the kid is actually a Hive Mind for a species for highly intelligent worms, a man with a Split Personality, a man in a wheelchair and a transvestite.
Nineties Anti-Hero: He looks like one. Disproportionately huge muscles, bright colors, massively impractical guns, grimacing like a loon all the time....Rob Liefield would have a hard time coming up with anything crazier.
The second Gung-Ho-Gun. Tries her luck against Vash but he finds out her powers and easily beats her. Her fate is different depending on the media. In the anime, she found and killed by Legoto off-screen. In the manga, she commits suicide by falling off a cliff
Bifauxnen: Before Vash confirmed she had an ample bust, her gender was somewhat ambigious. She is manly in shape, similar to how Milly is mannish.
Dark Action Girl: The only explicitly known female in the Gung-ho Guns and a far more effective enemy than Monev against Vash. At least at first, because of the addition of two, both of which are pretty ambiguous about it; with the former not having a confirmed gender and the latter being a group of insects possessing a girl
Curb-Stomp Battle: Vash beats him in one panel in the manga and both the former and Rai Dai basically strip him of his weapons while the latter kills him.
The Dark Chick: Especially in the anime, where he relies on brute force, but is much weaker than the rest of the members, despite his own views thinking otherwise
Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: His method of murder includes shooting spikes at his opponents. Ironiclly hes stabbed by Rai-Dai after he loses to Vash.
At least in the anime, it's not directly inferred into he actually dies in the manga but he is dead, likely at the hands of Knives' agents as he is tallied as one of the deceased Gung-Ho Guns
Improbable Weapon User: He uses two shields that shoot spike projectiles held together by string connect to his fingers. Unlike most examples, this is actually crippling as he has no other way of defending if they get into his range.
What Happened to the Mouse?: In the manga, after Vash bonks him on the head, the focus immediately switches to Vash and Legato, E.G. completely forgotten and never again mentioned. Though at least his name is given whenever someone tallies the dead Gung-ho Guns, so it wasn't like he was forgotten.
Small Name, Big Ego: Especially in the anime, he has a high opinion of himself and thinks he's on par with the rest of the members, but in reality, he relies heavily on his spike projectiles to kill enemies and seems to be the only reason why he was even considered a member.
We Hardly Knew Ye: Especially with the manga adaptation, which had elaborated on almost all the members' pasts.
You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Rai Dei does this to him once he proves to not be up to the task of taking Vash on, and it is highly implied Knives also does this through his agents as he's tallied among the dead members.
Vocal Dissonance: Sounds much older than your average kid, justified as he might be "posssessed".
We Hardly Knew Ye: We don't get much on his character and Wolfwood guns him down just as Vash was starting to get through to him, especially as to how he possessed the kid or how the kid came to think that way as well as how he came to have a device that controls insects.
According to Word of God however, it may the demon that possesses him that might be speaking through it.
Worm That Walks: While not directly stated, it is implied that the aliens centipedes have taken over the boy's mind and possessing him to do his dirty work.
Deal with the Devil: He does this with Knives in order to see whether they would better coexist with him or humans.
Once he proves dangerous, they turn on him, only to be killed themselves.
Demonic Possession: A much more passive one as it possesses humans that are the nearest by to communicate with.
Double Agent: Played with; he's still working for Knives, but his first mission to act as this since Hoppered and Midvalley aren't trusted.
Heel-Face Turn: After realizing Knives is becoming too powerful and might end up wiping them out as well as the humans. It's brief, though, since he's quickly defeated and decides to give the final coin-half needed to Vash.
Voiced by: Kaneta Kimotsuki (JP), Milton James (EN)
The fifth Gung-Ho-Gun. As his name suggests, he can control puppets many at a time in fact. He can also make them looks surprisingly lifelike right down to the personality to fool his opponents. This gives Vash a hard time as he has to distinguish friend and foe.
Armor-Piercing Question: When Vash tells him of the people Leonof used to know as a kid, he freaks out, especially at the last name mentioned, implied to be his real name.
Berserk Button: He flips out when Brad discovers the body of his love interest.
Evil Cripple: He has an incredibly large hump for a back that prevents him from walking upright, he also participates in a plan to wipe out all of humanity. He's more malevolent in the anime adaptation
Freudian Excuse: In his spin off, he was going to settle down with an apprentice and potential Love Interest, but then some organ rustlers decide to kill everyone including the two mentioned, so he kills them and becomes the evil that he is today
Bait-and-Switch Boss: He isn't, but when Legato mentions "Double Fang" and "Trip of Death" arriving, we cut to two guys, one with two big tusks, and the other with the power to extremely expand his muscles. One would think these are them until the real McCoys make their entrance.
Master C isn't the Trip of Death, Livio is, more specifically, his split personality, Razio
Handicapped Badass: In the manga, Knives shatters his spine after the incident with the fifth moon, and he spends most of the series paralized from the neck down. This doesn't stop him from tormenting Vash and even his own minions.
The Determinator: Legato's desires to make Vash suffer but also physically as well. His final battle with Vash in the manga is basically him refusing to give up even after being beaten into a bloody pulp by Vash's Angel Wings and being technically paralyzed from the neck down.
Epic Flail: In his final fight against Vash in the manga, he swings a mean weapon called the "Guernica" that can only be described as this. The head of it is rather artistic and about twice his size. It's also full of guns.
The Heavy: While Knives has a much more prominent role in the manga, in the anime, it could be said that Legato is in fact the Big Bad of the story while Knives is the silent Bigger Bad.
I'm a Humanitarian: Originally the hotdog he ate was much worse and more explicit, but it was so disturbing that the editors of the manga forced the author to remove most of it! Didn't prevent him from chopping off the head of the shoe maker and stuffing it in a paper bag.
Karma Houdini: His succeeding in making Vash kill him most definitely makes him one, even though Vash recovers from it and beats Knives in the end.
Kill All Humans: His goal, which is arguably worse than Knives' reasons because he's a Boomerang Bigot who wants every last human, including himself dead and enjoys it deeply.
Knight of Cerebus: Everything goes to hell after he shows up, especially in the manga.
Laughing Mad: By the time Legato starts moving around after Knives shattered his spine, he's gone absolutely insane and sports huge slasher smiles while cackling madly throughout the manga.
Man in White: Dress like this, but has the spikes and skull to make sure you know he's bad.
The Nameless: Until some point after falling in with Knives, literally. Probably why he introduces himself so much.
Not So Stoic: In the anime and first three volumes of Trigun, Legato is a very calm individual. Once Knives breaks his spine, he slowly becomes more and more unhinged until by the end he's become a terrifying raving lunatic.
People Puppets: Psychic in nature in the anime, where he also has some degree of telepathy. In the manga, he has the mutant or cybernetic ability to extend nearly-invisible "wires" of some sort that can directly activate other people's muscles.
Poisonous Friend: To the Gung-Ho Guns, he even admits that he doesn't care for them in the manga.
Power Limiter: Played with in the manga, the coin case that Legato gives Vash way back near the beginning. Once Vash collects all the coins, the case acts as this. Instead of Vash voluntarily using it, Legato uses it himself just so their final fight will be interesting. In the end, Vash destroys the case.
Psycho Supporter: Dangerously insane he may be, but Legato is completely loyal to Knives.
Rape as Backstory: Only implied in the anime, but shown on panel in the manga Luckily, Knives turned up by coincidence and destroyed the building and everyone else in it before they could rape him all the way to death.
Badass: While less so in the anime, Knives in the manga is easily the strongest character in the series. Capable of snapping Legato's spine with one hand, instantaneous teleportation, casual destruction of cities and wiping out a fleet. Helped by the fact that unlike his anime counterpart, Manga Knives actually has a likable and suave personality with a legitimately good Freudian Excuse
Freudian Excuse: He and Vash were physically and verbally abused by a crewmember on the SEEDs ship as kids (in anime). He and Vash were exposed to a truly horrific revelation about the nature of morality and their position in relation to all other sentient beings in the manga.
Just A Flesh Wound: Knives' tolerance for pain is much higher in the manga than it is in the anime.
Case in point when Vash shoots Knives in the shoulder in the manga. Knives reaction is to calmly look at it, looks back at Vash and then slice off Vashs' arm telling him to aim better. Even more apparent after he's practically obliterated by Vash's angel arm during July and calmly has to tell Legato to shut up because he's being too loud.
Kill All Humans: Out of hate, rather than believing that their lives are worthless like Legeto.
Knife Nut: Only in the manga, where it fits more in line with his name.
In the manga, he's a Lazy Bum whose only deadline is his and his sisters' lives expiring, which he starts moving pretty promptly after he learns about, and his only threat is his brother trying to pose one. Which he likes Vash doing. And which Vash is pretty bad at.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: As a child, his motives and goals are fairly similar to Vash's in that both desire protection and survival for the people they care about — it's their methods that provide such a stark contrast. Knives seems to have lost track of their similarities pretty early, and by the time the main story starts cannot be relied upon to adhere to any goal other than rage and revenge.
One of the maintenance staff on the SEED ship. She takes Vash and Knives in as her own children when the crew finds them, and acts as their surrogate mother. She is extremely kind and idealistic, and Vash treats her lessons and worldviews as sacred. She is also, however, highly competent and has great resolve.
The Atoner: In the manga. She didn't fight hard enough to save Tessla, the first independent plant born on the voyage, who died Strapped to an Operating Table less than a year old, and all the devotion and secrecy in which she raised the boys was initially motivated by her determination to do better, given this second chance.
Heroic Sacrifice: On a greater scope than most; her sacrifice single-handedly saves the entire population of the SEED ships.
Hero's Muse: She inspired and guided Vash. She's the reason he never kills anyone, no matter how much they deserve it. She took Vash and Knives in as her own children when the crew found them, and acted as their surrogate mother. She is extremely kind and idealistic, and Vash treats her lessons and worldviews as sacred.
Wide-Eyed Idealist: More or less; despite her statements, she has a noticeably bad habit of putting off actual planning on how to confront problems, because that might conflict with the conviction that a perfect solution is possible. This trait was passed on to Vash and was a major factor in his doing nothing to resolve the plot for over a century.
Manga-exclusive character. One of the scientists on the SEED ship who discovers Knives and Vash when accidentally woken up from cold sleep. He agrees to keep their existence a secret after talking with Rem. After the Great Fall he used his knowledge of Plants to become wealthy and live a comfortable life in July. Vash goes looking for him. Knives finds him first, and makes plenty of use of Conrad's knowledge.
Actor Allusion: Named after William Conrad of the radio show Gunsmoke. Bares a striking resemblance to Patrick Stewart.
The Atoner: Agrees to serve Knives out of his own guilt for the cruel experiments he performed on Tesla.
Humans Are Bastards: He might even be more aware of that fact than Knives. He tries to lead Knives away before the latter can witness the Last Run, when an aging plant is drained of all remaining power to cause a horrific death.
Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: When Knives learns of the limited powers of Plants and the black hair that signals eventual death, and how Vash is even further gone than he is.
In the anime he's the captain, Rem's confidante, and something of a father surrogate.
Armour Piercing Question: Cuts right to the heart of the matter in the manga when little Vash and Knives are shyly meeting their second human ever—"Do you love Rem?" (Knives nods shyly. Joey smiles) "Then it's fine."
The small black cat with huge green eyes that appears randomly in the manga and at least once in every episode of the anime. Included because the author found the kitty easy to draw. Her name means "Lady Black Cat".