Abduction Is Love: "I can't carry them all. Hey, the rest of you will walk!" ...and they do. Juza rules.
Absurdly Sharp Blade: Rei has absurdly sharp fingers. His martial art style is based off of creating a cutting force right at the tips of his fingers or the edge of his hands, allowing him to slice men in half with a simple clawing motion that seems to miss them by about an inch.
Afraid of Blood: Mr. Heart goes batshit, when he sees his own blood, attacking everyone in sight, friend or foe. Joker triggered this intentionally, so he'd have an edge against Ken.
Adaptation Dye-Job: The original anime version by Toei changed the hair colors of some of the characters. Most of the later anime productions by North Stars Pictures reverted back to their manga hair colors.
Part of Buronson and Tetsuo Hara's involvement in Hokuto Musou was to create new moves for every character so they'd have an expanded move list. This actually means that not only are said moves canon, they also show what many characters that didn't get a chance to really showcase themselves were capable off. This is especially welcome with the Nanto characters, like Shin and Souther.
After the End: The series takes place after a nuclear war, with a few characters being affected by radiation poisoning. The prequel, Fist Of The Blue Sky takes place in pre-World-War-II Japanese-occupied China.
Air Jousting: Ken and Shin engage in a splash panel's worth this in their first fight, and it became the most famous single panel of the series (which is saying a lot). Anime parodies of Fist of the North Star frequently refer to this panel, with Ken and Shin's legs crossed in midair. Also, Ken and Raoh jump straight up to do a little air jousting later. Usually, though, jumping attacks are carried out against opponents on the ground.
Alas, Poor Villain: Stone tearfully surrenders before Kenshiro, and is then killed by a stray bullet from Jackal.
All Bikers Are Hells Angels: Not to mention screaming hooligans with tattoos and mohawks who have a delightful tendency to pick the exact same afternoon Kenshiro is passing by to abuse people.... and explode.
All There in the Manual: The only time the name of Shin's Nanto branch was ever revealed was in the 1986 special magazine Hokuto no Ken Special: All About the Man.
All Your Powers Combined: Another one of the effects of Musou Tenseinote "Nil Thought Rebirth" is to commune with the souls of dead friends and allies and harness their strength and skills.
Kenshiro: This is for Shin! (asskicking ensues) [...] The fists you are about to feel... (more asskicking ensues) ...IS FOR YURIA! [...] This is for the little child that you killed! (stabs an arrow into chest) [...] And this last one...this is for the man whose life you have stolen! This...is...THIS IS MY RAGE! (punches Jagi and sends him flying ass over head)
Anime Theme Song: Ai o Torimodose, the theme song for the original anime series is one of the most well-known anime theme songs ever, and it is absolutely synonymous with the series. Any adaptation of the series in other media that uses ANY song from the anime will use Ai o Torimodose. It is also considered by many to be one of the most hot blooded anime theme song ever, and apart from that if you go through the lyrics - you'll find yourself shedding Manly Tears.
Anyone Can Die: Right up there with Gundam or The Sopranos for riding this trope hard. Colorful, unique, intriguing characters are introduced only to die horribly soon (or not so soon) afterwards. A demoralizing borderline Mind Screw that pushes the setting's nihilism and terror right in your face. Of course, seeing how few in number the main protagonists are, this may not necessarily be true. Sometimes this is taken to Kill 'em All level. The only character still breathing by the end of Kenshiro Den prequel movie is Kenshiro himself!
Apocalypse Anarchy: After the world gets devastated by nuclear war, practically all forms of government have been abandoned. The highest sort of organization the villages have are little communities headed by an elder. Meanwhile, there are either random gangs of mohawked thugs or armies organized under one very powerful individual, and either are more than willing to take what they want from the villages without remorse.
Arc Welding: As the manga went on, it was not uncommon to weave in earlier and seemingly unrelated story arcs into current ones. When Jagi was first introduced, it turns out he was the one who brainwashed Shin into betraying Ken. Likewise, Jagi is later revealed to had been a servant of Ken-oh along with Amiba.
Let's talk about Spade. In the second chapter Kenshiro ran into him and his goons while torturing an old man to steal a bag full of rice. When Kenshiro intervened, Spade shot an arrow at him, and Kenshiro stopped it easily. Kenshiro informed him that he would only take his eye - instead of killing him - if he tried that again. Spade tried it again with predictable consequences. Kenshiro, though, still spared his life... and Spade attacked him again. Spade, lad, there are less painful ways to commit suicide!
Audience Surrogate: Bat and Lin in the early chapters mainly existed for Kenshiro to have someone to provide exposition to.
Kenshiro is one of anime's first and foremost examples. Of course, there's also Raoh and Rei. Shin, Souther, and Kaioh get props for being the only fighters in the series to beat Kenshiro. Ken is so Bad Ass his primary way to teach the bad guys an important lesson is to kill them.
Kenshiro: You won't learn unless I kill you.
The final test for the would-be successors to Hokuto Shinken, was an encounter with a ferocious tiger. In the presence of Raoh the tiger desperately lashed out and Raoh killed it, but in Kenshiro's case, the tiger had backed down through his sheer badassery — leading to Ryuken picking Kenshiro.
Badass Normal: Jackal. In a world of flesh-melting kung fu megapowers, he becomes an important villain by throwing dynamite and remembering where the prison is. Maybe Ein and the adult version of Bat.
Bad Moon Rising: The Star of Death. When it appears in the sky, those who see it are doomed to die within a year. There are NO EXCEPTIONS to this rule. Only one character has been spared this fate, and it involved The Power of Love to intervene.
Bare-Fisted Monk: Endemic amongst the main cast and villains, given all the superpowered martial arts going around. Anyone fighting with weapons is a mook, a Red Shirt, or some other kind of minor speed-bump for their unarmed opponents.
Bash Brothers: Famously Ken and Rei, but at one point Raoh and Toki (who actually are brothers) teamed up on their way to see Kenshiro's second confrontation of Souther. Raiga and Fuga, the Sibling Team gatekeepers of Cassandra Prison, also qualify.
Battle Aura: Hokuto Shinken allows its practitioner to increase their strength by using an inner energy called "touki", which literally means "battle aura". Taken a step further with the art itself: A character's presence is directly reflected in the size they're drawn. This of course means that the noisy, reckless, and above all else, LOUD henchmen are rarely less than twice as large as any other character, with rareexceptions. As a side effect, characters' actual sizes are impossible to tell without reading some supplementarymaterial.
Battle Strip: It is kind of hard to ignore the fact how just about every time Kenshiro goes into Rage mode (usually for emotional reasons), his touki incinerates his shirt. This similarly applies to major villains in battle against them. Kinda makes you wonder how their Clothing magically reappears in a latter time, considering the post-apocalyptic nature of their world. The only thing in fact to change as such are Kaioh's or Raoh's helmets.
Beard of Sorrow: In the 1986 film version, Ken grows one after losing to Shin, which makes him look totally like an 80s-era Chuck Norris. Its presence in the scene where he meets Bat and Lin by saving them from bandits makes him all the more badass.
Beauty Equals Goodness: Attractive villains are treated with sympathy when they die even if they aren't actually sympathetic (looking at you Yuda and Souther). Ugly villains are killed with no remorse. On the other hand, the handsome villains are more likely to actually show remorse in the first place.
Hurt innocent people in front of Kenshiro and heads will pop.
Mr. Heart flips out and attacks people indiscriminately if he sees his own blood. One of the other villains uses this fact to his advantage during Heart's fight with Ken.
Boogal absolutely despises being dirty at all, and will take as many baths as possible to keep clean, if it means literally bathing all day. When one of his henchmen politely tell him he's using too much water, Boogal demands that the villagers' already pathetic water portions be cut in half.
Morgan hates having his driving criticized at all, and sought to murder Bat after he passed Morgan on the road.
BFS: A couple of mooks team to swing one. They fail and get horribly killed for their trouble. Arguably, Uighur's whips account for the whip equivalent of this.
Black and Gray Morality: The thugs and warlords that populate the wasteland steal, murder and rape to their heart's content, and any attempts to keep them in line tend to be marginally less brutal. Even Raoh looks good compared to them.
Black Blood: Being made before the days when violent anime is screened during midnight, desaturated, black or white blood was the only way that Fist of the North Star could air on television at all.
There is some genuine red blood in the anime TV series, most notably when Shin cripples Kenshiro in their first fight. You will never see it when Kenshiro makes a random mook's head violently explode, however.
Black Humor: Kenshiro's treatment of many villains oozes that, like when he killed a Mook with a Groin Attack so strong that sent him flying and beating the hammer throw record of the head mook and his assistant.
Born Lucky: Curiously enough, the Big Bad Raoh of the series. He should have been dead several times over before the end of the series but survives long enough for his final battle with Kenshiro. Oh, what the hell, let's count all of the lucky breaks he got.
A chance encounter with Juza in his childhood which gives him just the right Aesop that he uses to avoid a fatal ass-kicking.
The second person who could stop him, his father Ryuken, suffers a fatal heart attack right before he stopped Raoh from assuming the mantle of Big Bad.
The third person who could stop him, Toki, suffered crippling radiation poisoning and was just shy of having enough strength of finishing Raoh off for good.
A trap meant as a last-ditch resort to finish off Raoh actually ends up allowing Raoh to escape and kidnap Yuria.
In terms of his reputation, he also "died lucky" in the sense that he's lionized for the rest of the manga after his death too, both in and out-of-universe (that is, both by characters' words and in the context of the manga's events).
Bowdlerise: The violence from the manga was toned down considerably in the TV series, with many of the violent deaths and blood being rendered in black and white and scenes involving children's deaths (such as Bat's adoptive brother Taki or the kid who ate poisoned bread in Shuh's hideout) were rewritten to have Kenshiro save the child at the last minute. In spite of this, the show still attracted the negative attention of moral guardiansin Japan.
Calling Your Attacks: Complete with the kanji for the attack name printed on screen, which is subject to lots of parodies. It is, however, an inversion of this trope: most of the time, they call their attacks after using them.
The fact that Ken's iconic Touch of Death has a delay also helps, since he can tell his victims the name of his attacks after it's too late for them to do anything about them.
Canon Immigrant: Filler character Saki, a servant of Yuria, appears in the Yuria Gaiden manga.
Movie characters Reina and Souga are main characters in the Ten no Haoh manga.
The character Sakuya was created for the animeLegends of the Dark King and was incorporated into two manga specials by the original manga's author.
Cash Cow Franchise: Thirty years after the first chapter was published, Hokuto No Ken is STILL churning out new (spin-off) manga, merchandise and video games by the year....
Cast Full of Pretty Boys: In the original series only Rei and Jyuza were considered to be handsome, but of course that was only in-universe and fans had more choices to pick and argue about; the spin-offs though, tends to scale up the cast's beauty by a notch, Yuria Gaiden in particular makes every single character a fine piece, if some were already pretty to begin with, they got even more handsome, even Jagi out of all people didn't look disgusting in this particular spin-off.
"Omae wa mo shindeiru" ("You are already dead"). Memetically mutated into a general statement of badassery. There's also the "Omae wa sude ni shindeiru" variation, which means the same thing, this one is almost forgotten by most fans, some even accuse to not even exist in the first place, due to how rare it is. One example of its use is found in the episode "Villains! Finish your prayers before you die!" Patra's henchmen are at the receiving end of an attack that breaks their spines.
Made even more awesome by its continually being translated as the more defiant: "You don't even know you're already dead."
Many of the villains Kenshiro kills have a tendency to utter an onomatopoeia such as "ABESHI" and "DAWABA" when they die. The most notable is "HIDEBU", a corruption of "ite yo!" (it hurts) which was first uttered by Mr. Heart in the manga and was uttered very often in the anime adaptation (even by Zeed, who precedes Heart in the story).
Charles Atlas Superpower: Even though being an Asian martial arts series somewhat obviates this trope (i.e., the genre demands it of everyone anyway), there's still Ein. This American-flag clad bounty hunter employs no fancy techniques, defeats enemies (and barriers) by simply punching them, and claims to know the vaguely named Kenka Kenpo ("brawling martial art"). One could argue that being so strong, despite a lack of formal martial art skills, puts him in this category in a setting where Chinese martial arts generally lead to superpowers.
Clothing Damage: Kenshiro lives in a world where you sometimes must literally give an arm and a leg for basic necessities like food and fresh water, and yet can still afford to shred his expensive jacket every single episode and get a good-as-new replacement the next episode. Episode 23 shows Ken repairing a shoe though, so perhaps Ken uses what limited resources he can find to repair his outfit. Though then again, most of the time they're seen not just ripping but outright disintegrating.
Combat Pragmatist: Jagi made a career out of doing this. And him using a gun arguably isn't even the worse thing he did.
Competitive Balance: The most deadly techniques from the series are downplayed to fair levels in many game adaptations:
Hokuto Zankai-Ken: The move where Kenshiro hits the pressure points in both sides of his foe's head with his thumbs, the given time before death is 3 seconds, in games it becomes 30 seconds or more, and can be interrupted, as seen the Arcade Fighter game and Jump Super Stars.
Hokuto Hyakuretsu-Ken: The famous Rapid Fire Fisticuffs, it only reaches the titular one hundread cracking fists when the attack is a special or desperation move, if not, it barely reaches 20 hits.
Any Nanto Seiken Technique: Nanto praticioners are shown to dismember lesser mooks easily, literally a One-Hit Kill, it's only downgraded against other Nanto and Hokuto fighters, where the move just cuts instead of outright dismembering, although in games, the mookiest of the mooks can't be killed instantly by the Nanto attacks.
Musou Tensei: The ultimate Hokuto Shinken art, the user becomes immune to everything thrown against him, it also channels the Hokuto Shinken Mega Manning powers to its maximum, the user can use all the techniques from his fallen comrades and foes at any time; in games, it's just a temporary Super Mode that is immune against everything but another Muso Tensei user and does not channel Hokuto and Nanto arts in one go, in certain cases it's just a counter-attack, a great one but still, as seen in Jump Super Stars.
Completely Different Title: Hokuto no Ken is officially translated as Fist of the North Star in English when it really should be "Fist of the Big Dipper". This is an artifact from when Viz translated the manga in 1989. Instead of explaining what the names Hokuto and Nanto meant (the Northern and Southern Dippers, two Chinese constellations roughly corresponding with the Great Bear and Saggitarius), they changed the names of the two main martial art schools to North Star and Southern Cross respectively. The North Star is still somewhat related to the Great Bear, as the Big Dipper is used to locate it, but Southern Cross barely has anything to with Nanto other than the fact that it happens to be the name of Shin's city. Later translations stick to the styles' original names, but the English title is prety stuck as Fist of the North Star for recognizability purposes. Toei originally proposed the name Ken the Great Bear Fist and almost used that title for the NES game until they went with Viz's chosen title.
Fist of the North Star can be considered more of a localization than a direct translation of the Japanese title. The North Star and Southern Cross have historically been used as navigation aids. Considering that one of the themes of the story is who will lead the ruined Earth, it is fitting that the martial art schools of the main warriors would be named after beacons of guidance.
In Italy and France, the title was localized as Ken il guerriero (Ken the Warrior) and Ken le survivant (Ken the Survivor) respectively.
Continuity Drift: The latter part of the manga revealed that Kenshiro, Toki and Raoh were originally refuges from the Kingdom of Shura, where Raoh and Toki's mother was also buried. However, the first half of the manga already showed the ruins of Raoh and Toki's hometown, as well as the graves of both of Raoh and Toki's parents. Some adaptations choose to stick with the first origin story for Raoh and Toki, and others go with the Shura origin.
Cool Horse: Raoh's horse and later, Kenshiro's horse Kokuoh-Go, who is a black stallion the size of an elephant.
Courtly Love: In spite of not being an actual nobleman, this is the way that Rei shows poor Mamiya his love - he never even gets to kiss her before his tragic death at the hands of Raoh.
Crapsack World: If you're everyone but the protagonist, your life will be one of miserable squalor and highly probable violent death. If you're the protagonist, even more miserable, but less death.
Kenshiro: For nothing but a drop of water... A child's life is taken! What horrible times!
Crazy-Prepared: Kenshiro's martial art is older than most of the nations of the Earth and appears to have a specific attack for every occasion. For example, the correct application of pressure points is exactly right for making someone garrote themselves — or behead themselves with a razor wire in the manga. Raging Flame Reverse Flow Punch: for that one occasion you might run into a fire-breathing boss mook!
Cruel and Unusual Death: Most people get cut to ribbons or popped like blood-filled balloons, but two particularly nasty deaths stand out:
Rei gets hit with a technique from Raoh that will cause his blood to drain from his body in three days and cause incredible agony.
Shu is forced to carry the peak of Souther's pyramid after having the muscles in his legs cut. He is then riddled with arrows by Souther's archers and impaled with a spear hurled by Souther himself, before ultimately being crushed under the stone as his strength gives out.
Curb-Stomp Battle: The entire series is based on this. There is only rarely such a thing as an equal battle, even amoung the various martial artists (be it Kenshiro or anyone else), one side will invariably dominate the other heavily. Sometimes this is a setup for a fight-back, sometimes not. It actually becomes a plot twist when Kenshiro actually has to fight on equal ground with an opponent. Curiously enough, the first Big Bad of the series, Raoh, has the smallest ratio of participating in these kinds of battles of any kind of character. He was on pretty even footing with Toki (both occasions), Juza, Fudoh, and Kenshiro in their second confrontation.
Deadly Upgrade: Hokuto Shinken knows a series of pressure points that will cause one's muscle power to increase greatly but irrevocably shortens one's lifespan. Interestingly, there's a variation where a different series of pressure points actually extends one's lifespan...but the pain is so great one might die from it while it takes effect. Also, the entire Hokuto Ryuuken martial art is arguably a Deadly Upgrade from Hokuto Shinken, since it drives its users insane with evil.
Death Equals Redemption: Played with several villains, notably Shin, Souther and Raoh. There's also Kaioh, whose atrocities include murdering his sister, who doubles as his comrade's fiancée, and blaming it on Kenshiro — then turning on said comrade behind his back while he's occupied with Kenshiro. Kenshiro defeats him with a coup de grâce out of pity for his sad destiny, as this◊ pretty much says..
Death Glare: This anime is notable for having some of the most evil death-glares from good guys.
Death Is Cheap: The series actually averts this for the most part, but there is one major exception in Yuria. While she actually survived her fall from Shin's castle thanks to the Goshasei, her eventual death from radiation sickness hangs over both Raoh — it's what finally teaches him sadness, allowing him to know/use Musou Tensei — and the opening of Kenshiro Den, which is essentially is an epilogue to the entire Raoh story arc. According to the manga, her passing does greatly affect Kenshiro in the years afterward.
Deceptive Disciple: Inverted with Souther: his master tricked him into killing him in order to pass along the succession of Nanto Hououken to Souther. Souther went Ax-Crazy and decided to build a shrine to his master in the form of a massive pyramid built by child slave labor.
Depraved Dwarf: Little people in this series are universally evil and subhuman, and are used by several warlords as spies and entertainment. Boss Fang's gaggle of 'children' are perhaps the most prominent examples.
The requisite to pull off a Fatal K.O in the first place. Depleting the seven stars meter below the victim's lifebar forms a small star next to it, forming the Star of Death. In the series, anyone who saw it was usually fated to die within a year.
Kenshiro's Hokuto Zankai Ken does not work on Souther. They even quote the scene word for word, complete with Souther counting down for kicks, laughing and Ken wondering what's going on.
Rei has three variations of his Hishou Hakurei Fatal K.O depending on whether its performed on Yuda, Mamiya or anyone else:
With Yuda, it imitates his final moment where he catches Rei's hands, admits he's the more beautiful one and commits Suicide by Rei.
With Mamiya the attack goes normally only for Mamiya's clothes to be completely ripped off, referencing the scene wherein Rei did just that to confirm that she was a woman and thus was not suited for battle.
Jagi has a super where he forces the opponent to say his name. You get two chances to give the right answer, and there are two out of three choices wrong in these two chances. Did I mention he is VERY impatient?
Jagi: Say my name! What?! I will give you another chance!
Shin's suicide Fatal KO, which calls back to his death scene where he flings himself off his tower at Southern Cross, not wanting to die at the hands of a Hokuto Shinken fighter like Ken.
Dirty Coward: Very, very many, and very prominent due to the fact, that Kenshiro just loves to inflict slightly-delayed painful deaths on villains caught red-handed and then explain to them what he just did. Practically all minor villains break down and panic or plead for their life pathetically. On the other hand, most of the major antagonists face death with courage and dignity, because they are usually revealed to be tragic charactersright after the deathblow is struck. The most obvious AND unrepentent example though is Jagi.
Disability Superpower: Shu's loss of eyesight allowed him to "see" with his "heart", while Souther's heart is on the right side of his chest, and his pressure points are symmetrically mirrored. Akashachi's eye, hand, and leg have been replaced by weapons.
The Drifter: Ken and Toki. And Rei. And Juza. And...well, if you're not running a corrupt empire, you're wandering around looking for one to crush, basically.
Dueling Messiahs: Kenshiro and Raoh, both of whom were students of Hokuto Shinken. Kenshiro believes that the world can be changed by example and that he can inspire humanity towards peace, while Raoh is a Social Darwinist who believes that he can keep the world in check by ruling over everyone. Toki strives for peace and non-violence, which puts him on Kenshiro's side but at odds with Raoh.
Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Devil's Rebirth was so fond of his mother, that Jackal used this fact to manipulate him, while Kaioh's hatred for Kenshiro was caused as a result of his mother dying to save an infant Kenshiro.
Even Mooks Have Loved Ones: And that is why there are actually decent men amongst Souther's army of beating and killing children; they are free to refuse if they can accept The Holy Emperor tearing their children and wives to pieces for their disobedience...
Everyone Went to School Together: With the exception of Rei and Juda, it seems that the Hokuto brothers met each of the Nanto Rokuseiken (Shin, Shuh, Souther and Yuria) before the apocalypse. Likewise, Raoh was also acquainted with both, Juza and Fudoh, when he was a child.
After Jackal's gang murdered an old lady taking care of a bunch of little children, Kenshiro swore to track down and kill all of them. Of course, he began to do just that. After finding a corpse of one of his comrades, a bandit said he didn't understand why Kenshiro was doing something he gained nothing from.
Evil Is Bigger: A good many of Kenshiro's foes are at least twice his size. And at six feet tall and 220 lbs of solid muscle, Ken's already huge by Asian standards.
Exact Time to Failure: Or in Kenshiro's case, Exact Time Until Your Head Asplode. A mook tries it ON Kenshiro once. A head explodes perfectly on cue. The mook's, of course.
Executive Suite Fight: Whereas the entire first season of Fist of the North Star takes place in a fallout-blanketed and crumbling post-apocalyptic desert wasteland, Kenshiro's final confrontation with his Rival Turned Evil best-friend Shin takes place in a cleanly polished, cavernous throne-room of marble and gold.
Clone Zero in The King of Fighters 2000, who is an expy of the Rasho Han, and has special moves named after ones used by Kaioh and Hyoh.
Sakuya from the Raoh Gaiden anime series, who is an expy of Demona from Gargoyles. This was less so as time went on though, and in any case was an expy of the look and sound — they were nothing alike personality-wise or in mindset.
Goliath, a boss from Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia, is basically what you get if you cross Raoh with Frankenstein's monster. His death animation replicates Raoh's own, right down to the white aura and fist raised to the sky. The only difference is that Goliath's body disintegrates.
Eyepatch of Power: The Colonel. Akashachi. Shachi. Inversion: Spade loses his eye to Ken and gets quickly killed in their next encounter. Eyepatch of Shame?
Eye Scream: We see it just at chapter 2 of the manga, where Kenshiro catches a bolt from a crossbow and throws it back straight at the center of the eye of the punk who shot it.
Shew uses his Nanto style to blind himself so the young Kenshiro could be spared.
Shew: I give up my light for his life!
Shachi. To prove his devotion to Kenshiro before Hyo, he gouged out his left eye AND was willing to gouge his right eye too!
Faux Action Girl: Mamiya and to some extent Reina from the Legends of the True Savior movies. Subverted by Hokuto Musou, where gameplay-wise Mamiya is apparently awesome; after Rei's death she disappears until the events of Hokuto no Ken 2, but in the manga she has one last hurrah as a fighter at the end when out of sympathy for Bat who's being tortured by an old enemy of Kenshiro's, she tries to sacrifice herself to give him a quick death.
Filler: Like any other manga-based anime series, the TV series featured original arcs and episodes between the main story in order to prevent the series from exceeding its source material. The most notorious example is the anime version of the Southern Cross arc, which puts off the final battle between Kenshiro and Shin by more than a dozen episodes.
The problem with Surat's order is that it leaves out episodes 17-21. While these episodes are all filler, the events that lead up to Episode 22 won't make much sense if you skip them due to how the order of events were changed during the Southern Cross arc (plus some of the filler characters, like Joker and Saki, are involved in canon episodes and don't show up in #22).
Filler Villain: The purpose of Joker, Shin's anime-only right-hand man, was to serve as an informant between Shin and his numerous henchmen that he'd sent out to hunt Kenshiro.
Finishing Move: Practically everything the Hokuto Shinken users do is one of these, some of which go as far as involving an on-screen countdown until the victim dies a horrible death. The Fighting Game made by Arc System Works made the more notable and flashy moves into instant kill moves or Fatal KO's.
Freudian Excuse: Souther and Yuda. Souther's was somewhat understandable since yes, it is traumatic when you accidently kill your own teacher, but what Souther did then wasn't a good way to pay his respects to him. But Yuda's on the other hand is just plain silly.
The insane motivations of many villains can be partly explained by the fact that the series take place After the Bomb: when you're already on the edge from the sheer, mind-blasting horror of nuclear apocalypse, even relatively minor things can push you over the brink and turn into all-consuming obsessions. This is especially the case when you've got a seemingly LOT of superpowered martial artists, and faced with the chaos After the End.
From Nobody to Nightmare: This is the way the people of Asura advance through the ranks of their society—in fact, until you have killed hundreds of people, you don't even have a name to distinguish yourself from others.
Gag Dub: Famous Gag Dub situation. While doing the official French language dub of the anime, all the French people working on the show were disgusted by the insane levels of violence - especially since they knew it had been bought for a morning cartoon show aimed at kids and would air alongside Sailor Moon. As most of the dubbers didn't think much of anime anyway, they demanded to be allowed to do whatever they wanted and therefore got to narm up the dialogues and add jokes. Basically, the French dub is an Abridged Series, only not fan-made.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: The NES game (actually the second Famicom game) kept in the fairly gory exploding deaths of enemies when they die from being punched. Interestingly, the Sega Genesis (which normally had much less heavy-handed censoring than the NES) port of the Mega Drive game removed this, substituting the "fly off the screen" death used for kicking.
Good Is Not Nice: After the bitter lessons at the beginning of the manga and in the backstory, Kenshiro almost never shows mercy to villains and bandits (a few borderline exceptions are people who managed to avoid hurting innocents on-panel, like Akashachi). He might shed Manly Tears for some of the major villains, but not before they are already dead. And some of his Hokuto Shinken applications are downright sadistic.
Good Scars, Evil Scars: Kenshiro, the hero, has seven scars on his chest in the shape of the Big Dipper, put there by Shin during the latter's Face-Heel Turn. The scars would be a plot point, as that was the only identifying trait Rei knew of his sister's kidnapper. Jagi has a brutally scarred face he keeps behind a helmet, and deliberately matched Kenshiro's scars in order to pass as him. Ditto for the manga's ending, when Bat inflicts them onto himself to pass as Ken as well — but unlike Jagi, to protect Ken.
Gonk: Physically incapable villains tend to be this.
Gorn: Probably the most ridiculous example occurs in the fight against the Colonel, where Kenshiro uses a technique that makes his opponent's muscles eject the intact skeleton from the body. To paraphrase SF Debris, the Gorn in this series is just sickening enough...to be hilarious.
Graceful Loser: Raoh, and to a lesser extent Souther. Souther's death was changed in the movie Legend of Raoh: Chapter of Martyred Love (which retells the Souther arc from Raoh's perspective), in which Souther takes a page from Shin's book and decides that it's Better to Die Than Be Killed. In the original manga (including the events of Hokuto no Ken 2) there's quite a few more.
Gratuitous English: The opening song. YOU wa SHOCK!!! This is probably because "you wa shock" sounds a lot like "you are shock". It's become so prevalent that many don't even know that the song is actually called "Ai o Torimodose". The other opening themes count to, with Silent Fighter's "DO SURVIVE!" and Tough Boy's "Welcome to this crazy time!"
Guns Are Worthless: By the time the series takes place, firearms seemed to have become an endangered species, especially since ammunition is hard to come by. Being located in the region of a dried out ersatz Japan with similarly draconian gun laws and prevalence explains why there aren't many firearms in the first place.
Harmless Lady Disguise: During Rei's introduction, he's disguising himself as a helpless woman with a cloak in order to attract bandits and kill them for their food.
Healing Factor: Most good fighters in the series have one to a degree, but the Hokuto and Nanto practitioners have it to a much greater degree. Doesn't stop them from getting VERY seriously hurt, though. It is also subverted in that it is not so much that they heal quickly, but that they know how to utilize their body's energy and accupuncture points to facilitate healing. If you're a mook, though, so sad for you.
Heel-Face Turn: A good number of villains perform these some moments before their death, usually only long enough to admit their remorse. Though once in a while, you get a villain who not only does this to atone for their sins, but lasts long enough to help Ken and gang along the way. The most obvious examples would be:
Raiga and Fuga, the gatekeepers of Cassandra Prison, who, after their supposedly unstoppable fighting style is beaten, they pledge loyalty to Ken, long enough to fight and defeat their master and assist Ken, Rei and Mamiya in freeing Toki from the prison. Sadly, they die keeping a crushing ceiling held up long enough for Ken and gang to escape.
Falco, who fights for Jakoh at first, though its revealed that he is working for Jakoh against his will due to the fact that Jakoh is holding the Tentei (the Celestial Emperor... or rather, Empress)) hostage. Once Ken and the Hokuto Army frees the Tentei, its open season on Jakoh and Falco kills Jakoh in such an awesome way by incinerating Jakoh's head. Falco then jumps at the chance to help Kenshiro clean up the Kingdom of Shura...but sadly doesn't last long as he is viciously killed by a nameless Shura mook of all people.
In a flashback, Fudoh. He started out as a bandit who used his size and strength to terrorize and rob people, even causing a younger Raoh to tremble with terror. But after a run-in with Yuria (plus holding a newborn puppy on his hand), he ultimately turns into a selfless hero who will stop at nothing to protect those he cares about, particularly the children he takes under his wing.
Here We Go Again: The manga ending. As the "credits" is shown, Kenshiro is again wandering the wasteland and making the world a better place, one exploding head at a time.
He Will Not Cry, So I Cry for Him: When Asuka, Ein's little girl, was asked why she is not crying at her father's funeral, she replies "If I cry, Daddy won't be able to rest." Kenshiro promptly hugs her with warmth and kindness and weeps Tender Tears of sadness in her place.
Hidden Purpose Test: Shown in one of Kenshiro's flashbacks to when he was training. Kenshiro and Raoh were both tasked to fight a 400 pound tiger to see which of them had the best understanding of Hoktuo Shinken. Kenshiro was able to tame the tiger with a single stare. Raoh, on the other hand, was almost attacked by the same tiger but retaliated with a Death Glare that froze the tiger in fear just long enough so he could easily take its head. While Raoh gloated that he was the clear successor because the tiger didn't consider Kenshiro a threat, Ryuken mentally admonishes him. Kenshiro's aura was able to make the tiger submit from fear, while Raoh's aura was so incredibly hostile that the tiger attacked him in desperation to preserve its own life.
One villain, the Mad Sarge, even has a fighting style based around this, as he throws narrow, hollow needles. Although in real life these shouldn't be all that efficient at removing blood (he makes no attempt to hit any major veins or arteries), it is accepted that the main danger of this attack is the resulting catastrophic blood loss rather than being stuck full of needles.
Hoist by His Own Petard: Ironic deaths have a way of happening around Kenshiro, even when he isn't directly causing them.
A particularly satisfying death is that of Jackal, who goes out by way of his own dynamite, and with the hand of Devil Rebirth, who has just learned that Jackal was playing him for a fool, around him so he cannot escape.
Hollywood Atheist: Baran the Emperor of Light, one of the villains from the manga-only final chapter, finds the idea of God absurd due to the fact that his dead little sister Yuka refuse to take a medicine he stole for her due to her moral upbringing, resulting in her death from a preventable disease.
Honor Before Reason: To be even a fundamentally decent person in a post-apocalyptic wasteland is to be this trope; and that's without going into the actual heroes of this universe.
Hope Spot: Played for dark comedy in the Jagi/Kenshiro face-off. Kenshiro usually lets the Mooks he's about to deliver a thrashing to get in a couple before cruelly crushing their hopes. A much more tragic version occurs in the Jyuza / Raoh fight, whereupon he gets no less than three of these.