I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: The manga's final volume has Ken and Bat both trying out the I Want My Beloved to Be Happy suit with Lin: earlier, Kaioh had pressed the pressure point Shikan Haku on Lin's back that would cause her to fall in love with the first man she saw upon waking — expecting that it would be a scummy bandit or a lowly beggar, anyone but Ken; nevertheless when she wakes, it's just Ken and Bat (who'd learned of Shikan Haku — important point there). Bat was aware of Lin's love for Ken, but Ken was sympathetic to her for all that she'd been through and instead wanted her to live peacefully, so he rode off to ensure that Lin would fall in love with Bat instead. Bat makes a show of going along, but at their wedding he's unable to fully commit — feeling that it's not right for him to be getting the (sincere) love compelled onto her, so in an even more extreme case, he actually causes retrograde amnesia in her, then in an incredibly cockamimie plot actually attempts to "guide" the rebuilding of memories in an attempt to cause her to fall in love with Ken all over again instead... by the end though, it fails when Ken and Lin both regain their memories, and in her case remembering her love for the now-dying Bat. While Ken promised to Bat that he would go off with Lin, he secretly pressed healing points on Bat before leaving without her... leaving her a welcome surprise.
Improv Fu: Jyuza gave Raoh one hell of a Humiliation Conga with a fighting style he invented on the spot. The fight ends with him stealing Raoh's horse, Kokuoh.
Inertial Impalement: One scene shows the villain's fortifications, including sharpened trees thicker than a man's arm. Later on the downtrodden villagers storm the villain's base, and one guy is shown to have somehow impaled himself at least three feet on one of the stakes.
Infant Immortality: Although children and even infants often died in the manga (along with a few dogs), the TV anime often rewrote such scenes so that the child escapes from harm's way with Kenshiro's help (the most prominent examples being Taki, Bat's adopted little brother who gets shot by one of Jackal's men, and Ryo, the kid in Shew's hideout who ate bread poisoned by Thouzer and his men).
Informed Ability: There are villains who brag about their unstoppable fighting styles whose power we never see onscreen, though a good load of them do manage to show it off. The most ubiquitous example has to be Thouzer's Tensho Juuji Hou attack, which supposedly can cut through stainless steel, but only scratches Ken's shoulders a bit and got a lot of hype beforehand. Granted, Ken's Made of Iron, and once got hit in the head with a solid stone pillar as big as he is and remained completely unfazed (the pillar shattered to pieces). So it is easy to see how an attack that can cut stainless steel might be not a big deal to him.
Intangibility: One of the effects of Hokuto Shinken's ultimate technique Musou Tenseinote "Nil-Thought Rebirth".
Jabba Table Manners: In a world where basic food and fresh water can literally cost you an arm and a leg, any character who eats gourmet food can automatically be labelled as a wasteful villain.
Thouzer in particular is an exceptionally vile example of this trope; he is shown throwing food away and punishing those who try to pick it up.
Shisuka from Kenshiro Den is an even more literal example than Thouzer, since he resembles the Trope Namer.
The first post-Kaioh arc of the manga had Kouketsu, whose prowess in forcing others to grow food gave him access to large amounts of it, with the inevitable disregard for proper table etiquette.
Japanese Spirit: Kenshiro, like all masters of the Hokuto and Nanto martial arts schools, has powers and abilities which make him extremely special and Talented. Further, the Inciting Incident which caused the entirety of the series (his first duel and loss to Shin) has Shin specifically state that Kenshiro lost to him because he lacked Resolve. The desire for both revenge and rescue are what push Ken to his peak. Even later, when Ken needs to unlock his ultimate technique, it turns out that he can only do it by embracing "the true nature of sorrow". Finally, Kenshiro at first glance appears to avert the Persistence side of the trope because he's so invincible that he never needs to do any training or even struggle. However, it's revealed that all of the battles, lost friends and allies, and psychological trauma he's endured throughout the series has allowed him to perfect his abilities.
Kenshiro's battle cries mimic those of Bruce Lee. Not to mention that in the anime, he looks like him too (at least in the early episodes). In the manga though, his face, hair, and clothes all very closely resemble Mel Gibson's character, "Mad" Max Rockatansky in the Mad Max films — then, when he went off to Shura, Sylvester Stallone.
There's also his famous "ATATATATATATATATATATATATATATA!" kiai, which he uses when he's busting out his Hokuto Hyakuretsu Ken on some sorry bad guy.
Kick the Dog: A constant, never-ending stream of atrocities designed to make you feel that the villains deserve every last bit of righteous ultra-violence Ken can lavish upon them. One bad guy even literally kicks a dog — a cute puppy to be precise.
Kill 'em All: The manga was a long-running series with a massive and diverse cast of characters... but if they aren't named Kenshiro, Lin, or Bat, don't expect them to stick around for long. Story arcs where everyone but our protagonist ends up dead in a heap are extremely common.
Killer Yoyo: Mamiya uses two of them, and looking damn fine while doing so.
Not Jesus Himself, but his lookalike Toki, who would be the most powerful Hokuto Shingen practitioner, if weren't for his crippling radition sickness.
Not to mention Kenshiro himself in the Kensiro Den prequel film, right down to resurrecting from LITERALLY being crucified.
Laser-Guided Karma: Kenshiro is a living embodiment of this. Whenever savage thugs or would-be dictators kill helpless people for fun and amusement, expect them to suffer violent and painful deaths at the literal hands of Kenshiro.
Whenever Ken walks in the anime, more often than not the animators just take a static frame of him and wave it up and down. Leads to Narm in some cases, such as the HILARIOUSLY bad special effect in episode 23, where we see Ken from an exploding Mook's point of view, and it's painfully obvious that the animators just waved Ken's picture around in the background.
There's also the episode in which Ken kills Devil's Rebirth: It just shows him from the back as he punches, while Devil's body goes past up. It's the funniest Green Screen effect ever.
In one instance, Kenshiro confronts Amiba after the latter fails at copying Hokuto Shinken, he is supposed to step up right into Amiba's face. However, the animation for this scene is simply a still frame of Kenshiro leaning forward being slid up next to a terrified Amiba, and it comes off as even more inappropriately humorous (possibly because the immediately preceding scene was already fairly Bloody Hilarious).
Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Inverted with Hokuto Ryuuken, which uses magical incantations heavily in its fighting style but is explicitly stated to be inferior to Hokuto Shinken, which focuses on physical attack and pressure-point techniques.
Strong characters with unique fighting styles are introduced, only to be killed off within the next volume or two. Think Bleach, if people died.
Some of them are given bit more screen time in Toei's anime version, like Raiga and Fuga, Koryu, Hyui and Shuren, Shoki and Nagato to name a few.
Look What I Can Do Now!: Long training sequences are generally avoided, but this does not stop characters from suddenly unleashing new abilities that they either learned spontaneously, or perhaps had known all along.
Love Freak: Shew, Yuria, to an extent. Lin also counts as well.
Mad Bomber: Jackal and his gang are awfully fond of dynamite sticks as weapons.
Made of Iron: If you're one of the more powerful fighters in this series, you are virtually immune to damage. For example, Kiba Daioh, a relatively low-level martial artist villain, used a technique which literally transformed his skin into steel, so that when super-strong Kenshiro used a massive steel beam to bludgeon him, the beam was bent into U-shape without doing any damage. Then Kenshiro struck a pressure point which effectively canceled the effect, allowing Ken to break Kiba's spine during the second try.
Magic Pants: Kenshiro destroys his shirt and expensive looking leather jacket in practically every episode, and yet never seems to have any problem getting it back by the next one.
Manly Tears: One of the most famous users of this trope. It should be noted however, that the men of this series shed just as much, if not moreTender Tears than the girls, contrary to popular belief.
Martial Medic: Kenshiro, and his adoptive brother Toki, can manipulate pressure points to heal as well as harm.
Meaningful Name: Toki, who shares his grace with the ibis he was named after, and Thouzer, a slightly more convoluted example. The southerly winds. What birds fly on. Birds like the Nanto style is inspired by. Meaning he is at the root of all Nanto schools, as the emperor. Like that wouldn't get to his head... And then there's Kenshiro himself, whose name translates to something like "Fourth Son of the Fist."
Mega Manning: The first clue that Ken is running on The Power of Friendship is when he starts to inexplicably use attacks that belonged to fallen allies. He also explicitly claims that practitioners of his style can duplicate the attacks of any other style, though he's the only practitioner shown actually doing this. Also, Raoh runs a giant prison full of martial artists for the sole purpose of stealing all their secrets. There's not enough detail to determine whether it's this or Awesome by Analysis, but analysis really doesn't seem like Raoh's strongest suit.
Men Don't Cry: Completely and wonderfully averted in this franchise: violence and brutality be damned, Fist of the North Star is frankly one of the most sensitive and warm-hearted anime franchises of the 1980's.
Monster of the Week: The anime version of the Southern Cross arc, and to a lesser extent the Goshasei and Shura arcs, gave Kenshiro more weekly villains than the ones he fought in the original manga.
Monster Sob Story: Told by both Thouzer and Kaioh to Kenshiro right before their final battles, when there's no time left for the reader to watch them grow as characters or sympathise with them. Though the week-to-week short term plotting of the shounen manga industry is probably to blame here.
Fortunately, we do get to learn more about Thouzer immediately after his first fight with Kenshiro, and before Shew challenges him. Just like Kenshiro, Thouzer was slated as the true successor to his fighting style, but lost his mentor through tragic circumstance.
The over the top ways in which evil, evil people die insanely sometimes verges on Black Humor, usually from their cowardly antics.
Then there's the time Ken's cute sidekick gets splattered with gore in the middle of a brutal fistfight to the death by way of comic relief.
However, this trope is here for one man: Jyuza. In the manga, his introduction, a digression from a hopeless war the established characters are fighting, takes its sweet time showing us a piece of his happy-go-lucky, adventurous life. Then he is called out to fight, and its back to the nightmare for the audience.
He's dead. Right? Oh wait, he's up again! He even flips Raoh the bird, then continues the fight. Oh wait, he's dead again. And now his body's standing upright and still fighting, even though he's dead?
Mook Horror Show: When Ken annihilates Jackal and his gang. Fittingly, the episode is entitled "I Am Death Itself! I'll Chase You to the Ends of Hell!"
Moral Myopia: Kiba Daioh will avenge the deaths of his sons, but sees no problem in throwing them in harm's way to save himself if needed.
After his parents were murdered and his sister sold into slavery, Rei didn't bother with his role as the Star of Justice until after meeting Toki.
Thouzer's original traumatic backstory was omitted in the Shin Kyuuseishu Densetsu movies, leaving him as a one dimensional villain.
Mukokuseki: Racially ambiguous characters, names written in katakana, and lack of Japanese signage make many readers confused about where the story is set. But during the Southern Cross arc of the manga, Bat specifically states that Shin's gang rules the former Kanto area.
Mugging the Monster: This happens all the damned time to Kenshiro and the other major badasses of the series. You'd think the mooks that these guys come up against would know not to mess with them, especially after seeing their fellows exploded messily.
Muscles Are Meaningless: Partially averted. Almost all serious martial artists are musclebound bruisers (and about half of them, including Kenshiro, are much taller and more massive than average inhabitants of the postnuclear desert), but, on the other hand, there are a lot of really superhumanly big people in this series (mutants? genetically engineered? it is never explained where all these five-meters tall humans came from), but their giant size usually does not help them much, even though some of them are accomplished martial artists in their own right. Buronson likes toying with this one. Hokuto's breathing techniques effectively embody this trope, but apparently most of those giant mookswere about as tall as Toki.
My God, What Have I Done?: Several times, especially Raoh with Yuria. Fortunately, it turned out to be "My God, What I Could Have Done".
Named by the Adaptation: Many minor characters that were unnamed in the manga were named in the anime like Johnny the Bartender (who was a prominent character in the early arcs) and Kiba Daioh (the leader of the Kiba clan). Jackal's biker gang was also given a name in the anime, where they're known as The Warriors (a possible reference to the 1979 film of the same name).
Toki and Tōki, although the latter has a long vowel and is alternatively pronounced "aura" in some panels.
Ryūken could refer to the Hokuto Shinken master who trained the four Hokuto Brothers or the Hokuto branch named after a shining stone.
The name Zaku was used twice for two different minor villains: one of them a servant of Ken-oh and the other is a member of the Tentei army who is killed by Kenshiro off-screen.
Ryū is the name of either, Raoh's posthumous son or Kaioh's pet dog.
The Narrator: Shigeru Chiba, who also voiced a few of the villains, pulls double duty here. He also gets gradually more excitable as the TV series goes on; as an episode of Trivia no Izumi pointed out, he starts off doing the next-episode previews in a rather stern voice, but by the final episode he's screaming the narration at the top of his lungs. It originally started as an in-joke by Chiba; he apparently stopped ramping it up for a while for fear of giving himself an aneurysm, but began doing it again when fans asked him why he wasn't shouting anymore.
Never-Forgotten Skill: In the manga's final story arc, Kenshiro ends up losing his memory. Despite this, he kills off some thugs with Hokuto Shinken with little effort. Clearly, once somebody has mastered the ways of Hokuto Shinken, their knowledge of the art become second nature to them.
New Old West: Right down to the "stranger walking out of the dust storm into the town" shots and the Morricone-esque mournful-saxophone music of Spaghetti Westerns in the more sad and thoughtful scenes.
New Powers as the Plot Demands: Kenshiro can not only kill or heal people by touching pressure points, but in one episode, he even touches a pressure point that makes a thug involuntarily move his mouth to answer Kenshiro's questions.
Nice Hat: The helmets in North Star are legendary. One notable example is Uighur, who hides whips in his horned helmet (you pull them out by yanking on the horns). Jagi, Raoh and Kaioh's helmets also count. Kaioh's helmet is especially nice, as it seemingly boosts his Anryū Tenha technique, which has the ability to nullify Kenshiro's Musou Tensei.
Toki looks and acts a hell of a lot like a certain Son of God. Not to mention a variety of "cameos," like Mr. T and Hulk Hogan lookalikes (Barona and Bask, respectively) teaming up together, or the Harn brothers who resemble the tag team Legion of Doom, or a Shura who looks like Sloth from The Goonies, or Abida who strongly resembles Gene Simmons... the list goes on and on.
Even some of the major martial artists in the manga were modeled after popular musicians from the era, such as Juda (modeled after Boy George with a bit of Dee Snider), Ryuga (based on David Bowie), Hyui (named and modeled after Huey Lewis), Han (modeled after Freddie Mercury) and Emperor of Light Baran (modeled after young Pete Burns).
No Hugging, No Kissing: Despite love, or rather fighting for it, being a main theme in the series, not much happens between the Official Couple, Kenshiro and Yuria are shown to be a couple in its purest form, the original manga and anime only had them going as far as holding hands, and yet it is implied they went much further than that, the movies even had Yuria expecting Kenshiro's child; spin-offs avert this by having other characters like Rei, Jagi, Raoh and even Kenshiro's uncle getting hot and heavy with their interests, ironically Ken and Yuria gets no such "step-up" in spin-offs even though they are the original Official Couple.
Non-Indicative Name: Out of the six members of the Nanto Roku Seiken (South Dipper Six Sacred Fists), only five of them are martial artists. Since Yuria has no fighting skills, there's only five main branches of Nanto Seiken.
Not Hyperbole: If Kenshiro tells that after he's through with you there will be not one hair left from you, he MEANS it! Thouzer found out about it the hard way.
Not Worth Killing: Kenshiro thought this about Jagi when he disfigured him. Kenshiro would later regret his decision, as it backfired a lot (Jagi was the one whose conniving caused Shin to decide that Kenshiro didn't deserve Yuria, and Jagi's later raison d'etre was to drag Kenshiro's name through the mud.)
Off Model: Well, off-size chart. Neither the manga nor the anime can firmly decide whether to make Raoh the size of Andre the Giant or King Kong.
Offscreen Teleportation: Ken, the first time he's against Jackal, does this a lot. Some characters are explicitly shown to teleport, like Joker.
One-Man Army: Pretty much every named character except for Lin and Bat. Heck, even Mamiya qualifies... albeit, a one woman army.
One Name Only: Everyone except Buzz and Gill Harn. In the pilot, Kenshiro had the full name of "Kasumi Kenshirō", which would later be used by his uncle.
One-Sided Arm-Wrestling: Kenshiro gets into one with a Mook, who amplifies the danger by having buzzsaws spinning so the loser gets their arm cut off. Kenshiro spares the mook from having his arm cut off... by snapping it around the buzzsaw.
Only Six Faces: More than a handful of the women look remarkably similar, which is used as a plot point. Also, before his character development kicked in, Rei looked a hell of a lot like Shin.
Organ Dodge: Thouzer is immune to Kenshiro's pressure-point attacks in their first battle because he was born with dextrocardia with situs inversus totalis, which completely reverses the position of all his internal organs and pressure points. When Kenshiro learns Thouzer's secret during their final battle, Thouzer's doom is sealed.
Orwellian Retcon: There are quite a few instances throughout the various reprints of the manga (particularly in the recent Kyukyokuban editions) in which some of the art and dialogue were tweaked. Even long before that, some of the scenes from the original Weekly Jump run (such as Kenshiro's first encounter with Heart◊) were altered for the Jump Comics collected editions.
Original line: Pigs belong to the butcher shop.
Altered line: Pigs are not worth talking to.
Second altered line: Pigs belong in their pens.
Overdrawn at the Blood Bank: Raoh and Kenshiro's battle in the 1986 film. At one point during the battle, both of them temporarily fall unconscious, only for Raoh to wake up and find himself covered in litres of both his and Kenshiro's blood.
Perfect Health: Played straight to absurd degrees. Somehow, a barren wastleland where food and medicine are rare can also serve as a World of Muscle Men, where dudes can sustain enough muscle mass to be built like tanks. This is lampshaded a couple of times by stating that the beefy gangs typically raid and enslave villages where there's food, but the raiders almost invariably either kill the civilians or don't give them enough food, water or resources to keep up production. Further, it's Hand Waved that martial arts in this world are magic and can not only heal wounds and illnesses, but the databooks state that people like Kenshiro can survive for months without food or water. Regular people aren't so lucky in any of these concerns.
Performer Guise: Legends of the Dark King starts off with this instance, when Raoh disguises himself as a performer with a giant koto, though the disguise is not too convincing considering how huge he is. When the ruler of a local area requests to hear him play, he then calmly smashes said koto and then declares that he cannot play the koto.
Rin also has a puppy named Pel who disappears at the end of the first series, only to inexplicably appear as a Freeze-Frame Bonus in the final episode of the second, being held by Amiba of all people, most likely as a gag included by the artist for that scene.
Pillars of Moral Character: A constant plot point through much of the series. For example, much of Kenshiro's turmoil for facing against the imposter Toki stems from the fact that not only is Toki his (adopted) older brother (whom he is obligated to respect and revere), but Toki also saved his life when they were children. It pops up in other ways now and then, as well.
Playing with Fire: Shuren plays this trope note-for-note with one interesting variation: instead of being supernatural, his fire skills are described coming from expert use of chemicals combined with a high level of martial arts.
Plot Leveling: The Land of Shura arc was an attempt to scale the series up after the death of Raoh, the iconic villain of the franchise and previously the biggest possible Big Bad in the wasteland. It responded by trying to raise emotional torque and physical danger on all dials, complete with the new Big Bad Kaioh, Raoh's elder brother, who could be described as an attempt to make Raoh 2.0. The final arc discarded this and simply accepted that, at Kenshiro's level, any remaining Big Bads were going to be Punks of the Week at best.
Plot Tumor: The original manga focused primarily on martial arts (some hardcore, some zany) and the Ki Attacks were a rare occurrence. In the manga's second run, we are introduced to Gento Ko Ken - a martial art based almost entirely on Ki Attacks.
Posthumous Character: Ryuken has been long dead due to his fatal confrontation with Raoh, and solely appears through flashbacks.
The Power of Friendship: In his climactic battle against Raoh, Kenshiro reveals that he has the power of all his friends behind him. Subverted earlier when Rei, attacking Raoh, tried to invoke it. Really bad timing, Rei.
Raoh, meanwhile, is only able to learn Hokuto Shinken's ultimate technique, Musou Tensei, through his love of Yuria and sorrow over her sad fate. Which was My Kung-Fu Is Stronger Than Yours by Kenshiro when he revealed that not only does he have sorrow over Yuria too which gives him as much power as Raoh, he also has sorrow over losing his beloved big brother Raoh! The Power of Love is all over this story. If Raoh and Kenshiro's case wasn't enough, see Kenshiro vs. Thouzer, which itself is also all about this.
Possibly also how Lynn could free herself from Zaria's hypno-magic spell.
Precision-Guided Boomerang: The Colonel deploys several small, metal, razor-sharp boomerangs (perhaps a deliberate homage to Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, which was very influential on the series), as part of his complex martial art. They are all on target, despite him plunging the battlefield into darkness (to make it hard to see the boomerangs!) Ultimately it's revealed he's psychically guiding them.
Pressure Point: 708 of them to be exact, with equal ability to heal as well as kill if the right ones are pressed. More precisely, the vital points used by Hokuto Shinken is known as the Keiraku Hiko, which roughly translates to the "hidden points of the meridian". The rival style, Hokuto Ryuken, uses another set of pressure pointd called the Keiraku Hako or the "destructive points", which has exactly 1109 points.
Pronoun Trouble: The Last General of Nanto and the Heavenly Emperor are both revealed to be female. The former case can be justified, since the Five Chariots were intentionally hiding the Last General's identity to prevent Raoh from going after Yuria.
Psychopathic Manchild: The Fang Bandits, which are an entire group of animal themed Psychopathic Manchildren.