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Franchise / Ultra Series

Some of the many Ultra Heroes (and two villains).note 

"Born in the nebula known as M78, together they fight for peace and justice throughout the galaxy. Warriors of great compassion and courage."

In America, there is Superman. In Japan, there is Ultraman.

Created by the pioneer special effects team Tsuburaya Productions (founded by the man who brought Godzilla himself to life) and with the reputation and cultural impact comparable to Star Wars and Superman in its native land, the live-action Japanese tokusatsu-superhero franchise is a juggernaut spanning through generations since its creation in 1966, rivaling other 'verses with expansive lore and merchandising that go from toys to museums to golf-caddies and beyond.

Based around humans who attain the power of gigantic, light-based alien heroes and fight attacks of the fifty foot monster/alien of the week, often with the help of scientific paramilitary organizations with multitude of cool and futuristic gadgets along the way.

Ultraman spawned a mini-genre of half-hour Kaiju action shows, such as Ambassador Magma (The Space Giants) which actually came 3 months before Ultraman, Johnny Sokko and the Flying Robot (a.k.a.: Giant Robo), and Spectreman, as well as several shows that extended the Ultraman lore, and helped transitioning tokusatsu from the big screen features dominated by giant destructive monsters to great heroes fighting for peace and justice on television sets.

While many of its aforementioned imitators and successors are quite popular in Japan, no other Kaiju-based shows have been replayed anywhere in syndication as often as Ultraman in the United States or even hope to receive several attempts at Western adaptations (Ultraman USA, Ultraman Towards the Future, Ultraman The Ultimate Hero, even several attempts at an unmade American Ultraman movie).

The Franchise has undergone the following installmentsnote 


Video Games

  • Ultraman Fighting Evolution series
    • Ultraman Fighting Evolution (PS1 - 1998)
    • Ultraman Fighting Evolution 2 (PS2 - 2002)
    • Ultraman Fighting Evolution 3 (PS2 - 2004)
    • Ultraman Fighting Evolution Rebirth (PS2 - 2005)
    • Ultraman Fighting Evolution 0 (PSP - 2006)
  • Ultraman (PS2 - 2004)
  • Ultraman Nexus (PS2 - 2005)
  • Kaiju Busters (Nintendo DS - 2009)
  • Mega Monster Battle series
    • Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Coliseum (Wii - 2009)
    • Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Coliseum DX: The Gathering of The Ultra Heroes! (Wii - 2010)
    • Mega Monster Rush Ultra Frontier (Data Carddass - 2013)
  • Ultraman All-Star Chronicle PSP - 2013)
  • City Shrouded In Shadow (PS4 - TBA)

Related series developed by Tsuburaya include

The many incarnations over time vary widely over tone, shifting into Darker and Edgier territory with Ultra Seven, Ultraman Leo, Ultraman Gaia, and Ultraman Nexus; others, like Ultraman Cosmos were much Lighter and Softer; finally, series such as Ultraman Tiga maintained a balance between the two extremes. Tonal shifts were sometimes brought on by Executive Meddling, ie. Cosmos being toned down due to current events or Nexus becoming edgier in an attempt to reverse declining ratings.

Has an index of Character Sheets, all of which are in need of Wiki Magic.

The Franchise in general provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Aliens Speaking English: This trope is played with rather unclearly. While the audience hears the Ultras speaking Japanese and their host can understand them, they rarely ever speak while transformed (except their characteristic shouts) and even when they do talk, it's normally to each other and on occasion humans watching simply won't hear what they're saying. In Ultraman Max, the rest of DASH asks Kaito if he 'understands their language' after he explains what Max and his superior were talking about, implying humans didn't understand the conversation.
  • Anti-Hero: While most Ultramen fall under the Messianic Archetype, some also have an anti heroic attitude. Most notably: Ultraman Agul from Ultraman Gaia, Hunter Knight Tsurugi/ Ultraman Hikari from Ultraman Mebius and most recently, Ultraman Zero from the new Ultra Galaxy movie.
  • Aliens and Monsters: The MOTW is either a giant monster or a giant alien.
  • Alien Invasion: Ultra Seven has almost nothing BUT alien invaders, but subverted itself on occasion in having the Aliens be sympathetic on occasion and even had Ultra Seven question why he would protect humans since Humans Are the Real Monsters.
    • The whole franchise in all runs on this trope with thousands of Kaiju.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: As faithful a tradition here as it is with Super Sentai.
  • Animated Adaptation: One in its native Japan and a co-production with Hanna Barbera.
  • Back from the Dead: Quite common with Ultra hosts, as a number of Ultras specifically chose someone who died a heroic death to be their host and bring them back as a reward.
  • Badass: Pretty much of all the Ultramen in one way or another. Special mention goes to the original Ultraman, Ultra Seven, Ultraman Leo, Ultraman King, Ultraman Zero and the evil Ultraman Belial.
  • Badass Crew: All the human support teams have their moments. The new Ultraman Zero the movie take this to new levels by featuring a team of giant beings formed by Ultraman Zero, called the Ultimate Force Zero
  • Badass Family: Father of Ultra, his wife Mother Of Ultra and son Ultraman Taro. In the new Ultra Galaxy movie, we have Ultra Seven and his extremely powerful son, Ultraman Zero. The Ultra Brothers themselves count as well, while they may not be truly related by blood they still treat each other like one.
  • Badass Grandpa / Cool Old Guy: The human forms of the Showa Ultras. All of them are around their 50s and 60s, but that doesn't stop them from looking awesome and badass. The Ultra Galaxy movie takes this even further for Hayata/Ultraman and Dan/Ultra Seven. In the movie, stuck in human form, they still manage to kick ass, HARD. To be specific, Ultraman uses a fucking assault rifle to blast an alien, while Seven used hand to hand combat and Ultra Willpower to the same alien.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Not just with the Ultras; some of the monsters rely on this.
  • Big Bad: Used sometimes. YAPOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL! in Ultraman Ace, Baltan in Ultraman: The Ultimate Hero, Zogu in Ultraman Gaia, Chaos in Ultraman Cosmos, Emperor/Enpera in Ultraman Mebius, and Ultraman Belial in the Ultra Galaxy movie.)
  • Big Good: In the Showa Timeline, this is role is held by Ultraman King, though the Ultra Father also counts, as while beneath Ultraman King, he's still the direct leader of the Ultra Garrison while King rules the planet.
  • Broad Strokes: A canon timeline is... questionable, to say the least. Most of Showa takes place together in one universe, but has a tendency to not line up because of Twenty Minutes into the Future dating systems and general inconsistencies — not to mention Ultra Seven wasn't even in the canon originally, and Ultra Q is still an oddity. The Heisei Ultra Seven and Ultra Q series are related to the series they're sequels to, but they're not entirely in the timeline either. Then there's Ultraman Dyna and Tiga, which are connected and apparently in an alternate universe, at least until they're not. And now the Ultraman Zero movies and Ultraman Ginga have everyone thrown together into one universe. It's just best not to think about it...
    • And the Animated Adaptation The Ultraman seems to be in its own disjointed continuity as well, with classic foes appearing with origins intact, but the hero from a different star system.
  • Busman's Holiday: The now-defunct fansite Absolute Ultraman used to joke that whenever a team member went on vacation something strange was bound to happen.
  • Chest Insignia: The Color Timer, which measure how long how long an Ultraman can safely fight before needing to revert to human form and reacharge, is generally located on the Ultraman's chest.
  • Clip Show: A mercifully brief sequence in the episode, "The Monster Graveyard". Aniversary Series Ultraman Mebius does this too, but manages to pay homage to a classic episode in the series.
  • Comes Great Responsibility: The Showa Ultras gained their immense power thanks to a Mass Super-Empowering Event. While at first they weren't happy about it, they came to believe there must be a reason for them to gain such power. They decided that meaning was to become protectors of the entire universe.
  • Cool Starship: The Art-Dessai of Tiga.
  • Ditto Aliens: The Baltans. Justified, as they're apparently some sort of gestalt entity, able to separate & recombine at will.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Lots of them. Gatanazoa, Chaos, and many others.
  • Energy Being: The Ultras are this to varying degrees depending on the continuity. The Showa Era Ultras have bones and organs, but are primarily made of Light. However, in the Tiga universe and a few others, the Ultras bleed light instead of blood.
  • Evil Counterpart: There are several fake Ultramen, but they're mostly aliens in disguise or robots though. A more subtle example is Ace Killer/Mebius Killer, who doesn't look like Ultraman but has similar powers.
  • Expy: Each member of the Ultimate Force Zero (other than Zero, obviously) are modeled after Tsuburaya's giant heroes outside of Ultra Series, update with some level in badass. GlenFire is Fireman, Mirror Knight is Mirrorman and Jean-Bot is Jumborg Ace.
  • Fallen Hero: Belial was once a mighty and noble hero like most Ultramen. However, he become obssessed with seeking more strength to uphold the order of universe. So he directly touched the plasma spark, and become the demon we known.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death / Family-Unfriendly Violence:
    • Mostly in the '70s series, with both Kaiju and Ultras being sliced to bits, decapitated, stabbed, blinded, and even eviscerated.
    • A young kid getting shot in the face in the Thai/Japan coproduction film.
  • Finishing Move: It's a required part of the Ultraman arsenal, usually a variation on a Kame Hame Hadoken that makes the Monster of the Week explode spectacularly. Although not every episode ends with the monster being blown up.
  • First Episode Resurrection: More often than not, the explanation for the protagonists' human forms.
  • Fourth-Wall Observer: Ide talks to the audience in episode 2.
  • Fun with Acronyms: With exception of Ultraman's Science Patrol and Ultra Seven's Ultra Garrison, the anti-monster teams almost always have fancy acronym names.
  • Fusion Dance: Ultras are shown to have this ability in most continuities, though how it works varies between the power booster type and forming a new being.
  • Gag Dub
    • Tiga's dub is chock-full of unfunny, mood-destroying jokes and loads of Bowdlerization. Surprise! It's from 4Kids!
    • This happened even earlier, with Space Warriors 2000, an unauthorized recut made using footage from the films Six Ultra Brothers vs. the Monster Army and Ultraman Zoffy. Due to it's unofficial nature, it was quickly pulled from television by Tsuburaya's lawyers. Here is a "hilarious" excerpt: [1]
  • Giving Someone the Pointer Finger: Zero uses this quite a lot whenever he's facing his enemy.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: Many of the Grand Finales have many of the heroes' allies return to aid them. In some cases such as Cosmos and Gaia, this included the kaiju. Gaia was noteworthy as it made a token effort to avert What Measure Is a Non-Human? towards its end and the kaiju showed it while coming forwards and facing off against Zogu's army.
  • Grand Finale: Each series tends to end with the Ultraman being faced with an uber-strong opponent, with weakening powers or both (as for poor Ultra Seven) but Mebius, the Aniversary series, went all out and did a three-episode long finale/love letter to the entire series.
  • Green Aesop: Occurs infrequently; a later series, Ultraman Great, would thrive on this trope.
  • Heart Light: Ultraman, no matter the incarnation, always has one of these. The faster it's flashing, the closer he is to running out of power.
  • Hero Killer
    • Once or twice a season, a horribly powerful monster will defeat Ultraman. He gets better, and usually with a shiny new upgrade.
    • Ultraman Belial. The only two Ultras in the entire universe capable of even fighting him without being curbstomped are Ultraman King (who curbstomped HIM) and Ultraman Zero, who'd spent several years undergoing Training from Hell at Ultraman Leo's hands.
  • Hero Secret Service: Nearly every Ultra has one in the form of their military group they're teamed with, who perform support fire, wear down the monster for them, sometimes even kill lesser monsters by themselves so the hero can focus on the main baddie, and are often the ones to resurrect the Ultra in the event that they fall in battle in newer entries.
  • Holding Out for a Hero: This trope is sometimes given as the reason why 'transform into Ultraman' isn't the response to the monster showing up and the Anti-Monster group helping that particular Ultra have to make an effort first: the Ultras don't want humanity to DEPEND on them, they want them to progress to the point they can fight side-by-side WITH them.
  • Hong Kong Dub: Some of the later Ultra series were dubbed in Malaysia; the bad voice acting and extremely thick accents make the dubs almost incomprehensible to English-speaking viewers.
  • Human Aliens: The Ultramen often become such, but they were once human-like before the Plasma Spark transformed them.
  • Humans Are Special: The reason that the Ultramen put Earth on very high priority. Humans are just identical to them before Plasma Spark turned them into current form, so they think of humans as reflection of themselves.
  • The Kiddie Ride: There's one by Sega with a simple racing game built in that you get to pick and race against several Ultras, and one strange ride that you get to ride on the back of Ultraman, the latter has been copied endlessly by Chinese knockoff ride manufacturers and is the basis of various knockoff "ride on a superhero's back" rides that are quite common in Asia.
  • Kid Hero: Honshino occasionally gets to save the day rather than merely serve as an annoyance.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo
    • One Monster of the Week is none other than the Godzilla costume from Mothra vs. Godzilla, renamed, with a large frill added to his neck. Possibly as a subversion of the trope, during the obligatory fight scene, Ultraman actually rips off the extra piece of the costume and thus the rest of the fight is with 100% pure Godzilla.
    • The Big Bad of Ultraman Tiga is none other than Ghatanothoa (Gatanazoa), complete with petrification ability.
  • Leitmotif: The "Wandaba" scat theme that is used for the science patrol teams. Modified versions appear in Fireman, Mirrorman and Jumborg Ace.
  • Licensed Game: Lots of it.
  • Light Is Good: The Ultramen are beings of light, after all.
  • Long Lived: Ultras are extremely long lived. For reference: Mebius is around 6,000 years old and considered young.
  • Long Runner: The entire Ultra Series has been running for almost 50 years and still going. The number of episodes is so mind-boggling huge that why would you even bother to count?
  • Lovecraft Lite
    • Some of the monsters are truly Eldritch in nature, you just won't realise it as Ultraman (nearly) always averts their effect. Sometimes though, not even Ultraman is immune to the monstrosity.
    • Tiga and Cosmos seemed to love this trope, an Eldritch Abomination taking the role as Big Bad in the latter, with a healthy dose of The Virus.
  • Mass Super-Empowering Event: The Origin Story of the Showa Ultras: they replaced their dying sun with the Plasma Spark, which mutated their entire species into the powerful giants they are now.
  • The Omnipotent: Ultraman King, the God of the Ultras. He's referred to as almighty and sso far has never shown anything close to the limit of his power. For example, he effortlessly defeated the incredibly powerful Ultraman Belial then created a moon around him to imprison him, and brought a dismembered Ultraman Leo back to life with zero effort.
  • Our Demons Are Different
    • Tiga's "Kileroid" line of monsters from deep beneath the Earth. Borders on being a minor Eldritch Abomination.
    • Enomena has also been described as looking similar to a Majin.
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: A common nickname for the Ultras is 'Giants of Light.' Given they're 50 meter tall human-like beings, they certainly qualify.
  • Phantom Zone: The Monster Graveyard, Ultraman Ace's bubble-shaped barrier for Alien Metron Jr. and Alien Icarus' Fourth Dimension. Alien Wild's camera is a Phantom Zone projector.
  • Psychotic Smirk - Often whoever's the Evil Twin of the titular giant(Once a season) makes this expression. Some kaiju seem to enjoy doing this too, Enomena from Tiga being a prime example, thanks to the wonders of CGI.
  • Physical God:
    • Ultraman King. Not only is he considered to be god of the Ultras, throughout his appearance he is shown to be all-knowing and omnipotent. He is even shown capable of reviving a dismembered Ultraman Leo without breaking a sweat. In the new Ultra Galaxy movie, he is able to easily defeat Ultraman Belial who managed to defeat every Ultraman except Zero and form a space prison around him — which also acts as a moon to the Land of Light — singlehandedly.
    • Ultraman Noa (at his full power) and Ultraman Legend are both considered deity level Ultras, though it's unclear whether they're on King's level.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Ultraman Gaia and Ultraman Agul from Ultraman Gaia.
  • Retcon: As of 2011, most of the Ultra Shows have been retconned into one continuity, with most Ultras coming from or claiming M78 as their home. More like, it has confirmed there are Alternate Universe counterparts for all these Ultras in the M78 continuity. The latest Ultraman Zero movie confirms that the Ultraman multiverse exists.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter
    • Hanejiro in Dyna.
    • Rimu Eleking in Mebius.
  • Scenery Porn
    • The new Ultra Galaxy showed, for the first time, The Land of Light — the home planet of the Ultras — in its full glory, and it is gorgeous.
    • The sequel, Ultraman Zero the Movie, has this by the boatload. Prime example being the betsu no uchu (another space-basically a multiverse) scene and the Mirror World.
  • Size Shifter: A basic Ultra power, though normally they only shrink with some exceptions.
  • Slasher Smile: Some kaiju manage to pull this off beyond just being toothy. Gazoto (Gazort) and Fake Agul glide smoothly to mind.
  • Space Whale: One flies up in Cosmos, gentle as can be. Then Chaos shows up...
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Many of the monsters' names, especially for the series that haven't been localized for English speaking countries — which is pretty much all of them. This can make a massive headache out of dub watchers trying to hunt around for info on kaiju from this series.
  • Spinoff Babies: Ultraman Kids, a Lighter and Softer 26-episode anime featuring kiddified versions of several different Ultras.
  • Super Toughness: The Ultras in general, due to having literal armor for skin.
  • Swiss Army Superpower: Ultraman Jack's Ultra Bracer takes the shape of any weapon needed.
  • Tank Goodness: Ultra Seven once fought a monster called the Dino-Tank. It was about what you'd expect.
  • Touched by Vorlons: According to the Manga, those who merged with Ultras may gain some of their abilities even after the Ultra has departed. This has been touched upon in some of the series as well, but mostly the main benefit of being an Ultra's host is being brought Back from the Dead.
  • Training from Hell: Ultraman Leo, anyone? Intresting because it was almost always self inflicted. He later used this on Ultraman Zero, complete with restraining armor. It really paid off because it made Zero strong enough to do battle with the evil Ultraman Belial.
  • The Virus: Chaos, from Cosmos, also an Eldritch Abomination. Almost exclusively infects kaiju, making them into horrific travesties of their former selves. Also Godish from Ultraman Great.
  • Wham Episode: In the original series, an episode called "The Prince Of Monsters" shocked the viewers because it was the first time he actually LOST a fight. Same for when Zetton nearly killed him at the end of the first series with "Farewell Ultraman".
  • The Wiki Rule: No less than two ultra wikis. ultra.wikia.com and ultraseries.wikia.com