Touma Kamijou is an Ordinary High-School Student living in Academy City, a state-of-the-art city dedicated to the scientific study of humans with Psychic Powers. Every single student is given an "Esper Rank" to indicate their power, and Touma is the lowest of the low: a Level 0 with no psychic talent whatsoever. The only thing he has going for him is his right hand: the Imagine Breaker, which has the ability to dispel any and all supernatural phenomenon but also negates his own luck.His misfortune filled existence in Academy City takes a turn for the worse when a strange nun ends up on his apartment balcony: Index, a girl with the contents of over 103,000 forbidden magical grimoires locked away in her memories. She's on the run from a secret sect of sorcerers who want the information in her head, and drags Touma into the conflict between the magical and scientific factions of Academy City as well.A Certain Magical Index (Toaru Majutsu no Index) is adapted by JC Staff from a series of Light Novels written by Kazuma Kamachi. The first half of the story has been completed at 22 novels and two short story volumes, and the second half is continuing under the title "New Testament" (Shinyaku Toaru Majutsu no Index). Several other short story volumes have been released, focusing on side characters which didn't get much spotlight in the original.A spin-off manga entitled A Certain Scientific Railgun and a corresponding anime adaptation has been released, centering on Academy City's 3rd Level 5, Mikoto Misaka, and the daily life in Academy City. The second season of which began airing on April 12th 2013.A CertainWiki may help in understanding variousterminologies and powers that may appear here on this wiki.A Certain Character Page (spoilers!)A movie called Miracle of Endymion was released on Feb. 23, 2013. Academy City has just about finished construction of a Space Elevator called Endymion. A girl named Arisa Meigo wins a contest to perform a song during Endymion's grand opening. The Magic side targets Arisa for assassination, claiming, "That girl could likely cause a war between the Magic side and the Science side." Touma and Index protect the girl while trying to figure out why this seemingly ordinary singer has caught the Magic side's attention.Both seasons of the anime and the movie have been licensed by FUNimation entertainment, along with A Certain Scientific Railgun. The Light Novels are set to have an official translation by Manga Publisher Yen Press.A second spin-off, A Certain Scientific Accelerator, was announced August 2013. As the name implies, it focuses on the first-ranked level 5 in Academy City, Accelerator.Kazuma Kamachi and Tsukasa Fushimi, the author of Ore No Imouto Ga Konnani Kawaii Wake Ga Nai, have written a crossover light novel between the two franchises called Ore no Imouto to Railgun Collaboration Project!Has a Recap Page.Since there are still novels which are yet to be adapted into anime, please tread carefully, lest you get spoilers for future seasons.
Acceptable Breaks from Reality: For the small size of Komoe's apartment, it sure takes a long time to sprint from one side to the other when there's a girl-turned-Terminator firing a massive laser all over the place. Justified in the light novel, as said Terminator mode uses a spell to stretch the space between itself and everything else.
Action Girl: Kaori. Heck almost the entirety of the female cast aside from Komoe, Himegami, and Fukiyose. Even Index has her moments.
Adventure Rebuff: The beginning of the series plays out like this. Touma meets Index and first encounters magic. When asked to enter hell with her, his indecisiveness causes her to leave to protect him. She forgets her hood, setting off the events of the series.
Aerith and Bob: From rather normal (Japanese) names like Misaka Mikoto, to rather questionable ones like Platinumburg or Gorgeousplace.
Air-Vent Passageway: Subverted. In Volume 17, Touma asks if he could use the ventilation ducts in the plane, but the flight attendant says that the ducts are too small. Instead, Touma asks for some hot tea and coffee to pour down the duct, causing thermal expansion and making the terrorist on the other side think that there's someone crawling through the ducts. As a result, said terrorist gets some boiling hot tea to the face when he checks the ducts.
All That Glitters: The Power Curriculum Program appears like this to the outside world. The social class system formed by the Power Curriculum Program and the dark side are signs that while super powers may seem wonderful, much lies under the surface.
All There in the Manual: From the novels, manga, and anime, we see them spawning character relationship charts, timeline charts explaining the flow of events in the Indexverse/Toaruverse in chronological order, etc., etc., etc. in which if you don't at least read one of these would result in confusion regarding who, what, why, when, where, and how things go about in the series. And it might be not an exaggeration to say those are just the tip of the iceberg...
All Up To You: When Touma is beaten an inch from death by Acqua in Volume 16, the Amakusas step up to the mound.
Alternate Character Reading: It's all over the place in the series. The trope page has some examples, but something to keep in mind: A lot of the Gratuitous English Esper ability names simply originate from furigana attached to that ability's kanji. In some cases, the English reading provided may simply a translation of the ability's kanji (eg. "Super Electromagnetic Cannon" is read as "Railgun"), or at times, may be an embellished Gratuitous English variant (eg. As mentioned under Catch Phrase, kanji that means "Illusion Killer" or "Fantasy Killer", is giving the English reading of "Imagine Breaker"). And then there are the terms whose English reading may have NOTHING to do with the given kanji whatsoever (eg. Kanji that means "One-Way Street" is read as "Accelerator").
Alternate History: Since magic exists in this version of our world, it is more of the Never Was This Universe type of Alternate History, but special mention goes to the United States being on its third Hispanic President, the G14 having been established, and a non nuclear power United Kingdom having retained its long-held animosity against France.
Increasingly, the higher levels of Academy City; their response to any attempt to challenge their technologically based hegemony ranges from mind control and extortion to, as featured in New Testament Vol. 4, wholesale slaughter using purposefully psychotic special forces. Characteristic, perhaps, considering that the true purpose of Academy City is to turn Aleister Crowley into a physical omni-present god against whom any thought of resistance would result in unmitigated massacre.
More than anyone else in Academy City, the Kihara family. Every single one of them is an Axe Crazypsychopath who conducts inhumane experiments with a smile. There are two exceptions, and one was created by a different author (Nayuta Kihara, created by the author of Baccano! and Durarara!!).
Amnesia Danger: Played with in Volume 14. Terra of the Left of God's Right Seat points out to Touma that he was under-utilizing Imagine Breaker's powers. What he exactly meant was left up in the air until Volume 22's reveal.
Anguished Declaration of Love: Index actually gives one of these out early in the series right after Touma loses his memories. While trying to get him to remember his past, she told him that she loved him.
Anti-Magic: Touma's right hand, the "Imagine Breaker". He outrageously claims that it can negate even miracles from the gods, and subsequent events back him up on this. Uses include making espers look dumb, shutting sorcerers the fuck up, and making nuns' clothes explode.
Arbitrary Skepticism: Touma sees Esper powers on a regular basis, but initially dismisses the idea of magic as nonsense. Index's counter-skepticism of Touma's power is a lot more reasonable, considering he (an Atheist) is claiming precedence over God's power. Academy City in general seems to hold this attitude, considering its brain-enhancing Esper program as thoroughly scientific and counter to any related superstitions that might crop up. But since Science is basically proven hypotheses supported by data from repeatable experiments about how the world works, the fact that magic is repeatable means... If you treat Science as just a separate religion, with more public "miracles" (i.e., technology), it makes a bit more sense. All of the religions deride the others as heretics and fools, despite the fact that their magic works just as well.
Arch-Enemy: Kakine Teitoku vs. Mugino. Aleister vs. Laura Stuart.
Art Evolution: Compare this◊ picture of Touma from Volume 1 to this◊ picture of him in Volume 20. In fact, a lot of the characters from the earlier volumes have undergone art evolution over the novels.
Artifact Title: After the first arc, Index has little relevance to the plot other than in passing mentions as a MacGuffin and providing to Touma information about the magic of his enemies. The EDs are still dedicated to her side by side with Touma. In the novels, she gets a little more relevance as Ms. Exposition and the MacGuffin Girl for the Big Bad, but in the end, several other side characters are more relevant than her.
Artifact of Death: Grimoires in general. While they grant the users massive powers, the effects destroy the user's mind, body, or more.
Artistic Age: In general, unless their age has been blatantly stated, viewers shouldn't assume that characters from the Magic Side are as old or as young as they look.
Artistic License - Biology: It's revealed early on that 85% of Index's brain is taken up by all the grimoires she read, leaving only 15% for normal memories, and thus she needs to be mind wiped every year or else her brain will overload and kill her, discounting the fact that the human brain can contain a hell of a lot more information than that. Justified, in that the whole thing is a lie made up by the Church in order to convince her allies to mind wipe her regularly and keep her compliant, and the thing that's killing her is something else entirely. The entire thing about how human memory actually works is even brought up soon after.
Artistic License - Traditional Christianity: Quite a lot of this, but the big one is the whole idea of "The One Above God", which is a theological impossibility by the Christian understanding of God. As in, it literally is inconceivable.
In reality, lightning travels extremely fast (about 92,000 miles per second, or 148,000 kilometers per second) so dodging or blocking Misaka's attacks should probably be out of the question. That's just the first one. This series isn't about the clash of Magic and Science, but the clash of Magic and Techno Babble. Given it opens with acknowledged psychic powers, you should really expect that sort of thing.
This is actually touched upon however briefly in the Accelerator vs. Touma rematch. According to the former, the latter is able to block the blasts because he can subconsciously sense the minor changes in the AIM field, as well as in the magnetic field, and react accordingly.
Perhaps unintentionally handwaved in-universe when an actual explanation for how the esper powers work is provided. Basically Esper's are artificially created minor reality warpers. Their powers work by them rejecting reality as it applies to them and replacing it with one wherein their powers work. So any discrepencies on how the powers disagree with physics can just be attributed to their "personal realities" having flat out different rules than the one we know. Leads to some Fridge Logic moments where one wonders what would happen if they tried to change their personal realities to something else.
Endymion. Space elevators are extremely difficult to build even in the best of circumstances. For best results, they are supposed to be built from space, hanging above the equator. Building one in Japan would be much more trouble than it's worth, not to mention that it looks like it was built from the ground up. Justified by Academy City's superscience, and lampshaded when Touma notes it could have been built easier elsewhere.
Accelerator: "This is not a negotiation. It is not a suggestion, not a trade, not a petition, not an agreement, not a compromise, not a surrender. This is my victory march, you stupid bastards."
Accelerator:(to Kakine) "Between me and you, there is an impassable wall."
Fiamma:(just before all his plans crash and burn) "I'm about to save this world. Therefore, I have no more use for you. Feel the glory, meatbag. Your value as a human being, obediently let me have it."
Touma: "I'll destroy that screwed up illusion of yours!"
Motoharu, who fights using his street abilities and only uses his magic in the most extreme situations.
Amata Kihara might be the greatest Badass Normal of this series. The reason? He kicked Accelerator's ass! He didn't need any powers to beat him, he just uses Accelerator own powers against him and later kick his ass. It also helps that he's also the leader of the Hound Dogs and was the man who taught Accelerator how to use his powers.
And finally, the Dorm Supervisor of the Tokiwadai Dormitories.
As well as any conventional military force that Academy City fights against, barring the use of Asymmetrical Warfare, which would be almost as useless due to the accuracy and breadth of its ECCM and reconnaissance technology.
Balanced Harem: Touma still doesn't show any notable romantic interest in any member of his harem.
Battle Harem: Touma has one. Among the girls interested in him are: a human repository of thousands upon thousands of spellbooks, the third most powerful Esper in Academy City (plus several thousands of her clones), a sword-wielding priestess, one of her spear-wielding subordinates, a magical spy/courier who wants to seduce him into working for her country, and the pre-teen leader of a magical cabal.
To elaborate on the latter (as it is explained in the Light Novels, but has been ignored in the Anime thus far), Aleister intentionally set up the experiment with Accelerator and the clones so that it would be foiled and scrapped... at which point, the remaining sisters would be sent to various countries for recalibration, spreading the MISAKA Network worldwide—a necessary step in his plans.
Berserk Button: If you hurt their friends and family, Mikoto and Touma will kick your ass.
Touma pushes Accelerator's pretty hard when he slaps his hand aside, something that likely hasn't happened to him in years.
Harm Last Order and Accelerator will show you no mercy.
And if you try to kill Touma in front of Itsuwa, prepare to suffer the consequences even if you are a Saint!
BFS: Kaori Kanzaki's katana, which is easily as long as she is tall.
Acqua of the Back's sword, Ascalon, is ~3.5 meters.
The Knight Leader's sword, Hrunting, is ~3.9 meters.
Fiamma of the Right beats them all: his Flaming Sword is about forty fuckin' kilometers long!
Big Brother Is Watching: Free Compound Eyes, a computer program, is used by the antagonists in New Testament Vol. 3 to observe the actions of the heroes by tapping into every internet-capable device with a camera.
Black and White Morality: Accelerator likes to distinguish between people of the light and people of the dark. In his opinion, the latter can just up and die (as long as they are not useful; if they are, he uses them).
Blatant Lies: From the preview of New Testament Volume 1: "With that, he vanished. This is a world where Touma Kamijou does not exist."
Blood Spattered Innocents: Komoe-sensei gets drenched in Aisa's blood after Oriana mistakenly attacks her in Episode 11. Komoe-sensei is anything but innocent herself, but considering that she looks about six it probably still counts.
Blush Sticker: Last Order is regularly seen sporting these. Also Index from time to time.
New Testament Volume 2. Part of the novel is a Recap Episode regarding all the magical incidents, justified in that Shiage and Accelerator are being introduced to magic, and Leivinia Birdway wants to provide context to the new magical threat targeting them. Other parts include the numerous comedic interactions between the characters, the fate of the other members of GROUP, and seeing how Touma's associates dealt with his disappearance. There was some drama involving a possible Colony Drop, but there wasn't much combat in averting it.
Episodes 17 and 18 in Season 2 largely give Touma a day off from having to save the world. Instead, he's forced finally fulfill his bet with Mikoto that he lost, and has to deal with her, along with two of the Misaka clones, and getting beat up by Kuroko.
Brought Down to Normal: Acqua of the Back, of God's Right Seat, loses his powers after expending everything he had in order to protect people.
Brown Note: At one point, Index uses "Sheol Fear" against an army of nuns from the Roman Catholic church, which incapacitates zealous religious types by pointing out contradictions in their teachings. Most of the nuns collapse clutching their heads and screaming in agony until they jam pens in their ears to puncture their eardrums so they can't hear it.
Butt Monkey: Touma, justified as his right hand negates his good luck and thus misfortune happens wherever he goes.
Call Forward: In the manga, Touma has a dream of some of the future events of the series including the Angel Fall incident. Too bad he's forgotten about it, since he lost his memories.
Captured Super Entity: Played with but still unclear whether played straight or subverted. Aleister somehow called Aiwass, the currently most powerful entity of the series, and has kept him on Earth. Whether it/he/she has the option of leaving of its free will is yet to be seen.
Cast of Snowflakes: Everybody looks unique. One exception is that Shutaura Sequenzia from Miracle of Endymion looks exactly like Seiri Fukiyose. The series's artist, Kiyotaka Haimura, realized this too late and apologized to the fans.
Casual Danger Dialogue: During the war between the UK and France, in the middle of heated battle, the Knight Commander wonders if he should send a message to the queen for permission to spank Carissa. The response is speculation that she'd empower him with all the power of Curtana Second to do it.
Catch Phrase: Touma's "Such misfortune (fukou da)" To a lesser extent, Touma is also fond of telling people that he's going to "break that illusion", or more specifically, he says "I'll kill it... That illusion/fantasy of yours!!" It's actually a pun: The Kanji given for 'Imagine Breaker' is 'Illusion/Fantasy Killer (Gensou Goroshi)'. Cue punching things with his right fist. He inverts his catch phrase in episode 23 of Index, where he says "Let me show you now that in this world you reside in there's still hope! And I'll show you that your illusion won't break down because of small things like this!!!" to reassure Hyouka, who isn't human.
Accelerator's catchphrase: "Such stupidity..."
Kuroko's catchphrase: "Judgment desu no!".
Index's irritated proclamation of "TOUMA!" every time he upsets her.
Any time Touma encounters a magic item and doesn't destroy it, it's going to be important later on.
In New Testament Volume 2, Birdway recaps everything about the magic side known so far, including how Espers can't use magic due to the backlash to their bodies. In Volume 3, it turns out that Umidori Kuroyoru was listening to the whole thing while imprisoned in Touma's bathroom. She collapses a cliffside on a bunch of mercenaries by using her Personal Reality to make the ground as part of her body, and then purposely attempts to cast magic, controlling the backlash to affect mostly the ground.
In Volume 15 of the original series, Rikou tries to use her powers to hijack Kakine's Dark Matter, and fails. Volume 22 hints at her potential. Then in New Testament Volume 6, she inadvertently did manipulate Kakine's Personal Reality, which leads to a dark matter drone he created to claim to be the real Kakine Teitoku, hijacking control of Dark Matter in the process.
Chekhov's Gunman: Misaki Shokuhou, the fifth Level 5 Esper, has been hinted at ever since Volume 1 and has finally made an appearance in Chapter 40 of the Railgun manga. Considering that there are several characters which can benefit from her power, it's heavily hinted that she'll have a part sometime soon. She encounters Touma on another anti-magic mission in the 7th New Testament novel.
Early in New Testament Volume 3, the President's aide reads a magazine article listing the most influential people in America. Later in the novel, it is revealed that media tycoon Olay Blueshake, one of the people mentioned in the article, is connected to GREMLIN's invasion of Hawaii.
At the end of Volume 22, Ollerus name drops Othinus as the one who stole the title of Majin from him. In New Testament Volume 3, Othinus (referred to as Odin) is revealed as a true member of GREMLIN and one behind the novel's events.
The Chessmaster: Fiamma of the Right, Aleister Crowley and Laura Stewart being the most prominent.
Chick Magnet: Touma is definitely one. Amusingly, it seems his father Touya is one too, ending up in a Meet Cute situation with Misaka's mother. Mrs. Kamijou was not amused nor pleased.
Christianity is Catholic: While there are a lot of Catholic characters in this series like Kaori, the series also shows other Christians of different denominations like the Church of England and the Russian Orthodox Church.
The resemblance to those entities is purely superficial; this series is a big fan of the Nuns Are Mikos and Crystal Dragon Jesus sort of Christianity. This is not a reliable source for your Church History project.
City of Adventure: Academy City, of course, which is justified by the city's entire goal being to produce Espers and research their abilities.
This goal is ultimately implied to be a cover at the end of Volume 22: One of the directors who ambushes Hamazura all but outright states that they will lock Rikou Takitsubo in a concrete cell and never let her out, if it means they can mass produce the army of Level 5s needed to make the world their plaything. Also, Crowley implies that the only reason Academy City exists is to maintain technological superiority over the world to prevent anyone other than him from becoming The One Above God (something he has already achieved by the time he curbstomps Fiamma).
City of Spies: Academy City itself. Because of the city's unwillingness to share its research with the rest of the world, a lot of organizations have sent spies into the city.
Civil War: In Volumes 17 and 18, Britain gets into a civil war between the two princesses of the British Royal Family for the throne which leads two of the major magic factions of England to support one side against the other.
Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Esper powers affect reality based on their users' internal reality. According to the pseudoscience of the series, if a Schrodingers Cat experiment was set up, Espers would find the cat in the state that they believed it to be, because they believed strongly enough that the cat was that way. Hypnosis, brainwashing, and drugs are used to throw the subjects internal reality out of whack. So, it might be argued that the strongest Espers like Mikoto and Accelerator are the most stubbornly out of touch with the reality normal people live in.
By the same logic, that implies Touma is the most firmly grounded in reality human alive since his power actively denies all supernatural things.
Imagine Breaker might not be (it isn't) an Esper ability. Besides the fact that it destroys AIM on contact (and mana and Telesma for that metter) Hyouka, a being made up of AIM, outright states that Imagine Breaker does not make sense when looked at from a purely scientific view point, something which baffles Index because Imagine Breaker doesn't make sense from a purely magic view point either. In fact, the only people that seem to have any idea at all are all related to Angels, and even most of them don't know all the facts either. The only person who seems to understand Imagine Breaker is Aleister, a melting pot of scientific, magical and angelic knowledge, and even the limits of his knowledge are debatable.
It's outright stated by Hyouka Kazakiri that the Imagine Breaker cannot possibly be an Esper ability. Because Kazakiri is the conscious manifestation of the accumulated AIM fields within Academy City, if the Imagine Breaker were indeed an Esper ability that eliminates other Esper abilities, Hyoka Kazakiri would instantly be erased by the anti-AIM field that would have to be produced by Touma's ability. This does not happen, suggesting that Touma's ability is not an Esper ability, but something else entirely.
Aureolus's Reality Warper/Master of Illusion magic is directed by his thought; the more he loses confidence in it and thinks it might go wrong, the more it will go wrong.
Classified Information: Less than five people in the world knows about the truth behind Touma's right hand, which existed before under a different name. And one of them is dead.
Cliffhanger: New Testament 8 ends with Othinus apparently annihilating the world on a whim.
Clingy Jealous Girl: Kuroko, who threatens Touma the moment she sees him out of suspicion over his relationship with Mikoto, telling him that if he wants to make a go at Mikoto he'll have to go through her first. Though despite her jealousy, she never tries to sabotage or otherwise impede Touma's conversations with Mikoto. While clingy and jealous, Kuroko has the best interests for Mikoto at heart.
Played straight once when she realizes Mikoto might like Touma and when Mikoto went on a date with him after he lost a bet in the sports festival, Kuroko tries to ruin their date. Ironically, Misaka 10032 and Last Order are the ones who ruin the date.
After Komoe tells Index and Aisa that she finds Touma interesting while getting massaged, both girls let off an annoyed grunt.
Clothing Damage: Index suffers from this when she first tries to prove herself to Touma, and he ends up proving his power to her as well.
Cold-Blooded Torture: Tsuchimikado's skills at extracting information can be quite brutal. At one point, he freezes a person's legs and threatens to shatter them if he didn't sing.
Accelerator's experiments with blood circulation were rather cruel as well.
Subverted when Accelerator had barely visible lumps of meat hanging around a room he was in when interrogating a spy. It is revealed they were only fakes. Only the clothes were taken from the other spies. He was then called out for having become soft.
Compliment Backfire: Accelerator to Hamazura. The Level 5 calls him an "Excellent Villain" as a compliment, but Hamazura has no clue what Accelerator's talking about. Quite understandably really, considering how messed up Accelerator's views on heroes and villains are.
Continuity Creep: The first few novels mostly deal with events with little relation to each other, in a Monster of the Week fashion. Following that, Touma was involved in three incidents involving members of the Catholic Church, which leads to God's Right Seat entering the picture and driving the plot of the latter half of the first Index novel series. Then the New Testament series continues on with a new antagonist group, GREMLIN, formed in the aftermath of the first novels.
Continuity Nod: New Testament Volume 3 has a couple nods to the side stories. Olay Blueshake backed the Liberal Arts City featured in Railgun Side Story 1, as well as the Gemstone Esper hunt in Side Stories Volume 2. Brunhild Eiktobel and her connection to Gungnir, featured in the Norse Mythology Side Story, is acknowledged by GREMLIN.
Convection Schmonvection: Apparently, Touma's magic-nullifying power also gives him an over-all immunity to convection, seeing how all these lightning strikes and flame demons end up two feet away without him being barbecued by the ambient heat they give off.
Considering the near complete lack of fire damage to the building (only metal doorknobs and such are affected at all) in his first fight against a Sorcerer, its not just his hand. Although his ability may not be limited to his right hand anyway...
Also, it's a magical creature. Once you realize if you can create a giant flame demon, would it really be that much of a stretch for you to make it able to contain its heat, instead of risking it killing you by walking too close to it?
Real molten stone created by non-Esper/Mage methods definitely affected him, lightly burning him and apparently KOing him from just being in its general vicinity at the end of his fight against Terra of the Left, though part of it was probably from the damage he took during the fight.
Cosmic Plaything: Touma, as a cost of his power; his Imagine Breaker not only negates magic and Esper abilities, but also the random good luck that happens to everyone else but him—making him probably the unluckiest man alive.
Covers Always Lie: New Testament Vol. 7 has Mikoto and Misaki on the cover, with the summary explaining that Touma has to deal with a magic incident in Tokiwadai. Its all a fabrication done by Tsuchimikado, since he wanted Touma out of the way somewhere, with the real story being absolutely nothing like what the reader would suspect.
For a character that the narrative repeatedly calls stupid, ugly, and a thug, Hamazura's quite the combat pragmatist.
Crapsack World: For any nation other than Academy City, if you think about it; it has had a technological monopoly over all scientific fields since at least before the Vietnam War, fields soldiers who can level entire armies, and its traditional response to any attempt to exit its hegemony is massacres and military annihilation that makes the Nazis seem nice by comparison, and utterly refuses to share any of its technology, even in medical fields, choosing to release a stream of obsolete (by their standards) technology that ensures no effective resistance can be mounted. It also feeds its own citizens (and the world) a stream of propaganda about how its technology can't be understood by "the outside world", and its cultural events are geared towards the creating an army of child-soldiers (Espers). Then there's the fact that the city was effectively founded by Aleister Crowley with the sole purpose of making him a physical god with the ability to reshape the universe in his own image. YMMV, though, due to the fact it takes place in a world where a good portion of the ice cap got melted off before by the Archangel Gabriel before Touma intervened and that every single religion's myths can be used to summon Eldritch Abominations from higher dimensions or invoke magic spells capable of annihilating entire armies. Bonus points to the fact that almost every religion has a sect that is bent on using magic to dominate the world by force. Big Brother doesn't even begin to describe the situation.
Cry Cute: Index when Touma teased her on the way to a hot spring. He really enjoys doing this to her.
Komoe when Touma ignored her lessons in the classroom.
Kuroko's reaction to Mikoto's rejection.
Kanzaki when she couldn't figure out how to cancel a washing machine's wash cycle.
Curb-Stomp Battle: There are a few of these, including Touma vs. Kaori (winner), Mikoto vs. Touma (winner, though neither was serious). One notable example is Accelerator vs. Kakine, the second most powerful Level 5. Accelerator takes him with ease, even after he powers up. This is a guy who once boasted he could defeat any other Esper with ease. At the same time. Accelerator does it it with ease, all while protecting all the ordinary people around them.
Accelerator has another one before that when Awaki runs into him after fleeing Kuroko, Misaka, and Touma with the remains of the Tree Diagram and losing her subordinates to Anti-Skill. The look on her face says it all.
And again in New Testament Vol .4: Academy City's response to the attempt to advance technology outside its say so is to obliterate Baggage City; just about two weeks after WWIII, Academy City has made the technology it used in the war totally obsolete, to the point that Powered Armor that could put a 40mm projectile through one end of a T-72 equipped with reactive armor and out the other is obliterated without a fight; they make advances that would take ten years or more in about six months.
Even the United States, which according to Word of God could match Academy City in tactical and military prowess, is reluctant to take action; when Mikoto infiltrates Liberal Arts City and proceeds to flatten any and all resistance in her attempt to expose the US's attempt to create its own Esper program, Olive Holiday, the resident CIA agent is prevented from taking any action due to the fact that Aleister Crowley threatens to declare war on the United States if they attempt any further research, effectively turning any gains made into a pyrrhic victory
Cursed with Awesome: Kaori Kanzaki is actually a Saint, which has cause her a lot of angst in her life.
Touma himself, who isn't aware that Imagine Breaker is actually of divine origin.
Cute Kitten: Pretty much the sole reason Sphinx exists.
Dark Lord on Life Support: After having his life saved by Heaven Canceller, Aleister Crowley has only once ever been seen someplace other than floating upside down in his tube. It's debatable if he was actually physically present at that one time.
Dawn of an Era: Though the implications of it have not been fully explored, the characters aware of it have noted the world's shift into the Aeon of Horus.
Day in the Limelight: Episodes 19 and 20 of Season 1 casts former antagonist Accelerator as the protagonist and shows the events that make him less of a jerk.
Volume 8 of the novels (Episodes 6 and 7 of Season 2) casts minor character (and eventual main character of the Railgun spinoff) Kuroko Shirai as the protagonist, as she stumbles into the world Mikoto has been fighting in since the Sisters arc.
The short stories, some of which are nowhere near short, are these as well.
Deadly Road Trip: Touma's trip to Italy quickly escalates into the Queen of the Adriatic incident.
Inverted with Kaori, as it was after she had beaten Touma that he earned her friendship.
Delinquents: Academy City seems to be crawling with them sometimes. So far groups of them have hit on Misaka twice, been interrogated by/hit on Misaka and attacked Accelerator. Unfortunately, since they are usually drop-outs from the Esper program they are usually Level 0-1, and so not the ones you have to watch out for.
An argument could be made for Touma and his friends being delinquents as well. Low marks and very little effort to improve them? Check. Constantly getting into fights? Check. Bleached hair, piercings and general disregard for the dress code? Check, check, and check. There are even hints the three used to go out drinking together and frequently ended up in back alley brawls. Of course, it's a subversion since Touma would rather avoid fights and just run away.
And there's the Skills-Outs, gangs of Level 0's who protect themselves against higher level Espers who bully them. Noble at first...until some of those gangs started attacking Espers who never bothered them.
Depraved Dentist: Fremea's view of the dental workers as they are about to operate on her cavities. Even Shiage realizes how she feels.
Shiage: "I think dentist is the only occupation in Japan where you get praised for making little girls cry."
Determinator: Touma is surprisingly tenacious against overwhelming opponents. Even when he knows he is outclassed and his power can't help him, he charges in anyway just to prove a point, and because he's the hero. His Evil Laugh is amazing. Poor Aureolus.
Exemplified by Touma in NT 9, as Othinus is said to have defeated him thousands of times, subjected him to mental torture over and over again, and yet he pushes forward.
Special mention should go to the entire Amakusa Church, who in Vol. 16 defended Touma when Acqua of the Back was sent to eliminate him. They knew they had no chance of winning and would most likely all be killed, but when they said they would protect him with their lives, they meant it.
Despair Event Horizon: Mikoto during the Sisters arc. Despite everything she's tried to do to stop it, the project marches on. It leads her to conclude that the project could be interrupted if she fights Accelerator herself, knowing full well she's no match for him despite being a Level 5 esper like him. She figures if the original person that the Misaka clones were based on dies in their experiment, they wouldn't have any reason to continue killing them. Fortunately, despite her protests, Touma saw enough to piece things together and intervenes on her behalf.
Determined Defeatist: Touma has terminal bad luck and a negative outlook, but will fight until the end for anyone he cares about.
At the climax of World War III, he at first suppresses The Invisible Thing that was totally dominating Fiamma, then he goes on to punch out Archangel Gabriel!
In New Testament, he's finally come up against something even Imagine Breaker can't beat: Othinus, who is pretty much an actual god and who knows how to use Reality Warper powers to their full potential. So instead, he continually refused to give up so much that she basically got bored and gave up.
Disability Superpower: Episode 4 of Season 2 has Index subdue nuns by using the power of the magic books to point out the (supposed) contradictions in Christianity in rapid succession, causing the nuns to cry in pain. Their solution? Pull out a pair of fountain pens and stab their eardrums, permanently deafening them and thus rendering Index's attack useless.
Dishing Out Dirt: Sherry's magic. She mostly uses it to summon a Golem to fight for her, but she can do other things with it too.
Divide and Conquer: In a brainwashing variant, Fiamma of the Right uses Index against her allies, much to Stiyl's chagrin.
Downer Ending: New Testament 3. The enemies essentially won and Birdway betrays Academy City and, by extension, Kamijou and his cadre.
In New Testament 4, the body count in Baggage City was massive. Additionally, at the end of the volume, Touma is soundly defeated by the new Big Bad, Othinus.
Drama-Preserving Handicap: Index's "Walking Church" robe provides her with amazing defensive capabilities. Touma inadvertently destroys it in the first episode to prove the existence of his Imagine Breaker. Index patches it back together, but it's lost its defensive powers.
Dressing as the Enemy: Shiage and Misaka WORST escape being captured by mercanaries by doing this. As for Umidori Kuroyoru, she gets stuffed into a bag.
Dynamic Entry: Kuroko Shirai's favorite entrance when Touma is present.
Early-Bird Cameo: The anime version of Index has characters from the later novels appearing much earlier. Case in point:
Episode 1 has Motoharu who originally appeared in Volume 4 of the novels, but was mentioned in Volume 3.
Episode 2 introduces Kuroko when her first appearance was in Volume 3.
In Episode 21, we meet a red haired girl who teleports Motoharu to Aleister Crowley's Secret Lair. Novel readers might know her as Awaki Musujime, the antagonist from Volume 8.
In the epilogue of Episode 24, we have the guest appearance of Laura Stuart, the Archbishop of Necessarius.
Earn Your Happy Ending: Hamazura's goals and actions amount to this, especially in contrasting comparison to Accelerator and Touma.
Easy Amnesia: Index remembers very little of her own life because of her periodic mind-wipes, and at the end of the first Story Arc, all of Touma's memories are permanently destroyed due to magic-induced brain damage.
Enemy Mine: Used twice in the first arc of the second season, episodes two through five.
The first time has Touma helping the Roman Catholic church and the Anglicans against the Amakusa who were threatening to obtain some powers with Orsola using a book with dangerous powers.
The second time, after Amakusa is defeated, their leader tells Touma the truth, that Orsola's attempt to decipher a dangerous book would threaten the status quo the Roman Catholics had. Touma understandably doesn't believe him at first, until some nuns go a bit too crazy in attacking him and refusing his request to see Orsola. Touma ends up teaming up with the Amakusa and the Anglicans against the Roman Catholic church to save Orsola from execution.
Establishing Character Moment: The first time that we see Touma he is running away from a group of delinquents, after telling a single man off for hitting on a middle-schooler only for his group of friends to pop out of the bathroom. Then the girl that was being hit on shows up and we find out that he was actually trying to protect the man from her. Then she attacks him with giant bolts of electricity which he proceeds to block with utter ease. It shows both his misfortune, his heroism, and his power in one awesome scene.
Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Pierce Aogami. It's not his real name, since it actually means Blue-haired guy with piercings. We have no idea what his real name is, since that's what Touma calls him. Also Accelerator, who refuses to reveal his original name, and a minor character named "Management" as well as the leader of the English Knights, Knight Leader.
Everyone Meets Everyone: Played with hilariously when all (or most) of Touma's romantic interests encounter each other in New Testament Vol. 2.
Played straight when in the same volume the three protagonists meet each other formally in a non-life threatening situation.
Extremely Short Timespan: Everything in this series takes place over the course of a couple of months. Even World War 3 ends in couple of weeks.
Failure Is the Only Option: For Mikoto in the Railgun Sisters arc. No matter what she does, she never manages to catch a break, especially when fighting Touma.
Faking Amnesia: Inverted. Touma loses his memory but passes it off as a joke so Index doesn't feel bad.
Faking the Dead: Touma's dad, one of his friends, and an unnamed Gemstone do this in the second SS Volume by blowing up an unmanned Cessna that the bad guys thought they were on. We don't get to see it happen, though; we're just told that that's how they ended up resolving the situation.
Feminine Women Can Cook: Index, whose underdeveloped body is a source of contention, lacks any ability to feed herself. Itsuwa later makes this trope much more apparent.
Fantastic Racism: Though everyone in Academy City is treated with equal rights in theory, in practice your chances of getting passed over for jobs, universities and all other opportunities in life steadily increases the lower your Power Level gets. Well meaning Level 5's such as Mikoto try to reassure their "lesser" peers with ultimately hollow mantras of "Do your best!! Your power level doesn't matter!!" oblivious to the fact that certain people are simply born incapable of crossing certain hurdles no matter how hard they try. Naturally, this breeds intensely bitter resentment, especially amongst the Level 0's of the city's population; ripe for exploitation by people like Professor Kiyama Harumi through schemes like the "Level Upper" incident...
This is also before the Parameter List (power estimation) incident, where management and a team of spec ops reveal to the remaining members of ITEM that the only reason why Level 0s exist is because Academy City doesn't want to waste money developing the powers of people whose abilities can't be militarized or can't be brought above a certain level without massive effort. Thus, the power development curriculum of schools that cater to people like Hamazura, Kamijou and Co. have been deliberately sabotaged via the omission of classes that would allow them to develop their powers.
It says a sad, sad lot about what the administration thinks of Level 0s when the city's prison and graveyard is located where Level 0s live.
Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Overlap with Scifi Kitchen Sink. It is to be expected from such a premise, but even then it can get pretty ridiculous at times. So far, besides Espers and Magicians, this world has (long breath): vampires, clones, angels, ninjas, an artificial elf, dwarves, Valkyries, cyborgs, Martian microbes, zombies, AIs, at least one confirmed dragon, and possibly multiple gods.
Fastball Special: How Acqua and Touma ultimately ended Carissa's rebellion in Volume 18; Acqua launched Touma with his sword, and Touma broke the Curtana Original and blew Carissa a few hundred meters away from the final battle.
Fate Worse than Death: After Accelerator curbstomps Kakine Teitoku, the latter was reduced to a brain in a jar subsisting via medical technology.
Fetish: Certain characters will loudly proclaim their interests, while others just get teased for them.
Touma has a thing for Onee-sans, something he doesn't like talked about in public.
Hamazura gets constantly picked on for his love of bunny girls.
Find the Cure: Volumes 1 and 2 involve various characters looking or discussing how they failed to cure Index's apparent mental condition. In fact however, there was no cure in the way that they, Stiyl, Kanzaki, and Aureolus, thought there was.
Accelerator's main plotline in WW 3 is to find a cure for Last Order.
Fish out of Water: Some of the Sorcerers are not used to or familiar with using modern technology from Academy City which leads to hilarious results.
Trust me, you will want to see a crying Kaori after she messed up on her attempt trying to use a washing machine. To be fair, it was a new high tech washing machine so there was bound to be mistakes.
Foreshadowing: In the first novel, Mikoto accuses Touma of holding back and not using his full power despite him saying he isn't. Turns out she's right when in the 14th novel, Terra is wondering why Touma is holding back and not using his full powers to fight since Terra knows what his power really is.
Taking it even further is the Deep Blood arc, where Aureolus Izzard cuts off Touma's right arm. After figuring out how the alchemist's powers work, Touma makes a comeback and wins when a dragon head sprouts from his shoulder. At the time it was hypothesized that the dragon head was actually born from Aureolus's imagination, fueled by his fear of Touma. However, the events of Volume 22 seem to indicate that there was more to that scene than everyone thought.
Invoked by one of the Sisters:
"Come to think of it, whatever happened to Full Tuning, #00000, who was created by Amai Ao and cut off from the network?" says Misaka #19090 as she lays out a new piece of foreshadowing."
At one point, Touma sees wind turbines turning with no wind, and realizes that Misaka's electrical powers are causing them to turn. This comes into play later in the fight against Accelerator, when she and the Sisters use the trick to disrupt his attempt at making a giant ball of plasma to finish Touma off with.
In the movie, Index was in awe upon seeing the Endymion Space Elevator and proclaims that the science side has managed to construct the Tower of Babel. She's right.
In Volume 1, Touma tries to tell Kaori and Stiyl that there may be multiple ways of helping Index within Academy City, including an extremely powerful telepath whom can manipulate memories. As the audience learns more about the Level 5's and the character, Misaki Shokuhou, it looked like Touma was just grasping at straws and was simply hoping to buy time for Index. Its highly likely that he wasn't, as its heavily hinted in New Testament Vol. 7 that he had known Misaki prior to his amnesia, and whom trusted him enough that she may have well had helped Index.
For Science!: In the interests of science, let's see if we can make an absurdly overpowered, power-hungry, and relatively unhinged Esper with little regard for human life even stronger by sending thousands of clones to their deaths against him.
The Four Gods: The global spell that swapped everyone's appearance was accidentally set in motion by Touma's father collecting supposedly mystical figurines that represented The Four Gods and placing them in each of their associated directions.
A Friend in Need: A major theme in-universe that for nearly powerless characters like Touma, just his willingness to help anyone and everything that needs help makes him a hero.
Functional Magic: Two types. The Sorcerers use Rule Magic, with a bit of device magic (created through the rule magic) thrown in for good measure. The Espers used to be Inherent Gift magic. That is, until someone figured out how to artificially "gift" people.
Gang Of Bullies: Many Skill-Out groups come off as this. While some of them certainly are, and do bully espers via raw numbers, some of these groups are self-preservationist. Espers that saw Level 0s as lesser on the social ladder would at times attack them.
Genre Savvy: After getting hit with magic-induced amnesia, Touma knows that any bizarre-looking characters he encounters are likely important acquaintances of his. He's quite proud of this prediction, actually.
Unfortunately, the first time he tries this, he's wrong. But the person is quite important to what's going on, regardless.
Girl of the Week: Rather than having a real primary heroine, the story instead focuses on a girl or two per arc and then moves on. The trend started with Index herself and moved on to Aisa and then Mikoto before continuing from there. Index gets to be a Pretty Freeloader and Mikoto eventually forcibly attempts to move her way into the main plot, but by and large the girl is lucky to even be a recurring character, though apart from Aisa they generally get to do something again eventually.
The Glomp: Mikoto does this to Touma in Episode 18. However, she does it from behind, and catches him off so unexpectedly that it morphs into a Crash into Hello after her awkward intro was ignored.
Also, all the anime openings. All of them. Granted they are all perfectly understandable, and with the exception of the first opening "PSI-Missing", which contains no English whatsoever within the lyrics.
Good Cannot Comprehend Evil: Touma, by the very nature of his character and Imagine Breaker, can't really understand why other characters would go to such lengths to search for power. In the case of Fiamma, for example, he already had so much power that the concept of going further was alien to Touma.
Glowing Eyes of Doom: Accelerator's red eyes and some of the Level 5's when they start to fight, also Index's eyes when under John's Pen Mode.
Gotta Have It Gonna Steal It: Fiamma's world-dominating plan involved the use of two particular things: grimoires and the Imagine Breaker. Whether or not he had access to the first is questionable, but he opts to steal both.
Government Conspiracy: The various governments of the Toaruverse are not seen in good light. Academy City in particular does things that are internationally deplorable, like cloning.
The Great Politics Mess-Up: Britain allies with China and India to take on France and Russia in World War III. Note, Britain is an ally of France (been one for over 100 years now), China isn't allied with Britain at all, and the fact is that Russia, even in its present state could curbstomp Britain with barely any trouble, as well as India (who happens to be Russia's primary weapon importer), and France as well.
Happily Married: The Kamijous. Except, of course, when Touya is ogling another woman.
Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Komoe Tsukuyomi is one of these, what with all those beer cans and her messy apartment. Her colleagues, Yomikawa and Tessou, are also these, although only Tessou usually remains sober enough to drag them back home.
Handicapped Badass: In connection with Good Is Dumb and No Good Deed Goes Unpunished, Accelerator suffers major brain damage at the end of his first arc, requiring a cane and the Sisters' Hive Mind to remain functional and use his powers. He's a Bad Ass since he can still use his incredible redirection powers, if only for 15 minutes at a time. But seriously, with that kind of power, few enemies would last 15 seconds.
Harem Show: Touma's harem includes but is not limited to: Index, Mikoto Misaka, Komoe Tsukuyomi, Aisa Himegami, Kaori Kanzaki, Orsola Aquinas, Agnese Sanctis, Seiri Fukiyose, at least some (if not most, or even all) of the 9,968 Misaka Clones, and Itsuwa. And since Volume 20, Lessar is on it too. Volume 2 of New Testament has some very heavy hinting from Seria Kumokawa, considering she went from genius to "blankly sitting around like an idiot" during his disappearance. In the same volume, Touma finally makes his glorious return, making the papers and all, greeted by all of his female acquaintances in Academy including: Hyouka, Seria, Fukiyose, Komoe, Aisa, and AWAKI. Mikoto ends up complaining about the guy to girl ratio and yells at them to stop taking her scenes.Touma is genuinely bothered by his harem.
The harem aspect is even bigger, seeing as other male characters develop harems of their own. Hamazura has ITEM, Accelerator has his 'family' and Etzali has two Kouhais. At a stretch, Misaka also has many girls who admire her.
Headbutting Heroes: Until the New Testament series, the protagonists intermittently clash.
Heel-Face Turn: Several characters, the most notable of which is Accelerator, almost bordering on It Was His Sled territory, since he's one of the main protagonists.
Heel Realization: Accelerator, the most powerful Esper in Academy City, is constantly challenged and attacked by Espers wishing to prove themselves. He just wants to be left alone and live in peace. He figures if he got even stronger then he would outclass everyone to such a degree that nobody would ever dare to attack him. So he accepts a proposal by Academy City researchers to slaughter more than 10,000 clones of Misaka Mikoto for a program that is intended to level him up exponentially. The clones appear soulless to him and they never made an effort to plead for their lives. Because of this, he never faltered. But after being defeated by Touma he comes to realize that he was the bad guy. After meeting a ten year old clone of Mikoto Misaka, he goes about atoning for his sins while simultaneously denying his intention to become a hero. He loathes the dark side of Academy City, which he considers himself to be a part of, and directs the majority of his animosity at them.
Well he did try to talk with the Sisters, hinting that he is not entirely cold about killing them and doesn't consider them entirely soulless.
Touma suffers one when he thinks he can't do anything to stop Index's memory from being erased to save her life until he remembers something about her brain.
A sad one goes to Itsuwa as she tries desperately to heal Touma after he appears to have been killed by Acqua.
Accelerator suffers a major emotional break down when Misaka WORST taunts him about the Sisters hatred for him and how Last Order's emotions for him are false (her claims about Last Order are false of course; those about the Sisters are warped). Plus, WORST is sent to kill the sick Last Order and Accelerator has to chose to either protect Last Order, or not hurt another Misaka clone. It was so bad that he went into black wings mode, and he lost faith in all good. He then beat WORST into the ground, then rampaged to the point where WORST feels bad for having done this to him.
Heroic Rematch: After Fiamma becomes the Big Bad of the first series, Touma encounters and battles him multiple times until their final confrontation.
Heroic Sacrifice: Realizing all of her attempts have failed to stop the Level 6 Shift experiment and save the Sisters, Mikoto decides to do the one thing the Scientists in charge of the experiment didn't want her to do: fight and die against Accelerator. The reason they don't want this happen is because, Tree Diagram, the Super Computer that help calculate the experiment was destroyed, forcing the Scientists to stick to their plans of Accelerator fighting against the Sisters without interruption. Mikoto intervening in the experiment would mess up their current calculations since they don't have Tree Diagram to help calculate the new data thus ruining the experiment (and also getting them heat from the Higher Ups since Mikoto is one of the 7 Level 5's). However, Touma tries to stop her from doing it because he claims even if she did it, it would have been all in vain since the Scientists might still continue the experiment, all to make Accelerator a Level 6.
Heroic Safe Mode: Index has a literal safe-mode installed onto her that activates any time the main consiousness goes down. The computer analogy is quite literal. The safe-mode even shouts out status messages.
A lesser example is shown with Touma in his fight with Vento of the Front, in which he was being trashed around up to the point where they were next to one of the people he wanted to keep safe. When one stray shot that would have killed a few dozen civilians was blocked by the person he wanted to protect, we discover that he was worried sick about collateral demage and wasn't fighting at full capacity.
Not only that. Only four people were present that night. Touma—whose memories were destroyed. Index - who was specifically excluded memory-wise. The fire mage (Stiyl), and the Saint (Kaori)—who came there after Index began her rampage. Touma was the only one who actually realized that the John's Pen defense program ran on Index's own magic. Index herself believes herself incapable. And the other two are either witholding information (they are Church agents after all), or never made the same realisation as Touma. This fact may just be lost to everyone.
Hostile Show Takeover: In the DVD bonus shorts. While fighting crazy-defense-program Index, Touma tries to get Kaori and Stiyl to take action by telling them to quit being "just side characters. Don't you want to be main characters too?!" The pair think about it for a second and decide to murder Touma.
Or more like they quickly defeat Index and became the new heroes of the show.
Hot for Student: Komoe. Touma used to be a naughty boy, apparently. Various things happened. Various.
Human Weapon: The Level 5 espers get this to varying degrees. Accelerator, Kakine, and Mugino are the big ones. Kakine and Mugino are the leaders of powerful black ops groups, where they serve in the "blaster" role. Accelerator is in many ways literally treated as a weapon, especially once he needs a special device to use his powers, which his superiors can turn off remotely if they don't like what he's doing.
The Sisters Project started off as an attempt to clone a Level 5 (Misaka Mikoto) for this purpose. When that didn't work, it was recycled into the Radio Noise Project, which created a Hive Mind of 20,000 espers for use as a military. That was scrapped as well, and the project turned into Level Grinding fodder for Accelerator, so that he could become a more effective weapon. Subverted because Aleister Crowley wanted the Sisters Project to fail. The true purpose of the Sisters Project is to spread them throughout the world in order to blanket the world under an AIM field and thus create Aleister Crowley's Artificial Heaven.
As much as she is an Ice Queen, in the novels there are some funny moments involving her. Of course, given that she's an 18-year old, she's pretty much a young maiden at heart.
Idiot Ball: The Roman Catholic Church very nearly succeeded in planting the Cross of St. Peter in Academy City, which would have begun a worldwide conversion to their religion with no resistance. A complete, eternal, bloodless victory. They were thwarted by fireworks. Had anyone thought to read a flyer, or a program, or asked a passing hobo, they would have known the fireworks display occurred that night to celebrate the ending of the sports festival; the same festival they were using to smuggle the Cross into the city in the first place.
Ignorant of Their Own Ignorance: Several characters, mostly the ones living in Academy City, believe their conflicts and world of science is all there is, completely unaware of the conflicts and world of magic.
Image Song: Index, Misaka, Touma, Himegami, Stiyl, Kanzaki, Misaka's sisters, and Kazakiri all have insert songs, sung by their voice actors. Many of the show's OPs and EDs seem to specifically describe Touma, his situation, or his feelings and ideals.
Implausible Deniability: In New Testament Vol. 5 Fremea insists that she's not lost despite having absolutely no idea where she is or how to get anywhere.
Indirect Kiss: Mikoto and Touma are eating together and at some point both put their hot dogs down next to each while distracted by something else. When they turn back to their meals, there is much confusion over which is whose. Mikoto panics over indirect kisses, while Touma doesn't seem to notice or care—after all, didn't they order the same thing?. The audience will note that they did in fact eat the wrong hot dog in the end.
They share another one later during the sports festival. They end up drinking from the same bottle of water. Touma doesn't seems to care, but Misaka and Kuroko do.
Also, both Index and Touma usually exchange their food and drinks, but neither seem to care.
In-Series Nickname: Touma calls Mikoto "Biri-Biri" (a Japanese sound effect for crackling electricity) which she does not like. The fandom on the other hand have adopted it.
The dub adapts this as "Bug-zapper", which is more divisive with the fandom but more understandable as to why Mikoto wouldn't like the name. The official translation of the manga has it as Sparky.
In the Blood: Seems Touma got his lady skills from his dad Touya, who even in his old age attracts the ladies.
Kansas City Shuffle: While the heroes may have stopped the invasion of Hawaii in New Testiment Volume 3, it isn't even the true goals of the true membership of GREMLIN. Their goals were already achieved when the volcano erupted, as part of their long-term goals of creating Gungnir.
Kind Hearted Cat Lover: If someone is shown being kind to cats in this franchise, there is no doubt that he or she is a bona-fide good guy.
Knight Templar: Literal knights, in fact. The 13 Knights of the Roman Catholic Church will hunt down the traitor Izzard no matter if innocent people are in crossfire.
The same goes for the Knights of England, who were reponsible for the death of Ellis, who was a subject of an magic/esper experiment despite Ellis already suffering from it. Their actions would come back to haunt England 20 years later when Sherry Cromwell, Ellis's Sorceress friend, tries to start a war between Academy City and Necessarius.
God's Right Seat is not above slaughtering innocent "pagans" in order to further their goals. Even if they happen to be well-intentioned.
Lampshade Hanging: Touma acknowledges his tendency to break into long monologues: "Quit getting depressed in this kinda long prologue!"
Also the various discussions about how Touma keeps meeting new girls and expanding his harem. Various characters imply that he's the protagonist of a galgame.
Land of One City: Academy City is an independent state, with border and customs controls, it's own domestic and foreign policy (they wage WARS) and even an independence day.
Language Barrier: Lampshaded when Touma's first reaction to finding out about the possibility of World War Three is to make plans to learn English, so he can communicate with his enemies. He never does get around to it, and really, this is actually a subverted trope because even though Touma only speaks Japanese, anyone who is anyone in this world also speaks Japanese! May be justified by the influence of Academy City, whose official language is Japanese. The only times Touma faces someone who doesn't understand Japanese are nameless people he interacts with on his travels.
Level Grinding: According to the Tree Diagram supercomputer, Accelerator needs to kill about 20,000 Sister clones in order to become a Level 6. And so the project begins.
In the Railgun manga, when Mugino finds out about the project, she literally describes Accelerator's actions as "Killing 20,000 slimes to level up."
Light Is Not Good: God's Right Seat. Each member is blessed with God's power. Except for Acqua who is the only noble member among the four, the rest are corrupt, selfish, or manipulative.
Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: The Index DVDs contain an 8-part Railgun side story mini novel written by the author of the novels, Kazuma Kamachi and art drawn by Motoi Fuyukawa of the Railgun manga. Wanna have good reasons why you want to read this mini novel? Lets see:
The Railgun cast vacationing in the USA with a Beach Episode too.
The Aztec's flying Fortress versus Xochitl, the Aztec Sorceress who first appeared in Volume 15 of the Index light novels, flying on her surfboard and teaming up with Mikoto who is flying. Yes, Mikoto is flying and fighting a flying fortress! Get the Limited Edition DVDs now!
For the Railgun DVDs, the limited editions contains an 8-part Index side story mini novel staring Kaori Kanzaki, written by the author of the novels, Kazuma Kamachi and art drawn by Kiyotaka Haimura of To Aru Majutsu no Index light novels in each DVD. So what's it's about?:
Kaori meeting Elves and facing one of Odin's Valkyrie in Europe.
Yeah you read that right, A Saint versus a Valkyrie! Epic!◊
Locard's Theory: Idol Theory is a form of The Law of Contagion, which states that an "idol" or a duplicate which employs the symbolism of a greater object or deity will always receive a part of the power of that greater object. It also means that whatever affects the greater object will also affect the lesser object. Sorcerers also hypothesize that the reverse may also be true. Touma compares this to how solar panels receive energy from the sun; there are several solar panels around the world which receive a part of the limitless energy provided by the sun—although it's not even a fraction of the original, the panels still gain energy from it.
Lovable Sex Maniac: Pierce and Kuroko are the prime offenders, though they are by no means the only ones. Lessar, Misaka WORST, Shiage, and Motoharu all also have their moments.
Love at First Punch: Inverted. Mikoto first met and took an interest in Touma after he blocked her electric attack.
Love Makes You Crazy: Aureolus Izzard, in addition to being a woobie of sort. He betrayed the Roman Catholic Church and went into hiding for 3 years all so he could find a way to prevent Index from losing her memories. In the end though, his dream was stolen by Touma, leaving Index eternally attached to Touma. Needless to say, he did not take this well.
Mad Scientist: The scientists behind the Level 6 Shift Experiment. Or it's better to say half of Academy City's scientists.
Magical Database: In a literal sense, with Index herself being an index about magic.
Magical Girlfriend: If Touma ever chose a girl as his love this would be it, but then again... the others would also have the power to kill him too so he's kinda screwed, Imagine Breaker might bring you the ladies but it also turns you into the universe's toy.
Maintain The Lie: Touma's memory loss comes up periodically through the plot and this trope is invoked in Volumes 14 and 16 when Mikoto discovers his memory loss and eventually confronts him about it. She is convinced to continue the masquerade.
Make Way For The New Villains: After Volume 14 establishes Terra of the Left, the end of the volume sees Acqua of the Back become the bigger fish.
Malignant Plot Tumor: The Index series kicks off with a focus in Academy City and the Anglican Church with the Catholic Church appearing at some lesser points in the story. Eventually, the Catholic Church becomes a much bigger importance in the scheme of the plot that eventually spans multiple volumes.
Man Behind the Man: Aleister Crowley is the founder of Academy City together with Heaven Canceler a.k.a the frog faced doctor, and controls the Board of Directors of Academy City making him the real ruler of Academy City and one of the minds behind the Level 6 Shift Experiment. Despite this, the Directors are still in charge of the City's everyday affairs.
The Pope controls God's Right Seat, a secret Magical organization within the Catholic Church. But in reality, the current Pope is actually a lackey of Fiamma, the leader of God's right Seat so basically God's Right Seat controls the Catholic Church.
Laura is under the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury but in reality she controls the Archbishop and thus is the real power behind the Anglican Church.
Mandatory Unretirement: The end of Volume 22 implies that Accelerator would permanantly wash his hands of the dark side. The events of New Testament Vol. 1 prove that it was a bygone hope.
Marshmallow Hell: Poor Sphinx, stuck in Hyouka's breasts like that. Also, Touma with Oriana Thompson's breasts during the Daihaisei sports festival. And just prior to that, his face gets up close and personal with Seiri's bosom.
Touma is another case, his last name, Kamijou, means "The One Above God", but he seems not to know that fact for now. Only few people know, like Fiamma of the Right, who thinks that Touma is the holy stone "Imaginary Killer", Terra of the Left was about to tell the truth about Touma's right hand but gets killed. Kaori is lately suspecting as well upon learning his name also means "One that cleanses God and exorcises the Devil".
Crossing over with Meaningful Name, Kuroko's given name is the Japanese rendition of Schwarzschild, the name of an astrophysicist famous for his work on General Relativity and black holes. The link should be obvious.
Sorcerers' magical names tend to be fairly self-descriptive, justified because they are chosen later in life.
Mega Corp.: Academy City. Even though it's located in Western Tokyo, the city is actually international territory so its not under Japanese Jurisdiction and International law which helps the city do certain research that most countries would ban like cloning. The city is ruled by a 12 member Board of Directors With a secret 13th Director who holds the true power who decides the city affairs. Furthermore the city gets its major funding for its research in Esper powers and Higher technology from all over the world like goverments (like the US Military funding the creation and weapons of the Sisters), corporations who sponsor their products there like the Strange Juices and scientific organizations that help in their research. Later on in the novels it is revealed that Academy City is much more powerful than appears to be as their power of influence rivals the 3 Magic powers of Britain and the Catholic Church and not only do they have their own security/police and rescue force like Anti-Skill and the Multi Active Rescue unit, they even have a secert Black Ops group like the Hound Dogs, their own private mercenary army and even their own Air Force! and they even have several smaller Academy City branchs around the world. They are so powerful that not only are is their high tech force filled with Espers, soldiers with the latest weapons and equipment like Tanks, Jets, Powered Armor troops and Mechs, they can quickly moblize them. At first they sent a strike force to Avignon, France and then they got serious and invaded a country! By the way, the country they invaded? Russia. Yes Russia!
Later this scene was turned into some sort of a yaoi joke in the DVD extras.
Morality Pet: The young girl Last Order (the 20001st Sister), for Accelerator, the guy who killed over ten thousand Sisters! She even gives a long speech about how he isn't such a bad guy deep down. Even Accelerator is in disbelief.
Morton's Fork: Pulled on Olay Blueshake in New Testament Volume 3. As she is hiding, not wanting to be prosecuted for treason against America, President Robert Katze uses his influence to make it look like that Lindy is meant to inherit Olay's corporate empire at a young age while Olay's still alive. Now Olay has two options, either she reveals herself to regain her assets, risking prison time or assassination, or do nothing as everything she owns is given to her estranged daughter. In any case, she loses everything.
On the magic side: Index (in her John's Pen mode), Vento of the Front, Terra of the Left, Acqua of the Back, Fiamma of the Right, The Leader of the Knights of England, The Majin "Othinus", The Power of God (Archangel Gabriel), The Likeness of God (Archangel Michael) and Princess Carissa.
There is also Ollerus, the Sorcerer closest to the title "God of Magic", the second highest rank in the mage community, only topped by The One Above God.
Finally, there's "The Invisible Thing", the second most powerful being in the series, currently being sealed by Imagine Breaker...
Naughty Nuns: For a series with a load of nuns, close to none of them actually follow their vow of celibacy.
Necessarily Evil: Necessarius was originally formed by English Puritans to destroy magic & magic organizations in England for God and the country's well being. But in order to do that, they too use magic to destroy magic, hence why they were called the Church of Necessary Evil. Ironically, when the organization became a part of the Church of England, they became the very thing they try to destroy. Now, Necessarius's new job is to protect Britain from any magical threats that threaten the country, no matter what.
New Testament Volume 4 reveals that this At least one of the reasons Academy City keeps such a tight lid on its technological advances and esper research. The Kihara family that have served as major antagonists throughout the series are the natural outgrowth of rampant scientific development. If Academy City allowed their technological developments to spread unchecked, "Kiharas" would start popping up everwhere and would be utterly impossible to contain or control. This is why Academy City only shares the dregs of their research and why they crack down so hard on anyone who tries to advance without their consent. Or so they say.
New Transfer Student: Subverted when Komoe-sensei announces that Touma's class will be getting a new student. Index walks into the classroom, only it turns out she was lost and looking for Touma. Aisa is the actual new tranfer student.
90% of Your Brain : 85% of Index's mind is taken up by the grimoire collection. This leaves her only able to maintain one year of memories. Subverted when Komoe-sensei not only reveals that the 15%=one year explanation was completely wrong, but goes on to explain in layman's terms how the brain works with memory.
Also averted in the fact that the 85% thing is about her memory, not "brain function" as the claim usually is with this trope.
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: The first time Accelerator actually tries to help someone with his powers and what does he get? A bullet to the head for his troubles; though he survives, he gets brain damage that makes him reliant on the Sisters' Hive Mind to make up for the impaired brain functions. His powers are also reduced; he can only use them for 15 minutes at a time.
Nominal Importance: Averted with a character who, despite being important in Volume 15 and showing up again in Volume 19, is still only known amongst the fandom as "Girl In Dress."
No Name Given: There are a lot of people or things that don't get named. Touma's school, which usually gets described as A Certain High School; the sixth Level 5 has yet to be named; the girl in the red dress, a member of SCHOOL never gets named; Heaven Canceller goes just by that; Accelerator's real name is never given; the same for Aogami. Index has taken that as her name, if she ever had a real one to begin with.
No Sell: Touma can no sell magical and esper attacks due to his Imagine Breaker.
Nosebleed: Touma in reaction to having a half-naked Index sleeping in his bed. Also subverted in that he had a nosebleed from humidity before he saw her, and lampshaded in that he defends himself by calling it unrealistic "manga-like" interpretation of a nosebleed. His nosebleed did get worse upon seeing her though.
Older than They Look: Komoe-sensei looks like a young girl (and wears bunny pajamas), but her home is littered with cigarettes, beer cans, and neurology books.
Two lesser examples are Shiina Kamijou (Touma's mom) and Misuzu Misaka (Mikoto's mom). The former is described as very young looking, and the latter is often mistaken to be Mikoto's older sister. Index hangs a lampshade on how strange it is that all three adult women look so young.
Appears to happen on occasion in the Magic side, in the case of Fiamma and Aleister, for example.
108: When rumors first surfaced about the Sister clones running around, Kuroko fantasizes about having 108 all for herself.
Omake: Much as there was with Shana, there's a series of DVD specials titled Toaru Majutsu no Index-tan. They include, among other things, a nod to another of J.C. Staff's works, Toradora!.
Ominous Latin Chanting: Much of the music, especially the battle music, is Badass Latin Chanting remixed to techno-pop, symbolizing the struggle between magic and science.
One Dialogue, Two Conversations: A brief one occurs in Episode 18 of Season 2. Touma mentions to Misaka 10032 about getting her some jewelry to set her apart from the original Misaka since her goggles were stolen by Last Order. She immediately recalls an earlier conversation with other sisters about the significance of a ring, and assumes he wants to marry her. But he then mentions a ring not being flashy enough, so opts for a heart shaped necklace instead, although she laments about not getting a ring.
Only Sane Man: In Episode 15 of Season 1, Touma suddenly finds everyone around him inexplicably recast in different roles, with no one else the wiser. Among other things, Mikoto is now his Genki Girl cousin, Index is his mother, and Kuroko is now President Obama ("Yes. We. Can!"). He spends half the time yelling at everyone for playing a prank on him and the other half just wondering what the hell is going on before he finally finds out what's going on.
Perhaps the best part is that the first one he notices is Mikoto as his cousin, and he just went through the Sisters arc. So he (and the audience) are thinking "Well, I guess Mikoto has one more clone than I thought, so I guess this makes sense..." and then Index shows up as his mother.
Ordinary High-School Student: The nature of Touma's power makes him fit the bill compared to all the other superpowered individuals, so long as people are trying to find new and creative ways to kill him. Touma's protests to Mikoto that he's just a "Level 0" are met with a compelling rebuttal in the form of a giant blast of (ineffectual) electricity.
Our Angels Are Different: Apparently, if you force an angel down from heaven, it goes berserk in the attempt to get back home to do whatever its job is and may destroy the world in doing so. They don't seem particularly thrilled about this.
And there's also the Artificial Angels created by Academy City like FUZE=Kazakiri (don't confuse her with Hyouka Kazakiri).
Saten often flips up Uiharu's skirt for this, even in public, to her great embarressment.
Papa Wolf: In Season 1, Episode 20 and the fifth novel, Accelerator refused to kill Last Order and stood up against Amai Ao to protect the remaining sisters although he got a bullet in the brain by Amai.
Bonus points on this because the author, Kazuma Kamachi, clearly states on the Volume 22's Afterwords section that Accelerator is like a parent for Last Order.
Pet the Dog: Season 1, Episodes 19 & 20 for Accelerator. Although he thinks of himself as a monster, Last Order tells him there is good in him. Despite his griping, he ends up tolerating her presence, and at the end goes through a lot of trouble to save her life at nearly the cost of his own.
Phantom Zone: Various magicians utilise a spell with this effect to clear people around them.
The battle which occurs in Baggage City, engineered by GREMLIN as an experiment into Holism, produces an effect like this which drew in the people involved and also made tragedy more likely to occur.
Physical God: The essential outcome of becoming a Magic God (Majin).
Playing with Fire: Touma's first magic-using opponent, Stiyl, uses liberally distributed magical runes to throw 3000°C fireballs and control an indefinitely regenerating fire demon. He's a firestarter, twisted firestarter.
Fiamma of the Right is an even more powerful fire user.
Playing with Syringes: The entirety of Academy City was created to allow for the large scale human experimentation of psychic powers on children. While a lot of it seems relatively harmless to the students (although "The Curriculum" involves quite a bit more invasive brain surgery and untested drugs than implied by the pamphlet), the series it positively littered with examples of more dangerous or unethical experiments conducted in the background. It's practically a Meta Origin for many Dark Side characters.
Pretty Freeloader: Index, and thanks to his memory-loss, Touma doesn't even know why!
Power Born of Madness: It's rather downplayed until you look at the Level 5's, but the basis for an esper ability is that the user denies the world so strongly that their view of reality warps what is actually true into how the user wants it. Their delusion becomes real and the world changes accordingly. Thus, when you look at the Level 5's, you realize that Accelerator is a twisted mess inside, Kakine is twisted to insanity by jealousy, Mugino is psychotic, Misaki is incredibly paranoid and manipulative, and Gunha believes he's a superhero. Mikoto is viewed as the only one normal enough to actually be presentable to society while three or four of the other known Level 5's are murderers or criminals.
Powers Do The Fighting: Accelerator's power is passively on reflect, causing enemies to defeat themselves even when Accelerator is wholly unaware of the attack
Power Gives You Wings: More prevalent in the Science side than the Magic side, but once you reach a certain tier, you're most likely going to grow wings. Just ask Accelerator, Kakine, Hyouka and Index.
Power Limiter: Shizuri Mugino has one to prevent her powers from harming her. Apparently if she released it she could kill Mikoto instantly but at the price of her life. She came back to life, but not in a good way.
Power Trio: The Delta Force, consisting of Touma, Motoharu, and Pierce, is a group of idiots who basically do nothing but screw around... except Touma is The Hero, Motoharu is a Super Spy and no one knows what's going on with Pierce, but considering that isn't his actual name, there a theories he's not what he first appears to be.
Touma, Accelerator and Hamazura may also count, despite the fact that any time they interact with each other they are trying to commit at least bodily harm to the other. Until New Testament at least.
Just for New Testament Volume 3: Shiage, Misaka WORST, and Umidori.
Pragmatic Adaptation: Surprisingly for a JC Staff light novel adaptation, the anime is very faithful to the novels. However some parts of the novels have to be cut for time and constraint like the serial killer in the Angel Fall arc.
They still slipped up at the end of Season 2, where it is revealed that Academy City is prepping for war. Why it is preparing for war isn't too obvious to someone who has only watched the anime, while it is spelled out much more clearly in the novels.
The President's Daughter: Lindy Blueshake, the eight-year old estranged daughter of media mogul Olay Blueshake, and the only living heir to Blueshake's business empire. She ends up being targeted because Olay is the one who hired the Trident mercenary group to support GREMLIN in the invasion of Hawaii. Incidently, the President knows of this is because he was involved with hiding Lindy from her mother, and by coincidence, she's hidden on another one of Hawaii's islands,
Private Military Contractors: Trident, introduced in New Testament Volume 3, hired by a media mogul to assist GREMLIN and defeat the American military stationed there.
The Protagonist: The novels as a whole take great pains in delving into the differing natures of 'protagonists' and heroes (or heroines). Of the three mains, one is the type who will always do what he feels is right, another is the type who wants to right what he precieves as wrongs, and another just wants to protect the girl who is closest to him. They also go into detail about what a protagonist is and how they affect the people around them.
Psychic Children: Nearly every Esper encountered in the series is a teenager or younger. This is perhaps justified by natural born Espers (Gemstones) being rare, and all the children in Academy City are students taking part in the Power Curriculum Program.
Actually, Touma weaponizes "The Reason You Suck" Speech relatively often. It's how he managed to live through his first battle through Kaori (and eventually get her friendship), and how he managed to distract Aureolus Izzard long enough to make his powers stop working so he could hit Izzard with Imagine Breaker.
Played straight with Accelerator, who enjoys mocking his opponents and telling them why they'll lose.
Recognition Failure: No one recognizes Roberto Katze, The President of the United States of America, much to his annoyance.
Redemption Demotion: Accelerator, after becoming more of an Anti-Hero, is weakened in later novels. There is however a time-sensitive workaround for his disability. He also wields a pretty massively increased power when he summons his wings.
Redemption Quest: Accelerator's encounter with Last Order serves as his opportunity to right some of the wrongs he inflicted during the Level 6 Shift Experiment.
Redshirt Army: The extent of Anti-Skill's abilities seems limited to damage control, cannon fodder, and cleanup after whatever mess the protagonists get into is over. This is partially explained in-show because they are hamstrung by bureaucracy and the higher-ups, but one has to wonder about the merits of having a group of normals, even Badass Normals, guarding a city of superpowered children.
Rescue Romance: Subverted. Touma tries to get a delinquent hitting on Mikoto in a diner to leave her alone—saying that he's troubling her—and winds up getting chased off when the delinquent's friends return from the bathroom. When he finally seems to lose them and stops to rest, Mikoto walks up and admits to frying them to save trouble. Turns out Touma had known she was a powerful lightning Esper the entire time, and had been trying to protect the delinquentsfrom her. The "fight" that follows only strengthens her determination as his Unknown Rival.
Played straight with many other girls that Touma rescues.
Uiharu: "IT JUST SO HAPPENED! TO BE OUTSIDE!! THE PANEL!!!"
Ret Gone: The Queen of the Adriatic Sea is a superweapon that has the power not only to destroy an entire city, but completely erase it from history.
Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Etzali, the Aztec Sorcerer who disguises himself as Mitsuki Unabara, betrays his organization. So they send a Sorceress to kill him as punishment. She fails.
Roaring Rampage of Rescue: When Last Order is endangered by Kihara Amata, Accelerator goes on a bloody rampage in order to rescue her, kill Kihara, and eliminate as much of Hound Dog as possible.
Robo Speak: Index seems to enter verbose debug mode whenever she enters John's Pen Mode and accesses her grimoires.
Romanticism Versus Enlightenment: The series has this as one of the central themes of the series and takes it to near-literal levels, with the Magic Side being Romanticism and the Science Side being Enlightenment. It reaches its pinnacle during World War III, and ultimately the Science Side wins, making the series more towards Enlightenment.
Rotating Protagonist: The story starts with Touma as the protagonist, but likely due to the limits in what he can really donote For example, he can't do much in Academy City, especially the dark side and the popularity of the villain character Accelerator the latter eventually becomes another protagonist with his own novels where Touma does not even appear. A third actor named Hamazura Shiage eventually appears and functions as more of a Badass Normal caught up in the events going on for purely personal reasons, which rounds out the story into having three protagonists that all have their own ongoing plot arcs.
Royals Who Actually Do Something: The English Magic Civil War where Second Princess Carissa fights Queen Regnant Elizard, First Princess Riméa and Third Princess Villian in a revolution to save the UK.
Furthermore, the Royal Family is part of the the power triangle of Knights, Church, and Royalty, wherein they have a strong influence on the former.
Even further during the onset of the Third (Magic) World War between the world versus Academy City when Carissa fights against the Archangel Gabriel. Heck, she qualifies for the Boobs of Steel trope as well.
Run for the Border: The pilots of the powered suits that invaded Avignon planned to do this to escape.
Running Gag: Whenever Index is mad at Touma, she will take a bite out of him. Several, in fact. Even when she draws blood, it's Played for Laughs.
Another Running Gag is how many times Touma has been in the hospital, which still doesn't explain how he couldn't have brought up a huge bill by now or that his parents aren't coming by Academy City more often considering how many times he's been injured.
Heaven Canceller: "You've been hospitalized twice in ten days. (beat) Don't tell me you have a nurse fetish?"
One of the biggest running gags in the series (in fact one that frequently results in his subsequent mastication by Index) is Touma's tendency to walk in on girls while they are a) in the middle of changing clothes or b) just plain naked. Worse still, even when Touma tries to be Genre Savvy and avoid this, fate somehow still manages to conspire to force naked women right into his line of sight, none of the above ever seems to deter Index from pinning the blame entirely on Touma. Yes, he really is that misfortunate.
Perhaps it's because he always forgets to knock first.
In the side stories, shop owners refuse to sell jeans to Kanzaki, since she'll cut them up (necessary for her magic, but of course she can't say that).
Sailor Fuku: Aisa, Seiri, Saten, and Uiharu's school uniforms.
Science Destroys Magic: The power of magic and the various churches built around them have largely declined, leading to a balance of power that is roughly even between that of the Science and Magic sides. While science continues to grow, magic largely stays the same or lessens.
Science Fantasy: The series liberally draws ideas from both science fiction and fantasy.
Serious Business: Touma's class, especially the Delta Force, eat and breathe a mix of Serious Business, Mundane Made Awesome and a dash of Felony Misdemeanor. When someone made Komoe-sensei cry, their response was more like an all out war than anything. The cafeteria sold out because the class was let out late? Organize a small scale breakout so some members can go get some food from a local store. Someone mention Nabe? Let's all go out to eat~! Of course, the Delta Force (Touma, Pierce, and Motoharu) are the worst, getting into fistfights over being called Onii-chan by Motoharu's belovedlittle stepsister, and which is better: Red, black or white bunny girls.
In the second SS Novel, Jeans.
Shaggy Dog Story: The Book of The Law arc, Orsola's deciphering method was a fake, meaning that the contents of the book were in no danger. The only reason why the Anglican Church even got involved was to use the incident to bring the Amakusa Catholics into their sphere of influence, so that they would have more leverage on Kanzaki.
As well as the Daihaseisai arc. Touma, Tsuchimikado and Stiyl chase after someone who turns out to be plotting to use the Croce di Pietro to forcibly convert Academy City to Roman Catholicism. After finally figuring out the plan and beating her, she turns out to be a decoy, while the real mastermind is the one actually carrying out the ritual, and is too far away to stop in time. Fortunately, even if the heroes didn't get involved at all, the plan would've failed anyway, because the artifact requires starlight to function, and right at the exact time it's supposed to activate, a giant fireworks show starts, blotting out the stars.
Touma gets tied down in the exact same straitjacket and mouth restraints as Doctor Hannibal Lecter in Episode 15 of Season 1, when he goes berserk at Index, whose appearance had switched with a girl-crazy classmate.
Slasher Smile: Accelerator's smile when he get serious or when he is enjoying a fight... or a murder.
Touma's smile at the end of the Deep Blood arc when his arm got severed by Aureolus Izzard. That plus his Evil Laugh, which scared the alchemist shitless.
Social Darwinist: Academy City to a tee, in all its laws and regulations; Level 0's (ordinary humans) might as well not exist, and are given just enough money to survive if they don't have a job (Touma Kamijou), while Level 3's, 4's, and 5's are given multi-million dollar allowances, live in gated communities, and ride in buses capable of taking hits from anti-tank rockets. Furthermore, crimes commited against Level 0's by Espers are rarely reported, even covered up by city management, to the point where some Level 4's and all but one of the Level 5's could take out an entire neighborhood, stick the heads of the dead on pikes and management would do nothing.
Divine Beings in this series go above the norm, in some ways absurdly so. We have Angels, who have the power to utterly destroy the world. God, who is above them. Then "The One Above God" a position Fiamma briefly reached, who is above God, and now "The One Who Cleanses God", who, according to Word of God, is more powerful than even that. By the way, the latter two can both be translated as Kamijou. And then Aiwass, as mentioned above, is stronger than all of the above.
In New Testament Vol. 4, Othinus has possibly topped them all. She ripped off Touma's Imagine Breaker and effortlessly defeated the invisible force inside it, with magic no less, something even Fiamma couldn't do, and she seemed bored at how easily she did it.
In Volume 17, when Touma and Index are called to England, they decided to use a normal plane instead of using one of Academy City's supersonic jets. They end up getting on a plane that was targeted by French terrorists.
Squishy Wizard: After his fire summon is negated, Stiyl goes down with a single uppercut from Touma, who to be fair has a pretty impressive punch. Accelerator, the strongest psychic in Academy City, has no experience in streetfighting and subsequently thus goes down to a flurry of Touma's punches as well.
Stalker with a Crush: Although at that point the crush part is debatable, Mikoto did follow Touma quite excessively, including once chasing him around for a full night.
There's the fake Mitsuki Unabara, who forced Mikoto to use Touma as a fake boyfriend to get him off her trail. It doesn't really work.
Strange Minds Think Alike: For his penalty game where he has to serve Mikoto, Touma fulfills his duty by getting on his knees and fanning her skirt in public. Kuroko sees this... and is insulted that he would steal her role. She proceeds to get on her knees and fans Mikoto's skirt as well. Mikoto is flabbergasted by both of them.
Suicide By Accelerator: Seeing how his revolution failed, Komaba Ritoku shot at Accelerator at close range, knowing that the bullet would reflect back.
Suspiciously Specific Denial: In Episode 18 of season 2, one of the Misaka sisters asks what the original Misaka is doing at the mall with Touma. The latter states he lost a bet with her, and now he has to do whatever she says. The former immediately asks if she's not being honest, causing the original Misaka to start denying things, such as having an ulterior motive for making him do things with her, ultimately ending with a variation of He Is Not My Boyfriend. The Misaka sister says she'll take a different approach, and immediately hugs his arm, followed shortly by Last Order hugging his other arm.
Superhero School: Subverted. Academy City doesn't teach their students to become super heroes, they just teach them how to use and improve their powers.
And then there's Accelerator. He can change the velocity vectors of anything he comes into contact with, be it bullets or Elemental Powers—even automatically if he is in danger. When a character can theoretically fly, replicate the effects of a variety of other offensive powers, shrug off a nuclear bomb without even trying, and still have time for an Evil Laugh, you have to wonder if something went wrong somewhere...
On the other hand of the spectrum you have people like Uiharu who, while her friends can shoot lightning or teleport, has the amazing superpower to keep things she touches at a constant temperature. But only things which aren't too hot or cold for her to hold. People being frustrated with their weak powers is also the plot hook for the "Level Upper" arc in Railgun.
In the magic side we have, William Orville. He is special because he is blessed by God's power yet at the same time can use magic when the price of God's blessing is that they can't use magic. He can cast more powerful spells than most Sorcerers and furthermore, he's a Saint which gives him super strength and the ability to call upon God's powers! Heck, this man is a Walking Hax, hence his nickname "Superman".
And then you have Fiamma of the Right, Why? He's a bloody SNK Boss! The guy can move at godlike speed, destroy everything including a city in one move without any destructive force, and cast a gigantic 40 km Flaming Sword!
Touma. Yes, that Touma. Revealed in Volume 22 that on the off-chance of someone chopping of his right arm (again), he will manifest something on his shoulder that will make anything the above mentioned Fiamma can pull off pale in comparison, and he still has something even stronger that can literally swallow the first power and regrow lost limbs. He discarded both though.
Surprisingly, Takitsubo Rikou, the Esper with the power manipulate AIM fields, which are themselves the source of Esper powers. While her powers aren't fully developed yet, if she became Level 5 she'd single-handedly make the entire Academy City Esper program obsolete.
Super Weight: All over the place. See the main entry for details.
Index: "Touma, I never said that I'm hot or that I'm about to get heatstroke. Of course I never thought of spending other people's money to satisfy myself, so I never thought of eating ice cream at all."
Index: "Touma, this clothing is a materialization of God's protection; I never thought about it being hard to wear, being hot, being troublesome, or whether there should be a summer or winter version."
Touma tends to do this when presented with some rather difficult choices.
Accelerator does this with Last Order, since he refused to kill her, nor did he want the virus she was carrying to afflict the remaining sisters. He decides to wipe out the virus himself, although it nearly kills him in the process.
Take Off Your Clothes: Touma suggests that Misaka 10032 take off her brazier when Last Order steals her goggles to help differentiate her from Mikoto. She assumes he wants her to strip for other reasons and proceeds to do so. In the middle of the street.
A similar event happens earlier in the fourth novel where Kaori forcefully removes Touma's clothes! He gets a boner.
Tantrum Throwing: Index throws things at Touma a number of times, often because of things that weren't really his fault to begin with.
Teen Genius: Accelerator. What really makes him awesome (aside from being an unorthodox psychopath and grand prize winner in the Super Power Lottery) are his outstanding calculation abilities. Most notably, saving Last Order by reprogramming her brain with electricity. Which required translating inbetween computer code on screen (memorized by being looked at once), electric signals, biological memories and what they actually mean in human context in a very short amount of time, totally improvised; calculating the flow of the winds to use vector shift to make the air form plasma, which requires either a high amount of density or temperature; figuring out and integrating the formula of dark matter, a "substance" he's never come across and is supposed to be completely alien to the common laws of physics, in his calculations to disarm Kakine. The world's greatest mathematical genius and you send him to kill of a bunch of middle schoolers.
Proven even more by the fact that it takes 10,000 clones to make up for only half of his former calculation skills.
Teleporters as a whole. There's only 58 of them, and in order to make any sort of teleportation, they have to calculate 11 dimensional vectors. Nineteen of them take it one step further and can teleport multiple objects at once.
Teleporters and Transporters: Kuroko can teleport herself or anything she comes in contact with as long as the total weight is 130.7kg or less. The higher concentration required relative to other types of powers prevents her from using it if she can't stay focused.
And there's Awaki, who's even more powerful than Kuroko as not only can she teleport objects without touching them, she can teleport objects as heavy as 4,500kg! She gets ill from teleporting herself, though.
In Volume 17, the spiritual item known as Skíðblaðnir is introduced, a group of suitcases which allow the transportation of objects to the other identical suitcases over a range of 100 km.
That Came Out Wrong: When Mikoto and Kuroko are discussing lingerie, and Kuroko suspects Mikoto might want to buy breast pads to please Touma.
Mikoto: "No way, I have no interest in that! Anyway, I'd get found out when I take off my clothes! (Beat, during which Kuroko goes white with shock) That's not it! For gym! I meant when we're changing for gym!"
Third-Person Person: The Sisters narrate everything they say in third person, complete with descriptions of how they are speaking and what they are doing at the time. It probably goes with the Hive Mind.
Last Order takes this a step further by stating said descriptions of intonation and current activity twice.
Which is justified because everyone (well, most of everyone) Touma has fought relied on their powers or items. When taken away, they become just like normal people. It also helps that his power is to negate the stuff they throw at him...unless it misses the right arm.
Thunder Shock: Index and Aisa (plus a Color Failure), when Komoe starts happily talking about how Touma was a naughty boy, and how "various things" happened. Though in this case it's more like a Thunder Rage:
Through His Stomach: Because of Index, this has turned into the main way Touma deals with women. Misaka Imouto angry? Offer to feed her. Last Order annoyed? Popcorn is the perfect solution. He even lampshades it.
Training from Hell: The Necessarius training ground. It was actually toned down by the time of Volume 17, which involves being trapped in an isolated room and forced to conjure survival gear through magic. It was used against one of the New Light members.
Too Dumb to Live: The escaping Hound Dog from the factory battle who thought it would be a good idea to stop just before making it to safety, turn around, and taunt Accelerator about how his comrades were going to kill Last Order.
Token Minorities: Within Necessarius, a British Anglican organization these three are the token minorities within the organization.
Kaori Kanzaki: Japanese, Catholic, Swordswoman, and a Saint.
In the later novels, she takes this trope Up to Eleven when she became FUZE=Kazakiri. Forget about mocking her anymore, her mere presence will make mere mortals faint.
This takes this trope to OVER NINE THOUSAND when she goes to Russia in her FUZE mode on her own, WTF-Pwned any and all enemies on her way, and ended it with a battle of epic proportions against the Archangel Gabriel. Yes, thatGabriel.
Subverted by Touma, who doesn't ever actually improve over the course of the novels. He just repeatedly uses the same thing over and over again to more and more awesome results, though he does get precognition later on, simply by having the shit beaten out of him so many times by crazy powerful opponents that his mind starts to sense these powerful attacks coming.
Trying to Catch Me Fighting Dirty: Touma to a small degree. Using psychological warfare on one enemy and throwing a shovel full of dust at another, he's shown not to really care much about fighting fair.
On the other hand, just look at who his enemies are... no, more importantly, just look at what they have. It's less "fighting dirty" and more the use of quick thinking to negate the overpowering disadvantage he's at.
We never learn what Touma said to Etzali when the latter asked him to protect Mikoto. Whatever Touma said, Mikoto thinks she's misunderstanding him, but it sure made her blush!
Etzali later reveals to GROUP that Touma swore to protect Mikoto, and since Etzali believes Touma he goes out of his way to save a target that he's supposed to be assassinating, Misuzu Misaka.
Later this is partially revealed when Kuroko asks Touma why he helps her:
Touma: "...That's right, it's a promise. This promise is to protect Mikoto Misaka and the world around her. This is my agreement with a certain nameless person who fell in love with her so quickly."
We still haven't seen the sixth Level 5 Esper.
From Vol. 7, we don't know the contents of Kaori's letter because she refused to hear the contents from Touma in front of her while blushing, even worse when Motoharu bumped into the room:
Kaori: "Do I have to say it in front of this guy? Why is this guy so inopportune in coming here?"
In Vol. 22 besides his memory loss, Touma tells something else to Index before disappearing after crashing the Star Of Bethlehem on Gabriel. Whatever he said only Index and Touma himself knows.
Unwanted Harem: Played straight, Touma is one of the rare Harem Anime protagonists who genuinely find their position unfortunate.
And now that Accelerator and Shiage have harems of their own, it would seem that this is a requirement for being a protagonist.
Unwitting Pawn: The Pope. Under the belief that Touma is some heretic that will destroy the world by his former mentor Fiamma, he follows Fiamma's advice on what the Catholic Church should do during the series without even asking about it. By the time the Pope realizes that everything Fiamma told him to do was not for the church but for his selfish ambitions, Fiamma casts a spell to destroy the the Vatican. The Pope diverts the spell onto himself to save the Vatican. Though he survived, he is now hospitalized. Touma might be the worst case. He is used by everyone for whatever reason, and sad thing is he doesn't realize it until it's too late. The best example of this is during the Sisters arc, when he stops the Level 6 Shift Experiment, not realizing that it was a pretext for creating the MISAKA Network. By defeating Accelerator and saving the remaining Sisters, all he does allow Aleister Crowley to move on to phase two.
In New Testament Volume 3, the GREMLIN members that the heroes face are themselves unwitting pawns for the true members of the organization. They only sought to make the volcano erupt as part of an experiment.
Post NT Volume 10 spoiler: Even Othinus who was thought to be the magic god leader of GREMLIN, was a "failed experiment" just used by the real GREMLIN (a group comprised of Magic Gods from all of the world's religions).
Urban Segregation: Depending on which district of Academy City you go, it's either good or bad. For example: The School Garden is one of the best districts to go to as not only it looks like an European city, it where most of the elite girl schools and high class shops are located. However only elite school girls are allowed in the School Garden and school girls from other districts need permission to enter there. District 10 aka "The Strange" is one of the worst districts as not only is it dirty and many building are run down and in disrepair, it's also where most of the gangs like the Skill-Outs lived. It comes to no surprise why the city's only cemetery and correctional facility is also located there.
Unknown Rival: Mikoto hounds Touma on a regular basis trying to get him to fight seriously with her, having misinterpreted his mysterious ability to negate her lightning as a sign of some incredible power that he's holding back. His nonchalance toward her and her otherwise remarkable power is a blow to her pride as one of the strongest Espers in the city.
And then she's really unknown because his memory was erased. He has no idea who she is anymore.
Although not really focused on, Kuroko has a small rivalry with Touma over her Onee-sama's affections. He has no idea about this, and even if he did his response would probably be along the lines of 'Wait, what?'
Vengeful Vending Machine: Touma puts in a 2000 yen bill into a vending machine to get a drink. When that doesn't work, Misaka comes and charges it with electricity, causing him to receive 2000 yen worth of drinks in return.
Mikoto hates that particular vending machine and spin-kicks it into giving her drinks ever since it ate her 10000 yen bill.
Verbal Tic: Several characters have unique ways of speaking, one of the more obvious ones being Last Order's tendency to repeat the "said Misaka" portion of her Third-Person Person speech twice.
Specifically she's announcing herself as the subject of the sentence twice (and she's the subject of all her sentences, given that she's narrating her own dialog), although the translators necessarily took some liberties in how it was phrased. This is also a case of a Verbal Tic being embedded inside another Verbal Tic, possibly making her the most annoying character to listen to ever devised.
And her Verbal Tic branches off from the universal Verbal Tic she shares with all the MISAKA clones, namely narrating themselves and all actions involved with their speaking. So she's narrating herself narrating herself.
Komoe-sensei has the ever-recognizable -desu! Results from her always speaking in a formal dialect.
Waif-Fu: Kuroko, Awaki, several other female characters.
Wager Slave: Touma and Mikoto bet on who's school will win the sports meet, with this as the punishment. Mikoto eventually makes him go on a date with her.
Also, this seems to be the Roman Catholic Church's approach to everything—with two billion members, everyone except for God's Right Seat is considered expendable.
Weirdness Censor: Ever since the creation of Academy City and revelations of Espers to the world, Magicians have an easier time operating out in the open without revealing the Masquerade to Muggles because they'd just justify it as an Esper ability.
"We are deeply concerned over the likelihood that Academy City personnel intervened in the recent issues in the Hawaiian Islands. We do not wish to hold power that can easily influence the flow of events of an entire nation, especially one large enough to be known as the world police. We began cooperating with Academy City in order to increase the benefits for both parties, but our roots remain in our respective countries. Dispatching personnel to alter the history of other countries like this is not what we would call "cooperation". We may work for Academy City, but we are not its slaves. As the twenty-seven largest cooperative institutions, we are now ending all cooperation with Academy City. This is a necessary step to protect our own countries."
The ending of New Testament Vol. 8 "These small fights are such a pain. I think I'll just end the world." And exactly as she had announced, everything was immediately destroyed.
What the Hell, Hero?: New Testament Vol. 5 for Touma. Touma and Thor get into a brawl while the latter, unhappy with Touma's newly defeatist mentality, scolds him for no longer being the hero he was earlier on in the series. Namely, his act now, think later attitude for saving people had waned.
Something with which he is actually decent at. Sometimes he has to bounce something that makes no sense off Index (here's looking at you, Spear of Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli), but he's good at pulling apart a Sorcerer's tricks on his own after seeing it a few times.
Who Writes This Crap?!: In To Aru Kagaku no Railgun Episode 12, Mikoto Misaka asks herself "if this is some kind of monster movie, with a psychic construct monster running wild... In the vicinity of a experimental nuclear facility."
Wife-Basher Basher: Touma Kamijou is a subversion of this trope—even though he is more than willing to hit a woman if she is willing to cause the death of innocent millions to further her own selfish agendas, he will hunt you down like a dog and kick you to the middle of next week if you harm helpless and nice girls; just ask Accelerator, the murderer of the gentle and innocent clone-sisters of Mikoto Misaka.
Wild Card: Motoharu Tsuchimikado—the self-professed liar—plays at this; at the end of the Angel Fall arc where his secret identity is revealed, he claims to be an agent, or maybe a double agent, or maybe a double double agent, etc... for the Church or Academy City. Conveniently, his Esper power is slow regeneration, thus allowing him to survive the bloody backlash that accompanies an Esper using magic.
Touma himself very loosely, if seen from the side of Academy City. One moment fighting in their best interests, and the next against them, depending on what he thinks is right. Motoharu even warns Crowley that if he keeps using Touma this way he might turn against him.
Winged Humanoid: Accelerator with his cyclone wings, black wings and finally angelic wings. Additionally, the number 2 Level 5, Kakine Teitoku, dons wings as well.
Misha who is actually Sasha possessed by Archangel Gabriel can manifest black crystaline wings she can also use like whips to attack.
In fact, nobody in the series is ever seen to hold back due to their opponent's gender. Everyone is equal in a fight, it seems.
You Leave Her Alone! Invoked by Touma as he challenges the invicible heartless psychopath Acceleratror to stop him from murdering yet another Misaka sister, armed with nothing but bravery, kindness, and a mean right jab.
Xanatos Speed Chess: Aleister does this for the entirety of the plot. When variables make changes to his plans, he rewrites, deletes, and truncates his plans. It is also implied that his opponent in this chess match is Laura Stuart.
Yaoi Fangirl: Maika Tsuchimikado, the Maid, who asks Mikoto to pickup some Boys Love manga for her. Except it isn't for her, it's for her friend, she's more interested in Brother-Sister Incest manga, which is kinda funny when you consider who her brother is...
You ALL Share My Story: As Kamachi's writing evolved and began to include more protagonists, many of the story arcs evolved into this. The WW 3 arc is especially prominent, with five or more independent plots (from Touma's chasing Fiamma, Mikoto's fighting Russians while looking for Touma, Hamazura's escaping AC with Takitsubo, Accelerator's looking for a cure, and the battle between England and France, and so on weaving in and out of focus as Kamachi progressed the war. Ultimately, however, many times, even with the focus shifting, it is usually Touma who gets the final, or most important, scenes.
Your Mind Makes It Real: Izzard's Ars Magna-type alchemy. Basically, an Ars Magna user is a Reality Warper via the combined effect of Master of Illusion and this trope. His effects are very real, but they rely on his will to keep it going beyond effects already wrought on reality by his "illusions". Touma only beats Izzard by scaring him half to death and causing him to buff up Touma with a dragon for an arm.