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Bounty Hunter

"Where life had no value, death, sometimes, had its price. That is why the bounty killers appeared."

Born of the Old West but found in many other genres since, the bounty hunter makes a living pursuing criminals for the price on their heads. His line of work often makes him gruff and cynical, if he lives long enough, and in the eyes of some citizens, he may be only slightly better (or worse) than the criminals he hunts.

Sometimes, the bounty hunter captures criminals and brings them back to face trial (which is how real bounty hunters operate nowadays). But other times, especially in Westerns, the bounty hunter's reward is of the "Dead or Alive" variety, and many bounty hunters of the latter type kill their bounties rather than let them Run for the Border. These kinds of bounty hunters are often called "bounty killers" or, more pejoratively, "assassins" or "headhunters." This has almost never been Truth in Television, though that problem can be Hand Waved if the bounty in question is exceptionally dangerous, put out by a criminal, or wanted by a corrupt, tyrannical, or failed state. Or if this occurs in a fictional setting, obviously.

Sometimes the Bounty Hunter is a villain, a sadist who profits off the death and suffering of others. Sometimes he's a Glory Seeker who wants to bring down the toughest targets. More often, though, he is a just a working stiff who tries to do the right thing — or something close to it. Buried deep within his grizzled, world-weary exterior is still an idealist with a heart of gold. Because there is nothing that prevents a Bounty Hunter from taking both legal and shady bounties, this character is usually a Lawful Neutral.

The Bounty Hunter is increasingly popular in Speculative Fiction ever since Boba Fett made it cool. It helps that space is thought of as another "frontier", and Western tropes go well with science fiction. And since it's so cool, most often bounty hunters in fiction are depicted as extremely skilled individuals and will prove a challenge for the main characters unless they are either there just to show us how overpowered our hero is or if the bounty hunters are themselves the main character(s).

When in the company of actual bounty hunters, you will speak of them as "bail enforcement officers".

See also: Inspector Javert


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Bounty hunting is the occupation of Jet Black, Spike Spiegel, Faye Valentine, and about 300,000 folks in the Cowboy Bebop universe. In fact, so many people make a living chasing criminals in the future that a cheesy Western-themed TV series (a cross between Bonanza and an interplanetary America's Most Wanted) exists to provide them with intel on known bounty heads. All bounties must be taken alive, which is why the cast miss almost every big bounty, as well as in one particularly unlucky case, crashed into a police station, and once when they weren't given a bounty for stopping an AI in a satellite as it technically doesn't count as "alive".
  • Gunnm's leading characters Ido and Gally/Alita are both bounty hunters, along with half the cast in the early books.
  • Nagi from the Tenchi Universe TV series is a bounty hunter who acts as Ryoko's Inspector Javert — and her Minnesota Fats.
  • The Gunsmith Cats, Rally Vincent and Minnie-May Hopkins (and friends), spend most of their time as bounty hunters when they're not running their titular gun store. Rally and Minnie-May hold the distinction of being one of the most accurate portrayals of real-life bounty hunters that can be found in anime, or at least getting a lot closer to the real thing than most shows do. Unlike most other hunters, they maintain very close ties with their local police forces and are not regarded as being above or outside the law by any means; on one memorable occasion, a crook managed to kidnap Minnie-May because his and Rally's high-speed chase caught police attention and ended with Rally being arrested for breaking traffic laws.
  • Vampire Hunter D is a sort of the old west-style bounty hunter - albeit of a very specific type of quarry. Though as the books and The Movies went on, he evolved from bounty hunter to a mercenary, or even an odd-job man. There's other bounty hunters in the canon, but they're usually of the sadistic type.
  • In Hyper Police, all law enforcement in their post-magical-apocalypse world is handled by private companies of bounty hunters. The main characters make their money by claiming bounties. Licensing procedures are exacting and complex. And anyone can stick a bounty on the internet and expect the person to be delivered.
  • Train, Sven, and Eve from Black Cat are "sweepers," which are essentially the same thing as bounty hunters.
  • Inverted in Trigun, where the main character Vash is the one that has a bounty on his head. A sixty billion double dollar one at that. However, there are many unimportant side characters that are bounty hunters in there, and most of the destruction that follows Vash around is caused by people interested in the price on his head. The secondary protagonists, Meryl and Millie, seem like bounty hunters at first but are in fact insurance agents sent to minimize the massive collateral damage that bounty hunters after Vash always cause.
  • Nadie of El Cazador de la Bruja is nominally a bounty hunter, but her actual job seems to blur the lines between bodyguard, hired gun, and assassin.
  • There's a large presence of bounty hunters (for relatively small bounties) in the One Piece world, given that one of the ways the government keeps crime in check is by offering rewards for captured or killed criminals (they, however, pay 30% less if the criminal is killed).
    • Roronoa Zoro, one of the protagonists, chased bounties for a living before joining with Luffy, and his past helped the marines give him the epithet "Pirate Hunter".
    • The pirate and former Shichibukai Mister Crocodile led the Baroque Works, a fearsome organization of bounty hunters. Infiltrating the Baroque Works, Vivi and Igaram went undercover as bounty hunters as well, one of the reasons why Vivi met the Straw Hats in the first place. The top 5 of them were very strong bounty hunters, particularly Daz Bonez (Mister 1) and Bon Clay (Mister 2).
      • After the outbreak from Impel Down, it's suggested that Daz Bonez is now a pirate like Mister Crocodile because he joined him. Galdino (Mister 3) is pretty much confirmed as a pirate since he joined Buggy who is now one of the new Shichibukai. Bon Clay is still in Impel Down, but he's now the "queen" of Newkama, the 5.5th level.
  • Machika in Immortal Rain. She's following in her grandfather Zol's footsteps, although the bounty hunting part doesn't come up all that much.
  • Yuya of Samurai Deeper Kyo, hunting down "the man with the scar on his back" who killed her brother. She periodically threatens to turn in Benitora or Kyo for their bounties.
  • Outlaw Star stars Gene Starwind along with his kid partner, Jim. They are technically odd-job men rather than bounty hunters, but because they are also outlaws, which in this setting means people indifferent to local judiciaries, they spend a lot of their time doing bounty runs.
  • The Warriors of the Organization in Claymore function a lot like the example of Vampire Hunter D above. When a yoma preys on a settlement, the citizens round up money and make a request to the Organization. They dispatch a Warrior who slays the yoma and one of the handlers appears later to pick up the money. Reasonably, if the Warrior is slain, the Organization does not collect the fee until another Warrior successfully completes the mission. Blurring the lines of the trope, however, is the fact that while the Warriors do seem to have money (Clare once dumped a huge sum on Raki's lap when she was assigned to fight an Awakened One and Theresa could afford rather fancy clothes for a certain Tagalong Kid), they do not actually seem to want or even need the money. Their job is to kill yoma; it's what they do. Various motivations have been shown, but a pure mercenary motive has yet to be evident in any of the Warriors.
  • Almost all ninjas in Naruto, good or evil, are this in one way or another.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima!, after the case gets wrongly accused of blowing up a Gateport, they have occasional encounters with bounty hunters who want to bring them in. The one group that appears on screen, the Canis Niger hunters, nearly capture Nodoka before being utterly annihilated by Negi.
  • Duo Maxwell is this in the Frozen Teardrops novel.
  • Some hunters from Hunter × Hunter are bounty hunters. Not only that hunters in general are strong, hunters are also rich, thanks to their hunter licences.
  • In Lupin III: Dead or Alive, when Crisis puts out the "Dead or Alive" bounty on Lupin, at least three bounty hunters enter Zufu to attempt to capture/kill him. Lupin is so busy trying to escape from them that Inspector Zenigata manages to arrest him.
  • Hazuki is one in Blade And Soul, and is drawn to the prospect of Alka's 7000 gold bounty Palam put out on her. There are others, but they're killed within moments of seeing Alka.

    Comic Books 
  • DC Comics' Lobo catches interstellar fugitives, whether they're running from the law or just rich crime lords. It's a job that basically allows him to be a complete ass to everyone around him and still get paid.
    • DC also had a comic called Manhunter about a superpower bounty hunter that retrieved super villains who jumped their bond, strictly for the money.
  • In the Preacher series of graphic novels, the Saint of Killers spent a while working as a Headhunter in the old west, long before transmuting into the Implacable Man he is today...
  • In Jon Sable, Freelance, Jon would supplement his mercenary work by undertaking bounty hunting jobs.
  • Jonah Hex, discussed in the Western Animation examples below, first appeared as a Western character in The DCU.
  • Johnny Alpha, the protagonist in the Strontium Dog stories from the British Anthology Comic 2000AD.
  • Deadpool was employed to hunt down unregistered superheroes, for about an hour, during Civil War. Then he was sacked, mainly thanks to Cable.
  • After She-Hulk's disbarment in her late-2000s series, she became a Bounty Hunter employed by a bail bonds company owned by her former law firm.
  • The title character of the graphic novel Jinx.
  • Exeter from Scion. A "Lesser Race" being who hunts fugitive Lesser Races out of a sense of self-loathing.
  • Death's Head, though he insists on being called a "Freelance Peacekeeping Agent". People don't make the mistake twice.
  • The Savage Dragon was briefly a bounty hunter shortly after being kicked off the police force.
  • The 21st century version of Nighthawk in The DCU is a bounty hunter.
  • In the 2005 Daughters Of The Dragon miniseries, Colleen Wing and Misty Knight ran their own bail bonds firm.
  • Lucky Luke book The Bounty Hunter (in French Chasseur de primes) is a hilarious parody of the trope. Following a short introductory treatise on the general status of bounty hunters in the Old West, we get introduced to the titular character, Elliot Belt, a notorious and unscrupulous representative of his trade. No Celebrities Were Harmed: Elliot Belt's appearance is an obvious nod to Western actor Lee Van Cleef, particularly his acting roles as merciless bounty hunters.

    Films — Animated 
  • Pied Piper is described as one of the best bounty hunters in Shrek Forever After. He is hired by Rumpelstiltskin to capture Shrek. Piper uses a magical flute with a dial that can be set to any creature, among which are rats, witches, and ogres. When set to a creature and played, all of these within earshot start dancing uncontrollably and follow Pied Piper.
    • Puss in Boots could also be described as this, although his job in Shrek 2 was to kill Shrek, not capture him. This would make him more of an assassin.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • James Stewart plays one in The Naked Spur—he's trying to catch a fugitive to get a $5000 reward so he can buy back the ranch that was stolen from him.
  • Star Wars features a number of bounty hunters. Greedo shows up first, trying to capture Han Solo and cash in on the bounty Jabba the Hutt has placed on him. The Empire eventually hires the services of a number of bounty hunters, most notably Boba Fett.
    • Attack of the Clones features Boba's father, Jango. Like Boba, he's supposedly the best bounty hunter in the galaxy. Also like Boba he operates more as an assassin and mercenary than an actual bounty hunter.
  • Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Westerns, especially the latter two movies of the Dollars Trilogy, have bounty hunters as protagonists.
    • In For a Few Dollars More, the Man With No Name and his rival and partner Mortimer were bounty killers.
    • In The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, the Man With No Name engaged in a con involving turning in his partner for the bounty on his head, freeing him from the noose by shooting off the rope, and then splitting the take between them. The villain Angel Eyes is a much darker version. His very first scene involves his target trying to pay him to kill his employer by offering more than what he was paid. Angel Eyes takes the money but simply tells him "When they pay me, I always see the job through" and shoots him. In the very next scene, he collects his money from his employer and says the exact same line before brutally murdering him.
  • In Clint Eastwood's The Outlaw Josey Wales, the title character guns down a number of bounty hunters looking to collect on his $5,000 head.
  • John Hurt's character, Jellon Lamb, in The Proposition is a drunken bounty hunter who believes in neither God nor evolution, but is a big racist. He has a lot of fun with the role.
  • In The Great Silence, another Spaghetti Western, the majority of the villains are bounty hunters, and they operate exactly like assassins. The protagonist is a bounty hunter paid by the families of their victims to bring them to justice. The film is often seen as an intentional counterpoint to the Leone Westerns.
  • Beck, the main character of The Rundown, is a "retrieval expert" hired mainly to collect debts or other stuff that his boss wants from people, or in the case of the main plot of the movie, track down people who have cut and run and bring them back to him. He's described in many summaries as a "bounty hunter."
  • Steve McQueen plays the story of a bounty hunter in The Hunter where he gives Levar Burton, a fugitive who can't believe the guy can just up and grab him off the street, a copy of the quote from the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Taylor v. Taintor (please see the quotes page), which Burton incredulously reads out loud. The movie is about a real-life bounty hunter, Ralph "Papa" Thorson (who can be seen in a cameo serving Steve McQueen a beer).
  • In Blade Runner, Rick Deckard and other "Blade Runners" who hunt down and kill replicants on Earth are essentially bounty hunters. In the original novel, they are, in fact, called bounty hunters.
  • Over-the-top Badass Biker Leonard Smalls in Raising Arizona.
  • Domino Harvey from the eponymous Tony Scott film, Domino. A case of Truth in Television, sort of.
  • The repo men in Repo Man seem to like exoticizing their jobs by thinking of themselves as bounty hunters of cars.
  • In Midnight Run, Robert De Niro plays a former cop turned bounty hunter who catches a former mob bookie and must make a moral choice of whether to collect the bounty or turn the bookie back over to the crooked cops who got him kicked out of the force. A competing bounty hunter constantly tries to steal the bookie away from him.
  • Gerard Butler plays one in The Bounty Hunter
  • Bounty hunters are sent to eliminate the titular creatures in Critters and are featured to some extent in all of the sequels.
  • One drops in partway through Hunter Prey.
  • Jake Sharp (Woody Strode) in The Professionals.
  • Many bounty hunters show up in The Chronicles of Riddick, all in pursuit of the title character. Johns and Toombs are among them. Dark Fury is almost entirely set on a ship full of them, which is where Toombs came from. The ship in Dark Athena is half this, half private military force/slave ship.
  • Rutger Hauer plays one in Wanted: Dead or Alive.
  • Creighton Duke in Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday is a bounty hunter who specializes in capturing serial killers.
  • Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) in Django Unchained. Django himself becomes one when he starts to assist him.
  • Jonah Hex

    Literature 
  • Older Than Feudalism: Likely the Ur Example is Saul from the Book of Acts, who was first shown accepting payment for arresting the followers of Christ. This is before Christ struck him blind and he had a Heel-Faith Turn, changing his name to Paul.
  • The titular character in Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series is a bounty hunter, albeit a spectacularly bad one. She's in terrible shape, dresses more Jersey Girl than SWAT, frequently has her cars blown up (and a funeral home, once), and keeps her gun unloaded in the cookie jar (not that she's licensed to carry it anyway). Luckily for her (and fans), she's got Ranger, an ex-Special Forces "primo bounty hunter", and his "Merry Men" to clean up after her. Ranger jokes that his company's budget has a line-item for Stephanie's misadventures, listed under "Entertainment".
    • Pretty much everyone who works for Vincent Plum Bail Bonds falls into the same description. Luckily for them, their clients are just as woefully inept at jumping bail as they are at recovering them.
  • Just about everyone in Mike Resnick's Space Western Santiago: A Myth of the Far Future are bounty hunters. The largest bounty in the universe, the one they all secretly (or openly) hunt after, is Santiago himself. Some have actually succeeded, but they don't live long enough to boast of it, because Santiago is a Legacy Character and has a lot of allies.
  • In Artemis Fowl and the Lost Colony, Holly and Mulch are forced to become bounty hunters in order to pay the rent for the offices to their PI business. Unusually for this trope, the bounty hunting is portrayed accurately, in that they're searching for a criminal who has skipped bail and are forbidden to carry weapons.
  • In Michael Crichton's Next, a bounty hunter is trying to grab a relative of a man from whom they had obtained the right to own his gene sequence, but when it was lost, they are of the impression they can obtain a DNA sample from one of his relatives by suing her, then filing for a writ to have her brought into the court where they were located.
  • The Witcher novels introduced the character of Leo Bonhart, who is really good at his job and so utterly vile at the same time that he makes Jubal Early look like a puppy.
    • The titular Witchers also qualify to a degree, taking out monsters with bounties on their heads.
  • Lots of Richard K. Morgan's characters, including but not limited to Takeshi Kovacs from the Altered Carbon series and Carl Marsalis from Thirteen, fall into some flavor of this trope. Kovacs is an ex-UN Special Forces operator who works as a private investigator, mercenary, and general hired gun, while Marsalis is ex-British Special Forces who specializes in hunting down genetically modified people on behalf of the government. Neither is a particularly nice guy, but then again, they don't inhabit very nice worlds either.
  • The City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers has Book Hunters, who could have been taken straight from Star Wars, except that they make underground raids for old books. They got the patchwork armor and rusty swords and like to prey on each other for the greatest prizes.
  • Velith Il-nok of The Sirantha Jax Series is definitely a stand-up individual who is in the profession for the good it does rather than just getting paid. It's interesting in that, even while being alien, he is more "human" than some actual human characters.
  • In the short story "A Good Boy" by Desmond Warzel, Stitsky is a Bounty Hunter of the contemporary sort who makes his living retrieving bail-jumpers; as the story commences, however, he's overstepped his jurisdiction, having accepted a couple's commission to locate and retrieve their runaway son.
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? features bounty hunters who track down and kill androids who have escaped into mainstream society and are posing as humans, much like the film it was later adapted into. Many characters express distaste for bounty hunters and their role in society. Unlike in the movie, they are known simply as "bounty hunters", rather than "blade runners".
  • The sci-fi anthology Riesel Tales: Two Hunters centers around the adventures of the two titular bounty hunters on the city-covered criminal world of Riesel.

    Live Action TV 
  • The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.: The eponymous star was a Bounty Hunter hired to capture the outlaw gang who murdered his father. His rival, Lord Bowler, was also looking to collect the bounty on those outlaws.
  • Burn Notice: In one episode, Fiona is working as a bounty hunter and ropes Michael into helping her, only to have the man they capture hire them to prove his innocence. Bounty hunting seems to be Fiona's primary legitimate source of income when she is not working as an illegal arms dealer.
  • Castle: Beckett's former mentor and flame returns as a bounty hunter. He tries to get her to work for him to catch crooks, get better pay, and avoid the red tape. She refuses. He is later killed, causing Beckett to go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • ChaseNBC: Ben Crowley.
  • Doctor Who: One reports the whereabouts of the fugitive Chimeron princess to the Bannermen in "Delta and the Bannermen".
  • Dog The Bounty Hunter: This show is a Reality Show following Hawaiian-based bounty hunter Duane "Dog" Chapman. His brushes with the law and use of racial slurs have made him something of a controversial figure.
  • The Dukes of Hazzard: Jeffrey Steele, the Villain of the Week in the 1981 episode "The $10 Million Sheriff," who pursues the innocent Bo and Luke as though they were No. 1 on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List.
  • The Fall Guy: This show is about a team of stuntmen who moonlight as bounty hunters of bail jumpers, for a bail bondsperson.
  • Firefly: Jubal Early from the episode "Objects in Space" was a bounty hunter sent to collect on the bounty for Simon and River. He quickly proves himself to be a Psycho for Hire who is in it for the sadism, and is not above threatening to rape Kaylee — or threatening Simon with raping her if he won't reveal where River is hiding — in order to get what he wants.
  • Kamen Rider Kiva: Likewise, Keisuke Nago was a bounty hunter shortly before becoming Kamen Rider IXA.
  • Kamen Rider OOO: In some ways, Kamen Rider Birth could be seen as a Bounty Hunter. He was hired to retrieve a huge amount of Cell Medals, and in order to get them, has to destroy Yummy or Greeed. This had shades of real world bounty hunters, who are, by law, technically hired to retrieve the bail, which is physically represented by the criminal they're capturing.
  • Law & Order: Devoted an episode to bounty hunters; the hunters in question were violent thugs though.
  • LOST: Ilana is (or claims to be) a bounty hunter hired to bring Sayid to Guam.
  • MacGyver: Frequently crossed paths with the Coltons, an entire family of bounty hunters. They only all appeared together in the Poorly Disguised Pilot for an aborted Spin-Off.
  • The Magnificent Seven series: Vin Tanner used to operate as a bounty hunter; dramatic irony kicked in when he was framed for murder and had to go on the run himself.
  • Merlin: Halig.
  • My Name Is Earl: Jesse in the episode "The Bounty Hunter".
  • Power Rangers Ninja Storm features Vexacus, one of the later villains to join Lothor's crew. It's mainly used as shorthand for "this season's backstabber type" - the one being we see Vexacus hunt is an alien whose power he wants to take for himself, not an employer.
  • Psych: Has an episode called "Bounty Hunters!" where Shawn and Gus try their hands at the job. Hilarity Ensues. Though the incompetent and crooked "Dog" parody who kept spooking the fugitive before Shawn and Gus could get him didn't help.
  • Quantum Leap: Sam leapt into a Bounty Hunter in one episode.
  • Reaper: Sam works as a bounty hunter for the Devil: instead of escaped criminals, he catches escaped souls.
  • Renegade: This show is about a cop-turned-bounty hunter, a bounty hunter, and the latter's sister, who helps them hunt bounties.
  • Revolution: Jacob from "Chained Heat", Mia Clayton from "Ties That Bind", and Steve from "Home". Jacob was spared by Miles at Charlie's urging, Jacob repays that by revealing their location to the militia, and Miles kills him off later on. Mia Clayton, despite being Nora Clayton's sister, proved to be extremely selfish, sold out her sister's friends to the militia, and Nora decided to just abandon her and let her walk back to Texas on her own. Steve tried to bring in Priscilla Pittman, whose only crime was killing a militia sergeant who tried to molest her 11-year-old-daughter in self-defense, but between Aaron and her, he got killed off. This show portrays bounty hunters in an extremely unsympathetic light.
  • Sinbad: Tiger.
  • Stargate SG-1: Has had a few. Aris Boch in season 3 and then several more in the season 10 episode "Bounty".
  • Star Trek: Enterprise: In "Bounty", Captain Archer is captured by a Tellarite bounty hunter who wants to hand him over to the Klingons in exchange for enough money to buy back his spaceship. Archer eventually convinces the Tellarite to give him the means of escaping the Klingon cell once he's been handed over.
    • Before that, Star Trek: Voyager featured the Hazari, an alien species from the Delta Quadrant who's hat is bounty hunting.
  • Wanted: Dead or Alive: Josh Randall.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The BattleTech universe has numerous Bounty Hunters; the most infamous is known simply as The Bounty Hunter, an enigmatic figure who never shows his face and rarely speaks. He's famous for his relentless nature, for never once letting a bounty escape, his unfailing loyalty to his employer, and his signature emerald-green Marauder Battlemech. In truth, the Bounty Hunter is a legacy of individuals who have been passing the title (and Mech) for over a century.
    • Recently, the Bounty Hunter betrayed his employer and seems to have been replaced by an impersonator
  • Mongoose Games' Strontium Dog RPG, based on the Strontium Dog entry under Comic Books above.
  • The "Bloodhound" prestige class in Dungeons & Dragons.
    • In the Eberron setting House Tharashk dominates the market in this field, thanks to their Dragonmarks of Finding.
  • In Eclipse Phase they're known as Ego Hunters, and their job is a bit more difficult since many people change bodies like wardrobes.
  • Quite a few of {{Warhammer]]'s Witch Hunters, despite the name, are basically petty thugs who only signed for the chance to exercise church-sanctioned bullying or bounty hunting.

    Video Games 
  • Metroid series heroine Samus Aran is usually described as a bounty hunter, although "mercenary" would probably be a more accurate job description, as her primary employer appears to be the Galactic Federation and the jobs they assign her usually tend toward infiltrations, search-and-destroy, and other military operations. Other "bounty hunters" with vastly different motivations appear in the aptly named Metroid Prime: Hunters and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption.
    • Samus' missions for the Feds typically take the form of "kill X", where X is the enemy du jour. This makes her description as a bounty hunter more accurate, as a bounty is paid for the things she kills. The only exceptions to the "kill X" missions are Metroid Prime 3, Hunters, and Fusion. Prime 2 can be an inferred mission: she's told to investigate the disappearance of a GF Space Marine squad, and she's "hired" by the Luminoth to eradicate the Ing. Super Metroid is debatable, since she's doing it all of her own accord (she doesn't have to chase Ridley down and get the baby Metroid back...but that's what she wants to do).
    • The same can be said for Metroid Prime. She didn't have to follow that distress beacon, and then chase Ridley to Tallon IV. So really, she is a technical bounty hunter (as evidenced in the opening for Super, when she decides to hunt smaller bounty), but her ties with the Chozo and the Space Pirates keep getting in the way.
      • Thanks to the Anachronic Order, there's plenty of room in the timeline for Samus to make a healthy living catching renegades and/or killing dangerous wildlife, both of which count as "bounty hunting".
      • There's also Metroid II: Return of Samus for the Game Boy, where her whole mission is to kill lots and lots of dangerous wildlife, namely the entire Metroid species, along with any creatures that get in the way.
    • Incidentally, Retro Studios planned on having Samus fulfill more of a bounty-hunting role in Prime 3, namely by having the player pick out actual bounties to go after. The higher-ups vetoed this, in part because of the Genre Shift it would entail and in part because Samus doesn't really fit the role of bounty hunter to a T. The guys at Retro jokingly referred to her as a "pro-bono hunter" instead.
  • In SNATCHER, due to understaffing, JUNKER is forced to hire bounty hunters to help in taking down the titular SNATCHERS. However, only one (named Random/Randam Hajile) plays a major role in the story.
  • When they aren't racing on the F-Zero tracks, Captain Falcon and Samurai Goroh are rival bounty hunters.
  • Guilty Gear's Bridget is a self proclaimed bounty hunter. However, he's not exactly very competent at it. His only real successful bounty to date happened to consist of innocent people. Ky Kiske only paid him due to feeling bad for the poor little guy.
  • Red Dead Revolver includes the protagonist Red as a bounty hunter of the heroic type.
    • The sequel Red Dead Redemption John is pretty much a Government Bounty Hunter, who has to hunt down the rest of his old gang dead or alive, or he'll never see his family again.
      • Also allows the player to accept bounty hunting side-missions by collecting the Wanted Posters he finds. The player then tracks the bounty and has the choice of capturing them (for a bigger reward) or simply killing them. Also, committing crimes will create a bounty on the player himself, and bounty hunters will come after you hoping to collect.
  • Star Wars: Bounty Hunter features playing as Jango Fett. Guess what the game revolves around.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic has an entire Bounty Hunter class, complete with it's own story and companions, for the Imperial faction.
  • The Stranger of Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath starts out as this, capturing/killing enemies in order to earn Moolah (currency of Oddworld) for a life-saving operation. Later on, after The Stranger is outed as a Steef, a beast hunted to near extinction, the townsfolk automatically turn against him and he spends the game helping the Grubbs (the Native American Fantasy Counterpart Culture) retake their land from Sekto.
  • Popful Mail often goes after big-time criminals (the bigger the reward, the better), but never manages to catch any of them.
  • Inverted by Wrex of Mass Effect, who describes himself as a mercenary, but his actual role is much more similar to that of a bounty hunter. The jobs of his that you see or he describes in-game usually involve tracking down and kidnapping or killing one person (Fist, Aleena, the unnamed volus, etc) at the behest of a private employer.
    • He's also done bodyguarding and space piracy according to his stories, so he's pretty much an all-around hired gun. However, he found bodyguarding to be boring (but easy money, naturally) and prefers to work in smaller groups or alone, so he's arguably a Bounty Hunter foremost.
    • The sequel plays it a little straighter while still being flexible in the form of Zaeed Massani. The guy is described as the best bounty hunter in the business. Even when Shepard first meets him, he's cornered a Batarian bounty. (As well as shooting him in the back of the knee when he tries to run.) That said, Zaeed also co-founded the Blue Suns mercenary corporation and has fought in many battles as a soldier for hire. Ultimately, Zaeed burns this trope's candle at both ends. The only difference being if the contract in question says "capture" rather than "kill", "secure", "breach", or other more strategic terms.
  • B.B. Hood/Bulleta of Darkstalkers is a bounty hunter specializing in monsters (called a Darkhunter in the fluff). She very much falls under the "villain" category, being a greedy, sadistic, amoral Ax-Crazy Enfant Terrible Psycho for Hire.
  • Bounty Hunters are recurring antagonists in the Mega Man X series, with Dynamo in X5 and X6, Red Alert in X7, and Spider in Mega Man X: Command Mission.
  • In Mercenaries, the player characters (a trio of mercenaries) are often dispatched to capture or kill selected targets with prices on their head. In fact, in the original game, the players' primary reason for being there was the massive bounty on the Big Bad's head.
  • In Final Fantasy XII, one of the Sidequests involved killing of various "marks" in order to get prizes.
  • Freelancer has an entire faction of these, which the Discovery Game Mod expands upon. You can take up bounty hunting side missions as well; they're similar to the assassination ones except you grab the target's escape pod after the battle.
  • Hachimen from Sacrifice works entirely for the highest bidder. Presented due to him having an array of different spells, mostly early Pyro units, and later, Stratos units.
  • Arc The Lad
  • In the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series, half of the possible missions consist in actually chasing down a given Pokemon (usually a thief) for a monetary reward and/or some items. This technically qualifies your cute Poke team as bounty hunters.
  • Metal Saga is entirely about this.
  • The Regulators in Fallout 3 are bounty killers who target evildoers and turn in their fingers for caps. Players with very good karma can join them, while evil players will be hunted by them. The Talon Company Mercs likewise are hired to hunt down players who do too many good deeds.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, the player can pursue bounties for Fiend leaders for the NCR, who will pay for their heads. The catch is that the player must leave the head intact and recognizable (IE no headshots or any attacks that gibs/disintegrates them) or else the Major in charge of the bounties can't verify them and cannot pay you full price.
  • Many MMORPGs have a large proportion of their Side Quests involve collecting bounties on named monsters or NPCs.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines has a small tree of sidequests where the player takes the role of Bounty Hunter while working for a somewhat sleazy bail bondsman in Santa Monica. Unusually, part of the quest line is finding out what happened to the bondman's regular bounty hunter, and then freeing him from the basement where his would-be quarry is torturing him.
  • Although Privateer has AI pilots referred to as bounty hunters (and the Player Character occasionally takes on jobs with the label), the actual task is never to actually capture them, just shoot them down.note 
  • In BlazBlue, the Teach Me Miss Lichi segments explain that "Vigilantes" are (despite the name) this. Criminals the NOL want to capture are given bounties which anyone can turn in (although it's noted that their bounties don't always tally with the threat the individual presents and they may or may not be of the "dead or alive" variety) and the NOL allows citizens to collect them (they even offer a service where they dispatch an agent to collect the bounty and freely teach otherwise restricted ar magus which can be used to bind criminals and drag them to the nearest NOL outpost).
  • EV Nova has a Bounty Hunters' Guild that the player can join. Their missions mainly involve killing and capturing space pirates. They start out working only in Federation territory, but the Guild storyline allows you to expand their operations into the Auroran Empire.
  • In Borderlands 2, Axton worked as one on Pandora in-between leaving the Dahl military and becoming a Vault Hunter.
  • Legaia II: Duel Saga features a Hunter's Guild which the player can access about halfway through the game. Though some of the requests are more reminiscent of fetch quests, the majority present marks that the party must track down and eradicate.
  • The protagonist of Three The Hard Way works as one.
  • Gondar the Bounty Hunter in Defense Of The Ancients is a rather ninja-ish hero who specializes in tracking the enemy heroes and assassinating them. Treating his targets as his bounties, his Ultimate lets him net an even bigger amount of gold in case he killed a tracked hero, which he shares to his nearby teammates if able.
  • Miss Fortune in League of Legends, by lore, is a bounty hunter, specifically she hunts pirates. It's her class/title name.
  • The various Hunter organizations of Solatorobo are this in all but name. Though most of the jobs the guild offers are along the lines of Fetch Quests or Twenty Bear Asses.
  • An upgrade in Command & Conquer: Generals allows the GLA to make money whenever they kill an enemy.

    Webcomics 
  • Twice Blessed: The comic starts with a room full of bounty hunters who are out for Cade's head.
    • It then follows up with close-ups of three of them: a pixie, a cigar-smoking kobold with a big gun, and a pair of drow twins. Any guesses on which bounty hunters from this group are going to be most relevant to the story?
  • The Cyantian Chronicles: Genoworks Exotica wants its creations back. This is their preferred method.
    • Mercial, though she doesn't work for Genoworks Exotica.
  • Dream Catcher Lunos' belief is that as a werewolf demon, this type of stuff is in his nature and is what he does best. Naturally, it's his job.
  • Clark and Tonya from Shape Quest are bounty hunters.
  • A Bounty Hunter picks up the girls' Distress Call in Girls in Space and tracks them back to Earth
  • Ganji and Enor from Order of the Stick.
  • The Ambis Empire in the comic Jix has a lot of bounty hunters; however, the only two seen are Pratos (who is really named Aranis, Jix's cousin), and Maricax, both of whom hunted the main characters.
  • Feral in Strays.
  • In Roza, Esten appears to be this.
  • Banished: Luger, who wants to claim the bounty on Rak's head.
  • Doyt (and later Doyt-Haban) from Schlock Mercenary. When the crew rescues some hostages, he explains the way to turn a profit. Ransoming them back to their families is wrong, but selling them to interested governments is fine.
    Tagon: That's actually a pretty fair idea, once you get used to the odd distinction.
    DoytHaban: How is the distinction odd?
    Tagon: It's not okay for us to sell a guy back to the people who love him, but it's just fine for us to sell him to a body politic that wants to incarcerate him or execute him?
    DoytHaban: Bounty-hunting is like that.
    • Arguably the Toughs as a whole, given that they have a standing payment for killing attorney drones.
  • Jix's cousin Aranis is a bounty hunter who was once sent to bring her back to Rosimba but she sent her packing instead. Later another hunter named Maricax, who was more of a Psycho for Hire and actually raped Jix, before getting cooked in his own armor and having his ship blown up while he was on board, he survived and was recruited as one of Kelelder's lieutenants.

    Web Original 
  • The web series Chapel has Butch Sauft, the man who originally caught Chapel. But it wasn't personal.
    Butch: Sorry I caught you.
    Chapel: Sorry I ran.
  • The Gungan Council, being in the Star Wars universe, has had tons of bounty hunters. Kane E. Smart is one of the more prolific and dedicated bounty hunters flying around, having faked his death for months in order to get a mark.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Showdown", the real hero of the story is Jonah Hex, a cynical Wild West bounty hunter with a hideously scarred face and gruff manners that hide his heroism.
  • And, in sharp contrast, we have the villainous Lockdown of Transformers Animated, who takes parts of his quarry as trophies before turning them over to his employer. Psycho for Hire with a dash of creepiness to boot.
    Lockdown: Some 'bots are in it for the glory, some for the adventure, some even actually believe in the "cause." Me, I'm in it for the upgrades.
  • Bounty Hamster. Marion the hamster and The Horse With No Name (a double spoof, on Clint Eastwood's Man With No Name along with the song by the band America).
  • From Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • In the first season, Zuko hires a female bounty hunter named Jun to track down the heroes. She proved to be unexpectedly popular, which lead to a couple more appearances as an ally during the series finale.
    • Zuko also hires The Combustion Man in the third season. Though since he was only ordered to kill, makes him an assassin.
    • While its technically not their job. Xin Fu and Yu, a pair of professional Earthbenders, were also hired to capture Toph and return her to her parents (serving the role but never being called bounty hunters), but they had no experience bounty hunting. This is one reason they were so unsuccessful at capturing and returning her. The other reason is that Toph Bei Fong is just too badass to be contained. Not even by metal.
  • Samurai Jack has faced many bounty hunters due to a high reward on his head set by Aku. In one episode, Jack faced 6 highly-skilled bounty hunters all at once, and they'd even had a fair bit of lead time to plan out and prepare a multi-pronged trap. They went down easily in less than a minute. After it was over, Jack just kept on walking as if nothing had happened. (A good part of why Jack is such a badass is because ever since arriving in the future, his already considerable skills have been tested and improved upon by constant surprise attacks by seasoned bounty hunters.)
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars gives us Cad Bane. That particular season was actually prolifically advertised for the inclusion of lots of bounty hunters.
  • Dale in King of the Hill becomes a bounty hunter after a one day class.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: The Movie introduced Dennis the bounty hunter, who was out to kill Spongebob on Plankton's orders. Although his method of murder was stomping people with a cartoony spiked boot, Dennis was a surprisingly menacing villain.
    • He states he has other ways he could do it, but his employer specifically told him to kill them in that fashion. Makes sense considering the employer was Plankton, who gets stepped on...a lot.
  • Skeletor hires two bounty hunters to capture He-man in He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2002). If nothing else, they were a lot more competent than his usual minions.
  • In an episode of Adventures of the Gummi Bears, Duke Igthorn hires the bounty hunter Flint Shrubwood, a Captain Ersatz of Clint Eastwood's Man With No Name.
  • Homer Simpson and Ned Flanders once became bounty hunters on The Simpsons.
  • Nick Logan, the main character of Roswell Conspiracies: Aliens, Myths and Legends starts out as a bounty hunter. He gets pulled into the Alliance when one of his marks turns out to be a lycanthrope.
  • Baba Ghanoush - a parody of Boba Fett - who appears in several episodes of Dogstar (and turns out to be Gemma's uncle).

    Real Life 
  • Today, civilian bounty hunting is legally practiced only in the United States and the Philippines.
    • Though it should be noted that modern bounty hunting is a very different practice than in the old days. In the United States a bounty hunter is usually under contract with a bail bondsman and can't work without their sanction. Most states also require strict licensing and training for bounty hunters, and a few states ban bounty hunting entirely. And of course, "dead or alive" bounties are completely illegal. A bounty hunter who killed their quarry would have to face a lot of questions from the police and could easily find themselves blacklisted in the bail bondsman industry.
  • Bounty hunters do exist somewhat like they are portrayed in fiction over in the Middle East; most of the detainees in Guantanamo Bay came from these guys. [1]
  • Domino Harvey
  • Dog the Bounty Hunter.


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Boisterous BruiserThis Index Means TroubleComplete Monster
Animal NemesisBig Trope HuntingBring It Back Alive
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