Corporate Samurai

"A person in a conflict-oriented profession (i.e. assassin, negotiator, advertising personnel, etc) who follows a samurai-like code of ethics. This generally means limiting collateral damage (whatever that might be, depending on the profession), treating their job as 'just business (not bringing personal animosity into competition),' and respecting competitors in their profession. Coined as a part of the cyberpunk movement in science fiction, and exemplified by Case in Neuromancer by William Gibson, and Hiroaki Protagonist in Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson."
— Urban Dictionary

A Corporate Samurai has talents that are in high demand by one or more of the following: Mega Corps, The Syndicate, The Cartel, Law Enforcement, Inc., warlords, other power brokers or royalty. The Corporate Samurai will associate and interact at the executive level and works for or possibly as a Corrupt Corporate Executive.

Often, the Corporate Samurai will be The Dragon or The Brute if part of the Five-Bad Band.

Corporate Samurai are similar to Street Samurai. The biggest difference is that the Corporate Samurai are not Ronin, due to the fact that they are retained by or work for a corporation, or on contract in the Private Sector. The Corporate Samurai are often highly trained as Professional Killers, Ninja, Assassins, special ops, Hired Guns, Private Military Contractors, or former intelligence operatives. Like Street Samurai, expect Corporate Samurai to well-versed in espionage, technology and gadgetry. In Westerns this person may work as a Pinkerton Detective or for the Railroad.

Similar to a bag man but at a higher level and with more responsibility, the Corporate Samurai is often responsible for whole operations or campaigns, rather than simple mook wet work. The Corporate Samurai has, through merit and ability, risen above Red Shirt status. He may also be more cerebral and less kinetic with his approach to conflict resolution. He will often be a Man of Wealth and Taste and a Badass Normal, and will usually be a Badass in a Nice Suit. Often the Corporate Samurai is sent to deal with situations and to engineer or arrange outcomes that a simple mook couldn't handle.

Taken from the Richard K. Morgan's Takeshi Kovacs novels, and "Market Forces". This trope is found throughout Cyberpunk, Post-Cyberpunk (where they're much more likely to be portrayed as heroic) and hard boiled noir, among many other genres.


Anime and Manga
  • Mifune, Soul Eater's character, Infinite One-Sword Style practitioner, bodyguard and Black*Star's Rival was this in the past, working for a crime family. However, he quit when he was sent to capture or kill a witch that turned out to be a little girl; he released her and devoted his life to protect her.
    • He still is this as he works for Arachnaphobia now.

Comic Books
  • The Specialist from Spider-Man 2099 is a quite literal example, a literal samurai mercenary working for various Mega Corp. organizations in the future.
  • Jack Pierce from The Exec by Doug Miers and Carlos Paul.
  • During the years before Iron Man discarded his Secret Identity, he claimed that he was a heroic Corporate Samurai working for Tony Stark.

  • Dom Cobb in Inception.
  • Vincent in Collateral.
  • Mr. Kobayashi in the The Usual Suspects.
  • Winston Wolf in Pulp Fiction.
  • Sofie Fatale in Kill Bill.
  • The Assassin in the International.
  • The South African man sent by Col Coetzee to find Danny Archer in Blood Diamond; Col Coetzee's private army is based on the former company of Private Military Contractors, Executive Outcomes.
  • Otomo in RoboCop 3 is a robot/cyborg version belonging to the Kanemitsu Corporation, which wants to buy out OCP.
  • The main characters in the film Bad Company are in corporate espionage, hired to spy on a rival cosmetics company.
  • A more literal example in the film Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai. The epynomous character is an assassin working for the mafia, but follows a code of ethics based on bushido, including not killing anyone but his targets.
  • Shingen Yashida from The Wolverine. Literally speaking. As the trope's meaning, however, he subverts this.
  • Kruger in Elysium.

  • John Nike in Jennifer Government.
  • The hitman Kinneavy in Dennis Lehane's short story "The Consumers", who has enough of a code that, when he's hired by a trophy wife to kill her abusive Corrupt Corporate Executive husband, kills his client afterwards as well simply because her willingness to enjoy the financial benefits of his business practices disgusts him.
  • Takeshi Kovacs, an ex-special forces Super Soldier who now works as a mercenary and investigator.
  • In Discworld, Scholarship Student members of the Assassins Guild often seem to be these. The Fifth Elephant has Vetinari's clerk Inigo Skinner who turns out to be a badass assassin, and Making Money indicates that a whole bunch of "dark clerks" work for Vetinari. On the antagonist side, the villain of Making Money has an assassin on staff, who when not doing his job is a calm guy who likes to read for pleasure.
  • Case from Neuromancer, at least before he crossed his former employers and had his ability to access the matrix removed (which Wintermute restored).
  • Turner from Count Zero is referred to as a "Street Samurai", though he's on contract with a Mega Corp. as an extraction specialist.
  • Hiro Protagonist from Snow Crash.
  • Anderson in The Windup Girl.
  • In The Dark Tower, Jake comes to believe that his father was the corporate version of a gunslinger, working as a network television executive. He even referred to decisive actions as "the kill."
  • Honor Harrington: The various operatives working on behalf of Manpower Unlimited appear to be this, and in fact, many of them think they are this, until they are brought in on enough of The Conspiracy to learn they are actually agents of The Mesan Allignment, who are rather less picky about what happens to innocents.
  • Miles Vorkosigan has aspects of this.

Live-Action TV

Real Life

  • A number of governments including the US and China maintain cyberwarfare specialists. During one incident in which the internet of Estonia was shut down, alledgedly by Russia, several of these were sent to clean up the damage.

Tabletop Games
  • Traveller: Several Megacorporations, Noble families and the Imperium maintain a number of these. Their nature is up to the taste of the GM and PCs and not much is told about them. It is told that on occasion Megacorporations will have an interchange of sabotage. One notable example of this is the feud between the Oberlindes and the Tukera Family Business'
  • Shadowrun has a literal example of this with the Renraku Corporation's Red Samurai which are employed as an elite security force. They even wear classic samurai-looking armor and katanas. This trope can also technically apply to anyone who gives up their lifestyle as a Runner and then go legitimate by working for a corporation.

Video Games
  • Final Fantasy VII has the Turks.
  • Shadow Warrior is set in a world of corporate ninjas. Lo Wang was once Zilla's most loyal corporate ninja until he learned that his employer was summoning monsters from the netherworld and planning to take over the world and quit, resulting in Zilla taking out a Contract on the Hitman.
  • Adam Jensen in Deus Ex: Human Revolution serves as such for Sarif Industries, while the Tyrants (Namir, Barret, Federova) serve as these for the conspiracy.
  • Colonel Richard Vanek in FEAR 2: Project Origin as the commander of the Armacham Black Ops units. In FEAR 3, the Phase Commanders in general serve these roles as commanders of Armacham's mercenaries.
  • Conrad Marburg in Alpha Protocol, serving Halbech as former chief of security and current chairman of the allied Veterans Combat Initiative.
  • In the X-Universe series, taking jobs with any of the MegaCorps, such as OTAS and Strong Arms, effectively turns you into this trope. They initially give you grunt work, but contract rewards steadily rise up until you're assassinating high-ranking pirates and other executives by blowing up their Mile Long Ships. The more you work for a corp, the better the rewards, all the way up to giving you prototypical and advanced versions of standard production ships.

Web Comics
  • Marcus Madeira in Metacarpolis, though Marcus is more of a Daimyo then a mere samurai

Western Animation
  • Dethklok's manager/lawyer/CFO Charles Foster Ofdensen in Metalocalypse.
  • In one episode of Samurai Jack, Jack joins to a crime organization in order to meet with Aku, attire and all.