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"When any guard wakes up, I'm usually long gone."
The Phantom Thief is a special class of criminal. An elusive and fantastic thief who can be long gone before the victim even knows what hit him. Just as likely to be an antihero as a villain.
There is no single set model of the Phantom Thief, but they usually have some of the following characteristics.
Bonus points given if the character is known for being a Sharp-Dressed Man
sporting a Cool Hat
(especially one reminiscent of nice-looking yet out of style fashions). This is particularly common in Japanese media, stemming from the popularity of Arsène Lupin in Japan
. The Japanese word for it is Kaitou
Compare Gentleman Thief
and Classy Cat-Burglar
, both of which can overlap with this trope. If part of their motivation is the thrill of stealing then they are also The Kleptomaniac
. See also Loveable Rogue
Anime and Manga
- Lupin III is based on Arsène Lupin; both titular characters are famously uncatchable, with the half-Japanese character being the grandson of the famous French thief.
- In Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok, Freyr (in his first episode), because every Great Detective needs a rival.
- Maron/"Jeanne" from Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne.
- Saint Tail from Kaitou Saint Tail.
- The Man of Twenty Faces from Clamp School Detectives (and his own manga; note that the manga was inspired by a Gentleman Thief by the same name from earlier books, movies, and television).
- More obviously (and recently) Dark, from D.N.Angel, although he steals cursed items to get them uncursed.
- Psiren of Fullmetal Alchemist. The people of her city don't really want her caught - it's an Expy of Venice and will soon slide underwater, so she's the only thing keeping people coming.
- Kaitou Kid (literally known as the Phantom Thief Kid) from Detective Conan and Magic Kaito has this in spades.
- In Magic Kaito he had a lot of Lupin homages, including the indefatigable Nakamori for Ganimard and Hakuba Saguru popping over from England in place of Sherlock Holmes.
- In the Boys Love manga Gorgeous Carat, main character Ray is also known as Phantom Thief Noir.
- X in Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro. Unfortunately, those aren't his only crimes...
- Phantom Renegade of Medabots steals rare medals in order to keep them out of the wrong hands. He would actually do a pretty good job, if he didn't clumsily lose them right after gloating over his successful heist.
- Robas from Kiba, who becomes the thief "No Face" because he's bored and wishes for a challenge. It's also hinted he may be trying to help out his family financially, since their fortune is somewhat on the rocks.
- The Kisugi sisters in Cat's Eye.
- And in Tsukasa Hojo's next work, City Hunter, you have Kasumi Asou alias Theif n°305, who comes from a line of women phantom thieves.
- Time Bokan: "Kaitou Kirameki Man" arc, the two young thieves.
- Arsène Lupin the Trope Codifier.
- Fantômas, an anarchist whose crimes (supposedly) stem from a disdain for modern civilization. Unlike Lupin, he is a cruel, manipulative psychopath with no qualms at all about murdering people and framing the innocent to face the guillotine for his crimes. His titles include "The Man with a Thousand Faces", "The Lord of Terror", "The Master of Crime" and "The Genius of Evil."
- Kamen Rider Decade: Kamen Rider Diend is actually named has Daiki Kaitou, but he's only partway to being a full-fledged Phantom Thief. He has the "theft of valuable objects" and "uses trickery and illusions" bits down but his personality boils down to "real-life Troll" for his victims (especially Tsukasa), and he steals not out of a sense of social justice but because he enjoys it (though that's just his assertion, in truth it's because he's trying to fill the void left behind by his brother being brainwashed by a crime boss).
- Iljimae "Don't worry, I can steal anything. After all, I'm Il Ji-Mae."
- Parker on Leverage is this, but she's also crazy and more than a little unsettling due to her lack of understanding for basic social norms. Her mentor, Archie Leech, is this as well, and a Gentleman Thief
- In Tokumei Sentai Go Busters: One episode in the last half of the series features Kaitou Pink Buster, a rich woman who steals wearing an outfit based on the Go-Buster's out of transformation uniform, and becomes attached to Red Buster. In the Alternate world Dobutsu Sentai Go-Busters, her counterpart, Pink Cat, is His sister.
- Geist from Heist. He lives in a superhero universe and only his former clients even know he exists.
- The unknown rook (thief) in Snow By Night, who goes after objects having to do with hearts. Even the other rooks are baffled by this person. Turns out the thief is Snow By Night, a manitou with magic powers, which explains why she is so hard to find.
- Shego from Kim Possible. It's better to steal things than to buy them, because doing so nets you something important in the tools of the trade: experience.