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Anime and Manga
- Kazemakase Tsukikage Ran: Ran is an uncommon example — a 'female' ronin who's actually a much better swordsman than her male colleagues. While she never resorts to banditry, she often scours the roadside for lost wallets or change, or tricks/charms her companion Miyao into giving her money or a free meal.
- Lone Wolf and Cub: Ogami Itto.
- Rurouni Kenshin: Kenshin Himura, except for the fact that he was never a samurai. "Rurouni" actually means "wandering swordsman" (sort of—Watsuki freely admits that it's a neologism of his own invention and the term was never used historically), which is a more accurate description than "ronin".
- Samurai 7: The anime remake of Kurosawa's classic film.
- Samurai Champloo: Jin and Mugen both have characteristics of ronin, though only Jin is actually a ronin. Having grown up in a penal colony Mugen was not born into the samurai class. (Nor did he earn his way with his skill as he used those skills for stealing from the shogunate).
- Blade of the Immortal features a number of ronin, including Manji himself.
- Akitsu from House of Five Leaves.
- Lupin III has Goemon Ishikawa XIII; a traditional samurai in the modern world. He constantly seeks to improve his skills, seeking teachers of Martial Arts (whom he then refers to as his "Master", rather than the more traditional "teacher"), as well as operating as a hitman or Yojimbo. Everyone In-Universe calls him Samurai, but he is a Ronin by our definition. Goemon also believes that his attitude is normal, and that most of Japan has lost their way, instead.
- Anpanman has Omusubiman and Komusubiman, two rice ball-headed characters that travel througout the village, doing random good deeds when needed. Komusubiman's still a kid, so he still has a lot to learn from Omusubiman.
- Frank Miller's Ronin revolves around a ronin whose master was killed by a demon.
- Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai. A perfectly named comic as it means "Rabbit Bodyguard". This is exactly what the main character is.
- The title character of the Judge Dredd spinoff Shimura, a Hondo City Judge who went rogue to take revenge on the Yakuza.
- After the Rain: Misawa Ihei.
- The Seven Samurai were ronin. Except Kikuchiyo, who was born a farmer's son.
- The constant civil wars ensure that a steady stream of them pass through the tiny fishing community in Onibaba.
- The title character of Yojimbo is a ronin.
- Sanjuro features Toshiro Mifune playing Ronin in the title roles.
- Hirayama and Sahara from 13 Assassins. Hirayama has worked as a mercenary for years, but owes his allegiance to his former sensei in swordfighting, while Sahara joins the main characters' plight because he finds their cause worthy, and in exchange for a payment.
- Shogun's Samurai: The tide turns in a civil war between two brothers vying to be shogun after the supporters of one brother frame the other for hiring an army of ronin to kill the first brother.
- Neal Stephenson's The Baroque Cycle: Gabriel Goto. He's the son of Japanese Jesuits exiled from Japan when Christianity was banned; he's a fervent believer in both Catholicism and bushido. He eventually gives his swords to Jimmy and Danny Shaftoe, who later end up traveling America as the "Red-Neck Ronin".
- In the Morgaine Cycle books by American author C. J. Cherryh, the main character, Vanye, is an ilin, which is more-or-less completely analogous to ronin. Exiled for fratricide, he must walk the Earth, and if he ever takes succor from a Lord he must serve them for a year and a day in recompense.
- Zero Takaishi of Tasakeru is a ronin of the "disgraced samurai" variety.
- In Larry Correia's The Grimnoir Chronicles, part of the Chairman's backstory. Toru takes this to heart as justifying his actions.
- The samurai of Samurai Gourmet is a Mifune-style Sengoku ronin. He is unshaven and unkempt, Walking the Earth, terse, just a little coarse (but not too coarse), hard-drinking, and understatedly badass. He represents the ideal of the protagonist Kasumi, and his appearances may or may not inspire Kasumi to act more assertively.
- In Magic: The Gathering's plane Kamigawa, which is based on feudal Japan, ronin obviously exist. Toshiro Umezawa is the most prominent of them.
- Ronin play a prominent role from time to time in Legend of the Five Rings. One even became Emperor.
- Cypher the Fallen from Warhammer 40,000 is a lone Space Marine as old as they come, whose entire identity is a mess of contradictions and who makes his former battle brothers the Dark Angels drop whatever they were doing to hunt him down. More importantly, it is believed that he carries an abnormally huge sword which he never uses, and could be the weapon of the Dark Angel's Primarch, which he supposedly want to take to the throne room of the Emperor. Whether he is a dangerous revolutionary who plots to kill the Master of Mankind, or a lost soul looking for redemption for past sins, his entire image fits snugly in the Ronin trope.
Video Games and Visual Novels
- Final Fantasy X: Auron has a lot of ronin qualities to him, such as the "death of a former master" thing, what with Braska dying at the hands of his own Final Aeon, Jecht. He also has three other major features used to signify a ronin: his left arm is held tucked out of his sleeve, he keeps a gourd of alcohol on his belt at all times, and his overdrive category is named 'Bushido'.
- Bang Shishigami from BlazBlue describes himself as such, although technically he's a ninja.
- Age of Empires III has two different types of ronin. The Ronin from the classic game are heavily armored fighters who can only be recruited from the home city as part of a mercenary band. The ronin from the expansion are much weaker, lightly armored and closer to the concept of wandering swordsman. Both types of Ronin are recruitable if you choose to play as Japan.
- The Serpent Clan's third tier unit in Battle Realms is called the Ronin, which is an Evil Counterpart to the Dragon Clan's Samurai. One of their Zen Masters, Shinja, is a Ronin as well.
- The player character in each Way of the Samurai game and a lot of supporting cast as well. Depend on the choices made by the player, dependent upon the game but some of the most common boil down to, join up with a new master, join (possibly noble) gangsters, continue to wander aimlessly as the game goes by doing odd jobs for money, or support a third "civilian" side in the local conflict.
- Gaichû from Shadowrun Returns: Hong Kong is a Cyberpunk Ronin who used to belong to the Red Samurai special forces before being forced into shadowrunning. His entire character is heavily flavoured by traditionalist views on samurai and ronin (appropriate, as Japanese Imperial State has resurrected the old ideals in the Shadowrun-verse).
- Samuel "Jetstream" Rodrigues from Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance was one of these in Next Sunday A.D. He's a Brazilian with Japanese ancestry and possess a 16th-century Murasama katana. When his father was killed Sam took the sword and sliced up those responsible, then got some Power Armour, converted the Murasama to a HF Blade and traveled the world fighting bad guys For Great Justice. Unfortunately by the time the game starts he's working for Desperado Enforcement.
- The prosecutor Simon Blackquill from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies has a very strong ronin theme, constantly using sword metaphors, wearing a coat that resembles a jinbaori, and occasionally casting a Razor Wind with his fingers in lieu of a real blade. His mentor Metis was murdered and he spent seven years in prison and came within a day of execution after willingly Taking the Heat for Metis' daughter, whom he found at the crime scene covered in her mother's blood. He is eventually exonerated and finds a new 'master' of sorts in the Chief Prosecutor.
- SoulCalibur has Mitsurugi, a wandering swordsman who wants nothing more than to find a sword that stops him from getting wrecked by firearms. The original plan is to use the demon sword Soul Edge, but he ends up disregarding this. Later on, he just wants someone to give him a good challenge, to the point where he's willing to challenge gods just to have some fun. Setsuka also qualifies as this, as she's an iaijutsu practicing swordswoman who's seeking to avenge her dead master.
- Tower of God: Hatsu.
- In The Water Phoenix King, we find the non-human Ngapp, who supported the titular God-King in hopes of supplanting his rebellious human subjects, and were retroactively outlawed after their emperor decided to support the human resistance at the tail end of the war. Now exiled to the wastelands, men without a country or hope of pardon, they have turned bandits and raid against neighboring humans and their own people, the Yigs, indiscriminately. Recently one of these — a Sorcerous Overlord who was originally just an Alchemist looking for the scholarly respect denied him at home — has found a powerful, if secretive, backer and is starting to unify all the separate Ngapp bands under his aegis, posing an increasing threat to neighboring kingdoms and principalities on all sides...
- WALLE Forum Roleplay:
- The Japanese Autopilot KATANA insults people and robots whom she sees as disgraced samurai who turned their back to the Way of The Warrior, or otherwise failed their Daimyos (note: she means superiors), as ronin.
- JAXA, another Japanese Auto, on the other hand, embodies the trope of the samurai without a master who became a dangerous bandit.
- Kat and Mouse: Guns for Hire features two ronin from the future named Kat and Mouse.
- The legend of The 47 Ronin, a band of samurai who took revenge for their master's death, and were allowed to commit seppuku for their crimes to keep their honor rather than be executed. Though based on a true story, it has seen many changes over the years. Considered a shining example of loyalty, honor, and bushido, and the best-beloved story in Japan.
- Miyamoto Musashi in most depictions of him. Justified as Musashi spent most of his life as a ronin, and tended to go in and out of service to various lords and patrons. Mitsurugi of SoulCalibur is heavily based on him.
Anime and Manga
- Chobits: Hideki leaves the countryside for the city so he can attend cram school and retake the college entrance exam, while at the same time having a part time job at a bar. He makes friends with fellow ronin Shinbo, and their cram school teacher Takako Shimizu also figures into the story.
- Love Hina: Keitaro, Mutsumi and Naru. Later, when Kid Samurai Motoko starts worrying about her exams, it's commented that she could end up a "Ronin Ronin" (she does not take this well).
- Maison Ikkoku: Godai.
- Crayon Shin-chan's fat otaku neighbor has been trying to get into a 3rd rate vocational university, one that Boo's dad got into with flying colors, and after years has STILL not been able to get in.
- Touma Inaba from Sakura Diaries.
- Saya of Servant × Service spent a year as a ronin under this definition. This is why she's the oldest of all the newbies.
- Ichiroh! has its protagonists Nanako and Akane. In fact, the title is the term used for someone in their first year as a ronin.
- In Parasyte, Shinichi fails the university entrance exams at the end of the series, due to missing so much school while fighting the Parasytes and dealing with his mother's death. He has to catch up.
Video Games and Visual Novels
- Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan: Tsuyoshi Hanada, your very first target in both games. Only in the first one, though.
- The protagonist of Kisetsu o Dakishimete (the 2nd game of the Yarudora series), was one for a year in the Backstory. Unlike most examples, it was not due to poor academic results, but because of a Heroic B.S.O.D. caused by the death of the girl he loved. The game starts as he just got into his town's university.
- In medieval China, the only way to enter the civil service was to take multiple, incredibly difficult exams. Pu Songling took his first test at 19 years old and succeeded, but got no higher until he was 71. In the meantime, he collected folk tales and mystic stories, which remain with us now as his Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio.
Other uses of the term Ronin
Anime and Manga
- Marvel Comics:
- Maya Lopez and Clint Barton (better known as Hawkeye) - have used the name "Ronin". It's basically a placeholder identity for heroes who can't use their normal superhero identities for whatever reason.
- Yukio from Frank Miller's Wolverine does not use it as a name, but she is actually described as a ronin.
- Ronin is set after the cold war, and compares former secret agents to Ronin.
- The Wolverine: Ichirō invokes this trope to describe Wolverine metaphorically. The latter's "lack of a master" translates to "a lack of purpose," and this turns him into an immortal drifter. note This doubles as Fridge Brilliance because Logan's strong reaction to Professor X's supposed death in X-Men: The Last Stand, the post-credits airport scene (where Wolverine only cares about what Xavier has to say, not Magneto), and the 2023 portion of X-Men: Days of Future Past prove that Charles is essentially his "master."
- Stargate Atlantis: Though never a Samurai, Ronon Dex was a soldier defending a world culled of sentient life by Wraith, and one of the few survivors. His name is also a play on the word Ronin.
- The X-Files: "Pusher" Modell considered himself a Ronin, acting as a hitman and making many references to Japanese culture.
- Person of Interest. The POI in "Wolf and Cub", who's a fan of samurai films, compares Reece to a ronin. Given that Reece is a former CIA assassin turned Knight Errant, he's not far wrong.
- In Werewolf: The Apocalypse, Garou who don't belong to any tribe are known as Ronin, and are pariahs in a setting that places heavy emphasis on community and group dynamics. Interestingly, they are not a popular choice for players with Special Snowflake Syndrome, since their "tribal" weakness — an extremely difficult time gaining renown — is much harsher than those for the tribes. For added Bilingual Bonus, "Ronin" can also be read as "Wolf Man."
- Kingdom of Loathing uses the term for the state inflicted after one ascends and starts over. While in Ronin, they can only access a limited number of items or money from their previous life, and they can't receive things from other players. Ronin expires after a set number of turns, unless you're in Hardcore mode, where it doesn't expire until you finish the game again and you can't access your previous life's items at all.
- One of the rival gangs in Saints Row 2 is called the Ronin. The grunts all wield katana, and they're implied to have ties to the Yakuza. That said, it's a bit of a Non-Indicative Name, as is pointed out by NPC chatter: "Why are we called the Ronin? We have a leader!"
- The main character's team in Unreal Tournament III's singleplayer mode is called Ronin. Reaper acknowledges the meaning when his team is drafted by the Izanagi corporation, commenting "So, the Ronin have a master."
- In Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3: Uprising, Steel Ronin are a kind of battlesuit unit. Specifically, they are in the suits as a form of punishment for not following orders or related crimes and hope to regain their freedom again by doing battle against the Empire's enemies. They're apparently in constant pain too. Meanwhile, in the Game Mod Red Alert 3: Paradox, Steel Ronin have layed down their weapons instead and, among other things, became tourist guides due to being in constant pain as they figured "Why should we follow these people again?"
- Escape Velocity Nova has a group called Ronin in the south-east of Auroran space. Composed of disgraced warriors, they are loosely-organized pirates who control a single asteroid base and survive mainly because both of the two local feudal houses argue that it's the other's responsibility to take care of them.
- A pun rather than an actual example, the Hearthstone card for the character Rhonin describes him as A masterless shamurai.
- Cloud in Final Fantasy VII is both of the definitions - a masterless swordsman who now works as a mercenary, and someone who miserably failed his entrance exams for the elite unit he tried to get into.
- The Dark Knight class from Bravely Default is likened to a ronin. They refused to serve kingdoms and instead worked as either mercenaries, plunderers, or protectors of small villages.
- In Epic, the badass leader of the Leafmen is called Ronin, foreshadowing the death of his queen early in the film.