The Street Samurai
is the classic protagonist archetype in Cyber Punk
and Post Cyber Punk
, but also shows up on occasion when those genres are mixed with Dungeon Punk
and Urban Fantasy
. Hackers, warriors, and anti-authoritarian loners, these characters fight against the dystopian
governments and Megacorps
that rule their worlds. They are down-on-their-luck souls that Walk the Earth
because their own personal codes of honor make them refuse to sell out to authority. Typical goals for this sort of character are Information Wants to Be Free
and bringing down the very society in which they live in order to make a better one.
They are the tech-savvy mercenaries, bounty hunters
, assassins, bodyguards and general badasses
of the urban jungle. They're far cooler than standard Mooks
, often sporting a Badass Longcoat
, Cool Shades
and other stylish gear. Edged weapons are common despite being strange for the era, and Katanas are recommended, but not mandatory
. Street samurai by no means eschew firearms however, and are frequently expert gunslingers
, but expect Cool Guns
and Abnormal Ammo
. In classic Cyber Punk
, the samurai would often be heavily augmented with cybernetic parts
, but this is no longer mandatory. Hacking, at least at a rudimentary level, or other similar tech skills (creating prosthetics, building custom weapons systems and vehicles etc.) is required.
Despite the name, these characters have a lot more in common with ronin
and even moreso with ninja
(see also Cyber Ninja
) than they do with samurai
, being essentially descendants of recognizable types drawn from hard-boiled private-eye literature and Film Noir
Compare Samurai Cowboy
and Corporate Samurai
. Note, that merely having the toys of a Street Samurai
does not make you one if you don't have the personality and skill set. Not to be confused with the Steel Samurai
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Anime and Manga
- Being inspired by Neuromancer, the human protagonists of The Matrix exhibit characteristics of this, especially Trinity.
- The main character from Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai is a gangster hitman who lives by the code of Bushido and has a number of anachronistic habits, such as communicating by messenger pigeon. RZA has a cameo as another one of these.
- The protagonist from Le Samourai. Besides the title, it gets points for having a protagonist who wears a Badass Longcoat. And it was an inspiration to John Woo (hence the gun-slinging and Cool Shades elements)
- Kill Bill: The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad is a group of assassins, some of whom use katanas. While The Bride is in a coma for several years and Bill is in semi-retirement raising their daughter, the group disbands and the members either retire or work solo, essentially becoming ronin.
- Molly Millions from Neuromancer and other works by William Gibson is the Trope Namer and ur-example. She's a "razorgirl" with cybernetically enhanced reflexes, lenses grafted over her eyes, and double-edged scalpel blades implanted under her fingernails.
- Hiro Protagonist in Snow Crash is a pizza deliveryman and freelance hacker, but his combat skills, talent for working high-tech espionage, and willingness to take on enemies far larger than himself to do what's right are what make him an example. Raven does work as a mercenary, but he's got his own agenda.
- Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age has a Decoy Protagonist, Bud, who behaves a bit like one of these. He's mostly just a street hoodlum who spends his money on bionic weapons. He's messily executed in short order.
- Sri Death from Tais Teng's Memoirs of a Matriarchy and Neon Moon anthologies. Though he is practically invulnerable and possibly immortal by the end of his arc, he still suffers from Badass Decay to make the point that the universe is ruled by forces greater than any single person can control.
Live Action TV
- The Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy song, "Satanic Reverses" has a line:
Sent Joey to the Supreme Court Cause he made a statement, they called it Desecration of the symbol that was meant to represent The freedom of so-called choice and dissent They almost had me believin' it, I was bleedin' it He said, "Burn, baby, burn" Til the Street Samurai said to my face That any flag that's worth shit Was woven from fire in the first place.
In this context, the "Street Samurai" is likely Rono Tse, fellow Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy bandmate.
- In Shadowrun, this trope describes the archetypical Shadowrunner, i.e. the Player Character. The title 'Street Samurai' is used in-game for one of the classic runner archetypes, specifically the independent fighting guy who augments his abilities with lots of cyberware. Fighters who augment themselves with magic, who augment themselves with corporate backing, or who rely on pure skill rather than augmentation, do not fit this definition.
- There's an obscure PS2 game called Seven Samurai 20XX based on the Seven Samurai set in a cyberpunk world.
- In SNES classic X-calibur 2097 the player character is this; same well for his Evil Twin brother.
- All the player characters in the Deus Ex series can end up this way, depending on the path you choose.