Black Butler (Kuroshitsuji in Japanese) is a shounen manga and companion anime series (although it's pretty obviously looking for a crossover shoujo audience). Originally created by Toboso Yana.The Phantomhive family is a respected and distinguished house in Victorian London. Despite a mysterious fire killing off the previous Lord and Lady Phantomhive, their twelve-year-old son Ciel Phantomhive has managed to rebuild the family legacy, creating a massive toy and candy company within just three years, and serving the Queen as a major contributor to England's black-ops.It does help that Ciel contracted a demon to serve him: Sebastian Michaelis, whose skills range from dispatching any threat to baking the perfect pastry. He has agreed to aid Ciel until he "succeeds in all of his tasks," upon which Ciel's soul belongs to him. So Ciel leads a double-life, his service to the Queen combined with his own dark supernatural dealings, and maintaining the peace of the Phantomhive Mansion and its less than serious staff.Mix and stir Hellsing and Count Cain and a pinch of Batman and Loveless, at least toward the beginning. No, seriously.An anime adaptation was produced for the Fall 2008 season by A-1 Pictures, although it detours away from the manga's storyline very early on. A second season was produced two years later, with an original story, new characters, and most of the previous season's cast returning. Both seasons were dubbed and distributed in the Americas by Funimation.A movie adaptation was announced on January 9th, 2013 that was set to take place one-hundred-and-thirty years after the events of the manga. A third season was greenlit on January 16, 2014. It has been confirmed to adapt the circus arc of the manga.Character sheet is here.
A Phantomhive butler whose series can't demonstrate examples of the following tropes isn't worth his salt:
All Men Are Perverts: Hilariously played for Sieglinde Sullivan in the Werewolf's forest arc. Because her village is inhabited by women (and the only man is more of a guard dog), when Ciel and Sebastian spend the night in her castle, in order to be friendly with them, she was willing to give herself to them because of all the books she read about men being lustful creatures. Made more awkward because Ciel can barely understand german, creating a Aren't You Going to Ravish Me? scene.
Anachronism Stew: Quite a few examples, however whether intentional or not is unclear.
What are The Mafia, dressed in modern clothing, doing in Victorian England? Not to mention cell phones. (The anime at least attempted to retrograde their tech somewhat.)
There's also the television and video games. In Victorian England.
Sebastian appears to wear latex gloves when he works in the kitchen.
Let's not forget about a certain shinigami using a chainsaw, the cook using flame throwers or the modern washing machine in the Phantomhive Manor. In the manga, only shinigami have out-of-place artifacts (for instance, the "strange watch" and odd glasses of one guy from chapter 52).
Ciel's pierced ears were extremely uncommon for the nobility back then. And his father had them as well.
The clothing isn't modest enough. Both Victorian and Edwardian fashions were very modest; exposed legs and cleavage would have been obscene. Mey-Rin's bathing suit would have been scandalous and Yana Toboso gave up even trying with the ladies' costume party and Ciel in Wonderland costumes. Also, Elizabeth's fashion sense sometimes sinks into 18th century territory.
Although the outfits in the Ciel in Wonderland OVA might be explained by the fact that the entire thing is a thirteen year old boy's dream...
Servant-Master relationships were plenty different. Rule of Funnyand Cool aside, a mansion of Ciel's size would have needed at least ten more servants just to keep it clean; keeping one maid and one gardener would be a dead giveaway. Hell, having the servants interact with Ciel and his guests regularly would be unheard of. In contrast, Alois' treatment of Hannah, while far crueler than most employees, is still more believable in contrast.
The German women living in the forest's village wear clothes from centuries ago.
Animated Actors: In the third OVA, "The Making of Black Butler II," we're given a special behind-the-scenes look with bloopers and interviews provided by Ciel, Sebastian, and the rest of the "cast and crew."
Aristocrats Are Evil: Zigzagged. A lot of the opponents that Ciel and Sebastian face are aristocratic, but there are many others who are decent souls.
Agni's backstory is that he used to be a Brahmin (see Hinduism — basically, they're the most important members of the caste system in traditional Indian culture) but became a notorious bandit and "monster" in disgust at his father's corruption, though he was reformed after being claimed by Prince Soma as his butler.
Undertaker has proved himself to be this in later manga chapters.
Badass Adorable/ Cute Bruiser: Elizabeth Midford. This sweet Damsel in Distress reveals herself as such in Chapter 57 and confesses that she desperately wanted for her fiancé Ciel to not see her "uncute" side and thus deliberately hid her badass side up until then. Even nearly at the cost of her own life. Only shortly after Ciel berates her for such behavior (Prioritizing lady-manners over survival) when she is about to die while Ciel who, despite his best efforts, ends up injured and unable to save her and is in danger, Elizabeth spontaneously leaps into action and stabs down the zombies using swords in both hands, while tearfully declaring that she'll protect him.
Badass Normal: Agni, the Indian Battle Butler, at least in the anime. He managed to fight Sebastian, a demon who had been ordered to win (and a direct order basically turns his Power Limiter off), to a mutual draw. Despite being human. Even Sebastian notes he's an incredible specimen for a human.
Mey-Rin the Cold SniperNinja Maid who is able to use PISTOLS as sniper rifles while leaping from rooftop to rooftop
Finnian, who is strong enough to throw statues across the room.
Tanaka, who is an excellent practitioner of the martial art baritsu.
Bard, who, in addition to having a gatling gun in his kitchen, effectively blew up a building by igniting a large, highly concentrated cloud of very fine flour, which, amusingly enough, is actually Truth in Television. Flour explosions completely destroyed one of the largest mills in the USA at one point.
And in the anime's second season, Claude Faustus of the Trancy Manor. And the Triplets. And even Hannah.
There's also the Queen's butler, Charles Grey, who was the true murderer in the murder mystery arc of the manga. The rest of her butlers probably also apply, though they haven't actually been seen in action yet.
"White porcelain skin like a bisque doll, beautiful hair, big eyes like diamonds, a youthful body. I will become something else. It doesn't matter if my ugly wife leaves me. I will be beautiful with a beautiful life. I will be suitable for him."
Because Destiny Says So: In the manga, Ciel's goal is to torture and kill the people who killed his parents, though once this goal is complete, it is almost certain and an inescapable fate that Sebastian will eat his soul. In the anime, this is averted, as Ciel becomes a demon and Sebastian is unable to take his soul.
Bishōnen: Ciel and Sebastian are the most obvious. There's also... pretty much a good majority of the male cast, save for Baron Kelvin, Georg von Siemens, Jumbo, Lord Arthur Randall, Azzurro Vanel, Fred Abberline, Tanaka, Damian, and Doctor. Basically, any male character under the age of 45.
The random guy who tortures Sebastian in Episode 20 is also an (extremely) notable exception.
Black and Gray Morality: The protagonist is a 12/13 year-old boy who, at the age of 10, saw both parents murdered; he was subsequently abducted, tortured, and then almost used as a sacrifice in a Satanic ritual. The next most sympathetic group of characters are four seventeen year old school boys who murdered six people for bullying- and because one of the boys lost his temper- then turned the corpses into zombies to hide their crime, all the while fully convinced they had done it in the name of justice. While there are a number of "white" characters in the series, they are largely unaware of the kind of work that Phantomhive is involved with.
Actually Ciel was successfully sacrificed, not almost - that's how he and Sebastian were even able to make a contract with each other in the first place.
This moral ambiguity is somewhat subverted in the anime, wherein Ciel is much more cynical and less sympathetic as a character than his manga counterpart.
Even the staff, who are best recognized as the cheerful Plucky Comic Relief characters, are all willing to murder in cold blood and clearly desensitized to it.
Maylene has a particularly bad case of farsightedness. While this makes her an excellent sniper, to the point where a previous employer said her "amazing eyes" made it the only thing she was good for, she is clumsy and generally incompetent as a maid.
Body Horror: "The werewolf's curse" or rather, chemical weapon invented by the villagers and (unwittingly) Siegliende has this effect. The victim's face swallows multiple times its size and the skin looks like if it's melted.
Breaking the Fourth Wall: In Kuroshitsuji II, Grell addresses the audience directly, saying that she looks forward to letters of encouragement.
The 3rd OVA from Kuroshitsuji II breaks it down completely. It's a documentary style episode where the characters are treated as actors in 2010 and talk about everything from their roles and behind the scenes to the filming process (complete with a green screen when they were practicing the Sebastian/Claude fight).
Yet another is the end of the 4th chapter in the manga. As Sebastian goes to answer Ciel's call, he opens the door, then looks back at the reader, putting a finger to his lips and goes 'Shh-'
There's a few other characters too, such as Freckles/Doll from the circus arc. And most recently, Siegliende.
Breather Episode: The short Easter arc of the manga. It comes immediately after the conclusion of the Campania arc, which was incredibly tense, drawn-out and drama-filled, and almost seems designed to be exactly this after the ordeal of zombies, Elizabeth revealing herself to be Little Miss Badass and Sebastian being mortally wounded to the point where he can "barely stand up" and still managing to beat up on a rookie shinigami and a horde of 'bizarre dolls'. Let's face it, we all needed a fluff chapter by this point.
Bridal Carry: Sebastian's preferred method of toting Ciel around.
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Bard, Mey-Rin, and Finny, because of their other jobs. Grell as well, in the case of the shinigami.
Butterfly of Doom: Chaos Theory is mentioned when Ciel and Sebastian explain to Wordsmith why Siemens was killed and another guy was framed (basically they would've helped their respective countries become so powerful they'd overwhelm England).
Cannot Tell a Joke: Madame Red. We never get to hear the joke but the cast's reactions range from blank stares to confusion. Lau as well in the same scene.
Cast of Snowflakes: Characters are easily distinguishable because no one looks exactly alike and ages can become extremely varied (especially in the circus and murder mystery arcs). And, what's more is that most of the characters have very detailed clothes (save the queen's three right-hand servants who all wear the same uniform); most notably Ciel who changes clothing every chapter.
Catchphrase: Sebastian's favorite phrase, "I am a butler through and through" is a play on words in Japanese and can also mean "I am a butler and a demon". This is rendered as "I am one hell of a butler" in the subtitles and the dub. Also "Yes, my lord."
The Yen Press manga translation turns Sebastian's twin phrases into "I am merely a butler" and "I am a devil of a butler'' respectively.
Also "It is only natural that a servant of Phantomhive would be able to (do whatever impossible thing he just did)." Frequently overlooked because the subtitles translate it differently every damn time, but repeated often enough that Ciel eventually cuts him off when tries to say it.
Changed even further in the FUNimation subs for the second season. It's now "A Phantomhive butler who can't (do whatever impossible thing he just did) isn't worth his salt."
"It is only natural that a servant of Phantomhive would be able to (do X)", appears to be a catchphrase for Ciel's servants as a whole.
"I am the butler of the Phantomhive family. It goes without saying that such minor feats are within my repetoire/that I can handle something like this/etc."
"If I couldn't do this much at LEAST, well then what kind of butler would I be?"
Ciel seems to yell "Listen when others are talking/to what others are saying!!" Quite often. Usually to Lizzy or Lau.
First there’s an early mention that Aleister Chamber is involved with black magic groups, which overlaps with Chekhov's Hobby. Later on he turns out to be part of the Phoenix Society and tries to use the Bizarre Dolls for his own purposes. In the next arc, his connections to the Phoenix Society allow his nephew, Edgar Redmond, to contact the Undertaker.
During the School Arc, the elephant that Soma rides into school on also becomes important twice- and yet it still manages to be hilarious every time it shows up. First it gets spooked and destroys Maurice Cole’s room, forcing him to share with Soma and giving Soma the chance to catch him sending notes to his underlings and get photos of his real face. Then Sebastian uses it to transport water during the fire.
Chekhov's Gag: We never see Undertaker’s eyes. It looks like a character quirk, but in both the anime and the manga this is to hide something, although this example only has significant impact on the plot in the manga.
In the second episode/third chapter, Finny picks up a large stone statue and easily tosses it around in an attempt to crush a mouse. It’s played for comedy, as part of the servants goofy antics. Later on in both the anime and the manga, we learn that Finny has super-strength, and is a formidable opponent in battle.
The Chessmaster: Ciel is definitely the main chess-master, but there are so many others in the series, especially Sebastian, Madame Red, and Angela/Ash.
Chess Motifs: Chess imagery is used frequently, especially in the last few episodes.
Child Prodigy: Elizabeth has The Gift for swordplay, being regarded as a fencing genius by her peers in a flashback. She's kept this from Ciel due to a fear when they were much younger that Ciel wouldn't like her anymore if he knew about her talent.
Siegliende could easily read at the age of three. She could also fully understand complicated chemical formulas for a production of a deadly gas. And somehow unwillingly, make it even more deadly.
Children Are a Waste: A prostitute goes to a doctor to get an abortion with this as her reason. That doctor had lost her ability to have children thanks to an accident that killed her husband and nearly her as well. This was the last straw before she snapped and became Jack the Ripper.
Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The Weston prefects: Redmond of Scarlet Fox House, Greenhill of Green Lion House, Bluer of Sapphire Owl House, and Violet of Violet Wolf House.
Grell possesses red attire, red hair, red bloodlust, and a passionate red attitude.
Combat Stilettos: Manlied up by Sebastian. It's not often you see a grown man murdering people in these◊.
Conspicuously Light Patch: If you pay careful attention, you notice Yana Toboso Inverts this trope this all the time by shading characters and object at important moments. The only time this gets pointed out in-story is when it’s used to show that Sebastian’s demon-senses are picking up something strange from Johann Agares.note Other examples are more subtle, such as shading the servants when they interact with Sebastian, and soon after revealing that they’re all mad at him and trying to hide their emotions.
Creepy Child: Ciel seems to fit this trope. He's a cynical, jaded, and very driven 12-year-old (or 13, depending on how far you are in the series) who is a Chess Master and wise beyond his years. He has no qualms about getting involved in dangerous missions and will command his badass butler Sebastian to kill someone without a second thought. Then again, there's a reason why he is the way he is now.
Alois as well. And Luca.
Creepy Crows: Sebastian is shown as either a raven or a crow in the anime's prelude, and is often shown with the black Corvid feathers around him, even in the manga.
Alois may sound a little like FateTestarossa when he's putting on his "sweet, innocent child" act.
Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: The Undertaker, an eccentric gray-haired man who trades murder details for jokes and has some...odd turn-ons, is really the most legendary of the Shinigami in the anime.
In the manga, Undertaker is also a badass shinigami, but of a crueler variety.
It's easy to forget that Grell started off as a highly incompetent butler to Madam Red who could not do anything right... before revealing the shinigami and Ax-Crazy/Chainsaw Good sides hidden beneath the butler act.
Also, the clumsy maid is actually quite the sharpshooter.
All the incompetent household staff, really. No wonder he keeps them around.
Curb-Stomp Battle: In chapter 61 Undertaker manages to easily do this to Grell, Ronald, and Sebastian without breaking a sweat. Wow.
Dances and Balls: Ciel, being an aristocrat, attends a handful of these. One of the more memorable ones was when he had to crossdress while doing it.
Hinted at with Green Lion House prefect Greenhill, who needed two other prefects to be with him because there was a chance he'd have to use violence. It turns out to be second-degree murder, which he regrets, but believes that he had no choice.
Deal with the Devil: While Sebastian has a morbid sense of humor that he only shows to his enemies and Ciel, he has been rather honorable and faithful to even the spirit of his side of the bargain.
Sieglinde's ancestor trade her legs to the werewolf in exchange of protection to her and her fellow witches, causing to her descendants to be unable to walk. With time, the Green witch's blood has thinned and the village is in fear that it may start attacking them if they go into the woods. However, it was all a lie told to Siegliende to pressure her into finishing the formula for a stable chemical weapon. And the one who orchestrated everything was Siegliende's own mother.
Deliberately Distressed Damsel: Elizabeth Midford. She wanted to remain cute in front of Ciel even at the risk of her own life. Only shortly after their conversation about her prioritizing of ladyship before survival does Elizabeth reveal this, as she defends Ciel no less.
Determinator: Edward Midford. He's an average guy with less fencing skill than his sister, and he's studying in a Boarding School full of intelligent rich kids. Despite not being especially talented among the rest of the cast, he works hard, and eventually he reaches a level where he is able to mimic another guy's ball throwing technique after seeing it a couple of times.
Disguised in Drag: They've managed to get Ciel into a dress in the manga, the anime, and the musical.
In the second musical, this gets taken up to eleven with at least half the male characters running around an opera "disguised" in dresses. Including Abberline, mustache and all.
Played with in the live-action film. For unwitting viewers, Shiori/Kiyoharu starts the film in a white dress and looking like all the other girls.... then rips the wig off and appears to be a boy. Subverted in that Shiori/Kiyoharu is actually a girl. Not as spoileriffic for anyone who did know in advance that Shiori disguised herself as a boy to begin with.
Dish Dash: Sebastian frequently ends up catching falling dishware, food, and other items due to the clumsiness of Mey-Rin and the other household staff. He never drops anything — by accident, anyway — because he's just that good of a Battle Butler.
Does This Remind You of Anything?: The infamous corset scene. Which has popped up in pretty much every version! The manga, the anime, and the (second) musical, of all places.
Chapter 9 has this gem of a page to flip to. Without context, it looks quite like any given porn page, although it's nothing more than Ciel vomiting after seeing Jack The Ripper's latest victim.
Chapter 34 pulled a bit of this too. Instead of being sexy, the scene is outright disturbing, because the fan service occurs while one of the characters involved is having a complete mental breakdown and ends with the massacre of god knows how many innocent children.
In Chapter 71, when Maurice Cole was finally caught by Ciel for telling him the wrong time to meet with the prefects, he had a group of male students hold down Ciel and take off his shoe, unbutton his clothes, and cover his mouth to prevent him from screaming with the line, "Let's take some pictures, the kind that will make you die in shame!" One wonders what exactly they were planning on doing...
Chapter 76: All of the Scarlet Fox's cricket players suffer diarhea caused by a meat pie filled with laxatives, courtesy of Ciel and Sebastian. Everyone retires but Harcourt is left behind and his expressions of pain are.. well... reminiscent of something else involving that orifice.
Chapter 72: The brother-bonding ceremony looks a hell of a lot like a wedding at first glance... even though the motif isn't present throughout the rest of the arc.
Anime example: Almost all of the dialogue in season 2 about Ciel's soul comes across as sounding sexual. There's one scene where Aloise threatens to tear Ciel's soul apart and feed pieces of it to his entire staff, and it comes across as something much worse. It doesn't help that Aloise is sitting on Ciel's chest while making the threat
Chapter 97 : The villagers, ecstatic that Siegliende has finally completed the formula for a new chemical weapon, decide to name it "Sullin".
Doppelgänger: Sebastian bears a striking resemblance to Ciel's father. Coincidence?
In the anime's second season, Claude looks a lot like Sebastian, too.
Double Entendre: So many. Especially in the second season. Especially when Claude is having a conversation or talking to himself about Ciel.
The Dreaded: Marchioness Frances Phantomhive-Midford (played semi-seriously, semi-comically). The woman even the resident demon would prefer not to spend time with, let alone her darling nephew. Both live in a fair degree of fear of her dropping 'round. On the face of it, it is easy to dismiss her as an over-the-top portrayal as one half of a (potential) Obnoxious In-Laws couple for humour. However... we are talking about the woman who can successfully sneak up on Sebastian without him realising it until it's too late, and who manages to loom over him to the point of making him break out in sweat drops. That's quite a feat for a mere human. There's also the suggestion that she might well be intelligent enough to work out who he is, given enough proof. And, she's unlikely to be pleased.
Evil Wears Black: Sebastian wears all black leather while in his true form and a black tailcoat suit in his human form. He is rarely seen in any other color.
Eyepatch of Power: Ciel's eyepatch hides the pentagram that represents his contract with Sebastian.
Eyes Always Shut: Lau sports a variation of this. His closed eyes are not upturned in a foxlike manner; rather, they're more U-shaped, giving him an air of calm.
Eye Scream: In the second season of the anime, Alois stabs one of his maidservants in the eye. With his finger. Why? "A maid should never look directly at her master!" The other servants understandably have an Oh, Crap moment, but are then commanded to clean up the bloody mess. It's revealed later that Hannah the maid is a demon. We see in a later flashback of somewhere around that time Alois saying how he's sick of demons and of people looking at him like that.
Ciel getting the seal in his eye seemed to have been very painful. Blood is seen dripping from it afterwards.
Fallen Hero: Subverted. Ciel was never really a hero per se, but he did used to be just a normal little kid; then his parents were killed, his house was burnt down, he was kidnapped and tortured by a cult, and he became a villain.
Fate Worse than Death: At the end of season 2 of the anime, Ciel becomes a demon. The problem with this is that Sebastian is bound to Ciel until he devours his soul, but demons apparently cannot consume each others' souls. Sebastian, for the first time, does not seem enthused with the prospect of serving Ciel "until the very end."
Food Porn: Oh yes. Sebastian regularly whips up some delicious confection for Ciel along with a little banner describing it, although they're becoming more and more scarce in the latest arcs of the manga. This pretty much sums up how good Sebastian's cooking is, though.
Foreshadowing: In chapter 5 of the manga, Finny is throwing statues at mice that have attacked the mansion. Then cut to chapter 32 and we see him throwing statues at Beast and Joker exclaiming "Found the Mice!"
In Chapter 54, we were given cover art of the Undertaker dancing with a skeleton. Cue chapter 60: Undertaker dancing with one of the zombies in the exact same pose, making a speech about the beauty of his creations.
Fork Fencing: Sebastian carries around a few forks and knives wherever he goes. He's pretty damn effective with them too. Killed an entire room of men with a handful of thrown dinner knives.
Choleric - Green Lion, the "sporty" house. "Green Lion" is also an alchemical symbol for chloride and chlorophyll.
Melancholic - Purple Wolf, the creepy artistic house.
Phlegmatic - Sapphire Owl, the brainy house.
Frame-Up: In the "Wordsmith" whodunnit arc, Ciel and Sebastian frame a blood diamond/arms smuggler for the death of a German ship builder who would've made his country's navy more powerful than it should've been at the time. Sebastian's death was just a "joke" by Victoria, who didn't like Ciel's "prank" of completely burning the last Big Bad and his unsuspecting henchmen and victims.
From Bad to Worse: And the ending theme illustrates it, from Super-Deformed Sebastian performing chores, to normal Sebastian rowing a prone Ciel in a bed of white roses on a boat on the river Styx.
There's also when Ciel's parents had been killed. Afterward, his house was burnt down, and he was sold to a religious cult who tried to use him as a sacrifice until Ciel accidentally summoned Sebastian, and then chose to give up his soul in return for Sebastian's help at getting revenge.
A particularly standout example is the joke Madame Red tells the Undertaker in Episode 4 of Season 1: "So Alice's beau gave her the most extraordinary (gunshot) for her birthday. It was white and so (double gunshot) with thick veins running down the sh(gunshot)..."
There's also a very suggestive scene in the anime where we see Ciel bent over while apparently naked, sweaty, and shouting Sebastian's name. Then the camera zooms out...and we see that Sebastian is actually tightening a corset on Ciel.
Heroic BSOD: While Ciel's intentions for the circus children back at the workhouse might not be described as "heroic" so much as "self-serving with a side of philanthropy", Ciel's reaction in chapter 36 upon realizing that the entire workhouse was empty and abandoned, and had been for what looked like years, meaning the circus children had fought—and died—in vain can be aptly described as a BSOD. A very, very frightening one.
Ciel has one in chapter 41, after finding Sebastian's body. It was an act, but he did seem genuinely pleased about being able to smack Sebastian around a little.
Ciel has another one earlier in chapter 34, when Baron Kelvin made an exact replica of where he was held when imprisoned, complete with an altar for sacrificing and even two cages full of children. This leads him to burn down the entire building... including the children (who were well past BSOD themselves, showing no reaction to the fire).
Ciel gets another in chapter 54, complete with flashbacks like the ones he had in chapter 34.
And another one in the Werewolf Arc. It wasn't due to a "curse" as it was previously assumed, but the inhalation of a toxic gas. And Sebastian accidentally made it even worse...
Historical In-Joke: In the manga, Queen Victoria has the occasional fit of tears that can be only alleviated by a servant (John Brown) with a Prince Albert puppet.
How Dare You Die on Me!: Ciel causes quite the scene when Sebastian is found dead in chapter 41. Ciel manhandles Sebastian's body while commanding him to get up and cursing him for leaving him behind. It's all subverted later on when we find out Sebastian was just playing dead again and Ciel knew all along.
Human Sacrifice: Ciel was used for this, but ended up making a deal with Sebastian instead.
Hypocritical Humor: Ciel chastises Cole for keeping secrets, lying, cheating, and manipulating others to do his work while flashbacks show Sebastian doing all the work of picking through the school's trash for Cole's notes to his underlings and taping the fragments together, not to mention setting up an elaborate tin-can-telephone and scattering hundreds of photos of Cole's makeup routine all over school.
Changed in the second season to just "_______ Butler".
Ignorance Is Bliss: Ciel tells Snake that his missing friends' whereabouts were unknown, that he is looking for them and that staying with Ciel will be the fastest way to see them again. The reader knows that they were all killed by Ciel's staff when they tried to ambush Ciel's mansion.
Poor, poor Siegliende. If only she didn't learn her whole life was basically an enormous lie - her secluded village is actually a military area, the villages are all soldiers in a really convincing werewolf costumes, and she isn't the descendant of the powerful "Green witch", she's an ordinary girl with enormous talent for chemistry which was used to finish the previously failed military project of making a stable mustard gas.
Improbable Age: Ciel, considering his ownership of the Phantomhive company and service to the Queen.
In Name Only: The anime diverged from the manga at episode 7, making it essentially a completely different series. Besides just the setting and characters, there are many major plot points, such as the terms of the contract between Ciel and Sebastian, that are also changed.
The characters are markedly different in personality between the two mediums. In the manga, Sebastian has a much wider range of emotions while he's always "cool" & rarely stressed in the anime. Ciel is darker, Soma is more childish. Grell is more competent, violent, serious, & less romantic in the manga. In the anime, Elizabeth has no dark side. Finally the anime has far more ecchi humor & significantly larger bustlines than in the manga.
Kid with the Leash: Ciel's relationship towards Sebastian. While largely true to the trope, it lacks the usual element of contrast in that with few exceptions, Ciel is just as amoral and ruthless as his servant.
Kill the Cutie: All of the main circus crew (except for Snake) and the kidnapped children from the circus arc, and Phelps from the murder mystery arc. Also, Alois.
Kissing Cousins: Ciel is engaged to Elizabeth, who is his cousin. This was rather common in the Victorian Era.
Knife Nut (and Fork Nut): Sebastian throws the Phantomhive household's silver cutlery around with abnormal speed and precision.
Claude uses the Trancy's gold silverware as weapons as well.
Lady and Knight: Ciel and Sebastian's relationship can be read as as a same-sex platonic variation of a Dark Lord and Black Knight. If nothing else, Sebastian sometimes bows to Ciel the same way a knight would bow to his lady (in the anime, he once does it while singing the words "My Fair Lady").
Wolfram and Sieglinde also appear to have a platonic/parental version of this trope, overlapping with Battle Butler. But if Siegliende will ever learn she was manipulated all this time and try to escape the forest, Wolfram must immediately kill her.
The Lost Woods: The "Werewolf's forest" in Germany. Actually a military area.
Love Makes You Crazy: Under any other circumstances, Ciel would not go anywhere near the big, creepy castle without Sebastian. Unless, of course, Elizabeth has gone missing and he has every belief that she is in there and in trouble. Then he'll do anything. Including giving Grell pretty much permission to rape Sebastian in exchange for backup. Not crazy enough for you? How about after he realizes all the girls in the castle are living dolls, he ditches Grell in order to run deeper? And still keeps looking for Elizabeth after being told he was next to be turned into a doll?
In the manga, Ciel throws himself in front of a bear without a second thought to protect Elizabeth. This act also shows Elizabeth's mother, Frances Midford, that Ciel is more worthy of being her daughter's future husband than she had originally given him credit for. Still, that could be considered more heroic than crazy, since Ciel knows that if he is in danger of getting hurt, Sebastian can easily save him.
Madness Mantra: "Snuff out the unclean, Snuff out the useless, Snuff out the barren."
The Masquerade: Subverted in that Ciel and Sebastian reveal everything— including the fact that they and Earl Grey work for the Queen, framed another man for Siemen's murder, and Sebastian being a demon to Wordsmith and let him live, memory intact, since the mere thought of their power was enough to stop him from revealing the truth even after he became a famous writer of mysteries— just because Ciel liked his writing style.
Played straight with the "Werewolf village". There have been no werewolves at all, just soldiers in a werewolf costume, working on a military project concerning the new formula for a chemical weapon.
Morality Pet: Sebastian has his cat friends (and possibly Ciel himself depending on character interpretation—whether he genuinely cares about Ciel or if he wants nothing more than to eat his soul), Ciel has his household staff and Elizabeth.
Hannah, in the second season, appears half-naked in several occasions, with Clothing Damage to the point of improbability. Due the female fanbase, and possibly her role as a servile abuse victim, considered to be by many people Fan Disservice.
Ran Mao from the manga and the first season of the anime is also an example, bearing cat ear-like Odango, showing off a lot of leg, being extremely flexible, and generally being very touchy-feely.
Beast from the Circus Arc of the manga is another good example.
Mey Rin has her moments too. When not being really silly, that is.
Multiple Demographic Appeal: Boy howdy. It has a number of Seinen themes (villain protagonists, child abuse, violence and gore, etc.), an art style not unlike that of a Shoujo series and a lot of subtext, but is published in a Shonen magazine - though the themes of a Deal with the Devil, as well as the style of action, are not foreign to the Shonen genre.
Nice to the Waiter: While Ciel's house staff are usually more trouble than their worth, he always treats them kindly (or as kind as Ciel can be). Lampshaded several times by the staff themselves. Alois Trancy on the other hand... not so much.
She's also very self-conscious about the fact that she's taller than Ciel, and has noticed Ciel's efforts to be seen as grown-up despite his young age. This has resulted in Lizzy behaving more childishly than she actually feels, much for the same reason she didn't let Ciel know she's a brilliant swordswoman.
No Hero to His Valet: Sebastian towards Ciel, as he actually knows the full details in that Ciel will do anything for the queen, as well as Ciel's goal of revenge, along with his willingness to kill innocent people if he deems it necessary. Most people who don't know him personally treat Ciel as either a "hero" or someone to look up to because of how successful he is as a 13-year-old who runs a well-known company. There are some others besides Sebastian that know he is "the queen's dog", though they do not seem to know all of the details.
Nonchalant Dodge: Sebastian makes plenty of these, as well as some of the other supernatural characters.
Now You Tell Me: Just after Ciel monologues to himself how vital first impressions are at Weston College, he steps on the grass. Instant silence occurs and everyone around him whispers how he just made a huge faux-pas as nobody but the prefects are given permission to step on the grass.
Obfuscating Stupidity: In the anime, Lau. No really, he'll stop faking it in episode 20. Strongly hinted in the manga as well.
Obnoxious In-Laws: In the manga, Lizzie's brother Edward really doesn't like Ciel taking his sister's attention away from him.
Obviously Evil: Episode 2 is a great example. Who could be the bad guy? Ciel? Madame Red? The two dignified looking British guys? Or the Italian with the facial scars, who dresses like Tony Montana?
Off Model: For some strange reason, the normally Chibi Tanaka seemed to go through a temporary growth spurt (as in, stomach-length of Sebastian) near the end of Season 1, episode 15.
Elizabeth gets some of this, too, in chapter 58.
One-Winged Angel: Sebastian so far has shown this thrice, and every time it's obscured.
Our Werewolves Are Different: The werewolf arc. They protect and imprison a witch village in the middle of the woods. Instead of turning people into werewolves, their curse causes victims to swell up and die even if they aren't actually bitten. Cruelly subverted in chapter 97 : the werewolves are just villagers in really good costumes and using a bio-weapon which gives the effect of the "curse".
Parental Abandonment: The whole first tier circus crew had been abandoned by their parents due to their various disabilities.
Siegliende's mother made her believe that she is a descendant of a powerful witch and left her to live with servants only, just so the girl would focus on the project of making the stable chemical weapon, the project which earlier took the life of her father.
Parents for a Day: In the Witch Forest Arc, Finny suddenly has to take care of a traumatized and severely poisoned Ciel. Even Sebastian can't help. Surprisingly enough, he does quite well.
Perky Goth: Is there nothing in the series that DOESN'T fit this aesthetic style?
Pet the Dog: Sebastian will kill without mercy and betrays very little emotion, but he adores and has a huge soft spot for cats. In fact, he keeps a closet full of kitties hidden from Ciel (who is allergic), but they (the cats) seem pretty happy. Also it's not a case of Cats Are Mean, but a case of cats-are-too-nice-not-to-love-even-for-a-demon.
Ciel lets Snake become one of his staff as a way of making up for killing his nakama, not that Snake knows this — he thinks he's only staying until they locate the rest of the circus troupe.
Pillow Pistol: Ciel almost shoots Sebastian with one of these in chapter 14.
Playground Song: During an arc in the anime, Drocell the puppet-working-for-a-serial-killer keeps playing and singing London Bridge is Falling Down. His prey is young, beautiful girls that he turns into living dolls; the song is used to control said dolls and determine what materials to construct them from. Despite being male, he's kind enough to make an exception for Ciel.
The anime seems to love the song "London Bridge is Falling Down". The tune shows up all over the place.
This may have something to do with the fact that in Victorian England, London Bridge Is Falling Down was one of the most popular playground songs.
Also, the Noah's Ark Circus arc of the manga has Joker singing Tom, the Piper's Son as he makes his way to his "father's" office. In fact, most of that family references the song.
Please Wake Up: Ciel when Sebastian died, and he kept repeating things like, "Sleeping on the floor doesn't look that comfortable to me," and "Get up". Subverted because it ended up being a fake death, which Ciel was aware of the entire time.
Alois to Luca in season 2.
Potty Emergency: Joanne, Redmond's fag had...ahem...quite the troubles to leave the cricket field after eating meat pie filled with super strong laxatives.
Later on, he wet his pants while scaping the zombies at the midnight tea party.
Powered by a Forsaken Child: Those wonderful prosthetic limbs that the Noah's Ark Circus kids have? Made from the bones of children murdered by Baron Kelvin and the doctor.
Precocious Crush: When Madame Red was around Ciel's age, she fell in love with a slightly older man. That man was Lord Phantomhive... who would marry Madame's older sister and become Ciel's father.
Protectorate: Ciel's bumbling normal servants. A chef, apparently imported from America, who likes using heavy artillery on food, a dojikko maid, a napping steward, and a gardener who mixes up "weed killer" and "fertilizer". It takes all of the powers of Hell for Sebastian to prevent them from daily blowing the mansion up. Also, Elizabeth.
Only bumbling when it comes to the servant part. As one of the manga chapters demonstrated, they weren't hired for their ability to take care of the house under normal circumstances. But during an attack...
Angela. The angel. Wow. Really should have seen that coming.
Also, Ash. The angel with the plot to burn down London. Really should have seen that coming.
Sullin, the new chemical weapon developed (somehow unwittingly) by Siegliende.
Purely Aesthetic Era: Despite all the painstaking historical research, the creators sometimes just throw accuracy to the wind. Mobile phone? Check. Modern motorized chainsaw? Check. To be fair, the modern motorized chainsaw is a supernatural weapon wielded by a death god who may or may not be constrained to series-current technology.
Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Sebastian features this stunning contrast, and that's part of the reason why he has so many admirers.
"Reason You Suck" Speech: Sebastian gives one to Soma, telling him how none of his servants were ever "his" to begin with and were given to him by his social status and how none of them were with him because they wanted to. Agni being the exception, since he really does care for Soma, but was forced to "betray" him during the curry arc.
Royal Brat: Ciel and Alois apply, though they are both partially subverted as they actually do know what life is like for those less fortunate than them, due to their Dark And Troubled Pasts.
Running Gag: Sebastian and his obsession with cats. And then, Ciel's (both hateful and allergic) reactions to said cats.
Every volume of the manga has a different "alternate take" on the series on the inside front cover (Black Racer, Black Chef, Black Ninja...), with a brief synopsis of what that might be like on the inside back cover. Said synopsis always contains the words "(or not)" somewhere, ends with "...or something", and there's a sketch of Sebastian having trouble with the premise in the corner (except for Volume 10's "Black Esper", where he actually likes it).
Bluer gets these a couple of times in the manga, most notably when he makes an astounding bowl against Greenhill in the cricket match, and later when he and the other prefects confess to murdering Derrick Arden to protect the integrity of their school when they discovered that he was bulling other students and using their talents to make himself appear perfect- and the vice principal was not only aware, but allowing it.
Screw the Rules, I'm Beautiful!: How Cole justifies being a cheating manipulative jerk. Turns out he's as good with makeup as he is at manipulating his classmates.
Scooby-Doo Hoax : Siegliende's whole life. There are no werewolves in the forest, no werewolf curse and no "ultimate magic formula". There are however soldiers in werewolf costumes, effects of the poisonous gas use and the formula for making a biological weapon. Every one of the village residents (even Wolfram) is a soldier, taking part in a top-secret military project which is led by Siegliende's mother. Basically everything Siegliende has been taught is a part of the project, named "Green witch project".
Security Blanket: There is a specific pillow that Ciel cannot sleep without. Subverted, as it is later revealed to just be for Sebastian to hide the blood on his chest.
Father Jeremy Rathbone who shows up in chapter 45. Share the first name of Jeremy Brett who played the detective in the Granada TV series (as well being an almost dead - no pun intended - ringer for said actor), and surname of Basil Rathbone, another Holmes actor from the 1940s. And then he proceeds to pull the deduction technique on Arthur, who mentions the father resembling Professor Bell, whom the real Sir Arthur based Holmes off of.
Phelps's killer in Chapter 47 could be a reference to another Sherlock Holmes story, The Speckled Band.
In the manga Sebastian sends a secret note via snowy owl.
According to one of the early manga chapters, apparently the pets in Hell are Xenomorphs.
Sebastian's line to Claude as he's hanging on to the trap door in Cielois's maze "We meet again, Claude" is the polite, as one would expect of a butler, form of "We meet again, Cloud" uttered by Sephiroth in Advent Children. Even better as Claude and Cloud share a VA. Square-Enix self-shout.
The dress that Ciel uses at the opening image of chapter 8 is exactly the same that Katrina uses in the last scenes of Sleepy Hollow.
The Ciel in Wonderland OVA features several obscure characters from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, such as the Mock Turtle (played by Viscount of Druitt), the Pigeon (played by Ash and Angela) and the giant puppy (played by Pluto), there are no Composite Characters (the Mouse and the Dormouse are played by two separate people and there is no mention of a Red Queen) and no references whatsoever are made to Through the Looking Glass.
Sidekick Ex Machina: Both Sebastian and Grell. Also, Ran Mao, although in the manga we have yet to see her do anything plot-related apart from killing two minor characters.
Slouch of Villainy: Ciel. He slouches when he's about to do something particularly nasty, and unless he is standing up, almost gives orders to Sebastian exclusively in this pose. Also, he does it in almost all the official art (note the image at the top of the page).
Sociopathic Hero: Sebastian, being a demon, shows no mercy towards his master's enemies.
Talking Is a Free Action: Averted/somewhat parodied in Chapter 33 of the manga, although it's Played for Drama. When Dagger and Beast run into the lobby of the Phantomhive Manor, Bardroy is blocking their way on the stairs, addressing them both casually... then right in the middle of the intimidating speech Dagger throws a few knives at his head, which Bard blocks with a pair of frying pans, quickly taking offense to Dagger interrupting him.
Bard: "H-hey! That's dangerous, I was in the middle of talking!"
Too Dumb to Live: Elizabeth, you don't follow a stranger who doesn't even act as if he was human, you don't go on a boat in a middle of a storm just to find a dear, you don't follow your fiance just to make him eat a cake when he's with a gun and tells you to go back because it's dangerous.
Took a Level in Badass: In the anime's second season, thanks to Alois's wish that neither Claude nor Sebastian would be able to eat Ciel's soul, Ciel is now a demon, red eyes, black fingernails and all, with an even more powerful demon (Sebastian) as his servant.
Alois as well. For the whole first episode, he goes from acting completely innocent to downright crazy within a few seconds, and switches back and forth between the two personas. Not to mention how he acts as if he is trying to seduce any male character within five feet of him. Which is, sadly, Truth in Television. Many childhood sexual abuse victims end up acting like this, because their trauma never allowed them to develop healthy ways of interacting with adults.
The four prefects are revealed to be this, to the point of covering up multiple murders.
Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Ciel provides the page image. He's shown to have been extremely shy, cute and incredibly sweet before his parent's murder.
Victorian Britain: The Jack the Ripper arc and Ciel's birthdate and mentioned age nails the timeline down- the start of the manga/anime is around the late summer of 1888.
Villain Protagonist: In most stories, the amoral demon and his bitter, driven master would be undeniable antagonists, especially given how little they hesitate about killing people who get in their way, seducing people for information, etc., etc.... Given how sympathetically they're portrayed, the beginning of chapter 34 comes as a bit of a shock.
Alois and Claude are much worse than Ciel and Sebastian.
Wham Episode: Chapter 94. Ciel has unintentionally broken the contract, allowing Sebastian to devour his soul before he gains his revenge.
Chapter 97 and 98 : The whole "Werewolf forest" is a part of a top-secret military project, made specifically so a Child Prodigy Siegliende would spend all her life developing a formula for a unbeatable chemical weapon. Her whole world was designed in such a way that there would be not a single thing that would distract Siegliende or make her suspect anything. And who was behind the "Green Witch" project? Her own mother!
Von Druitt: [His] eyes are bright and beautiful, the colour of the ocean, with a deep contrasting colour of the forest. They are mismatched, but to the discerning buyer, that will only increase [his] value.
Witch Species: The village in the "Werewolf's forest" is filled with women which ancestors were witches who ran away to avoid being executed. Sieglinde is the current "Green witch" and lord of the village. Subverted as Siegliende holds no real power as she isn't even a witch, she was manipulated all along into believing she was one.
Yandere: In the anime, the Queen, surprisingly. Of the worst sort.
Also: Grell. The anime seems to play it as (attempted) Black Comedy Rape, but in the manga, Grell comes off as just plain demented for Madame Red and then Sebastian.
Adaptation Explanation Extrication: A relatively minor one, but Grelle's line where she explains that she sympathises with Madame Red's infertility and motive for murdering prostitutes who came to her for terminations because she can't bear a child either (seeing as she doesn't have a uterus) is cut. This makes it sound like her only reason for going rogue to become her sidekick was that she thought her viciousness was cute.
Several of the cast's anime renditions are also quite different in character from their manga counterparts.
Animation Bump: The second season has noticeably higher quality animation than the first, probably due to it both being made two years later and being only half the length of the first season. This is especially evident in the first episode of the second season when Claude is remaking the dining room to look like it did when the first Earl Trancy was alive and the animation is absolutely stunning.
Artificial Human: Drocell. It's painfully obvious even before straw starts spilling out of his head.
Art Shift / Food Porn: In episode 14, when Ciel is discussing entering in the curry contest, it shows a hyper-realistic shrimp curry in the background behind Sebastian.
Back Up Twin: Edward Abberline in Kuroshitsuji II is the twin brother of Fred Abberline from the first season. However their personalities are quite a bit different and Ciel doesn't remember Abberline's death anyway so he fails to make the connection.
Bittersweet Ending/Downer Ending: Both seasons of the anime are one of these, depending on your personal interpretation of Ciel, Sebastian and their relationship.
In season one, Ciel has finally achieved his revenge, bringing down the mad Fallen Angel who slew his parents, destroying the twisted puppet-Queen Victoria she commanded and stopping her plans for genocide of the human race. However, he has been seriously wounded and, furthermore, it's time to pay the piper; his last words before losing consciousness are to tell Sebastian to make it as painful as possible, even as Sebastian leans in to devour Ciel's soul at last.
In season two, Alois's spiteful last wish results in Ciel turning into a demon, meaning Sebastian cannot eat his soul. The two will be together forever, and Sebastian's pledge has trapped him in eternal service to Ciel, something that the proud demon is not happy about. Ciel, having no further purpose in the human world, sends out cards about his death to all his allies, gives his mansion to his former servants, and our last sight is of him and Sebastian implicitly plunging back into Hell together.
Butterfly of Death and Rebirth: All over the place in episode 20. Fitting, considering Lau's story and the fatal blow to both the Phantomhive company, which may or may not recover, and the deaths of Lau and Abberline.
Chekhov's Armoury: There are more Chekhovs Guns in the anime than in the manga (unless you count the Chekhov's Armoury limited to the Murder arc), probably because the anime has had two seasons with different concluding plots, and there might be some Chekhovs Guns that have been shown in the manga but haven’t been revealed as important yet.
Ciel’s brand is a symbol used by the underlings of his parent’s killer.
Pluto’s collar is a mind-control device.
Unlike in the manga, Ciel’s ring has actual plot importance in both seasons, albeit for two different reasons. First it marks him as a target for an insane Doll maker as a Plot Device All Along. Then it houses his soul, prompting his memory loss and the entire second season.
In the latter season it’s a Chekhov's Boomerang, since a different ring is later used to store Aloise’s soul the same way Ciel’s ring was used. The effect lasts much longer (in terms of screen time, at least) and plays an even more crucial role in the plot than the first example does.
Chekhov's Gag: Before we see Finny fight, there's a scene where he deals with his sadness by running through the forest and barreling down all the trees in his path without stopping or so much as flinching.
Also, in the third episode Grell accidentally makes skull shaped topiary out of EVERY bush in the manor. "His" repeated suicide attempts also count.
Chekhov's Gunman: Ash is first seen as Queen Victoria's nameless escort/servant during the Curry Contest.
Lau, the comic relief and exposition character, eventually becomes a formidable villain.
Chekhov's Gift: Although the gift is never given, the ring that Lizzy plans to give to Ciel to replace the one she broke.
Chekhov M.I.A.: Zigzagged, as the character is technically shown but the audience doesn’t get to see the facenote Or any skin, for that matter. or hear the voice of Queen Victoria in a scene where the manga included it.
Chekhov's Skill: Agni failed to hit Sebastian’s pressure points when they fought, but later he uses pressure points to snap people out of hypnosis.
Chick Magnet: Sebastian — in the anime, at least. Sebastian has been shown to be attractive to Ciel's aunt, three nuns (one of which he has sex with for information ON SCREEN no less), and an angel. Wow.
Cute and Psycho: Alois. Throughout the first episode of the new season he flips from sweet and innocent to Ax-Crazy so many times, it could make someone dizzy.
Diminishing Villain Threat: In the anime, while she was never exactly a menacing character, Grell the Shinigami went from being one half of Jack the Ripper and the murderer of Ciel's Aunt Red to a non-threatening goofball with safety scissors and a crush on Sebastian.
The same can be said about the residents of the town in episode 7 of season 1. At first, they're chaining people to walls to be mauled by dogs and following all sorts of weird, creepy rituals. Later, Sebastian and Ciel come across them...in swimsuits, doing some kind of organized exercise routine.
Viscount Druitt is also a prime example, at least in the anime. Goes from trying to sell a cross-dressed Ciel as a Sex Slave to being a mere campy lover of blue shrimp, curry and erotic ice sculptures. His manga counterpart retains his villainous nature (We are the Phoenix, anyone?) but he's still never much of a threat or challenge.
Eldritch Abomination: Sebastian's true form, although not so much in the manga. He takes his true form to combat Angela/Ash at the end of season 1. We never see it (aside from a pair of thigh or knee high leather high-heeled boots and a cascade of black feathers) but from Angela/Ash's VillainousBSOD reaction, and Sebastian not wanting to see Ciel see it, it seems Sebastian's true form is beyond our capacity to handle.
Evolving Credits: In season 1, the opening "Monochrome Kiss" switches to its second stanza halfway through. A few episodes later, the animation completely changes for the final arc.
Of a sort, in season 2: with episode one the opening involves only the Trancy household, and then switches back and forth between that and the usual Ciel/Sebastian centric opening as the series goes on, depending on the episode's focus.
Facepalm: Ciel in season 2 episode 3, when Sebastian has a moment of adoration over stray kitties and ignores the task at hand to do so. Really, every time Sebastian and cats are in the same frame/panel and Ciel is around.
Flip Personality: Alois' soul ends up in Ciel's body and both souls dispute its control. You can see Alois is in charge because of the (not subtle) change in attitude and because the eye seal disappears.
Gecko Ending: The ending of the first season of the anime was made into this retroactively. Season 1 ends with Sebastian leaning down to devour Ciel's soul and later into season 2 we find out that immediately after the screen fades to black he realized something was wrong and Ciel's soul was already gone, stolen by Claude.
Good Cop/Bad Cop: Abberline and his boss seem to fulfill this trope. The former pities Ciel after reading his background file and, in the anime, eventually dies for him in a Heroic Sacrifice. On the other hand, his boss was very disappointed that the Queen wouldn't let him torture Ciel after they arrested him for the Lady Blanc incident.
Hidden Agenda Villain: Just what WAS Ash/Angela's plan anyhow? How was turning girls into dolls, serving a crowd of innocent bystanders the Hate Plague in curry form, leading an evil cult s/he was planning on killing anyway, or BURNING LONDON supposed to help with said plan? What was the soul-infused London Bridge supposed to do? Was s/he just Ax-Crazy, or was there some rhyme or reason? Alas, we shall never know...
Infallible Babble: “The white dog is a good dog, a good dog good. The black dog is a bad dog, a bad dog bad…” At first it looks like a Madness Mantra used to control superstitious townspeople, but it turns out there really was a hell hound, and the person who was controlling him was using him to punish those she deemed wicked.
Kick the Dog: In the first episode of the second season, Alois stabs his maid in the eye with his hand. For daring to look her master in the eye while serving him. The nerve of her.
Light Is Not Good: You know something's wrong when the demon butler is easier to see as heroic than the angel in the series.
Lost Him in a Card Game: In season 1, Ciel loses a game of chess, and Sebastian, to the ghost of King Edward and his little brother Richard. Their contract isn't broken over a silly game of chess, and Sebastian soon returns when it's most beneficial.
Medium Awareness: Season 2, Episode 6. Hannah plays this weird instrument that causes intense physical pain in anyone who hears it. So, Agni tries to free Mey-Rin, Finny, and Bard from the effects by way of Pressure Point attacks. It works...but now their voices are out of sync with their lip movements. And it actually is too, if you watch closely.
In addition: in season 1 they don't seem to make a big deal about the fact that Pluto is a demon hound, or that he can change into a human and dog form...
Never Trust a Trailer: Parodied Up to Eleven in the fourth Black Butler II OVA, featuring the characters as actors. The last portion of the episode features a mock trailer for the season...consisting almost entirely of events that never happened. It gets just a little ridiculous when we see Lau and Ran-Mao show up in a UFO, and it pretty much snowballs from there.
Possibly a Take That, Us on the part of the anime writers, acknowledging that the second season was a little insane at times, to the point where even fans who liked the second season admitted to its overall mind screwiness.
Our Angels Are Different: In the anime, the Big Bad is one who's very screwed up, fusing males and females together in one body, killing her/his loyalty cultists when s/he has no more use for him, extremely perverted, mind-rapes the boy trying to avenge the parent s/he killed, having a minion turning little girls into dolls and then disposing of it once he's useless and setting the stage for a possible world war in the future.
Overtook the Manga: The anime officially departs from the canon material by the fight with Grell, and goes into a completely different direction (although a few elements like Agni and Soma are included).
Paper-Thin Disguise: Everyone who watched the first episode of season 2 probably noticed pretty quickly that the stranger visiting Alois and Claude in the middle of the night is Sebastian Michaelis. In addition, Claude's disguise on the train. One wonders if the butlers are aware of what the word "disguise" actually means.
Parental Incest: Subverted. The very first scene of Season 2 gives us the blink-you'll-miss-it visual of Alois getting out of a bed in which an old man is sleeping before the much more noticeable bruised-butt shot. Alois only mentions his father during his clearly false innocent moments, otherwise freaking out at the mention of him, stating hysterically that he "got rid of all the old man's things". The numbers of when he was "saved" from his kidnapping experience, when his father is stated to have died, and when he contracted Claude all match up. The sexual abuse is confirmed in episode 8— along with the fact that it wasn't Parental Incest, because the Earl Trancy wasn't actually Alois's father.
Pet the Dog: In the first season of the anime, Ciel occasionally shows that he's not completely heartless, and despite mocking Abberline and his Stupid Sacrifice is shown to have sent toys to his pregnant wife after his death.
Sarcastic Confession: When Sebastian is being interrogated by the police they tell him to confess, and he admits that he was responsible for the Black Death. Since this was 500 years ago they assume he's pulling their legs.
Spoiler Opening: Season 1's opening can be considered a variation of this. It does show what will happen, but in somewhat of a metaphorical way that you usually won't understand until you finish the season.
Staying Alive: Sebastian, Ciel and even Lau and Ran Mao at the start of season 2.
Stealth Pun: In one episode in the first season the rest of the staff are trying (and failing hard) to get a photograph of Sebastian. They plan ways to set up the shot and distract Sebastian on a scale model of the house marking Sebastian's position with the figure of a black sheep, which is Kuro Hitsuji in Japanese.
Stupid Sacrifice: Abberline's death was definitely a Tear Jerker, but there was no reason he had to jump in front of Ciel instead of just pushing him out of the way, therefore keeping them both alive.
Take a Third Option: In the anime, Ciel becomes a demon to avoid having his soul devoured. However, Alois unwittingly made the choice for him.
May be worth mentioning that Ciel seemed to have nothing against having his soul eaten.