In an Alternate Universe version of the Edo period, Japan was occupied not by the usual Western fleets like you'd expect from normal history — but by a race of space aliens known as the Amanto, who brought with them super-futuristic technology, a ban on swords and the fall of the samurai class as we know it. A resistance group set out and declared war on the Amanto to no avail, and the samurai were all but wiped from the map. Enter Gintoki Sakata, a former member of said resistance group; once an impressive swordsman, he dropped out because in the end, it really wasn't worth it to be fighting against a bunch of stupid foreigners in the first place.Nowadays, Gintoki makes his living as a self-appointed freelancer, taking on any job he can for cash to pay his rent, but that doesn't seem to happen very often when there's sweets and Shounen Jump to be had. Joining him in his exploits are samurai-in-training Shinpachi Shimura, who winds up taking the brunt of much of the series' abuse and leads a pop idol's fanclub; Kagura, a young alien girl who spends most of the time eating, beating someone up, or just generally being an idiot; and Sadaharu, Kagura's giant pet dog that gleefully chomps on everyone and anyone. A lot.Gintama is the sometimes-anachronistic brainchild of Hideaki Sorachi, who had originally intended to create a manga inspired by an NHK drama about the Shinsengumi. However, despite the historical connotations that the Edo period brings, it's a Gag Series in one of its most warped states, filled with Shout Outs to everything under the sun (even fellow Shonen Jump series such as Bleach and One Piece are not immune to lampooning), over-the-top humour, ridiculous puns, sight gags and a liberal dash of action to top it all off. Stories tend to emphasize no such thing as black and white and how that plays into the Japanese concept of honor.After the manga premiered in 2004, a one-episode OVA for JUMP Festa was produced; a Sunrise-produced TV series made its debut in April of 2006 and finished its run in March of 2010, after which Yorinuki Gintama-san (literally "The Very Best of Gintama") followed, which was essentially just reruns of old Gintama episodes remastered in HD with new opening and ending themes, eventually the reruns came to an end and in April 2011 Gintama was finally continued as Gintama' (Note the dash)...until thatended in March 2012...and returned with a new season on October 4.An English translation of the manga was published by Viz but was cancelled after Volume 23 due to low sales and the anime has been licensed by Sentai Filmworks for a North American release, the first volume of which was released in April of 2010.Complete with its own Character page, Shout-Outs page, and Ho yay page where contributions are greatly encouraged and appreciated.
One of the 3Z Ginpachi Sensei omake has a funny one, in which Tomokazu Sugita tells about how he got a call from his mother after the Stand Inn arc was aired, telling him he really should work on his singing.
Episode 150 includes a frame-by-frame parody of a scene in Neon Genesis Evangelion. Hasegawa takes the place of Gendou Ikari, both of whom are voiced by Fumihiko Tachiki. (Noted below, but worth the nod, here.)
In episode 122, before he was revealed, the Eyecatch has his silhouette shaped like Kenpachi
Taken to the extreme in fight between Elizabeth (Tohru Furuya) and Dark Vader (voiced by Shuichi Ikeda), to resemble the fight between Amuro Ray and Char Aznable in Mobile Suit Gundam. The staff even made Elizabeth pilot the RX-78 Gundam.
Hijitaka said LET'S PARTY! in this skit. The difference is, instead of a horse, Hijikata uses Kondo as his Harley Gorillason!
Adaptation Expansion: Several of the stories in the anime are lengthened compared to their manga counterparts.
Awesome McCoolname: Subverted. The title was supposed to sound like a cool thing for kids to say. But "tama" has two meanings. One is soul (Gintama = Silver Soul—the title specifically uses this kanji set, for the record); the other is...balls (Gintama = Silver Balls).
Just think what would've happened (and it's been referenced a few times already) if it was named Kintama (Kin = golden) and the fact that Kintama itself also means testicles.
Beautiful All Along: Played with. In the Love Choris arc, Gintama uses all-out willpower to make Pinko look this way. Of course, the justification is that adults have to use their imagination to make their now-old-and-ugly partners look more attractive...
What started the hilarious harem arc, with Gintoki waking up in a love hotel next to... Otose.
Belly Mouth: One member of Shinpachi's fan club is an Amanto that forms a mouth on its stomach and devours things when it gets excited.
Belligerent Sexual Tension: Sougo and Kagura mostly. Both instantly tease and provoke each other whenever they meet. Lately he's been getting some with Nobume too.
Big Damn Heroes: Gintoki gets to do this a lot (must be in the contract for a Shonen series' main protagonist). A candidate for his best one so far? Stabbing Jiraiya's hand while suddenly showing up from behind a tied-up Tsukuyo, then swatting Jiraiya away.
Bifauxnen: Mutsu, who's flat chested & talks & dresses like a man. Also Kyuubei.
Bishounen: Okita is by Word Of God the token bishounen. Katsura and Kamui also count. Shouyou too, upon his face being revealed.
In episode 202, Kondo claims that eating Otae's omelet will allow him to forget everything bad that's happened. This is a call back to the Amnesia Arc a 150+ episodes ago where the exact thing happened to Kondo.
Bug Catching: Less as a pastime, more like a get rich quick scheme.
But for Me, It Was Tuesday: The loss of Gintoki's sensei, for him, was a traumatic experience implied to be the very reason he joined the war. For Sadasada Tokugawa, the former shogun and the man behind it, it was just one worm more crushed in his way to power, to the point he can't even remember his name.
Yamazaki falls victim to lots of punishment, especially from Hijikata.
Kondo, the butt gorilla, keeps getting beating after beating from Otae, in addition to whatever Matsudaira or karma has in store for him.
Zenzo takes plenty of abuse from Ayame, most of which literally aimed towards his butt—on top of his hemorrhoids—making him another literal instance of a butt monkey.
Prince Hata; you know he's going to get abused the moment you see him. Nothing good ever happens to him.
Shinpachi is the butt monkey for the Yorozuya trio, often having to put up with his companions' insults and laziness/retard-ness/plain old idiocy. The crossover episode in SKET Dance also had him being rejected by Himeko. However, he's also the Straight Man (Tsukkomi) or the mother of the crew, so he seems to be able to hold his own by yelling at Gintoki and Kagura whenever they do or say something inappropriate. Which is often.
Chekhov's Gunman: They do pop up occasionally, like for example: Gintoki defeating Bansai Kawakami, aka the guy who composes the songs for Tsu Terakado, has an impact on Tsu's career in that she wasn't able to get a release on her second album right away. And the Shinsengumi arc happened 20+ episodes ago.
It seems like Sorachi Hideaki wants to compete against Eiichiro Oda for having the LONGEST Chekhov's Gunman ever. Remember Ketsuno Ana being married (who would) WAAAAAAAY back then? 150+ chapters later, it becomes the major plot point in one of the arcs.
Gintama has a second contender for longest Chekhov's Gunman with Princess Soyo, who Kagura befriend on chapter 23. 364 chapters later, Soyo returns with their friendship being brought up again and it's what allows the Yorozuya and Tsukuyo to enter the Shogun's castle.
Chekhov's Gun: The very first trailer of the movie was about the Benizakura arc. After it finished, it's revealed it was a joke and there won't be movie about the Benizakura arc. What was the movie about at the end?
Made even more funny when they later used the fake trailer as the real one.
Creator Cameo: Sorachi appears in both anime and manga in the form of a gorilla, a humanoid Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal sporting a yellow t-shirt, he still is a manga-ka in this caricature of him and for some reason Gorilla Sorachi is always seen in trouble, lacking ideas for the manga he is working on.
Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass / Obfuscating Stupidity: Gintoki comes across as aloof and lazy in the beginning, but try to tell that to the resistance group that saw him ruthlessly take down a pile of Amanto without so much as blinking. Also Katsura, who used to fight alongside Gintoki.
Then there's... the Shogun. The first few times he was shown he was being played around, having a dung replace his hair, and more often than not, stripped naked. Then comes the avalanche arc... even though he was still constantly abused (and ended up naked, again), you got to respect a guy who was able to survive frigid cold(naked), have his (naked) testicles bloodied thanks to having Gin using him as a speeding (naked) snowboard, able to find a shelter (naked), facing a bear with his bare (naked) hands and win, turn it into a winter clothes, and ended up rescuing Kondo (semi-naked) and the rest of the cast.
Both the Shogun and Katsura had this cranked Up to Eleven in a mini-arc featuring the two of them together for the first time. The Shogun had amnesia and couldn't remember anything about himself. He was taken in, of all people, by Katsura (who apparently didn't know what the Shogun looked like) to be, of all things, a Joi patriot against the Shogunate. Katsura attempts to teach "Shou-chan" how to be a leader, but fails miserably when the Joi patriots witness Shou-chan outclassing Katsura in leadership (as well as defeating him at Uno, which Katsura claimed to be really good at), and they decide to follow him instead. Katsura, feeling abandoned by former subordinates, leaves to rescue Gintoki from the Bakufu palace by himself. Shou-chan follows him, and the patriots follow Shou-chan. In the castle, Katsura challenges Shou-chan to a childish battle to see who is most worthy of being the leader of the Joi patriots. In the end it's revealed that both of them were putting on a charade the whole time because both wanted to witness first hand what the leader of the opposing force was like. The Shogun was pretending to have amnesia to be able to infiltrate the Joi patriots, while Katsura knew that Shou-chan was Shogun Tokugawa Shigeshige the whole time, and was only pretending to be an idiot to see what the Shogun would be like as a leader of the Joi patriots.
Curb-Stomp Battle: A lot, but special mention to the end of Benizakura arc, when Katsura and a heavily injured Gintoki fight completely outnumbered against numerous members of Harusame. The situation ends with them jumping from the ship, but the Harusame weren't able to put a finger in them. It's better in the movie.
Even better is when a corrupt jailer throws Gintoki in jail, and at the end when you find out the jailer was really trying to do something nice for one of the prisoners, and when a riot break out he's outnumbered a beaten to a pulp. Just as they drag him into solitary Gintoki is there, and he decides to go wild. The fight isn't shown, but the result is. Every single prisoner shoved into the small solitary room like sardines. Like the guard said, "There's no cell in this jail that can hold him".
Deadpan Snarker: Shinpachi most prominently but Gintoki and Kagura do so from time to time as well.
Epic Fail: Oh man, there's a lot in this series whenever the main characters try to avoid making problems in situations only to make it a lot worse. The prominent examples are the Yorozuya's every encounter with the Shogun such as giving him a haircut, only for Kagura to accidentally vomit on him which he didn't notice, Gintoki wiping all of it off except for the naruto (sliced fish cake) which split into two and it only got worse from there. How worse? They accidentally cut off his mage, Gintoki throws it out saying it was Golden Retriever crap and a Golden Retriever grabs and runs as Kagura goes after it, pulls Shogun's remaining hair to make one which stretches his face HARD, tried to replace it with Kondo's pubic hair which gives the Shogun an infection, Gintoki cut almost all of Katsura's hair to create a new mage instead of just a small portion and glues on Kondo's crotch to make a mage, and then Kagura gets back with a bag needed to replace the Shogun's mage... which was Golden Retriever crap Kagura thought she was looking for as Gintoki called the mage that earlier. The Yorozuya then immediately runs away.
Mr. Fanservice: Many of the characters. Even with all of their... quirks.
Special note goes to Gin- one year, he ranked 2nd in the "Anime Husband" online poll. Out of all the male characters in all manga and anime that year, apparently he inspired some of the most Perverse Sexual Lust!
He is now ranked 1st.
Also in the 2012 Valentine poll, he ranks first there as well.
The Faceless: Hatsu, Hasegawa Taizou's wife. Strange in that she isn't an important character at all.
Finally averted in Chapter 396 "Vow" with Gintoki, Katsura, and Takasugi's sensei, Shouyou.
Kagura and Kamui's mother.
Fake Memories: Ooof… in the Kintama arc, Kintoki (the evil robot counterpart of Gintoki) Brainwashed with soundwaves to almost ALL of Kabukicho to forget a certain main character named Gintoki Sakata. He replaces all mention and image of the silver-perm haired with his own straight perm and gold identity… to become the series' protagonist! Except that he couldn't replace the memories of the man himself, as well of those of Sadaharu and Tama, because the wave didn’t work on animals or other robots.
Fate Worse Than Death: An interesting contrast. Many antagonists in the more serious arcs pass away peacefully through the power of Flashback (ex. Housen, Jiraia, Ito). On the other hand we have Kada, who survives only to completely crack under incarceration and Nizou, whose status is still unconfirmed and had basically become a one-armed monster before his defeat.
Females Are More Innocent: Invoked. Despite owning a large cast of female characters, there's still a major female antagonist to be found. Of all the female antagonists, the only recurring one is Matako who's in it out of love for her boss. Out of the rest, Kada got imprisoned, not killed like most other male Big Bads; Pirakogot away scot-free and probably won't come back; and Catherine joined the Yorozuya's side early in the series.
Filler: While the very first episode of the anime was filler, it wasn't employed again until the 4th season, as the anime has come perilously close to the manga.
Felony Misdemeanor: Seriously, Hijikata, chill. Shonen manga is not worth committing seppuku over.
Fixing The Game: Gintama played with this trope by having a man gifted with the ability to see the flow of luck. Which turned out that he lost that ability a few years back and has been cheating at games since then.
Funbag Airbag: Tsukuyo wants to prove to Gintoki that she's not a woman by letting him touch her breasts. Gintoki would have none of it EXCEPT he saw a spider. He then falls headfirst on to Tsukuyo's breasts (and, for the hell of it, gropes them anyways), who unfortunately does not want it and does a frickin' SUPLEX on Gintoki, crashing him through the door of the druggies hideout.
Gainax Ending: Several fake ones, actually. The premise of episode 150 was that the show was abruptly ending due to lack of funds, so they threw together a final episode. Several versions of this "final episode" are shown. All of them start with a showdown between Gintoki and Takasugi and spiral downwards from there.
In one ending, Gintoki pitches a baseball at Fenway Park, Elizabeth becomes a robot and Shinpachi dies.
Gosh Hornet: Subverted in chapter 269 (ep 185 anime), when Gin is hired to exterminate a beehive... filled with alien half-man half-bee gangsters. He and Kagura accidentally destroy three hives within the chapter.
The Greatest Story Never Told: In the second segment of episode 21, Gintoki essentially saves the world while looking for an electric fan. Even though the episode's Damsel in Distressautographed the fan, Shinpachi and Kagura still refused to believe him.
Groin Attack: Gin's tama even fell off at one point. And then got individual names. And were then slammed repeatedly into each other. Hard.
Also often evaporated or transformed into some random tool. Lampshaded in the SKET Dance Crossover Special. Since his tama were named after Bossun/Yusuke and his Rival and twin brother Sasuke.
Also lampshaded when during the arc inside Tama's body, it even gets pixelated! "Why is all the enemy fire concentrated there!?!"
Hachimaki: Part of the required uniform for Otsuu's fanclub.
She was meant to be a parody of The Ring... at first.
Healing Factor: Anyone from the Yato clan has this. To illustrate, Kagura is able to recover from gunshot wounds over one night.
Heir to the Dojo: Subverted, in that while Shinpachi and Otae both inherited their dojo after their father's death, they're the farthest thing from rich you can think of (the dojo nearly becomes repossessed in one episode.) And nobody really studies there, either.
Heroic Sacrifice: Subverted in episode 47, in which the Yorozuya are convinced Hedoro came to invade the earth:
Gin (grabbing his bokuto): I'll keep him busy. You guys run in the meantime. [...] (lunging at Hedoro) Hedorooo! I'll never hand the Earth to you!!
Shinpachi (running with Kagura): Gin-san, I'm so sorry! I'm just a wuss! All I think about is saving my ass by sacrificing yours-
(later) Gin (running behind) : NOOOOOOOO!! (slaps Shinpachi and Kagura out of the way)
Shinpachi: Gin-san? Weren't... Weren't you sacrificing your life to save the Earth?!
Gin: My life comes before the Earth!!
Hidden Villain: The Reveal in Chapter 305, the real Big Bad of the story arc taking place is Kada, one of the Four Devas and 4th Division Captain of the Harusame Pirates!
The trope is parodied in one chapter when Katsura enlists the Yorozuya (plus Sacchan) to save Elizabeth, and they have to become ninja to do so. Sacchan demands that everyone wear different, highly visible costumes because she can't tell them apart otherwise. Gin ends up in a white ninja outfit, Kagura in red, Katsura in yellow, and Shinpachi in a cow print. Their attempts to use ninja camouflage fail about as miserably as one would expect.
Hikikomori: Your Brother is a Hikikomori! "Quit being a burden and go do volunteer work or something!"
Historical In-Joke: Tons- most of the main characters are based on real people, and thus a lot of the humour comes from what alleged heroes are generally like when they're not actively being heroic. Oh, and the thing about firing a laser cannon at the capital? Happened in real life, albeit with a regular cannon. Even the Customer of the Week is often a comedic version of a historical figure.
Episodes 233 and 234 feature the Renho (Elizabeth's race)'s trump card for invading Earth — the Gunsam. One of them even gets hijacked in classic Gundam fashion. Lampshaded by the characters, who note that they would have been sued if the show hadn't been animated by Sunrise.
Hyperspace Mallet: What better way to shrink the Yorozuya than by smashing each of them with a giant hammer? (Unfortunately, it didn't come from hyperspace, but it does make amusing injuries, and the shrinking part is well worth it!)
Ice Cream Koan: "Having no money is like having a sinus infection. You just have to ignore it and not pick at it, and it’ll go away."
Idiots Cannot Catch Colds: Defied during the episode where all the idiots get sick, leaving Shinpachi to take care of everyone.
Men Are the Expendable Gender: Partially averted. The Yoshiwara Arc shows females being killed and battled casually due to the presence of an Amazon Brigade. But other than that, it is fairly rare to see a woman die, even in serious arcs.
Miko: Aside from the two sisters, Chapter 282 reveals that Ketsuno Ana the weather reporter, Gintoki's crush, is secretly one.
Miniature Senior Citizens: Kyuubei's grandfather, who happens to be a great swordman with that height, and Gintoki and almost everyone from the main cast when they got aged in the Ryuuguujou arc.
Mood Whiplash: Played very straight in here. You WILL find yourself crying or at least on the verge of tears just watching a few of those episodes.
Or alternatively you will find yourself bawling your eyes out only to watch the ending and be filled with the inexplicable urge to throttle Sunrise and Sorachi for trolling you all while laughing your guts out because the whiplash was so harsh it became hilarious.
The Movie: Sunrise made a movie adaptation of the fan-favorite Benizakura Arc. WITH THE BACKING OF WARNER BROS!
This is followed by a montage(with a nice melody) of Kagura strolling around the streets happily, the montage is repeated with slightly heavy rain with more rock added into the music. She still went out with the umbrella even when there's a typhoon rampaging outside.
Never Trust a Trailer: The in-magazine post chapter previews attracted some criticism in Japan because they were always made in the early stages of writing the chapter in question, meaning that the preview and the actual story always ended up completely different to the point of being funny. It was quite common to have a wacky-sounding preview like "Gin enters a marathon!" only for next week's story to be deadly serious.
Maybe it was intentional This is Gintama after all.
The fake Benizakura Arc movie trailer which ended up being used again as a real trailer once a movie was being made!
New Powers as the Plot Demands: Parodied. The main trio is suddenly brought into another dimension by a sage to learn new, secret techniques, but all of them believe that they're strong enough already and actively avoid learning anything.
No Fourth Wall: The whole series. One arc begins with the announcement (before the opening credits) of the results of a fan poll to determine the most popular characters. The arc (spanning four chapters and four episode) proper is entirely based on the results of this poll, with several characters depressed over having finished lower than expected while others gloat over their good showings. Also, every time anyone appears onscreen, a number floats above their head reminding the viewer what place they got.
The first episode ends with Otae CLIMBING OUT OF THE FRAME and announcing that she's going to murder the character who placed ahead of her. The aforementioned character/victim is the series creator.
The lack of a fourth wall somehow works both ways—the author once told an anecdote that when a rumour spread about Chinese women coming and going from his apartment, he (in a sleep-deprived state) initially wondered if they were talking about Kagura, before reminding himself that she isn't real.
During some filler segments, the characters often note how footage is being reused, especially the kotetsu footage, which has become sort of a running gag in itself.
Made more funny during one segment where Shinpachi notes that the only new footage in the scene was a new version of the suggestive DVD cover.
In one bit of filler during the Yoshiwara Arc, Kagura notes that the animators are tired because there have been too many fight scenes.
And the characters regularly reference the fact that they are running on a shoestring budget and once referenced the 2008 financial crisis.
The director is said to reside inside Elizabeth.
No Hugging, No Kissing: Sexual jokes are common, but all characters remotely interested in romance are strictly Played for Laughs and exaggerated to Stalker with a Crush levels. There aren't any married couples because one or both partners always ends up dead. The characters live in a district infamous for prostitution and some of them work in clubs or bars, but we never see anything more than conversation over drinks going on. Without exception, dates end unimaginably horribly for all parties involved. Hijikata and Katsura soundly reject their respective love interests to keep them safe.
Actually, it's implied that Katsura and Ikumatsu are still on friendly or even possibly romantic terms since he holds an interview in her shop during a later bit. However, she remains a background character.
Elizabeth manages to get a (human) girlfriend in one chapter, and after a frolic down a tree-lined lane, the girl is never seen or referenced again.
Subverted in episode 180 where Gintoki and Tsukuyo hug each other after Gintoki saves her from Jiraiya's clutches.
She originally had six wings, but they were burnt off by her kotatsu.
Overly Long Gag: Katsura's tales that have nothing to do with the plot of the chapter taking place.
People mistaking Shinpachi's glasses for him.
One example is in episode 110, Katsura was lead into counting sheeps so he could fall asleep. On the 13th sheep, he began fantasizing an elaborate and sad tale in High School AU style for this 13th sheep for a full 4 minutes!
Chapter 314, Kyuubei gives a long name to the monkey she was taking care of. Its name is Jugem-Jugem Poop-Throwing Machine Shin-chan's Day Before Yesterday Underwear Shinpachi's Life Balmunk Fezarion Isaac Schneider One Thirds Pure Feeling Two Thirds Worried-Over-a-Hangnail Feeling Though Betrayal Knows My Name I Know The Unknown, The Cuttlefish Tastes Kind Of Different Than It Did Last Time Because It Was Caught Near The Pond And Served With Oil From A Hoofed Mammal, pepepepepepepepepepepep Bichiguso-maru.
The cursed Blu-Ray player and her kotatsu story. It goes from a gag where she's worried if she has turned her kotatsu off to a cliche domestic abuse story. Don't ask me how.
Parasol of Pain: The weapon of choice for the Yato clan; features bulletproof fabric not melee-proof, integrated machinegun and, of course, sun protection. Thanks to Yato's strength, these have a huge size variety. Housen's is about the size of a car.
Parody Names: Unfortunately this is lost in translation, but this "Shinsengumi" is spelled with different characters from the real one. ("True selection corps" rather than "Newly selected corps".) More recognisably, many characters have the names of their real-life counterparts with a single kanji changed: e.g. Kondou Isao instead of Isami, Sakata Gintoki instead of Kintoki, Katsura Kotarou instead of Kogorou.
Retro Gaming: Nearly everyone makes references to Dragon Quest and other famous game franchises throughout the series. Katsura in particular is a big fan of the Mega Drive and Famicon. Goes the distance in episode 167 where Tama gets sick and transforms into an 8-bit sprite, complete with Dragon Quest style dialogue windows, earning EXP from going shopping and an inventory full of standard Dragon Quest items like medical herbs and a cypress stick. Then again in 168, where the opening segment is a brief 8-bit game sequence starring Tama. The rest of the story arc is one big Dragon Quest parody.
Riding into the Sunset: Happens a lot at the end of an episode/arc to highlight the heartwarming aspect. Occasionally subverted for Gintama's trademark trolling.
Running Gag: Plenty. There tends to be at least one per character.
Self-Deprecation / Biting-the-Hand Humor: Everything about JUMP, especially the immaturity of its comics, is constantly mocked. Gin is treated as a loser for reading it, all glimpses we see of comics within it are scribble-quality, and any member of the Shinsengumi who reads it must commit seppuku to atone.
The author's commentaries in the compiled volumes are pretty much nothing but this, like a "how to draw" column that highlights his inability to draw more than one incredibly ordinary face, or saying that the unique aesthetic of the comic comes from the fact that it's "really poorly drawn". He also complains about his editor at every opportunity and at one point described working on a deadline as "walking a tightrope made of toilet paper across the Grand Canyon, and there's a monkey that looks like my editor peeing on the toilet paper".
The anime isn't better, they constantly talk about their poor rankings, No Budget and the production team.
Self-Serving Memory: Katsura and Hasegawa requires to this especially in the Zombrows mini-arc. Even lampshaded by Shinpachi pointing this in the manga panels.
Schizo Tech: Robots, laser cannons, and video games exist in what is otherwise Meiji-era Japan, leading to things like samurai fighting on spaceships, and bright Zeerusty towers literally next door to traditional Japanese houses. And even the robots come in "steam-powered tin can" and "ridiculously human" flavours, with nothing in between.
Serial Escalation: This series attempts to find out just HOW FAR they can make parodies out of any series. Episode 150 takes this to the extremes though with the infamous Neon Genesis Evangelion episode 26 where they literally copied almost frame to frame with Shinji and Shinpachi. To drive the point home, Hasegawa is in the same position as where Gendo was and both have the same seiyuu. Here's the video itself with a comparison.
Self Fanservice: Despite a Running Gag of Shinpachi being entirely generic and plain-looking in the actual series, doujinshi artists consistently draw him incredibly pretty. It's surprisingly averted with Kondo and Hasegawa, though.
Self-Parody/[Trope Name]: In one chapter, Gin gets sick and Kagura decides to take over his identity until he gets better. The result is a highly exaggerated parody of the story's usual formula:
Shinpachi: No, it's too soon for the cool, heartwarming speech! We're only two pages in!
Seppuku: Breaking any of the Shinsengumi's many rules is punishable by seppuku, which Hijikata ruthlessly enforces.
Shaggy Dog Story: Gin and Hattori have an epic battle for the last copy of that week's JUMP...only to realise that it's actually a different issue.
The Shinsengumi: With bazookas. Chances are your impressions of the Shinsengumi will never be the same again.
Shoo Out the Clowns: Throughout the gag episodes, even especially the main characters seem to have the default reaction to flee before danger, leaving their comrades behind (often followed by a Taking You with Me moment). However, when there's a serious arc going on, that behaviour is forgotten and they strive to protect one another in battle.
Shut Up, Hannibal!: Gintoki does this in ch. 167 after Bansai tries to justify his attempt to destroy Japan by stating how Japan under the Amanto's dominion is doomed to rot away and taunts Gintoki about how Gintoki has nothing left to fight for.
Gintoki: Clean the snot from ears and listen well. For that kind of worthless nationalistic ideal I have never fought a single battle. All that bull about the collapse of the country or the extinction of the samurai I don't care for a long time. Whether now or in the past, there has been only one thing I want to protect. AND IT HAS NEVER CHANGED!!!
Slapstick Knows No Gender: In general, the show doesn't care about who is on the receiving end of the slapstick, especially Kagura who gets no special treatment for being a girl.
Smoking Is Cool: Definitely Hijikata. Also Tsukuyo, Otose, Hasegawa, Matsudaira, and Takasugi.
The Smurfette Principle: Averted. While the Yoroyuza Gin is a classic Two Guys and a Girl dynamic, there are plenty of supporting female characters who actively participate in the different story arcs of the series.
Spoof Aesop: This goes hand in hand with Idiosyncratic Episode Naming; many episodes are named such things as "When you're tired, eat something sour!" or "A life without gambling is like sushi without wasabi."
Strawberry Shorthand: Listen up! Let's say you drink too much strawberry milk, and have to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. But it's cold outside your bed. You don't want to get up, but the urge to urinate is just too strong! You make up your mind to go! You run to the bathroom, stand in front of the toilet, and let loose! You think that all your life has led to this moment! But then you realize! It isn't the bathroom! You're still in bed! That feeling of lukewarm wetness spreads like wild fire! But you don't stop! You can't stop! That's what I'm talking about! That's the truth of the strawberry milk! DO YOU GET IT!?
Just don't let Sadaharu eat it combined with milk. Just don't.
The battle BGM of the Ghost Ryokan Arc from the instrumental of "Rouningyou no Yakata '99" by Seikima-II and it's not helped that when Oiwa is powered by her stand and has the face of leader singer Demon Kakka/Kogure, she said she would make a "wax doll" out of Gintoki.
Gintoki: Well, it's something like this: He fights with his rival and wins. (writes one arrow from Yamcha to Tien) Then become friends without knowing it. (writes another arrow from Tien to Piccolo) And a new rival appears, and he fights and wins again. (writes another arrow from Piccolo to Vegeta) And made a new friend... Repeating this and dragging it on is the standard JUMP formula. (Circles all the characters except Yamcha)
Konoshi: Oi! One persion is missing! Namcha?! Is that Namcha?!
Gintoki: Well, that's what the rival part is all about. (crosses Yamcha out)
Konoshi: Oi! Let him in! Let Namcha join in the JUMP system!
Gintoki: The next thing is... Let's talk about the comedy part. (kicks the board down, directly where Yamcha was)
This may be an Affectionate Parody, as the creator was sent a long letter from a fan saying though Namcha isn't strong physically, he is still a strong character, as he strives to do what's right even though he isn't as powerful as the others. Sorachi's response? "I agree."
When Gintama came back in episode 253, and Gintoki was upset at how it began, he said "Last time I saw a first episode so bad, Gintama was back in six months!"
This Is Reality: Probably the only time anyone's attempted to acknowledge the fourth wall (and it's made of balsa wood). In episode 169, the Yorozuya are attempting to cure Tama's illness. Because she's so obsessed with Dragon Quest, the arc is one big parody of the franchise, and at one point Shinpachi has to remind everyone that it's not really a game and they can't rely on standard conventions, such as save points, to get them through it.
Throw It In: The initial title of Yorozuya Gin-san was rejected by the editor, and another one was needed. Expecting that his other ideas would be shot down too, the author decided to play a little joke and submitted a random title his dad had made up: Gintama.
The Shinsengumi is now a fucking empire led by (Ba)Ka iser Sougo 'Sadistic' Okita III, the Demon Vice-Captain title is now held by Yamazaki, and Hijikata is a living embodiment of Good Is Dumb, but not really. By the way, they want to conquer Edo. Yeah.
Training from Hell: Parodied to hell and back in chapter 229 (or episode 147, if you're watching the anime) through total destruction of the fourth wall. "Go train in another manga, I've heard of some good ones."
Weaksauce Weakness: The Yato race is one of the strongest species in universe, yet rays of sunlight tend to not treat them kindly. Housen dried up after being suddenly exposed to sun, since he had been living under the ground for many years. Kagura merely gets weaker and dizzy if being outside without an umbrella, so they're probably generally adaptive.
Wretched Hive: Yoshiwara, the underground courtesan safe haven. Heavily subverted later, albeit, as we learn that Yoshiwara's filled with decent people, especially with regards to how they protected Seita as a baby and how they got him far away from Yoshiwara for his safety. Also, despite crime still being prevalent, it's not so underground and violent anymore, now that Gintoki defeated Hosen and Jiraiya. Heck, Seita's living there now (working at an adult toy store, for crying out loud...) and Gintoki even comments how basic life there isn't different from any other town.
Just name it, and, chances are, someone in Gintama's either done it or alluded to it. From Gintoki and Umibouzu peeing on a dead wormlike alien (You Know What Happens if You Pee on a Worm) to Hasegawa wetting his pants and wearing a diaper to Hijikata zipping his pants and snagging the zipper on his private parts, a surprising amount of vulgar stuff happens. And of course, one has to mention Yoshiwara, the courtesan safe haven that even lets a kid run a toy store. In a recent chapter, a battle was literally fought with Gin's...tama (balls). The two fighters even gave them individual names.
Xanatos Gambit: Played for laughs of course since this is Gintama. The whole Character Popularity Arc? All planned by YAMAZAKI!. He wasn't happy with his ranking so he started a war to get all the characters to reduce each other's ranking. Seeing as he wasn't the only one unhappy with his ranking, they almost did it without his help. The outcome of said war would help him either way
You Shall Not Pass: Parodied in the first chapter. Gin lets them pass after a single page. (And he survives.)
Zeerust: A lot of the Amanto technology is like this.
Zettai Ryouiki: Tsu Terakado. Seems to be the standard fashion for teenage girls in Edo.
Kagura also wore them in the fourth ending, though it's relatively hard to spot. Her outfit in Yoshiwara also featured this.
The members of the Hyakka also wear these, usually fishnets.
Zombrow Apocalypse: Parodied in one episode where a special kind of virus strikes Edo, making those who are affected act like zombies... with the interests of useless old men who like to lay around all day and do nothing but play pachinko *
a parody of Kochikame's protagonist Kankichi Ryotsu
. Katsura immediately starts calling them 'zombrows' due to Genre Savviness and the unibrows they immediately sprout upon infection. It spreads quickly and soon only a handful of people are left. The situation looks hopeless, but because Gin already acts like a useless old man the virus passes him over and he manages to get everyone back to normal.