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Spoilers for all works set prior to Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame are unmarked.

Sergeant Bucky Barnes, US Army / The Winter Soldier / White Wolf

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/buckybarnesinfinitywar.png
"Don't do anything stupid while I'm gone."
Click here to see him as the Winter Soldier 
Click here to see him in the 1940s 
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Birth Name: James Buchanan Barnes

Species: Enhanced Human

Citizenship: Wakandan (formerly American)

Affiliation(s): US Army, Howling Commandos, HYDRA, Winter Soldiers, Avengers, Wakanda

Portrayed by: Sebastian Stan

Voiced By: Irwin Daayán (Latin-American Spanish dub), David Jenner (European Spanish dub), Mitsuru Shiraishi (Japanese dub), Axel Kiener (European French dub), Nicholas Savard L'Herbier (Canadian French dub), Marcos Souza (Brazilian Portuguese dub)

Appearances: Captain America: The First Avenger | Captain America: The Winter Soldier | Ant-Mannote  | Captain America: Civil War | Black Panthernote  | Avengers: Infinity War | Avengers: Endgame | The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

"I'm with you to the end of the line, pal."

James Buchanan "Bucky" Barnes was born on March 10th, 1917 in Shelbyville, Indiana. He is Steve Rogers's best and oldest friend. Companions since childhood, Bucky would often come to Steve's rescue by fending off bullies and offering him a place to stay. Soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the two of them enlisted, and Bucky was accepted into the Army while Steve was constantly rejected.

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Barnes became a Sergeant in the 107th Infantry, but his unit was captured by the Red Skull's HYDRA forces, and made the subject of lab experiments by Dr. Zola. But then Bucky was rescued by none other than his old friend Steve, now the fit and able-bodied Captain America. Along with several other POWs rescued from the HYDRA base, Bucky and Steve formed a special ops assault group, the Howling Commandos.

After falling off a train and being found by HYDRA, he was brainwashed and turned into their foremost assassin, the Winter Soldier. Over the following decades, he gained a reputation as a mysterious and deadly force with strength and cunning to match Steve Rogers' own. The Winter Soldier is rumored to have been responsible for dozens of assassinations that changed the course of history. During Rogers' new career in the modern day, the Soldier is assigned a few new targets: Director Nick Fury, then Captain America and Black Widow as they investigate the conspiracy within S.H.I.E.L.D.

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    #-F 
  • Adaptational Badass:
    • The comic book Winter Soldier is a Badass Normal with a metal arm who later attained something close to slowed aging thanks to Nick Fury. Here, he's explicitly superhuman, and is able to keep pace with other powered individuals, including the super strong and fast Captain America and Black Panther.
    • This also extends to his robotic arm. In the comics, how often the arm gets damaged or destroyed has become a running joke; here, however, it's only torn off by a direct hit from Iron Man's Chest Blaster. Bucky later receives a vibranium replacement, meaning it's the next best thing to indestructible.
  • Adaptation Distillation: In the comics, Bucky and Steve don't meet until after Steve is given the serum. They're still best friends, but there's a clear older brother/younger brother dynamic, with Steve as both a role model and mentor and Bucky the sidekick. In the original 1940s comics, their dynamic was very similar to the father/son-but-not-quite relationship between the contemporary Batman and Robin, but modern comics (read: Ed Brubaker) shortened their age gap to four years — giving Bucky the Age Lift that made him more of a partner than a sidekick, but still preserving the power dynamics. In the movies, they're closer in age and childhood friends, eliminating the Kid Sidekick trope and saving the writers from having to cram in a subplot about how they met, but this change also has the added benefit of giving skinny Steve someone who has always believed in and stuck by him. "Even when I had nothing, I had Bucky," was not something Steve could have said in the comics, no matter how much he values his friend.
  • Adapted Out: Much of Winter Soldier's background introduced in his comic debut has been cut or exchanged. Aleksander Lukin, his commander, and Vasily Karpov, his creator, are replaced in the film by Alexander Pierce and Arnim Zola, respectively. Additionally, this Winter Soldier may or may not have had a romantic relationship with Black Widow (both characters are very secretive and ambiguous, so who knows) and his Russian ties are mostly all diversions from his actual ownership by HYDRA within America. However, Karpov appears in Civil War as his primary controller back in the 80's/90's and the man who ran the HYDRA facility in Siberia.
  • Adorkable: Before becoming the deadly and lethal assassin known as The Winter Soldier, Bucky was seen to be a huge science nerd. In The First Avenger, Bucky showed a deep interest in science, gadgetry and inventions. At an exhibition of future technologies, Bucky was overly excited about Howard Stark’s invention.
  • Advertised Extra: Bucky was featured in most of the later marketing for Infinity War. Despite this, he has only 2 minutes of screentime (less than Wong) and doesn't really get to do much in the film, until he becomes the Sacrificial Lion to demonstrate that none of the major good guys are safe from the aftermath of Thanos's Bad Ass Finger Snap.
  • Age Lift: Around the same age as Steve instead of starting out as his Kid Sidekick like in the comics. Different birth years on props add confusion to how old he is exactly: the Captain America exhibition appearing in 'The Winter Soldier' has both 1916 and 1917, while files from a scene in 'Age of Ultron' have 1922 (his birth year from Ed Brubaker's Captain America comics). Civil War officially confirms that his birth year is 1917.
  • Alliterative Name: Middle and last names start with a B (James Buchanan Barnes).
  • Antagonist Title: The subtitle of the first film in the trilogy referred to Steve. The second time, Winter Soldier takes the honor.
  • Artificial Limbs:
    • His left arm is a cybernetic replacement with the Soviet red star engraved onto it. It's a very durable prosthetic, bulletproof, withstands Cap's steel-slicing shield, and recovers in a few seconds from Black Widow's electro-dart that could knock out a grown man. Winter Soldier also uses it subtly differently from his human arm; the flesh one is used for quick, precise uses like knife fights, while the metal one is used for power attacks since it takes at least a second to pull back then punch. A closer look reveals Winter Soldier has some metal enhancement going into his shoulder and ribs, so that his body is strong enough to keep his heavy arm attached.
    • After the loss of the red star arm against Iron Man in Captain America Civil War, T'Challa offers Bucky a new arm that's made of vibranium just before the battle of Wakanda in Avengers: Infinity War. A black and gold-engraved one at that. After Bucky gets dusted at the end of the movie, his new arm goes with him.
  • The Atoner: After starting to regain his memories, Bucky joins Captain America's side so that he can bring Helmut Zemo and the other Winter Soldiers down. He also shows extreme guilt and remorse for the crimes he's committed (including the murder of Tony's parents, Howard and Maria) and comes to the realization that everyone would be better off and much safer if he goes back into cryofreeze so that he can be cured of his HYDRA brainwashing.
  • Ax-Crazy: A high-functioning example. As the Winter Soldier, Bucky is a highly efficient, focused killing machine with all personality brainwashed away. If he stays out of cryofreeze too long or encounters an old friend, he starts remembering fragments of who he was and acting erratically.
  • Back from the Dead:
    • Subverted in Captain America: Winter Soldier, since he never died, but was captured by HYDRA instead.
    • Played straight in Avengers: Endgame where he is one of many characters who are brought back from being dusted by Hulk reversing Thanos' deadly fingersnap from Avengers: Infinity War.
  • Back in the Saddle: Returns to action for the final battle in Infinity War. When T'Challa presents him with a new arm, his only reaction is "Where's the fight?"
  • Badass in Distress:
    • Gets captured by HYDRA along with several hundred other allied soldiers, prompting a rescue by Steve and catapulting the latter from chorus girl to Living Legend.
    • Although he himself doesn't know it, he's actually been HYDRA's prisoner for 70 years. Any time he starts to become even remotely aware of this fact, they wipe his mind.
    • In Civil War, he gets framed for a terrorist attack and spends most of the movie either on the run or in custody.
  • Bash Brothers: Cap and Bucky; childhood friends, war buddies, and on the run together in Civil War. No mook or superhero can take down the pair of them.
  • Been There, Shaped History: HYDRA used Bucky to shape the current era of paranoia that the world of espionage is today in order to achieve their own objective in convincing the world to reject The Evils of Free Will. He's also the assassin HYDRA used to kill Howard and Maria Stark.
  • Berserk Button:
    • As the Winter Soldier, he doesn't take kindly to setbacks — such as Natasha shooting his goggles in Winter Soldier, or Steve keeping him from getting away in a helicopter in Civil War — and reacts with anger and vindictiveness.
    • He also loses his cool when Steve reminds him that The Winter Soldier is a person with a name and a life outside of being a living weapon.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Had this towards Pre-Serum!Steve. Bucky was very protective towards Steve and he looked out for him, especially when other people would bully him or pick on him.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Before Steve became all ripped from the serum, Bucky was this to him, having constantly looked out and encouraged the physically weak Steve.
  • Boobs-and-Butt Pose: His official poster for Infinity War is a Rare Male Example. His best friend Steve Rogers got a similar poster as well.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: His memories are constantly wiped to make sure he stays an emotionless killer.
  • Break the Cutie: Bucky goes through so much significant trauma due to his brainwashing and all of the horrible stuff he commits as a HYDRA assassin. It's seriously hard to tell that he's the same guy that he was before.
  • Broken Bird: Downplayed. He's introduced in the first film as a very friendly and cheerful guy, but while it doesn't go away entirely he's noticeably less chipper in the aftermath of whatever Cold-Blooded Torture Zola puts him through. Played tragically straight after his transformation into the Winter Soldier though, where his breaking and the consequences thereof are on full display.
  • Brought Down to Badass: Without his Winter Soldier mental programming he lacks the ruthless killing efficiency that made him such an unstoppable assassin, but he's still an extremely effective combatant, given that he retains all of his physical traits.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday:
    • Tragically averted. Once Bucky regains his memories he still remembers everyone he ever killed while under HYDRA control, including Iron Man's parents.
    • Sebastian Stan's own interpretation of that line is that Bucky doesn't remember all of them, but he figured one of them was about to die so he might as well say what Tony wanted to hear.
  • Call to Agriculture: His first scene in Infinity War shows him working on a farm in Wakanda, which is implied to have been his home since Shuri removed his triggers.
  • Character Tics: During combat he sometimes swings his artificial arm around 360 degrees vertically at the shoulder. Possibly this has a practical mechanical purpose that helps it function during heavy use.
  • Chick Magnet: In The First Avenger, it's implied he was this back in New York. When he first meets Peggy, however, she ignores him so thoroughly in favour of Steve, he half-jokingly blames it on Steve's newly impressive physique and laments that they've switched places:
    Bucky: I'm invisible. I'm turning into you. This is a horrible dream.
  • Classical Anti-Hero: In Civil War, it’s shown that Bucky is very insecure and unsure of himself because of all the horrible things that he did during his tenure as a HYDRA assassin. He's clearly become isolated, jaded, cynical and hopeless about life in general. After Bucky is free from his brainwashing, regains his memories and does a Heel–Face Turn, he sides with Captain America and becomes The Atoner. Bucky questions Steve on whether he’s worth all the commotion that he’s causing with the UN, the government and his fellow Avengers in order to protect him and keep him safe. Steve assures Bucky that what he did as the Winter Soldier was not his fault and that it wasn’t really him because he had no choice in the matter. Throughout the film, even though Bucky’s main motivation was to bring down the Big Bad Helmut Zemo, Bucky was held back by his extreme guilt for the actions he committed as a deadly assassin in the past. As a result of his excessive guilt and remorse for his crimes, Bucky makes the decision to go back into cryogenic freezing so that he can be cured of his HYDRA programming. It seems that Bucky’s storyline is about overcoming his flaws, hindrances and fears as well as finding redemption for his past sins.
  • Co-Dragons: With Brock Rumlow, to Alexander Pierce in Winter Soldier. Of the two, the Winter Soldier is much more dangerous, but tends to be held back unless he is needed.
  • Cold Sniper:
    • While nice to his friends when hanging out he's noticeably more ruthless while in battle, such as when saving Steve from a HYDRA ambusher by sniping him. The others look impressed by his shot, but Bucky just grimly reloads. According to Sebastian Stan, it's a small foreshadowing of his eventual turn as Winter Soldier, where he pulls off dozens of assassinations that shaped the course of history.
    • In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Nick Fury pointedly hides in a windowless corner of Cap's apartment after he first escapes a Winter Soldier attack. Fury never actually walks in front of an open window before he is shot 3 times through a solid brick wall; Instead, it becomes clear that from outside the building, Bucky could see Cap talking to someone, and used Cap's eyeline to calculate where Fury must be in the room and was right. A reversal of a scene where Bucky SAVES Cap from attack back in The First Avenger turned into a very clever hint about who the Winter Soldier truly is.
  • Combat Pragmatist: The Winter Soldier will take the easy option in a fight if he gets it, no exceptions.
  • The Comically Serious: He's like this in Civil War, where his grim demeanor extends even to silly situations.
    Bucky: Can you move your seat up?
    Sam: [equally stone-faced] No.
    [Bucky scooches over without breaking character]
  • Composite Character:
    • Of war-time Kid Sidekick James "Bucky" Barnes and elements from Ultimates Bucky, who was a childhood friend of Steve and accompanied him on missions during World War II .
    • Alternatively, as sergeant of the Howling Commandos and the less idealistic NCO to balance out Steve, he's Bucky plus the mainstream, WWII-era Nick Fury, which puts a rather interesting light on his attempt to kill cinematic, Ultimate-inspired Fury.
    • Somewhat more unusually, he's given the nickname White Wolf while hiding in Wakanda. In the comics, White Wolf is the codename of a character from Black Panther — T'Challa's adopted brother Hunter, another white male with deep connections to Wakanda and its royal family.
  • Crazy-Prepared: As pointed out in the blu ray audio commentary for Civil War, Bucky expected someone to come for him in Bucharest eventually, and had set up his apartment specifically for ambushes. He had also planned escape routes, including how to shake off a helicopter.
  • Creepy Monotone: In his Winter Soldier mode, Bucky talks in a very monotone and low voice, unless he is provoked into anger and violence.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: His memories of involuntarily serving as HYDRA's foremost assassin take their toll on him.
  • Dark Reprise: In the opening of Captain America: Civil War when the Soldier is awakened out of Bucky with the use of a Trigger Phrase, he responds to the Russian HYDRA officer's greeting with the phrase "Ready to comply", spoken in Russian. When Zemo uses the phrase again to awaken the Soldier and cause havoc in the facility he's been locked in, his first (and only) line as the Soldier is "Ready to comply", said again in Russian with the exact same intonation.
  • Darth Vader Clone: He was once a good man, but was turned to a black-clad, stoic, masked, and augmented villain (albeit unwillingly in this case) and later used as a murdering machine by his superiors. He also comes to blows with his former best friend, who he fought alongside with during wartime. Unlike most examples, however, he lives following his redemption and becomes an ally of the heroes.
  • Deadpan Snarker: During humorous moments, Bucky is very deadpan and snarky. Most of the time, his sarcasm comes out to play in his interactions with Sam. Also see The Comically Serious.
  • Death Glare: His permanent expression in combat as the Winter Soldier. When not fighting, though, he falls to Dull Eyes of Unhappiness.
  • Decomposite Character: He is not the only Winter Soldier in the setting; he shares that codename with five other HYDRA agents.
  • Dented Iron: He takes more and more damage from Iron Man in the final fight of Civil War to the point where he starts bleeding from the nose and can't even stand on his own. By Wakanda, he's recovered.
  • Determinator:
    • As the Winter Soldier, he will go to any lengths to take targets down.
    • This applies just as much when he's in his right mind. At the climax of Civil War, after being beaten so badly he can't even stand, he manages to distract Tony for the critical moment Steve needs to win.
  • Deuteragonist: Of the Captain America films. He is the only character besides Steve to have an active role in all three films, and his character arc contrasts Steve's in many ways. Whereas Steve knows who he is but has no idea how to adapt to the modern world, Bucky has no issue adapting but hasn't got a clue who he is as a person.
  • Disney Death: As Bucky Barnes, he appears to die after falling out of a train into an icy chasm below, but he returns as the eponymous assassin in The Winter Soldier.
  • Domino Mask: Doesn't wear one, but in some scenes he has black makeup around his eyes that's painted in a style resembling the domino mask of his comic incarnation.
  • Dramatic Unmask: During their fight on the street, Steve rips off his mask and finds his enemy is actually his childhood best friend.
  • The Dreaded: Even Black Widow, who has dealt with some of the toughest people imaginable, is apprehensive of him. Considering that the only person in the entire movie who was able to match him in a fight was Captain America, Living Legend and the guy that Nick Fury literally called the greatest soldier in history, it's not hard to see why. Judging by his reputation and Natasha's reaction to him, along with his superhuman status, it's entirely possible that he may be the greatest assassin in the world. Considered The Spook over the course of several decades, linked to over two dozen assassinations, and yet, in an age of paranoia wherein most of the world is in a surveillance-heavy state, the majority of the intelligence community doesn't believe he even exists.
  • Dull Eyes of Unhappiness: Most of the time he has this expression in The Winter Soldier, even while on the job. It's less that he's consciously unhappy than that he remembers nothing else.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: He's quite pale, contrasting with his dark hair and black outfit.
  • Empowered Badass Normal: He was a mundane, albeit very skilled soldier, but his time with HYDRA let him fight on par with Captain America and survive seemingly fatal accidents.
  • Empty Shell: He spends most of The Winter Soldier this way — and just to twist the knife there's a scene in which we see that it's because his captors are repeatedly, intentionally, agonizingly wiping his memory in order to use him as an unstoppable weapon.
  • Enemy Within: When Bucky is in his normal, non-brainwashed phase, he's subdued and reserved. However, when he is activated by trigger words, he becomes Ax-Crazy and violent. The contrast is such that he seems like two people rather than one.
  • Evil Counterpart:
    • For Captain America, as a seemingly immortal World War II soldier who ended up a villain instead of a hero. The fact that they were best friends deepens the parallel.
    • For Black Widow, as they were both brainwashed and abused into becoming killing machines, the only real difference being Natasha got out before he did.
  • Evil Wears Black: His "mysterious assassin" outfit is completely black. This contrasts with the heroic defender, Captain America, whose outfit is still white, blue and red.
  • Extreme Doormat: Despite being one of the most dangerous men alive, the Winter Soldier is completely subservient to HYDRA, barring the occasional freak-out. The fact that his brain is all but fried has something to do with it.
  • Fake Arm Disarm: He tries to rip out the Mark 46's arc reactor with his metallic arm in Civil War. Tony teaches him that the reactor doubles as the armor's most powerful weapon and promptly disintegrates the prosthetic arm.
  • Fallen Hero: Before Bucky did a Face–Heel Turn and was subjected to brainwashing by HYDRA to become a deadly assassin, he was a good, noble and moral young man who was a soldier that fought on behalf of his country.
  • False Flag Operation: Related to the Been There, Shaped History example above, it is implied that his cover identity was established by HYDRA to increase the tension that his assassinations brought out between America and Russia during the Cold War.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Bucky was brainwashed, experimented on, and forced into spending seven decades as the loyal top assassin of HYDRA, the same organization he fought against. Though he was eventually freed, it's clear that the guilt he's suffered as a result of being made to murder dozens of people, including his friend Howard Stark, has been extremely traumatic.
  • Fauxshadow: At least Once per Episode in each of the Captain America movies, Bucky Barnes wields the shield, suggesting that he'll become the next Captain America. But with Endgame, Steve Rogers hands his shield and title over to Sam Wilson instead. However, Bucky gives Sam his blessing with a nod, and the two already have a history of teaming up, so he's with the next Cap until the end of the line.
  • Fauxreigner: Bucky has a Soviet star branding on his mechanical arm, uses old Soviet slugs, and gives orders to henchmen in Russian at one point, but this is merely smoke and mirrors surrounding who he really is and to invoke Dirty Communists stereotypes, useful in the Cold War. He's actually an unwitting American turned into an assassin for HYDRA.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: Not quite as bad as Steve, as he's been in and out of his cryostasis for decades and probably got training to blend in to whatever time periods he was active in. This might explain why he declines to join Steve in going back in time at the end of Endgame, to live out the life he never got.
  • Freak Out: Downplayed. Heroic, jolly Bucky appears in a few early scenes in The First Avenger (and a flashback during Winter Soldier)... and the next time we see him, Steve finds him strapped to a HYDRA operating table. From then on he's much grimmer.
  • Friendly Sniper: He's the heroic long shot for the Howling Commandos.

    G-L 
  • Genius Bruiser: While not heavily involved in logistics per se, he's a very competent tracker and strategist.
  • Going Native: If his outfit in the The Stinger of Black Panther is any indication. His first scene in Infinity War reveals that he has lived on a farm in Wakanda ever since his triggers were removed, and he seems to feel right at home. Best shown in his reaction to Thanos's forces ships exploding against Wakanda's border shields.
    Bucky: God, I love this place.
  • Good Costume Switch: In the post-credits of Civil War, when Bucky and Steve are in a centre in Wakanda, Bucky is wearing all-white clothing (white tank top and white pants). This is an indication that Bucky has done a full-fledged Heel–Face Turn and has become The Atoner, shedding the persona of the Soldier.
  • Grappling-Hook Pistol: He has one that tucks away into his cybernetic arm. He uses it to tear one of the wings off Wilson's Falcon suit.
  • Gun Fu: Very skilled in combat with firearms.
  • Guns Akimbo: He does a hilarious version of this in Infinity War: when he encounters Rocket on the battlefield, he doesn't hesitate upon meeting a shooting, talking raccoon, but grabs him by the scruff of his neck and holds him up so he can shoot better, while shooting his own gun with his other hand.
  • Guy Liner: Bucky's Domino Mask is replaced with black eye shadow (when they're not Scary Shiny Glasses).
  • Handicapped Badass: Lost an arm years ago from his fall in The First Avenger, and got a cybernetic replacement from HYDRA. This is then shot off by Iron Man in Civil War. Both in The Stinger for Black Panther and in his first scene in Infinity War, we see him not wearing a prosthetic at all.
  • Healing Factor: Just like Cap, Bucky has limited regenerative abilities due to the super soldier variant running in his blood. Like Cap, he can recover from injuries quickly and has a high resistance to disease and toxins though like Cap he, obviously, can't grow back large portions of his body that are removed.
  • The Heavy: He's not the primary villain of the show in Winter Soldier; that would be Pierce. Despite that, he's still the villain with the most emotional impact on the plot and the one that takes the most overt action.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Played with in Civil War: he wants to do what's right, but gets forced back into his Winter Soldier persona by Zemo using a string of trigger words, leading to a confrontation with several Avengers and agents of the Anti-Terror Task Force.
  • Heel–Face Turn: When he starts showing cracks in his Brainwashed and Crazy absence of personality, his Bucky Barnes memories are immediately erased before he can act outside his mission. The next time the programming fritzes out, it's just in time to prevent him from beating Steve to death so he can then save Steve's life and walk away to find his past.
  • Hero Killer:
    • When his superiors really want to kill someone, they send this guy. He puts two rounds through Nick Fury's back, although he gets better.
    • It's revealed in Civil War that he killed Howard and Maria Stark.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Due to his actions as the Winter Soldier, Bucky has become this following his escape from HYDRA. It gets worse when Zemo frames him for the UN bombing.
  • He's Just Hiding!: In-Universe. When Steve is reading files after being thawed in the 21st century, Bucky's fate is listed as MIA, meaning S.H.I.E.L.D. thinks he might still be alive, as they Never Found the Body. The sequel reveals his true fate.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: A reminiscence in Civil War reveals he used to be sweet on a redhead named Dolores, possibly as a reference to his in-comic romance with Natasha.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Steve. Word of God states that their relationship is most like that of brothers, despite not being blood-related. Pre-serum, Bucky used to defend Steve from bullies; post-serum, Steve breaks into Nazi strongholds to rescue him. Really exemplified in The Winter Soldier, after learning that the titular character is his best friend.
    Steve: Even when I had nothing — I had Bucky.
  • Human Popsicle: His superiors kept him on ice unless he was needed. At the end of Civil War, he willingly decides to be cryogenically frozen again under Black Panther's protection in Wakanda, until a definitive cure for the latent brainwashed state of his mind is found. By the end of T'Challa's solo movie, he's out of cryo and taking some much-earned peace and quiet.
  • Human Weapon: What he was turned into by HYDRA. His fears of his latent mental programming being reactivated cause him to return to cryo-sleep at the end of Civil War.
  • I Have Many Names: Is now on his third "identity" — after starting out life as James Barnes and spending his time with HYDRA as the Winter Soldier, he is nicknamed White Wolf while living in Wakanda. To his friends, however, he is still just Bucky.
  • Implacable Man: The Winter Soldier is relentless when he is let loose. In Winter Soldier, Steve is literally the only person who can match him, and even then they are dead even when it comes to pure combative skill. Only his resurfacing memories of his life as Bucky Barnes were capable of hindering the Soldier in his mission, and he only stops trying to kill Steve when Steve calmly ceases fighting back, citing their past relationship. Even that is more the Soldier's confusion than anything else, as he's unable to account for a person who is not "target", "superior", "ally", or "irrelevant".
  • Improvised Weapon User: During the fight in his hideout in Bucharest, he uses pretty much everything to keep his attackers at bay — including a mattress, parts of a shelf, a door, a battering ram, Captain America, his attackers...
  • It's All My Fault: He holds himself responsible for everything he did in his 70 years as the Winter Soldier.
    Steve: What you did all those years... it wasn't you. You didn't have a choice.
    Bucky: I know. But I did it.
  • Knife Nut: Winter Soldier shows him using some pretty intricate knife-handling skills. He also prefers to wield his combat knife in Reverse Grip.
  • Knight of Cerebus: While other villains in the MCU have their humorous moments, the Winter Soldier has none. His powers aren't particularly outlandish either, but whenever he shows up, expect a tide of death and destruction to follow his wake. This is also in contrast to Captain America, who's characterized as a Hope Bringer.
  • Kubrick Stare: As the Winter Soldier, he would often give his enemies this along with a Death Glare, which makes him all the more menacing, threatening and intimidating.
  • Leitmotif: He has his own theme, titled "The Winter Soldier". For Jump Scare appearances, he has a distinctive screech to mark his arrival.
  • Licked by the Dog: During the post-credits scene of Black Panther several Wakandan children take a liking to Bucky and are noted to frequently play with and tease him. It's a touching moment that reminds us what kind of person Bucky is without the murderous assassin that was programmed into his brain.
  • Lightning Bruiser: He's extremely fast and agile, potentially faster than Steve. It's also hard to meaningfully hurt him.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: According to his actor, Steve is the only reason why he hasn't put a bullet through his skull yet for the guilt over the crimes he committed as the Winter Soldier. He knows how far his best friend is willing to go for him, and the trouble he causes around him, hence he stays away so he won't cause Steve any more pain. At the same time, however, he recognizes that if he were to permanently remove himself from Steve's life now that Steve knows he's alive, it would only hurt Steve beyond recovery.
  • Living Legend: He's actually two examples of this. As James Barnes he's revered as a hero and Captain America's second-in-command who sacrificed his life defending America from the Nazis. As the Winter Soldier he's dreaded as the deadliest assassin in the world for several decades.
  • Long-Haired Pretty Boy: While he's more brawny than pretty, his lengthy post-Winter Soldier hair is memetically fabulous, and Bucky was very popular with the ladies back in the day.
  • Looks Like Cesare: His dark hair and the circles under his eyes give off this impression.
  • Looks Like Jesus: In The Stinger for Black Panther, thanks to his hair growing out; not to mention the Wakandan robe he was wearing.
  • Loss of Identity: "Who the hell is Bucky?" He has absolutely no idea who he really is or that at his chronological age, he should either be dead or in a nursing home. All that really mattered to him was the mission until Steve came along. It's justified is that HYDRA kept wiping his memory clean after all of his missions were finished.

    M-R 
  • Malevolent Masked Man: He wears a black cloth mask over his nose and mouth, and combines it with Sinister Shades which resemble his otherwise absent Domino Mask from the comics.
  • Manchurian Agent: Civil War reveals that his Winter Soldier programming is activated by a series of Trigger Phrases. This is first shown in the Distant Prologue when the Siberian HYDRA base commanders send him to kill Howard Stark. Zemo later acquires these phrases and uses them to set Bucky against the Avengers and the Counter Terrorism Force who are currently holding him, deepening the conflict over how to treat Bucky in light of the Sokovia Accords. It's a major reason Bucky decides to go back to cryo sleep in Wakanda, until a way to deprogram him can be found — which it eventually is, thanks to Shuri.
  • Meaningful Name: His title is heavy with meaning.
    • The Winter Soldier was dragged from ice, gets placed in cryosleep between missions, and has the demeanor of a heavily-armed glacier. The phrase "winter soldier" references an investigation into war crimes committed by American soldiers in Vietnam during the Vietnam War, organised by Vietnam veterans — it was called The Winter Soldier Investigation. That, in turn, referenced a quotation from Thomas Paine, who described a "summer soldier" as someone who only serves their country when convenient. Thus the name connotes both cold and wartime atrocities.
    • It also references Russian military history, to match his red star emblem, Soviet bullets, and use of Russian language. You don't win a war with Russia during the winter time; the climate of Russia has been widely considered a contributing factor to the military failures of several invasions of Russia. In fact, the Russian Winter is often given a name because of it winning wars for Russia: General Winter, General Frost, or General Snow.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Atypically for the trope, there is no single point in Civil War where Bucky realizes he's done terrible things and must stop; he is just always conscious of what he's done, admitting at one point that he remembers every single person he killed, and unsure how to prevent himself being used. His fears that someone could trigger him into becoming a remorseless killing machine again drive him to go back into cryo sleep until he can be safely deprogrammed.
  • Mysterious Mercenary Pursuer: He's considered an urban legend by intelligence agencies; accounting for the mysterious deaths of people around the world for decades. The only reason Natasha is convinced that he is real is because he shot her in the past.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: US President James Buchanan.
  • No Body Left Behind: Is disintegrated along with half the universe after Thanos completes the Infinity Gauntlet.
  • No-Nonsense Nemesis: He comes out of freaking nowhere to attack, to the point where the first inkling anyone has he's there is his bullet going through his target. He has perhaps a total of eight lines, most of them delivered either flatly or in a state of complete and blinding rage.
  • Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond: To most people,the Winter Soldier's a dreaded, Nigh Invulnerable emotionless killing machine who can take on Black Widow and Captain America himself or mow down whole squads of trained military. In contrast,he is one of the weaker Winter Soldiers as shown in the Civil War flashback, being subjected to a Curb-Stomp Battle when he tries to go against one of them. Furthermore, Bucky is quite weak in the superhero game, illustrated most tellingly when Spider-Man performs an effortless Punch Catch from Bucky's metal arm.
  • No-Sell:
    • He's the first person in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to no-sell Black Widow's Hurricanrana, and that's a list that includes a seven foot tall cyborg alien soldier.
    • Cap's first attempt to throw his shield at him also has no effect, as the Winter Soldier just catches it out of midair.
    • He himself gets no sold by Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War, when Spidey effortlessly blocks his punch, with his metal arm. (Though it's unlikely Bucky wanted to give his all in a fight with an excitable teenager.)
    • When he's escaping from S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters after being triggered into his Winter Soldier personality by Zemo, T'Challa tries to stop him by going toe to toe, then locking him into an arm bar. Arm bars are extremely painful holds that will get practically anyone to submit, but in the heat of battle T'Challa applies it to Bucky's cybernetic arm. Bucky not only No Sells it, but shoots T'Challa a lot of slightly contemptuous disbelief.
  • The Not-Love Interest: One could consider him the second most important character in the Captain America series of films after Cap himself. Throughout all three films, Bucky serves as the main motivating factor for Steve in some way, and their Undying Loyalty to one another is the biggest overarching theme of the films.
  • Not Quite Back to Normal: Despite seemingly being back to his pre-train fall self in Infinity War, Bucky jokingly describes himself as being only a "semi-stable 100 year old man". Plus, there's the fact he still doesn't have a left arm.
  • Not So Stoic: After Steve calls him by his nickname, and his memories get triggered as a result. Before that, the Winter Soldier was silent in battle. During the climax, as Steve tries to get through to him, he screams at Steve to shut up.
  • Obviously Evil: Black leather fatigues, hides his lower face in a mask, long, dark, disheveled hair, either Scary Shiny Glasses or dark eye shadow, a metal arm with an engraved Soviet star, always armed with a BFG... Clearly, his superiors wanted his appearance to scream "EVIL GUY!" when they designed his uniform. And they absolutely did — HYDRA designed the Winter Soldier to be as terrifying as possible to manipulate the public into giving up their freedom to gain their security. In actuality, Bucky isn’t evil, he’s just Brainwashed and Crazy — making this a subverted trope.
  • Oh, Crap!: He's clearly experiencing this when Spider-Man easily catches a punch from his metal arm, then without any effort at all casually turns it to one side to get a better look while commenting on how cool the arm is. No one, not even Iron Man, has ever done a No-Sell on his metal arm before, and he's shocked that someone can
  • Older Than They Look: He's as old as Steve, making him in his nineties, but has the appearance and body of a man a third that age. This is attributed to most of his time being spent in Suspended Animation. The villains revive him whenever they need someone eliminated then immediately freeze him again once it's done.note 
  • Once an Episode: Bucky wields Steve's shield at some point in every Captain America movie, which many take as foreshadowing for how he ends up taking the mantle in the comics.
  • One-Hit Polykill: In a tale told by Natasha, the Winter Soldier had targeted a nuclear engineer she was trying to get to safety. When she threw herself into the line of fire to shield the target, the Soldier simply fired through Natasha. She survived. The target didn't. Judging by her scar, Natasha only failed in literally fulfilling the trope through pure luck and speedy medical attention.
  • One-Man Army:
    • Showcases this best when single-handedly taking out an entire squadron of S.H.I.E.L.D. gunships, their crews, and any agents unlucky enough to get in his way.
    • While under Zemo's control in ''Civil War'', he one-ups himself by going against several more agents, Captain America, Agent 13, Black Widow, Tony Stark and T'Challa and fends them all off, incapacitating all of them but Black Panther, and starts walking away. Clearly the time since HYDRA's fall hasn't blunted his skills one bit.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Bucky is only referred to as his first name "James" about three times throughout the entire franchise. The same exhibition that refers to Steve as "Steven" calls him Bucky. When an interrogator (who turned out to be Zemo) calls him James, he flatly replies that "My name is Bucky." Basically, any time Bucky appears or is referenced outside of a HYDRA or generic assassination context, he will almost certainly be referred to as "Bucky," "Barnes," (possibly prefixed by "Sergeant") or "Bucky Barnes," and thanks to seventy years of brainwashing, it's possible not even the man himself believes "James Buchanan Barnes" still exists.
  • Perma-Stubble: As an indication of the general dishevelled state HYDRA has left him in.
  • Professional Killer: One of the most infamous assassins in the MCU and unstoppable in combat.
  • Quest for Identity: In the stinger for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, he is visiting the Captain America Smithsonian exhibit seen earlier in the film, and avidly studies the memorial with himself on it.
  • The Quiet One: You would be forgiven for not realizing he can speak. He talks during, at most, three scenes during the entirety of Winter Soldier, the last of which he's screaming. In Civil War, he is a bit more talkative, but still hardly a chatterbox.
  • Redemption Demotion: He's notably less effective in combat without his Winter Soldier programming "On". As a good guy, he's of less help to Steve's team during the airport clash in Captain America: Civil War and needs the assistance of Falcon and Scarlet Witch at different points. Justified since he's now fighting opponents just as strong or stronger than Captain America who have no reservations about fighting him seriously, lacks the ruthless efficiency he has when brainwashed, and is both holding back to avoid killing anyone and lacking the dozen-or-so different weapons he used to have and the support HYDRA used to give him. Black Panther specifically makes it very clear he has no intention of holding back, even as Bucky tries to.
  • Red Herring: The trailers play him up as the The Heavy of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. While he does get some focus, he's actually just a distraction for the true plot: S.H.I.E.L.D. vs. HYDRA.
  • Red Right Hand: Does double duty as this trope and as a pun — his cybernetic arm is branded with the Red Star.
  • The Reveal: The first half of Captain America: The Winter Soldier keeps the Winter Soldier's identity a secret before revealing he's Bucky, brainwashed by HYDRA and having no memories of his past self.

    S-Z 
  • Sacrificial Lion:
    • As a Howling Comando and The Hero's best friend, and he falls to his apparent death right before the final assault on the Red Skull in First Avenger.
    • He's also the first of many heroes to be killed by Thanos's finger snap of doom, establishing that plot armor won't save anyone.
  • Scarily Competent Tracker: At one point, Nick Fury barely manages to escape from an assault he leads, escaping to Steve Rogers' apartment. Moments after Steve returns, the Winter Soldier puts a bullet straight through Fury.
  • Secondary Character Title: Despite being in the title and central to the plot of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, he mostly stays Out of Focus and really doesn't become active until the latter half of the movie, when he attacks Cap, Black Widow, and Falcon and Steve realizes his true identity. From there, he ultimately serves as Steve's final opponent and the main focus. Though the movie does a nice job setting up possible appearances for future installments.
  • Seen It All: He doesn't even bat an eyelid when he meets Rocket Raccoon in Avengers: Infinity War. All he does is tell him that he won't sell Rocket his gun or his metal arm.
  • Shipper on Deck: He smiles at Steven after the latter and Sharon Carter share a kiss.
  • Shrouded in Myth: S.H.I.E.L.D. knows nothing about his origins and, until his attack on Nick Fury, have little proof that he exists. It nicely parallels Steve's own Living Legend status to hammer in the Evil Counterpart undertones of their relationship.
  • Silent Antagonist: In Winter Soldier. He rarely speaks, especially in action, except rattling off a few orders in Russian.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Despite being one of the title characters of Winter Soldier, he doesn't appear in many scenes and barely has any dialogue. His presence (both sides of his persona), and the emotional impact that he has on Steve, can be felt throughout the entire film.
  • Spoiler Title: To the point that his actor was once hidden and none of the trailers have a particularly clear shot of his face. Then again, for comic readers, it's a Foregone Conclusion.
  • The Spook: Natasha explicitly described the Winter Soldier as "a ghost". Until Steve sees his face, nobody really knows who he is or where he comes from save his handlers.
  • The Stoic: Until the climax of Winter Soldier, he is nothing but cold, calm, and professional, to a point that he seems almost mechanical.
  • Strapped to an Operating Table: He's strapped to a table in Zola's research lab when Steve finds him.
  • Super Reflexes: In Winter Soldier, the only person fast enough match those reflexes is Steve, which makes sense seeing as Steve is the only other superhuman in the entire movie. In Civil War, he's fast enough to block bullets with his metal arm.
  • Superpowered Evil Side: As Zemo demonstrates about halfway through Civil War, it's only when his Winter Soldier programming is reactivated that he loses all the self-control he normally exerts to avoid killing anyone, and finally shows his true monstrous strength and ruthlessness.
  • Super Senses: He manages to hear Black Widow (or rather, a cellphone she put on playback to bait him) amidst a chaotic street.
  • Super Soldier: Became one due to Zola experimenting on him with a variant of Red Skull's Super Serum in 1943, and HYDRA equipping him with a cybernetic arm and subjecting him to more experiments after they re-captured him. This confirmed fan guesses that Bucky was injected with Super Serum by Dr. Zola in the first movie. He survived his fall from the train, but fell into the worst hands imaginable and became a Sympathetic Sentient Weapon owned by HYDRA. Bucky being injected with Zola's super serum gave him enhanced abilities such as Super Strength and Super Speed. The version of the serum that Bucky received from Zola and HYDRA can be viewed as the Evil Counterpart to that version of the super serum that Steve received, which was administered to him by Dr. Erskine.
  • Super Speed: He is fast, as shown in Civil War when he's comfortably outrunning cars.
  • Super Strength:
    • He has strength on par with Captain America and Black Panther. His metal arm is strong enough to easily overpower Captain America, punch through solid concrete, tear off armored car-doors and fire high-recoil weapons with perfect accuracy. During his fight scenes, there's a distinct difference between the attacks he makes with his flesh-and-blood arm and the cybernetic arm — the former is for precision, the latter simple straight-up power.
    • The part in Winter Soldier wherein he kicks a S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot into a jet engine show that his flesh-and-blood body parts have somehow been enhanced, likely due to his exposure to a Super Serum procedure similar to Cap's in the previous film.
    • Thanks to his metallic arm, Bucky is able to engage Iron Man in combat and hold his own against him nearly as well as Steve. At one point, he manages to overpower Tony, back him into a corner and get within seconds of tearing out his arc reactor.
  • Sympathetic Sentient Weapon: The poor guy never asked to become HYDRA's brainwashed super-assassin.
  • Superhero Packing Heat: Prior to his Heel–Face Turn he carries an entire arsenal of firearms. He doesn't use firearms for most of Civil War but near the climax he grabs a large firearm from the Quinjet armory when going to confront Zemo. He also uses a gun in Infinity War.
  • Super Toughness: Hits from regular people like Natasha, Sharon and Sam don't make a dent in him. Bucky's been able to take a brutal hits from similarly powered individuals such as Captain America, Black Panther and the other Winter Soldiers as well as higher tiered people like Iron Man and Spider-Man and stay in the fight.
  • Trauma Conga Line: After being captured by HYDRA he undergoes brutal, painful experimentation to turn him into the Winter Soldier. He then spends the next seventy years committing atrocities and assassinations as their assassin. In between these his mind is wiped, which if Winter Soldier is any indicator is an agonizing process. When he regains his memories he unfortunately remembers all of his actions. Civil War hits home just how badly he doesn't want to go back to being the Winter Soldier when he thrashes with every fiber of his being as Zemo recites the trigger phrases. He finally finds a measure of peace living in Wakanda by Black Panther after his mind control mechanisms are removed.
  • There Was a Door: The Winter Soldier never opens a door that he could tear straight from its hinges. Even and especially when it's a metal door.
  • Took a Level in Badass: As Bucky Barnes, he was skilled in battle but nowhere near Steve's level. As The Winter Soldier, he's become the greatest assassin in history, a One-Man Army, and gives heavyweights Black Widow and Cap himself a run for their money.
  • Tragic Villain: The Winter Soldier doesn't do what he does necessarily because he wants to. Decades of brainwashing and torture has fried his brain so much that despite being one of (if not the) most dangerous men on the planet, he is a complete and utter Extreme Doormat who is subservient to HYDRA and Alexander Pierce in particular. He doesn't know how to be anything but a weapon, meant to complete the missions assigned to him by any means necessary. Since he has no memories of his previous life, he doesn't bother to resist. It also "helps" that they make him comply via a Russian Trigger Phrase code. Steve indicating that he was more than a weapon nearly spiraled him into a mental breakdown.
  • Tranquil Fury: During the attack on the highway in Winter Soldier, he is outsmarted by Black Widow and shot in the eye. His bulletproof goggles save him, but the Soldier actually pauses for a while, seemingly in alarm at how close to death he just came. He quietly takes off his cracked goggles... then unloads a full clip of gunfire right in Black Widow's direction.
  • Trapped Behind Enemy Lines: In First Avenger this happened to him and Steve goes in and saves him.
  • Trigger Phrase: As it turns out in Civil War, he was programmed with one to ensure his obedience. This becomes a plot point during the movie. Doubles as a Continuity Nod, since Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. showed HYDRA's use of trigger phrases before. As of Black Panther it's safe to assume that Shuri has removed this, given that Bucky's been brought out of cryostasis and is trusted enough to be surrounded by children.
  • Undying Loyalty: To Steve. He chooses to follow his best friend and the Howling Commandos into battle.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: His Mechanical Arm, while it's superhumanly strong and durable, it's nowhere near as dexterous as a his right arm, a fact that's reflected in his fighting style, using his "normal" right arm to aim firearms, knives, and to make quick jabs and blocks, while using his mechanical one to one-hand larger weapons and grappling or power blows in close quarters.
  • Unwitting Pawn: In Civil War, Zemo uses him to break the Avengers apart.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: We first see Bucky as a snarky, likeable guy defending his best friend from a bully — which he'd apparently done since they were kids. Things... don't go so well for him after that.
  • Villainous Breakdown: In the climax of Winter Soldier, he loses it when Steve keeps calling him "Bucky". He's only ever had a mission to worry about, and Steve has shattered his entire world, just by saying that he is more than the weapon HYDRA made him into, and he can't handle it. The only thing he can do is try to complete the final mission HYDRA gave him, and that's kill Steve. When Steve refuses to fight him and drops his shield into the Potomac below on the basis of a friendship that the Soldier doesn't even remember, it confuses him so much he starts mentally breaking down, unable to comprehend Steve's sincerity and the emotions he recalls because of it.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds:
    • One of their earliest scenes in First Avenger, immediately before Steve tries to sign up for the army for the millionth time.
      Bucky: Don't do anything stupid until I get back.
      Steve: How can I? You're taking all the stupid with you.
      [Bucky gives Steve one last hug before leaving]
      Bucky: You're a punk.
      Steve: Jerk.
    • In The Winter Soldier, a flashback reveals that he offered Steve a place to stay after his mother died, with his comment about "You'd just have to shine my shoes...".
    • In Civil War, he seems on his way to becoming this with Sam Wilson. They constantly bicker, unless it comes to cheering on Steve when he's finally managed a Big Damn Kiss with Sharon, or snarking at Spider-Man's spandex costume — meaning that Sam is the only person aside from Steve who gets a normal reaction out of Bucky. After Spider-Man has webbed both of them to the floor and Sam's drone Redwing has dragged him out of the window:
      Bucky: You couldn't have done that earlier?
      Sam: I hate you.
  • Walking Armory: Has three sidearms, a submachine gun and at least two combat knives for backup, with him alternating for a primary between an assault rifle with underslung grenade launcher, two separate grenade launchers and a Soviet sniper rifle that (while not seen) is his trademark weapon in the intelligence community.
  • Walking the Earth: At the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, he runs away, looking to find anything that will help him regain his damaged memories.
  • Weapon of Choice:
    • He switches between an M4 Carbine with a M203 Grenade Launcher, a Sig Sauer P226 and a Skorpion. Notably, he seems to like the Skorpion, as it's seen again when he attacks the Quinjets and he uses it to destroy a security camera after the assassination of Tony's parents. He is also shown to have used a Soviet sniper rifle several times and a Barrett M82A1 in the past.
    • In Civil War and Infinity War, he wields an M249 Paratrooper SAW with an nearly-horizontal casket magazine and optic on top. Which is exactly what you'd expect from a sniper who often needs to shoot prone (but also has Super Strength), showing his memories returning. Indeed, while Steve and T'Challa fight the Outriders hand-to-hand, Bucky holds onto the gun for the entire battle (despite a talking raccoon offering to buy it).
  • Weapon Twirling: He twirls his knives as he draws them, showing almost inhuman dexterity in a bit of showmanship that is incongruous with his tendency towards brutal efficiency.
  • Who Shot JFK?: Implied to have been one of the assassinations he performed while under HYDRA's control.
  • The Worf Effect:
    • In The Winter Soldier, he inflicts this on everyone but Steve to demonstrate just how dangerous he is. Even Natasha, who put up the best fight after Steve, is quickly overwhelmed when she runs out of tricks to distract him. The Falcon, in his wing suit, suffers a very brief Curb-Stomp Battle. This is to build the drama and suspense of the film as while Steve is the only person who can physically beat him, he's also the person least capable with emotionally dealing with him because of the Winter Soldier's true identity as Bucky Barnes, his long thought-dead best friend.
    • In Civil War, Bucky and Cap beat up a dozen or so heavily-armed cops loaded for bear. Immediately afterwards, he struggles to hold his own against the newly introduced Black Panther to show how capable of a fighter the latter is. Though it is worth noting that Black Panther was actively fighting to kill while Bucky was just trying to escape. Later on in a flashback, one of the Stark-series Winter Soldiers beats him fairly quickly during a spar, just to show how much more dangerous they are.
      • He, along with Falcon, are both dominated by the newly introduced Spider-Man during the battle at the airport — though as Tony points out to Peter in Spider-Man: Homecoming, both of them were holding back to not seriously hurt anyone on the other side.

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