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Franchise / Gundam

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The face that launched a thousand spin-offs.

"It's a Gundam!!"
— The Last Words of many a Mook in the franchise, as demonstrated here.

Gundam is a long running series of Humongous Mecha Anime shows started by Yoshiyuki Tomino in 1979, Trope Maker for the Real Robot genre, and basically the Japanese equivalent of Star Trek. Gundam is a Cash Cow Franchise and a veritable merchandising empire, encompassing not just televised anime, but also manga, OVAs, video games, plastic models, toys, theme park rides, and a racing team sponsorship.


The Gundam anime franchise is split amongst many different continuities and timelines. The oldest and largest timeline is the Universal Century, of which there are still animated works being made to this day.

Alternate timelines (referred to by Japanese fans as "Another Gundam") have their own distinct settings and histories. As the popularity of Gundam declined in the 1990s, these standalone settings were first conceived as a way to draw new viewers to the franchise without the need of navigating an already long and dense storyline. Although these timelines generally follow the Universal Century's Military Science Fiction roots, they are also a way for Sunrise to be more experimental with their stories than what the U.C. setting would allow.


Gundam Build series

An anime sub-series of the franchise whose installments all take place in similar settings; a near-future version of Earth where Gundam exists as a media franchise, just like in the real world. Advanced technology allows anyone to simulate mobile suit battles via Gundam plastic models, better known as Gunpla. This sport, called Gunpla Battle, is incredibly popular worldwide.

Other media

Gundam works are generally stories about how War Is Hell, covering conflicts between different groups of people fighting World War Whatever over ideology, resources, and other familiar real world issues — as opposed to fighting an Alien Invasion, Robot War, or other external threat. This conflict usually takes the form of the established Earth government fighting against people living in the enormous space colonies in Earth orbit in a downplayed form of The War of Earthly Aggression (though it's a toss up whether Earth or the colonies are actually the aggressors in any given series).

The plot of a Gundam series usually falls into one of two archetypes. The original version was an Ordinary High-School Student getting drawn into the ongoing war against his will when The Empire attacks their Doomed Hometown; they end up Falling into the Cockpit of the latest Super Prototype Gundam in order to save themselves and/or their friends, and gradually grow into an Ace Pilot in their own right. A variation of this arose as the franchise expanded, where the protagonist is a Child Soldier and already an Ace Pilot at the beginning of the story, sent on an important mission to use their powerful Gundam to strike a devastating blow against their enemy. Either way, the series is usually a Coming of Age story, where the protagonist suffers trauma and loss during the course of the conflict, but grows as a person in the process of examining their motivations and their place in the world and eventually deciding how to best live up to their ideals and fight for what they believe in.

Lore-wise, the Gundam series (particularly the original Universal Century timeline) are notable for the remarkably consistent fictional technology; in UC, this is based on the original Minovsky Particle. Also notable is the presence of Newtypes, who are essentially psychics akin to "Jedi in giant robots". Newtypes, or some Suspiciously Similar Substitute, appear in most Gundam shows.

Kunio Okawara created many of the iconic Humongous Mecha designs, including the RX-78 Gundam. However, the franchise has also had mecha designs by Hajime Katoki, Kazumi Fujita, Junya Ishigaki, Mamoru Nagano, Syd Mead and several others.

The Gundam franchise is the Trope Namer for:

The Gundam franchise provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Absent Aliens: One of the hallmarks of the show is that there are no signs of extraterrestrial life, which originally made the show stand out from the pack. The only exceptions so far are Gundam SEED mentioning a winged Space Whale fossil found on Jupiter in passing, Mobile Suit Crossbone Gundam with the microbial "Angel's Call", Gundam 00, which includes Starfish Aliens in the movie, and Gundam Build Divers Re:RISE, where the inhabitants of Eldora turn out to be extraterrestrials rather than NPCs.
  • Ace Custom: Generally fielded by The Lancer or The Rival while The Hero himself usually has a Super Prototype.
  • Aerith and Bob: There are some very strangely named characters in Gundam, there are also a scattering of people with completely mundane names. If we listed every bizarre name in every series, well... we'd be here all day.
  • Airborne Aircraft Carrier: Most of the Cool Starships in the series qualify as these. Particularly if you count flight-capable Humongous Mecha as 'aircraft'.
  • All There in the Manual: There are loads of supplements like side-stories and model kit manuals. You won't miss vital information by ignoring them... usually.
  • Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: There's at least two in a series. She's always an important female character, usually the main character's (possible or canon) Love Interest, The Baroness or the Team Mom.
  • Alternate Continuity: TV series, movie trilogies, manga, video games, and novels all retell the same stories... and all slightly differently.
  • Alternate Universe:
  • Alternative Calendar: Used for every series but Gundam 00, largely to avoid having to set a definitive "X years in the future" setting. Amusingly, the first few series (from Mobile Suit Gundam to Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack) simply filed the serial numbers off by setting them in the year "UC 00XX", where XX was the year in the 20th century that the show was released. Mobile Suit Gundam, for example, was released in 1979 and set in UC 0079.
    • Not helping things was the fact that Mobile Suit Gundam and Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam had scenes identifying the date as 20XX (as in, 2079 for the original show); these were quietly Retconned out of later releases. In response, fans attempted to pin down a specific year as UC 0001 (in-universe, the year that space colonization started), using a couple of concrete datesnote  from Gundam 0080 (January 14 falls on a Monday) and Gundam ZZ (0088 is a leap year, and by extension so is 0080 and all other UC years that are multiples of 4); the general consensus is that it's 2047note .
  • Ambiguous Time Period: The series takes place in the future, but due to the excessive use of alternate calendars how far in the future is impossible to pinpoint.
  • A Mech by Any Other Name: The series' signature Humongous Mecha, Mobile Suits.
  • Anyone Can Die: The series was, after all, created by a man who was nicknamed Kill 'Em All.
  • Armored Coffins: Effective ejection systems are the exception rather than the rule in the franchise; in most instances, the pilot's best chance to survive is to pop the cockpit hatch and try to escape on foot — which is rarely an option while your mecha is exploding.
  • Attack Drone: A staple of the franchise are attack drones controlled by a pilot's psychic abilities, rather than onboard AI. Some shows have non-psychic versions available, but that just means they're manually remote-controlled instead.
  • Badass Beard: While several characters qualify, it's worth noting that the red "beard" protrusion is one of the defining features of the Gundam's distinctive faceplate after the V-Fin.
  • The Battlestar: Most warships have impressive firepower in addition to their mobile suit payload... which would be nice if they ever hit anything other than mooks.
  • Bell-Bottom-Limbed Bots: The Classic Gundam is a good example. Its lower legs are notably larger and more complex than the upper legs, it's less noticeable but still there with the arms. Some of the robots were designed to be more bottom-heavy, i.e to shift their gravity center lower.
  • Bishōnen: Having downright pretty guys (more often than not, including the protagonists themselves) has been a hallmark for the series since about Wing. Despite most of them being hardened soldiers, which doesn't typically lend itself toward that sort of thing.
  • Bittersweet Ending: By far the most common sort of ending to a Gundam series. Only a handful have unambigiously happy (Gundam X, Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz) or downer (Zeta Gundam) endings.
  • Broken Faceplate: A pilot's helmet visor being cracked or outright shattered is a good indication that they're in a lot of trouble, though it's not usually an immediate death sentence since their cockpit is also pressurized.
  • Canon: Gundam has an unusual take on this, partly because the Western definition of "canon" in regards to fiction doesn't exist in Japan. All animated works are considered "official", while everything else is "non-official". This means that the various contradictory Alternate Continuity works (namely, the TV shows and their Compilation Movie remakes) are equally "canon", while some non-animated works like Crossbone Gundam are "non-canon" despite being praised for their quality and attention to not mucking up the timeline. This makes it completely impossible to come up with any kind of "one true version" of events: see Continuity Snarl below.
  • Central Theme: War and its effects are Gundam's over-arching theme.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam: Warfare
    • Zeta: Idealism
    • Double Zeta: Growth
    • Victory: Tragedy
    • G: Human potential, Love
    • Wing: Peace, and fighting for it
    • X: Change, and how to handle it
    • Turn-A: History, and how to learn from mistakes
    • SEED: Friendship
    • SEED Destiny: Destiny
    • 00: Understanding
    • AGE: Revenge
    • G-Reco: Viewpoints
    • Iron-Blooded Orphans: Loyalty
  • Centrifugal Gravity: Seen in everything from individual ships (many of which come equipped with rotating "gravity block" sections) all the way up to the kilometers-long space colonies themselves (whose entire structures spin along one axis), because Gundam's tech level generally isn't advanced enough to support Artificial Gravity.
  • Char Clone: Being the Trope Namer and Trope Maker, of course. Char was especially unique at the time for being an enemy soldier but having his own agenda that barely involved the main characters. In the UC timeline Char himself allies with the heroes in Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam only to become the villain again in Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack after disappearing in Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ. This sort of uncertain loyalty tends to define the character type along with the mask, from Zechs in Wing to Harry Ord from Turn A to Rau Le Creuset in Seed.
  • Child Soldiers: A majority of the characters across the franchise, protagonist and antagonist, were teenagers when they started their careers as MS pilots.
  • The Coconut Effect: Consciously averted. When Tomino wrote the original series, he decided to use particle-based weapons rather than lasers specifically because lasers would be invisible, instant-hit weapons and would kill a lot of the drama of battle.
  • Collateral Angst: When a protagonist's love interest dies (and they do), the writing focuses mainly on how the protagonist feels rather than the tragedy of said love interest's life being cut short.
  • Colony Drop: The Trope Namer; Gundam series are extremely fond of dropping large objects onto targets from orbit.
  • Combining Mecha: Comes and goes in phases. The original Gundam had the ability to separate and recombine; this was downplayed later. The CE timeline has this in spades, as the titular mecha combine with "packs" that seem expressly designed to ship more plastic models of the mecha.
  • Companion Cube: Many pilots either start or come to view their mobile suits this way. Relatively minor examples will do things like ask their mecha for more power when they're going all-out, while the most extreme cases will do things like asking for advice and then behaving as though the mobile suit has given it.
  • Compilation Movie: Gundam loves these. The television series generally get compilation movie trilogies, and even some of the OAVs have gotten compilation movies of their own.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: A single enemy in a new mobile suit is usually far more dangerous than a swarm of them attacking at once — even if it's the exact same model.
  • Continuity Snarl: By Sunrise's policy, only animated works are truly "official". However, that still makes it impossible to determine a single "real" version of events, given that the franchise's full-length TV series are usually turned into movie triologies, which are Alternate Continuity to a greater (Zeta's movie trilogy makes the events of ZZ near-impossible to happen) or lesser (the Mobile Suit Gundam movie trilogy just removes some of the wackier Super Robot influences and replaces shoddy animation with higher quality work) extent... and yet, they're all equally canon in Sunrise's eyes.
  • Convection Schmonvection: Generally averted — the bigger Wave Motion Guns can ruin your day with even a near-miss.
  • Cool Helmet: Sort of; the Gundams' iconic V crest attached to their heads.
  • Cool Ship: The main character usually has a ship to haul his Cool Mecha around.
  • Corporal Punishment: The main character usually ends up on the wrong end of a punitive beatdown at least once, and that's not even counting the therapeutic beatdowns he's also likely to receive.
  • Cosmetically Advanced Prequel: New works set in early time periods (like Thunderbolt and The Origin, both set in the same period as the original Mobile Suit Gundam but made decades later) tend to include more modern-looking technology (like touchscreen interface controls) than the original shows set in that era. Bare minimum the Art Evolution is able to show off stronger mecha animation (moving panels, shifting gears, opening vents) rather than the rubbery feel in the original show.
  • Crapsack World: The various Gundam settings are usually not pleasant places to live, often involving mass murder on the scale of millions or billions of people at a time, and the risk of humanity driving itself entirely to extinction. The only good news is that the protagonists are usually able to prevent complete disaster.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Gundams tend to be an instigator of many of these. They're made from a stronger material than other mobile suits, and their pilots are exceptionally skilled, so they often mop the floor on the battlefield.
  • Cyber Cyclops: The "bad guy" mobile suits tend to have a single, glowing camera; they're typically referred to as "mono-eyes".
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Usually the main character, when they're the Overt Agent type that start out as an experienced Ace Pilot already. The Ordinary High School Students tend to have dark and troubled presents instead.
  • Death Flag: The chances of a named character dying within an episode increase exponentially the moment they decide to tell someone else their backstory. That character usually has ten minutes of the episode to live till they die. It happens so much in many series of the franchise that fans are ready to expect the worst once flashbacks ensue.
  • Deconstruction: This series is one of the earliest known examples of removing the "super" from the Super Robot genre, transforming the Humongous Mecha into a glorified tank.
  • Doomed Hometown: The main character's hometown, frequently a space colony, is usually wrecked early in the series. Sometimes directly leads to Falling into the Cockpit.
  • Downer Ending: Less common than the Bittersweet Ending, but more common than the Happy Ending. See Zeta Gundam and Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory.
  • Dual Wielding: Ever since the original series, the classic melee loadout for a Gundam has been a pair of beam sabers, and if there's a variation from this formula, it's usually because the suit in question is fitted with even more blades as well.
  • Evolutionary Levels: Used, subverted, and played with. Newtypes from the UC timeline are initially presented as this, but they ultimately don't seem to have much effect on the world beyond a handful of ridiculously skilled Ace Pilots. Gundam X has an ending that explicitly states Newtypes are nothing of the sort, though since it's an alternate universe it's still an open question for the UC timeline. The CE timeline's Coordinators are a mixed bag — some of them consider themselves this, but many do not. Gundam 00's Innovators are the concept played completely straight. The X-Rounders of Mobile Suit Gundam AGE are still on the fence; on the one hand, both sides are trying to cultivate them, but one of the series' most powerful considers them to be an evolutionary throwback rather than advancement.
  • Expanded Universe: Sunrise's policy divided non-animate works in two categories. If the work doesn't contradict with official animated "white" works, then it's "gray", somewhat acceptable add-on to the timeline (just don't expect Sunrise to support the events). Whatever contradicts official works is "black", outright non-canon. Note that the "gray" status isn't permanent, new animated work may push the work to "black" by adding new events that contradict it, or make it "light gray" by having some of The Cameo (the story is still gray, but whatever appear on screen is "white"), or even make it "white" by adapting it (but usually with changes).
  • Expy: To say the franchise is addicted to this trope is an understatement. There's a Char in every single series.
  • Falling into the Cockpit: The most common way to select new crack Gundam pilots, ever since the first show and Amuro Ray lucked into the RX-78, its massacred support crew, and the operations manual that one of the members had with him. There are some notable subversions and aversions, most notably in some of the OVAs and AUs where the pilot may at least have basic training, but the majority of main series have the pilot be young, inexperienced, a noncombatant seeing battle for the first time or otherwise not intended to be its operator. They are usually allowed to continue because now they are the only one WITH experience, although sometimes it turns into a Grand Theft Prototype that helps tips the balance in the conflict.
  • The Federation: The Earth government is usually one. No less than four separate timelines (UC, AW, AD, AGE) feature a government known as the "Earth Federation". Though they all use the same name in Japanese (地球連邦/Chikyu Renpo), the localizations of Gundam X and Gundam 00 attempt to differentiate by calling it the 'United Nations Earth' and the 'Earth Sphere Federation', respectively.
  • Fighter-Launching Sequence: Pretty much everyone announces their name and which mecha they're using before launching from the Cool Ship.
  • First-Name Basis: A recurring element of the Universal Century is that soldiers and military officials are referred to by their given name and not their surname, which is very unusual by real world standards. The Mobile Suit Gundam novels explain that this is simply the culture of the era.
  • The Force Is Strong with This One: Newtypes and such can often sense each other.
  • Frozen Face: Mobile suits, being mecha, don't really have any means for showing expressions. That said, the shows usually manages to convey emotions through them regardless, with visual tricks like camera angles and lighting, plus creative use of the one feature that does change: their Glowing Mechanical Eyes.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Gundam video games at times take creative liberties with the source material for the benefit of the gameplay experience.
    • In the anime, the Guntank cannot rotate its torso at all. In games it can, as this would obviously be very frustrating to control otherwise.
    • After being sent out, the Nu Gundam's Fin Funnels cannot be recharged and are thus discarded. In games, they return to the mobile suit like most other funnels and as such can be used again and again.
    • The Unicorn Gundam's NT-D lasts for 5 minutes. This is a bit too long for most action/fighting games, so the duration is usually shortened to around 30 seconds.
  • Gatling Good: The head gatlings, another iconic weapon for Gundam-type suits. Mostly used for dealing with small, fast threats like planes and missiles. A few other Gundams have large Gatling guns as their primary weapon; the most iconic of these are the Heavyarms and the Leopard.
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: Bright Noa, the Team Dad of the UC timeline, is the king of this trope. So much so that it was originally called the Bright Slap. Used in several other timelines as well.
  • Glowing Mechanical Eyes: Mobile suit cameras (positioned in their heads like eyes, naturally) always glow when activated.
  • Grand Theft Prototype: Previous Trope Namer. Highly advanced Gundams featuring experimental technology and extremely high combat performance get stolen with alarming regularity in the franchise.
  • Gratuitous Princess: Gundam X and Mobile Suit Gundam AGE are the only TV series that are totally devoid of a princess (or a princess-in-exile, or the daughter of an important official, be it government or a scientist) in a major and/or supporting role. And it's not uncommon for said character to be the love interest for a major character, eithernote .
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: Gundam is notable for rarely portraying either side of a conflict as faceless, mindless evildoers — there are good people and bad people on all sides of a conflict. That said, the protagonists' faction will usually be A Lighter Shade of Grey.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Whilst their enemies and allies often get more exotic melee weapons, the hero's primary unit (generally in the traditional Gundam colors) generally has a sword of some sort as its primary melee weapon, ranging from the Gundam's simple Beam Saber to the Gundam 00's more exotic GN Swords.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: From both throwaway and major characters; a side effect of Anyone Can Die.
  • Hover Skates: Mecha can often move this way, even if they can't out-and-out fly with their thrusters. Some mecha are explicitly designed for it, most notably the Dom from various Universal Century works.
  • Humongous Mecha: Obviously.
    • A Mech by Any Other Name: They're called "mobile suits" in general, though different timelines have variations like "mobile fighters", "mobile dolls", and "mobile bits". Non-humanoid versions are usually called "mobile armors".
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Not individual episodes, but almost all of the Gundam TV series produced before 2014 (as well as Mobile Suit Gundam F91, which was intended as a TV series) are named after one of the protagonist's mobile suits. The only exception is Gundam SEED, which is instead named for the series Super Mode. Beginning in 2014, the series names started to move away from this: Gundam: Reconguista in G is named for the Towasanga faction's plan to conquer Earth by forcenote , while Iron-Blooded Orphans and the Build Fighters / Build Divers line are named for the protagonists, rather than any of their mecha.
  • Idiosyncratic Mecha Storage: Because they generally operate in 0-G, the Zeon space colonists do not store their mobile suits standing upright on racks like their Earth-based Federation rivals and instead have them lying down, back-to-back, or strewn about all over the hanger because there is less of a concept of "up" without gravity.
  • Instant Expert: Given the franchise codifying the Falling into the Cockpit trope, this is often justified via an Unusual User Interface. The original show talked of the Gundam having an advanced AI learning computer filling in the massive gaps of Amuro's learning curve, although they say having him manage basic movement of the machine is still an accomplishment. As the Psychic Powers of Newtypes took center stage in the storyline, so did the Psychoframe system designed to utilize those abilities.
  • Info Dump: Happens in some spots, e.g. the introduction of the Specials in Mobile Suit Gundam Wing.
  • Latex Space Suit: For use by both males and females, though only pilots; other crew get bulkier, more conventional space suits.
  • Lensman Arms Race: It's guaranteed that the first few episodes of a series will show the Gundam going up against basic mook units and slaughter them by the dozens. The enemy will then start fielding new and more advanced units in an effort to catch up. Via the Mid-Season Upgrade, the heroes will then have to adapt their technology to compensate as well. In the Universal Century timeline, after a while it starts evoking Clark's Third Law with how advanced and powerful the tech level gets.
  • A Lighter Shade of Gray: While Gundam usually goes out of its way to show that both sides of the conflict have good and bad people, it's generally still the case that one side has the moral high ground.
    • On occasion it's not the ostensible protagonists. There are moments early in 00 where the protagonists (who are committing terrorist acts against military targets to bring about world peace) occupy a sort of middle ground between antagonists who are actually pretty evil (but psychologically conflicted) and antagonists who are nice, morally sound people who happen to be fighting against the mysterious pseudo-terrorist group that just showed up. Later on, many of this latter group end up on the same side as or working with the protagonists, and then it becomes more clear-cut.
  • Long Runner: The first series premiered in 1979 and the franchise has been going strong since. The 90's alone had a series or OAV every year. Fandom VIP Burke Rukes once pointed out on his old website that if one were to watch all of Gundam from MSG to Turn A, it would take about a week, and that was without counting work, sleep, and bathroom/meal breaks. And mind you, this was after the Gundam's 20th anniversary in 1999 — the franchise has expanded considerably since then.
  • Love Across Battlelines: A staple of the series, as part of the standard Love Hurts Aesop. Psychic Powers leading to characters to bond instantly helps (or rather, hurts).
  • Love Hurts: Very, very rarely does a romance with a Gundam pilot work out for anyone.
  • Love Triangle: A love triangle, often as a callback or Mythology Gag to Amuro/Lalah/Char's love triangle where two men on different sides seek out the same girl, is a common recurring plot element.
  • Made of Indestructium:
    • Gundams are typically made of this; in UC it's named "Gundarium" in honor of the Gundam which was the first to use itnote ; in AC it's called "Gundanium" and the Gundams are named after it; and in AD the Gundams use "GN Composite Armor", which is just normal armor reinforced with Applied Phlebotinum.
    • The CE series put their own spin on the trope by introducing Phase-Shift Armor, which requires a constant supply of electrical power to function, placing it halfway between this and Deflector Shields. This is significant since the CE suits initially run on batteries with a very limited capacity.
  • Made of Explodium: Frequently what mook mecha are made out of. Given an actual explanation in the UC works (a Minovsky reactor breached by beam weaponry will likely go nuclear), but other series use it as well. Mobile Suit Gundam Wing (and it's classic Mecha-Mook the Leo) are most infamous for it.
  • Magitek: Newtype technology, designed to augment and be augmented by a pilot's Psychic Powers.
  • Mask Power: The Rival and/or Char Clone usually wear a mask (as they generally are hiding their identity), and tend to be among the most dangerous pilots.
  • Mecha-Enabling Phlebotinum: Minovsky particles in most installments.
  • Mega-Corp: Anaheim Electronics from the UC Timeline is a quintessential example.
  • Mega Crossover: The Gundam Fighter Flash game, with over 80 Gundam characters from various shows.
  • Mêlée à Trois: First introduced in Zeta Gundam and used repeatedly since. It usually takes the form of two major players each battling it out for their own interests, with the smaller protagonist faction fighting in support of loftier ideals.
  • Merchandise-Driven: Much, much more money is made on Gundam modeling kits than the anime itself.
  • Mid-Season Upgrade: In most series there is a switch to an entirely new Gundam, offering two hero Gundams piloted by the main character after the previous one is damaged, obsolete or not keeping up with their piloting abilities. A few shows do maintain the same Gundam throughout, but include an elaborate modification if not a Mecha Expansion Pack with a Meaningful Rename. Sometimes the series is named after the second Gundam, making it a delayed Title Drop. Almost consistently, though, is that the first Gundam will have a basic head crest with two spikes while the upgraded version will have four spikes on it.
  • Militaries Are Useless: In numerous Gundam series, the military units are composed of weaker "grunt" mobile suits that are largely ineffective and are destroyed in large numbers by the much more powerful Gundams and other "hero mechs", which are always piloted by the main characters (protagonists and antagonists) of the narrative. The "grunt" mobile suits are always piloted by characters who don't have major narrative roles, assuming they are ever seen at all.
  • Military Brat: Numerous series have characters that are children of military personnel, though usually in a non-combat capability, like researchers or engineers.
  • Mindlink Mates: In the UC continuity, powerful Newtypes of the opposite sex, particularly teenagers, tend to instinctively gravitate toward each other and form psychic and romantic bonds. Unlike most portrayals of lovers with psychic bonds, however, it often ends badly.
  • Mini-Mecha: While Humongous Mecha take all spotlight, several series do include small mecha, usually doing labor work in the background. The first that appear in anime is Junior Mobile Suit from Zeta Gundam, unless you count Ball from first series as one.
  • Minovsky Physics: Yet another Trope Namer, in the UC timeline, but implemented in every timeline to a greater or lesser extent.
  • Moe Anthropomorphism: MS Girl is originator of the Mecha Musume.
  • Moral Myopia: Common among the both heroic and villainous factions, though the protagonists will usually at least try to overcome this sort of thinking.
  • Mook Mobile: Dozens of variants in the franchise, usually limited to two or three examples per series. The bad guys usually have one that's influenced by the original Zaku II from Mobile Suit Gundam, with the "gas mask" face and its iconic mono-eye. In fact, the word "Zaku" is even derived from "zako" which means "mook" in Japanese.
  • Mythology Gag: While there are often indirect references to the original series in any given show, they often take this a step further by using the sound effects of the original series; this can range from the White Base's alert klaxon, to various booster/vernier sounds, to the classic "Pfeeew!" of the original Gundam's beam rifle.
  • Non-Standard Character Design:
    • Most notable when it comes to the Universal Century OAV's, as different character designers were deviating from an established style, which also resulted in slightly different versions of the same character. Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory is most notable in that regard. But Bright Noah's role in Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn also stands out because being faithful to his long standing design made him feel quite simplistic compared to the more detailed and expressive designs of the newer characters.
    • The main mobile suit from ∀ Gundam and a number of others were famously very esoteric, looking more Ray Gun Gothic. This was partially because they had brought in the American Syd Mead as a mech designer, which added to the unconventional look to the entire show.
  • Novelization: All of the anime series except Gundam X has at least one. Beltochika's Children is rather amusing case; it was originally Tomino's rejected plot of Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack which, in turn, is adapted from Tomino's novel Hi-Streamer. In other word, it's novelization of The Film of the Book, with all three by same author!
  • Nuclear Option: Notable for averting the Nuclear Weapons Taboo. The UC and CE timelines, in particular, are fond of throwing nukes around. UC generally treats them as dangerous and powerful weapons but not necessarily evil incarnate (the good guys use illegally obtained nuclear missiles on at least one occasion), while CE is rather less forgiving.
  • Officially Shortened Title: Works within the Gundam universe are typically given a long-form title Mobile Suit Gundam [Title], which is shortened to simply, Gundam [Title] in most usage; eg, Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam is called Zeta Gundam, and Mobile Suit Gundam SEED is called Gundam Seed. They occasionally mix things up a bit (eg, G Gundam's full title is Mobile Fighter G Gundam, since the Motion Capture Mecha used by the heroes in that series are called mobile fighters as opposed to conventionally-piloted mobile suits), and works with especially long titles may have more than just "Mobile Suit" cut from the short version (eg, Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack is usually rendered as just Char's Counterattack).
  • Phlebotinum Girl: Ubiquitous. In fact, the proposed name for the trope was "Newtype Girl".
  • Phlebotinum-Handling Requirements: Various types of Mobile Suits can only be piloted by Newtypes.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy: Oftentimes The Federation has uniforms for each gender with these matching colors.
  • Pink Means Feminine: Which is why so many female pilots, from Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam all the way through to Mobile Suit Gundam AGE, have pink mobile suits (or, at least, suits with pink highlights).
  • Point Defenseless: Is it a hero ship? If not, a whole armada's flak screen might as well be made of fireworks.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Both used straight and subverted. Characters frequently end up fighting and killing each other unnecessarily because they aren't able to communicate well enough to realize neither side actually wants to fight. But just as often, they will establish that communication (thanks to handy Psychic Powers) and end up fighting and killing each other anyway because even though they don't want to fight, they still have incompatible ideals and neither side is willing to back down.
  • Power Creep, Power Seep: In many video game crossovers, established mobile suit performance is pretty much thrown out the window. In fact, the RX-78 from the original series is usually not just keeping up with other units, but a powerful one due to Popularity Power.
  • Powers Do the Fighting: A minor staple in the franchise. If a mobile suit has Attack Drones, expect them to do this once in a while.
  • Protagonist Title: Mostly it's the main protagonist who pilots the eponymous mecha. The few exceptions are Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack (referring to the Big Bad's Evil Plan) and the Cosmic Era shows (SEED refers to a Super Mode possessed not only by the main protagonist. And while Destiny also refers to the Villain Protagonist's Mid-Season Upgrade, it also refers to the Evil Plan of the Final Boss).
  • Psychic Children: About half the Gundam universes prominently feature youngsters with psychic powers of one kind or another, most of whom end up getting turned into as Child Soldiers because of them.
  • Psychic Powers: Newtypes and their various Expies from most of the franchise's timelines.
  • Reality Ensues: Given that this invented the below genre, it's no surprise there'd be enough examples for a page.
  • Real Robot: It invented the genre, though it's always been stuck somewhere between the Real Robot and Super Robot styles.
  • Recurring Element: The visual style of the Gundam — especially the iconic "face" — is pretty consistent throughout the franchise. The setting in each AU also includes an "Earth vs space" aspect in almost every case. A recurring theme includes the question of when — and if — violence is an acceptable way to resolve your differences. Haro, the cute ball-shaped Robot Buddy, is a partial example, having shown up in UC, CE, and 00, but none of the other settings.
  • Red Baron: It's usually the enemy Ace Pilots that get awesome nicknames (starting with Char as the Red Comet), but occasionally allies do as well (such as Mu la Flaga from Gundam Seed, known as both "the Hawk of Endymion" and more informally as "the man who makes the impossible possible"). Oddly, the main character rarely gets this treatment.
  • Red Shirt:
    • The original series introduces the RGM-79 GM, a simplified, low-budget mass-produced version of the Gundam (with a paint job that resembles a red T-shirt, no less) that mainly exists to fill the screen in major battle sequences and explode whenever an enemy Ace Pilot shows up. Like its Evil Counterpart, the Zaku II, it's a Fountain of Expies, and there'll usually be a similar-looking machine in any given Gundam show with the same basic narrative purpose.
    • Unnamed characters in tanks, aircraft, and light spacecraft fare even worse than unnamed characters in mass-produced mobile suits. Their life expectancy in battle sequences will usually be measured in seconds at best.
  • Red Shirt Army: Gundam is military sci-fi depicting conflicts on a grand scale, including the use of massive, terrifyingly destructive superweapons. If things aren't going well for the good guys, expect the screen to be lit up as hundreds of ships, vehicles, and/or mass-produced suits explode at once.
  • The Remnant: Exaggerated in the Universal Century continuity. The Principality of Zeon is defeated in the One Year War, but the various Neo Zeon factions continue to be the standard villain for most of the later UC series, with their last holdouts only falling in 0123; Unicorn's adversaries get bonus points for being The Remnant of another Remnant.
  • Retcon: Between all the Alternate Continuity versions and OVAs, they're inevitable. They're usually not too bad, but exceptions (such as Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory's Colony Drop) do occur.
  • Ringworld Planet: Helped popularize the "O'Neill cylinder" design. Ring-world shaped colonies exists in Gundam Wing and in the in the case of Universal Century, in the beginning of Gundam Unicorn.
  • Sanity Has Advantages: The main difference that the Cyber-Newtypes in the After-War timeline have from their Universal Century counterparts is that whilst not as powerful, none of them went insane because of the transformation and as a result were more effective in the long term as well as generally not meeting terrible ends.
  • Sensor Suspense: Tends to do this by having stuff suddenly appear immediately before they come under attack. The Bridge Bunnies suddenly yelling "Heat source detected!" out of the blue usually means bad things are about to happen.
  • Series Franchise
  • Series Mascot: Aside from the Gundams themselves, there are the Haros.
  • Sliding Scale of Gender Inequality: Most tend to hover between "Know Your Place, Woman!" and "Men are More Equal". Female combatants are usually around, but they're less common than male ones, and tend to be less skilled and/or stuck with less powerful mecha than their male counterparts. And pretty much the only woman capable of keeping up with the (invariably male) series protagonist in terms of both piloting ability and mecha strength — Haman Karn of Zeta and ZZ — is a villain.
  • Slow Laser: Beam weapons, while fast, are frequently dodged when they are fired (in one of the first episodes of the original series, Char Aznable stated very clearly that he dodges where the gun points before it's fired, not the beam itself once it is). This is also because the beam weapons aren't laser beams, but are made up of particles with a considerable amount of mass, called a "Mega-particle", and thus are much slower than the speed of light. See below, and also see Minovsky Physics (the Wave-Motion Gun-grade weapons like the Solar Ray and Solar system are portrayed as traveling at the speed of light; fortunately, Newtypes sense the shots before they fire in Gundam).
    • Gundam creator Yoshiyuki Tomino has commented, in later years, that he chose to use particle beam weapons over more realistic lasers for dramatic purposes, feeling that the invisibility and unerring accuracy of lasers would make for boring combat sequences.
    • Actual laser weapons are briefly seen in Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, which otherwise uses the franchise-standard particle beams. They are depicted as hitting instantaneously and melting armor on contact, and go right through the Planet Defensor barriers of Mobile Dolls. They're not more common because the laser rifles used overheat very quickly when used, even if for a few minutes. This is displayed when they are equipped on Taurus mobile dolls. Several of them end up getting destroyed by their own weapons.
    • In the Universal Century, aka the original Gundam continuity, actual laser weapons short of apocalyptic superweapons have been rendered obsolete by ablative anti-laser coating and Minovsky particle dispersion. It's also stated that beam weapons were found to be more efficient than their laser-based counterparts.
  • So Last Season: The Mid-Season Upgrade has been a staple since Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, and even Mobile Suit Gundam had a limited version of it.
  • Space Opera: A Downplayed example, with the action usually restricting itself to Earth and Earth orbit, and never expanding past the solar system. With the single exception of Gundam 00: A Wakening of the Trailblazer, it sticks to Absent Aliens, as well.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Whoo boy. Too many examples to list, but common to a greater or lesser extent in basically every series. The most infamous examples are probably the Principality (Duchy/Archduchy/Grand Duchy) of Zeon (Zion/Jion) and Mu (Muu/Mwu — though thankfully no Moo) la (ra) Flaga (Fllaga/Fraga). And then there is Quattro Bajeena, whose name has on at least one occasion been translated as "Quattro Vagina", due to the katakana used in his name. (And given Jamitov "Hyman"note , it's very possible it is... uh, meant to, be spelled with a "V"...)
  • Spiritual Antithesis: The entire franchise in general (even the Lighter and Softer entries to a degree) is arguably an antithesis of what Gene Roddenberry's work in Star Trek represented. If there are strange new worlds to see in the Universal Century for instance, expect them to have a lot of the same problems we deal with on Earth. And expect humanity to bring its conflicts, bloodshed and hubris to the stars, as well as with all that's good in mankind.
  • Spiritual Successor: Happens fairly often with AU series. To wit:
    • Wing to G (Multinational Team in five garish, Super Robot-style Gundams), and the last story arc to Char's Counterattack (Char Clone tries to blow up the Earth).
    • X to the original series, sort of, being an alternate Bad Future to the One Year War.
    • Turn A to X (post-apocalyptic stories set mostly in America and on the Moon whose title Gundams are equipped with terrifyingly powerful and exotic weapons).
    • SEED to the original Gundam (first major Earth/Colonies war) and Destiny to Zeta (a follow up series featuring a new cast, but where characters for the original show are still around and active).
    • 00 Season 1 to Wing and Season 2 to Zeta.
    • AGE to the entire Universal Century from the original through to Crossbone.
    • Gundam Build Fighters to early G (Gundam vs Gundam Fighting Series), and to the Gunpla Builders OVA series, which itself is to an obscure manga called Plamo Kyo Shiro.
    • Reconguista in G is this to Turn-A due to the setting, the director, being set after the Universal Century, and the Gundams being non-standard in design (the Turn-A's V-fin serves as a mustache, those of the G-Self are swept forward).
    • Iron Blooded Orphans is a send-up to X, Wing, and 00, with the violence and deconstruction of the genre taken Up to Eleven.
  • Standard Sci-Fi History:
    • Many series features Stage 1: Exploration and Colonization of Space. And then jump right into Stage 2: World War changing the world.
    • The Universal Century subverts the standard progression. The rather idealistic founders of The Federation definitely thought they would bypass Stage 2 into something akin to Star Trek. Instead, the timeline is marked by multiple Stage 2 scenarios that by the time Victory takes place, it's just barely functional.
  • State Sec: The franchise seems to have something of a love affair with this trope. Some notable examples include:
    • The Titans, the main antagonists of Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam. They eventually take over the regular Federation Forces and become a de facto military dictatorship. They manage to be even more Nazi-like then their predecessors, the Principality of Zeon from Mobile Suit Gundam (ironically, their original stated purpose was to eliminate Zeon remnant groups).
      • The Titans are replaced following the First Neo-Zeon War with Londo Bell, which, since it is run by Bright Noa, is a far more moral example that doesn't abuse its authority. That said, it is still an autonomous military force outside the regular chain of command, with its official mission statement being to hunt down Zeon upstarts. The fact a Second Neo-Zeon War starts invites accusations of them not doing their job.
      • This also explains why by the time Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn takes place, the Feddies are revealed to have established another Titans replacement called the ECOAS "Manhunter" unit. But while its job more or less is to do the sort of wetworks that Londo Bell would never do, a sense of duty, professionalism and a grounded awareness of being Necessarily Evil keep it from becoming just like the Titans.
    • The A-Laws (Autonomous Peace-Keeping Force) from Mobile Suit Gundam 00, who are obvious expies of the Titans. They're autonomous from the regular military, with access to secret police, and under the direct command of Ribbons. Interestingly enough, the organization had different levels of trust: Those who have no idea what the A-Laws are really doing, the ruthless top brass who knew what the A-laws were doing but remained mere pawns, and the Innovades who really knew really what was going on.
    • The Organization of the Zodiac in Mobile Suit Gundam Wing is an interesting case, zig-zagging as the series went on. While officially part of the Alliance military as a elite force, it was secretly the Romefeller Foundation's military wing. After eliminating the Alliance, OZ becomes the regular army for the Romefeller government.
    • Phantom Pain in Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny is a downplayed version - it's a special forces group used to support the radical Blue Cosmos faction. They get to use advanced (but illegal) technology, has skilled personnel, and are autonomous from the regular chain of command. But despite being used to expand Blue Cosmos' and LOGOS's agendas, the group mostly uses standard Alliance uniforms and don't seem to be ideologically charged as other examples.
  • Stealth Pun: Fandom VIP Mark Simmons observed that SNRI, the rival to Anaheim Electronics, was created shortly after Sunrise bought the rights to Gundam.
  • Stock Footage: And plenty of it. More of a problem for some series than others (the CE timeline was particularly infamous for indulging in it), and generally less of an issues in the movies and OVAs. Mobile Suit Victory Gundam, ∀ Gundam, and Gundam 00 are also notable for largely avoiding it. There are some scenes reused (as in, you could count them on one hand), but much of the time it's a two-second clip that's only reused once, or it's just a split-second explosion to change scenes.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Downplayed. Every series has female pilots, but they're almost always outnumbered by male ones, and (with the exception of the manga Tiel's Impulse and Ecole Du Ciel), they're never the main character. Well, it is Shōnen, after all...
  • Super Prototype: Just about anything with the word "Gundam" in its name, and a lot without it.
  • Superweapon Surprise: In the UC timeline, and the CE that mirrors it, mobile suits are these, with the subversion that they're used to attack instead of defend. The first Gundams in both universes are this again, in that they're Bigger Stick mobile suits that catch the other side by surprise too! More typical examples also appear in most timelines, as well.
  • Sword and Gun: The standard mobile suit loadout across the franchise. Humongous Mecha with specialised targeting systems and built-in recoil compensation don't have the usual problems with Firing One-Handed, and there's usually some Applied Phlebotinum justification in the setting for combatants frequently needing to close to melee range to do serious, reliable damage to each other.
  • Sword Fight: Only with Humongous Mecha and Laser Blades!
  • Tank-Tread Mecha: The franchise have provided many examples of tank tread mechas.
    • In the Universal Century timeline we have the RX-75-4 Guntank from Mobile Suit Gundam, one of the earliest examples within the franchise. It proved to be an effective artillery platform that subsequent successor models and variants were developed ever since. Most notably the RTX-440 Ground Assault Type Guntank, the RMV-1 Guntank II, the D-50C Loto and the F-50D Guntank R-44
    • During the One Year War the Principality of Zeon recycled their growing number of wrecked Zaku mobile suits and Magella main battle tanks to build the MS-06V Zaku Tank. They proved to be useful in construction work as well as fighting vehicles.
    • Aside from the Zaku Tanks there's the YMT-05 Hildolfr "mobile tank" from Mobile Suit Gundam MS IGLOO. It's a Transforming Mecha that can switch between tank mode and tank tread mecha modes. Despite its size it proved to be quite maneuverable in combat at close range (though it might be because of the pilot's skills) and managed to take on a squad of Federation piloted Zakus on its own despite the fact that its loadout's geared towards long range artillery support.
    • In alternate timelines we have the DT-6800 Daughtress Tank, ZuOOT and GaZuOOT.
  • Telepathic Spacemen: Newtypes from the Universal Century and their various equivalents.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: A number of episode trailers (and sometimes the titles) center around an event that happens in the last couple minutes of the episode.
  • Transforming Mecha: Varies between series, with some series chock-full of such mecha, and others devoid of them. Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam springs to mind as the Gundam series with the most Transforming Mecha, which includes the title mech.
  • Translation Convention: In Japan, the Army and Navy use the exact same ranking system, which has caused a good deal of confusion over what to use in the US dubs — for example, is Kou Uraki an Ensign or 2nd Lieutenant? Typically, this is handled by treating the Space Forces as a Navy, and the rare few series that focus on ground combat forces (like Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team) use Army ranks.
  • Vehicle Title: The eponymous Gundam is a Humongous Mecha, after all. The only exceptions are Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack (Colony Drop) and Mobile Suit Gundam SEED (Super Mode).
  • Villainous Valour: It's not uncommon to see highly courageous behaviour from Gundam adversaries, whether ordinary mooks or major villains.
  • War Is Hell: A recurring theme.
  • The War of Earthly Aggression: The most recurring theme in the series, and the one that generates most conflict overall.
  • Warrior Therapist: The Rival tends to be one, resulting in philosophical debates during running mecha battles.
  • Wave-Motion Gun: There's always at least one, whether mounted on a suit, a ship, or a space station.
  • Weapon Title: The eponymous Gundams are Humongous Mechas designed for warfare. Some works not named after the eponymous Gundams also count, such as Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack (Colony Drop), Mobile Suit Gundam SEED (the characters' Super Mode), Gundam: Reconguista in G and Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Most cyber newtypes and their alternate universe expies are not known for rationality or mental stability.
  • Won the War, Lost the Peace: Happens repeatedly, where despite the antagonists being defeated, war erupts again in a few years anyway — usually to justify a sequel. The Universal Century, with the most sequels, suffers this the worst, amounting to about 20 years of more-or-less constant fighting spread out over five or six distinct conflicts (depending on how you count them). However, it also happens with Gundam Wing (and its sequel Endless Waltz), Gundam Seed (and its sequel Gundam Seed Destiny), Gundam 00 (and its sequel A Wakening of the Trailblazer) and Iron-Blooded Orphans (where the season one finale leads to a brief period of peace and a mid-series Time Skip, both of which end with the beginning of season two).
  • World Half Full: Virtually all Gundam shows take this attitude — thought the world may be in serious trouble, the protagonists can and will fight to make it a better place than it was when they started.


Video Example(s):


I'll Kill You

Heero whispers this to Relena after he refuses the invitation to her birthday party.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / IllKillYou

Media sources:

Main / IllKillYou