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Corporate Samurai

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"A person in a conflict-oriented profession (i.e. assassin, negotiator, advertising personnel, etc) who follows a samurai-like code of ethics. This generally means limiting collateral damage (whatever that might be, depending on the profession), treating their job as 'just business (not bringing personal animosity into competition),' and respecting competitors in their profession. Coined as a part of the cyberpunk movement in science fiction, and exemplified by Case in Neuromancer by William Gibson, and Hiroaki Protagonist in Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson."
— Urban Dictionary

A Corporate Samurai has talents that are in high demand by one or more of the following: Mega Corps, The Syndicate, The Cartel, Law Enforcement, Inc., warlords, other power brokers or royalty. The Corporate Samurai will associate and interact at the executive level and works for or possibly as a Corrupt Corporate Executive.

Often, the Corporate Samurai will be The Dragon, or The Brute if part of a villainous group.

Corporate Samurai are similar to Street Samurai. The biggest difference is that the Corporate Samurai are not Ronin, due to the fact that they are retained by or work for a corporation, or on contract in the Private Sector. The Corporate Samurai are often highly trained as Professional Killers, Ninja, Assassins, special ops, Hired Guns, Private Military Contractors, or former intelligence operatives. Like Street Samurai, expect Corporate Samurai to be well-versed in espionage, technology and gadgetry. In Westerns this person may work as a Pinkerton Detective or for the Railroad.


Similar to a bag man but at a higher level and with more responsibility, the Corporate Samurai is often responsible for whole operations or campaigns, rather than simple mook wet work. The Corporate Samurai has, through merit and ability, risen above Red Shirt status. He may also be more cerebral and less kinetic with his approach to conflict resolution. He will often be a Man of Wealth and Taste and a Badass Normal, and will usually be a Badass in a Nice Suit. Often the Corporate Samurai is sent to deal with situations and to engineer or arrange outcomes that a simple mook couldn't handle.

Taken from the Richard K. Morgan's Takeshi Kovacs novels, and "Market Forces". This trope is found throughout Cyberpunk, Post-Cyberpunk (where they're much more likely to be portrayed as heroic) and hard boiled noir, among many other genres. Will unfailingly be a Consummate Professional.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Mifune, Soul Eater's character, Infinite One-Sword Style practitioner, bodyguard and Black*Star's Rival was this in the past, working for a crime family. However, he quit when he was sent to capture or kill a witch that turned out to be a little girl; he released her and devoted his life to protecting her. He ends up working for another criminal organization, Arachnophobia, so they'll provide protection to her.
  • The many shinobi in Tokyo Shinobi Squad are this, bordering on Literal Metaphor.

    Comic Books 
  • The Specialist from Spider-Man 2099 is a quite literal example, a literal samurai mercenary working for various Mega-Corp organizations in the future. There are many people with that occupation in the comics (referred In-Universe as corporate raiders), and Miguel's job was to design guys like that.
  • Jack Pierce from The Exec by Doug Miers and Carlos Paul.
  • During the years before Iron Man discarded his Secret Identity, he claimed that he was a heroic Corporate Samurai working for Tony Stark.
  • In Thor (2014), the latest version of the Silver Samurai is another literal case - a Corrupt Corporate Executive who can don samurai-themed Powered Armor at a moment's notice.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Vincent in Collateral. He is a hitman with a list of names that need to be taken down in twelve hours. He is discrete and careful in his killings, limiting the collateral damage. The taxi driver he takes hostage to be his driver is treated with respect, as long as he doesn't try to call the police or tell people. Vincent even makes sure he doesn't break routine and not visit his sick nana in the hospital, mainly because it would tip people off something is up.
  • The Operative in Serenity has hints of this. He acts as an enforcer for a government / corporate conspiracy, and firmly believes that his ruthless actions will lead to be a better world - even if he himself will have no place there. He also uses an actual sword, which stands out in the Space Western setting. His Establishing Character Moment involves "suggesting" someone commit Seppukunote  for failing - and then killing him when he doesn't take the hint.
  • Han Cho Bai in Red's sequel, though he subverts it in Frank's case.
  • The South African man sent by Col Coetzee to find Danny Archer in Blood Diamond; Col Coetzee's private army is based on the former company of Private Military Contractors, Executive Outcomes.
  • The current image is of Otomo in RoboCop 3, a robot/cyborg version belonging to the Kanemitsu Corporation, which wants to buy out OCP.
  • The main characters in the film Bad Company are in corporate espionage, hired to spy on a rival cosmetics company.
  • A more literal example in the film Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai. The epynomous character is an assassin working for the mafia, but follows a code of ethics based on bushido, including not killing anyone but his targets.
  • Shingen Yashida from The Wolverine. Literally speaking. As the trope's meaning, however, he subverts this.
  • Best Seller is about a former hitman for Kappa Industries, who after being fired approaches detective-turned-novelist Meechum about writing his story.
    Meechum: Corporations don't have people killed.
    Cleve: Corporations deal in two things, period — assets and liabilities. I removed the liabilities. And I provided some of the assets. I was a corporate executive in charge of those two things.

  • John Nike in Jennifer Government.
  • The hitman Kinneavy in Dennis Lehane's short story "The Consumers", who has enough of a code that, when he's hired by a trophy wife to kill her abusive Corrupt Corporate Executive husband, kills his client afterwards as well simply because her willingness to enjoy the financial benefits of his business practices disgusts him.
  • Takeshi Kovacs, an ex-special forces Super Soldier who now works as a mercenary and investigator.
  • In Discworld, Scholarship Student members of the Assassins Guild often seem to be these. The Fifth Elephant has Vetinari's clerk Inigo Skinner who turns out to be a badass assassin, and Making Money indicates that a whole bunch of "dark clerks" work for Vetinari. On the antagonist side, the villain of Making Money has an assassin on staff, who when not doing his job is a calm guy who likes to read for pleasure.
  • Case from Neuromancer, at least before he crossed his former employers and had his ability to access the matrix removed (which Wintermute restored).
  • Turner from Count Zero is referred to as a "Street Samurai", though he's on contract with a Mega-Corp as an extraction specialist.
  • In The Dark Tower, Jake comes to believe that his father was the corporate version of a gunslinger, working as a network television executive. He even referred to decisive actions as "the kill."
  • Honor Harrington: The various operatives working on behalf of Manpower Unlimited appear to be this, and in fact, many of them think they are this, until they are brought in on enough of The Conspiracy to learn they are actually agents of The Mesan Allignment, who are rather less picky about what happens to innocents.
  • The Letters in Agent G by C.T. Phipps are Corporate Samurai in the sense they are assassins, spies, and thieves for the organization. Somewhat off-kilter in the fact they are the service which the International Refugee Society provides to the rest of the world. They're mercenaries-for-hire kept on a leash with their past lives' memories kept from them as a restraint on their obedience.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Michael Westen in Burn Notice. He is a unique example of this as he doesn't work for the rich or powerful, usually, but rather the little guy the rich, powerful, and corrupt take advantage of. He aims to be discrete and limited in his collateral, but isn't above using explosives when things get rough. He aims to be dispassionate and disconnected, as he was trained as a spy, because when a guy might be shooting at you one day, the next he could be your ally. The major antagonists of the show all try to convince him, by either force or gentler methods, to be this on their side.
  • Takatora from Kamen Rider Gaim, an amusingly literal example given the obvious samurai inspiration for his Rider form. He manages Yggdrasil's operations in Zawame City, in particular taking responsibility for Project Ark, but his greatest single talent seems to be that he's the World's Best Warrior and nigh-unbeatable in combat. He fits the code of ethics part to a T, stating that in his position of privilege, he has a responsibility to those less fortunate, even citing it by its formal name of noblesse oblige, and the way he undertakes Yggdrasil's operations against the Invess suggests that he wants to limit collateral damage and prevent mass panic. His code of ethics is so strong that when he's presented with an option other than exterminating six-sevenths of the world's population to let the rest survive, he is more than willing to take it even though it comes from someone who's opposed him from day one.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Traveller: Several Megacorporations, Noble families and the Imperium maintain a number of these. Their nature is up to the taste of the GM and PCs and not much is told about them. It is told that on occasion Megacorporations will have an interchange of sabotage. One notable example of this is the feud between the Oberlindes and the Tukera Family Business'
  • Shadowrun has a literal example of this with the Renraku Corporation's Red Samurai which are employed as an elite security force. They even wear classic samurai-looking armor and wield katanas. This trope can also technically apply to anyone who gives up their lifestyle as a Runner and then go legitimate by working for a corporation.

    Video Games 
  • Final Fantasy VII:
    • The Turks, Shinra's black ops unit.
    • Sephiroth himself was arguably this before he discovered the truth about his origins and snapped. He had a composed, aloof manner, fought with a massive sword, and worked for SOLDIER, Shinra's elite fighting force.
  • Shadow Warrior is set in a world of corporate ninjas. Lo Wang was once Zilla's most loyal corporate ninja until he learned that his employer was summoning monsters from the netherworld and planning to take over the world and quit, resulting in Zilla taking out a Contract on the Hitman.
  • Adam Jensen in Deus Ex: Human Revolution serves as such for Sarif Industries, though it's worth noting that Adam specifically doesn't like being in this role, and, as a former SWAT-officer, personally objects to any less-than-legal orders his boss gives him. He mainly serves Sarif's interests because it's his job, and eventually because it gives him the resources to hunt down the conspiracy, but at the end, he's given a chance to defy his boss (and canonically takes it). Meanwhile, the conspiracy itself (eventually revealed to be the Illuminati) have their own personal enforcers in the form of The Tyrants.
  • Colonel Richard Vanek in FEAR 2: Project Origin as the commander of the Armacham Black Ops units. In FEAR 3, the Phase Commanders in general serve these roles as commanders of Armacham's mercenaries.
  • Conrad Marburg in Alpha Protocol, serving Halbech as former chief of security and current chairman of the allied Veterans Combat Initiative.
  • In the X-Universe series, taking jobs with any of the MegaCorps, such as OTAS and Strong Arms, effectively turns you into this trope. They initially give you grunt work, but contract rewards steadily rise up until you're assassinating high-ranking pirates and other executives by blowing up their Mile Long Ships. The more you work for a corp, the better the rewards, all the way up to giving you prototypical and advanced versions of standard production ships.
  • Syndicate: Agents function as these in both the original games and the 2012 reboot.
  • Symmetra of Overwatch is officially an architect for the Vishkar Corporation who uses her Hard Light technology to build cities. Unofficially, she performs clandestine operations such as stealing important items/documents for the corporation's interest. Her loyalty to Vishkar means that she does not get along with Lúcio, who is a freedom fighter working against them.

    Web Comics 
  • Marcus Madeira in Metacarpolis, though Marcus is more of a Daimyo then a mere samurai.
  • Speed-O-Sound Sonic starts out as one in One-Punch Man.

    Western Animation 
  • Dethklok's manager/lawyer/CFO Charles Foster Ofdensen in Metalocalypse.
  • In one episode of Samurai Jack, Jack joins a crime organization in order to meet with Aku, attire and all.

    Real Life 
  • A number of governments including the US and China maintain cyberwarfare specialists. During one incident in which the internet of Estonia was shut down, alledgedly by Russia, several of these were sent to clean up the damage.
  • The arms trade is oftentimes bogged down with various embargoes. In order to keep profiting in this environment, many countries oftentimes do business with go-between arms dealers who sell arms to various entities that the state cannot do direct business with. These middle-men oftentimes abide by strict codes of conduct which can involve things like not interfering with other middle-men or only doing business with one government.
  • Many major corporations retain lobbyists and policy analysts to do much of their work in the political sphere. They likely operate on a strict code of conduct.
  • People involved in the conflict diamond trade can be compared to this. Many major corporations don't want to be associated with blood diamonds and will therefore hire middle-men dealers so as to not raise suspicion. Many of these people are highly versed in everything from gemology, to smuggling, to military skills.


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