Chef: Ah, but that is exactly what a ninja should look like.
The shadow warriors of feudal Japan, reputedly possessed of all manner of mysterious powers known as ninjutsu, including invisibility and intangibility. Able to infiltrate even the most heavily guarded fortress without being detected. If they are caught, they may trick their pursuers by mysteriously swapping places with a log. They may be portrayed as cutting down any opposition with superhuman swiftness. Traditionally dressed in black bodysuits with black masks or veils to hide their faces (or sometimes in white). They are the ultimate spies and assassins, gifted with their own deadly magic and martial arts. Born in hidden villages, they are trained from birth to obey nindo, an alternative Code of Honor to bushido; to show no pain, feel no emotion, and remain loyal to their clans under pain of death — or the third code of getting as much money as possible.
Or so popular legend has it. While ninjas did indeed exist, their reputation for invisibility and infiltration more likely stemmed from their willingness to dress as members of a lower social class when no one else in Japan would consider doing such a thing. Their "invisibility" was part psychological in cause — by dressing as a peasant, they were ignored and dismissed, or never even noticed at all, by the upper classes, a useful thing despite the oft fierce travel restrictions on the lower classes. Superior knowledge of survival skills, a lot of actual stealth, poisons, assassination techniques and unorthodox tactics (added to the fact that the ninjas actively encouraged the spread of rumors of their magical abilities) were the most important though. A popular myth states that ninjas came from lower classes (at least compared to the samurai) and they were often hired to do the dirty deeds honorable samurai would not do, but in reality ninjas were usually samurai, or in rare cases, mercenaries hired by samurai. Ninjas were mainly deployed for espionage, sabotage, and sometimes assassination.
Ninjas were also quite skilled with a variety of tools, such as the multipurpose kunai. Plainly put, while a stereotypical ninja would jump around on rooftops in ridiculous clothing, a real ninja most likely would simply infiltrate the household staff and poison a meal. Among many other things, a good ninja always knew where his sanjaku tenugui was.
The "classic" black ninja costume is, in fact, the outfit worn by stagehands in traditional Japanese theatre. Japanese stagehands are frequently in full view on the stage, but the audience was meant to ignore them and thus they are considered "invisible" by the audience. It became the practice to hide ninja characters in full sight by putting them in the same outfits as the stagehands, for a startling effect when characters were suddenly attacked by "thin air". The stereotypical black "ninja outfit" would be actually horribly conspicuous, even at night. For night stealth, real ninjas wore dark blue outfits; someone dressed in solid black will stand out like a silhouette. Usually, though, ninjas simply dressed like ordinary people (peasants, monks, merchants, scholars, etc). That way, they can move about unnoticed, day or night. Even the split or toe-divided boots which are a trademark of the ninja costume are actually an Anachronism Stew: toe-divided shoes or ''jika-tabi'' were actually invented in the 20th century, and only some modern ninjutsu schools would adopt them for practicality reasons.
Female ninja are often called kunoichi in a pun on the kanji for woman (女, onna/jo), which looks like it's made up of ku (く), no (ノ), and ichi (一). Kunoichi are often portrayed in media as experts in seduction and poisons. Or both at the same time. Kunoichi are also often seen in outfits that combine a hodgepodge of traditional clothing, fishnet, bared skin, and strategically-placed weapons. In addition, "Shinobu" is a common name given to kunoichi in media, likely due to its potential as a Punny Name rhyming with "Shinobi". There may be some Truth in Fiction, as real-life kunoichi would often use their attractiveness to lower the guards of their male targets in order to assassinate them in privacy or bribe information. The most common weapon for them is twin knives, which they Dual Wield and have at least one of them in a Reverse Grip.
In some works of fiction, ninja are divided into three ranks: genin (lower), chūnin (middle), jōnin (upper).
Legendary ninja include Fuuma Kotaro, Hattori Hanzo and Sarutobi Sasuke. During the Sengoku Jidai, the most prolific shinobi were of the Koka or Koga province and the Iga province, rugged, secretive clans notorious for guerilla warfare, unorthodox tactics and selling these services to warlords. Their mysterious histories and supposed rivalry have been popular fodder for Japanese fiction for years. While commonly thought to have originated in Japan, ninjas may have originated in China, and the idea and practice later spread to Japan. Historically, the word "ninja" was not generally used; in Japanese historical documents, shinobi was often used.note
In American movies, especially the ones from the '80s with "ninja" in the titles, only the hero ninja and the Big Bad ninja make any pretense of stealth or invisibility — and sometimes, not even them. Any underling ninjas will be the class of mooks known as Highly Visible Ninja. In the late 20th Century, they became the arch-enemies of Pirates, for no reason other than the Rule of Cool.
One of the earliest Japanese cultural tropes to make it to the West, where it has now branched out into the McNinja franchise. Expect the ninja to make use of the Smoke Out, the Flash Step, the Fuuma Shuriken, Kite Riding and the aforementioned Ninja Log.
- This has been a common character trope in American superhero comics since the 1980s...
- For instance, the Marvel Universe villain clan, The Hand, cropped up then, starting out as a bunch of sinister assassins-for-hire, rapidly proving to be sinister nihilistic assassins-for-hire with some mystical trimmings, and eventually evolving into world-threatening mystical all-purpose nihilist killers. Also during that period and in the same comics, Frank Miller effectively changed Daredevil into a good ninja.
- Miller also wrote a ninja into Sin City in the form of deadly little Miho, the primary enforcer of the girls of Old Town. She is the single deadliest Dark Action Girl of the series, the only one of the girls of Old Town who does not use guns, and a heroic example of the Psycho for Hire.
Dwight: Deadly little Miho. She'll cut you quick, she'll kill you quiet. You won't feel a thing, not unless she wants you to.
- Kingpin sics a bunch of ninja on the Runaways.
Molly: Does being a ninja count as having powers?
Victor: It counts double!
- Many readers, however, have noted that the original writers of Batman created him as a de facto ninja without knowing it in the 1930s. Many portrayals of the Dark Knight had him undergoing some variety of training in ninja-style arts prior to his assumption of the mantle of the Bat, such as the Christopher Nolan Batman movies which had him training with the League of Shadows.
- Snake-Eyes and Storm Shadow (among many others, some of whom we do not speak about) from GI Joe. The unnamed "narrator" of the Order of Battle series and the action figures File Cards (actually Card and comic series writer Larry Hama, writing in-universe observations about the characters) said "The great Ninja assassin clans disappeared a hundred years ago. If they were wiped out, nobody took the credit for it and if they're still around, who are they working for?"
- Also from Larry Hama was Nth Man: The Ultimate Ninja , featuring a white-haired modern-day ninja named John Doe, tasked with killing his childhood friend and Reality Warper in the midst of World War III.
- Toyota, the female mercenary ninja in Y: The Last Man. Although first seen using modern night-vision goggles, she enjoys a chance to spar with an opponent using traditional bladed weapons.
- Often appear in the works of Adam Warren. Livewires has Hollowpoint Ninja, Empowered has Ninjette and several clans of ninja.
- Usagi Yojimbo, being set in feudal Japan, frequently features ninja. They range from enemies to allies of Usagi, with three main clans present: the Neko clan which is feline, the Mogura clan which is comprised of anthropomorphic moles and the Komori clan, which features razor-winged bats. And of course, he occasionally teams up with a certain family of Kamé ninja mentioned below.
- Of course, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Mirage), which are basically the most famous American comic book ninja.
- Samurai Squirrel: Nato-san and his brother Malak-qui are attacked by ninjas twice in the first issue. In the second attack, Malak-qui takes them on by himself. He manages to kill at least one, but the encounter leaves him mortally wounded.
- Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Duo: In chapter 8, Caren, Noel, and Coco, on Noel's suggestion, dress up as ninja to sneak into the aquarium.
- In My Huntsman Academia, Blake and Ren are The Sneaky Guy of their respective teams. They specialize in ambushes, Combat Pragmatism, and vanishing without any warning. The "achievement" for fighting alongside Blake, "WASHOOM! Ninja skills!" lampshades this.
- Oogway's Little Owl: Taylor is being trained to be one by Oogway and Shifu, combining an owl's natural proclivity for stealth-hunting with a penchant for throwing knives, and a dash of Terror Hero. It's also pointed out that ninja are native to Japan, while the story takes place in China, but it's handwaved by explaining that Oogway has been all over the world, encountering the ninja on a trip to Japan.
- The MLP Loops:
- Ivory Scroll (also known as Mayor Mare) ends up in the Naruto loops early on, and the experience sticks. She often uses paper-ninja powers to send messages and otherwise make her paperwork easier.
Applejack: Ya sure ya don't want me to go across first? Not to be rude or nothin', but Ah think Ah may be just a mite more athletic than you are.
Ivory Scroll: Don't let the grey hair and the glasses fool ya, dear. I used to be a ninja. [easily balances across a narrow bridge]
Applejack: Ya know, Ah can usually tell when somepony is pullin' my leg, but that's got to be the second tall tale she's told me tonight and Ah didn't get nothin'.
- In one loop, everyone at the bar is talking about some of the weird variants of Twilight Velvet (Twilight Sparkle's mother) that they've seen. Then someone mentions a time Velvet was a ninja. And then everyone realizes none of them said it...
A voice spoke up. "There was that one time where I was a ninja. I noticed Twilight and Shining were both acting very strange, so being the concerned mother that I was, I decided to follow them to wherever they were headed."
The entire bar fell silent. One by one, the patrons let their gazes climb upward.
"Hi hon." Hanging from the ceiling and dressed in a skintight suit, Twilight Velvet waved at her daughter. "Time loop, huh?"
"I guess we both have our secrets." She paused a moment, then pointed at Nyx. "Did that black filly call you mom earlier?"
"I'm not drunk enough to answer that yet."
- Ivory Scroll (also known as Mayor Mare) ends up in the Naruto loops early on, and the experience sticks. She often uses paper-ninja powers to send messages and otherwise make her paperwork easier.
- James Bond:
- The popularity of ninja in Western media may have started with the Bond film You Only Live Twice from 1967. Most of those ninja were depicted as being more like members of an elite government special forces unit than invisible assassins, however. (Except for the one who killed the Bond girl, of course.)
- In Licence to Kill it is revealed that Hong Kong Narcotics employs ninjas as special agents. (Given that the Special Duties Unit of the Hong Kong Police Force were trained by the SAS before the colony was handed back to China, this may not be as far fetched as it first seems.)
- Appeared in The Last Samurai, with some of their methodology were accurately presented.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990): The live action film adaptation of the popular cartoon series, which has since gone on to become a Cult Classic.
- Ninja Assassin, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
- Ditto with Ninja and its sequel Ninja II: Shadow Of A Tear
- Ninjas In Ancient China, directed by Shaw Brothers veteran Chang Cheh, has... Ninjas in Anvient China. Their roles are to overthrow a corrupt Song Dynasty general, and for a Japanese-inspired element in a Hong Kong film, for once these ninjas are portrayed as the good guys.
- The Shaw Brothers kung fu movie Heroes Of The East features a ninja. Early in the film, the Japanese wife (Yuko Mizuno) of the kung fu hero (played by Gordon Liu) gives him a demonstration of ninjutsu. He is not impressed. Later, the hero fights the wife's old boyfriend, an actual ninja (Yasuaki Kurata) and out-tricks him at his own game. In both cases, the ninjutsu is based more on movies (Japanese ones rather than American ones): sneak attacks, hokey peasant disguises, gunpowder, etc., but does involve some real weapons. Even the costume is based on Japanese theater. The film subverts several ninja conventions: one, the ninja is portrayed as a man of skill and honor; two, the ninja is not out to kill anyone; three, his allegiance lies with his martial arts teacher, not a feudal lord.
- Batman Begins has Bruce Wayne train in what looks like a ninja school — which is, apparently, located in Tibet. But these are idealist conspiratorial ninja with a taste for what sound like neo-Marxist theories of history (and for burning down cities).
- Hong Kong filmmaker Godfrey Ho produced about 50 ninja movies in the course of less than ten years. His style was to cut and paste using stock ninja fight-scene footage edited into unreleased Hong Kong films, many of which had nothing to do with martial arts. Ho also employed unemployed Caucasian actors, typically as villains, Vice cops, or Interpol agents. Veteran actor Richard Harrison played the role of heroic ninja master Gordon in a number of these films, although Gordon's role and backstory varied with films. Due to the cut and paste nature of these movies, it appeared that there were two different stories going on at the same time. It was easy to differentiate the fairly recent "ninja" footage from the grainy "old HK film". The two protagonists often appeared to interact with each other through clever editing or phone conversations. Godfrey Ho Ninja Movies were also known for the tacky ninja outfits that ranged from red, to yellow, and even metallic colors. Ninja frequently wore headbands with the word "Nin-Ja" embroidered on them. The word ninja was regularly pronounced "ninjer" in many of these films due to the accent of the English language voice actors.
- Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow from G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and G.I. Joe: Retaliation. G.I. Joe: Retaliation also adds Jinx.
- Mirai Ninja a.k.a. Cyber Ninja is a ninja-based clone of Star Wars.
- Speed Racer: A ninja appears and attacks the Racer brothers... but he commits the sheer mistake of going against Pops Racer. Cue an hilariously awesome Curb-Stomp Battle — with the ninja at the receiving end!
Trixie:Oh my god! Was that a ninja?!
Pops: More like a nonja. Terrible what passes for a ninja these days.
- The main antagonists of The Hunted (1995) are a cult of ninjas trained from childhood to be efficient assassins, and are in a bitter rivalry with the Takeda clan, a group of Samurai who oppose their actions.
- In The Kunoichi: Ninja Girl, Rina Takeda plays the role of a female ninja named Kisaragi who attempts to rescue a group of women being held captive to become toys for men.
- Lady Ninja Kaede is about the formation of an elite group of ninja tasked with punishing sex crimes in Edo period Japan.
- The Lost Redeemer: The Silezhar are an elite group of assassins from the east who are clad in black from head to toe, leaving a narrow slit for their eyes. Basically ninjas in all but name.
- The unidentified assassin of Pharaoh Amenemhat I from Papyrus Millingen is the Ur-Example of ninja. Yes, the first ninja in historynote is an Egyptian.
- Shogun features realistic ninjas, and it's amazing to read James Clavell actually explaining to the reader what ninjas are.
- Ninjas in Cloud of Sparrows are rather more plausible than most other examples. They are very stealthy and good at dodging pursuit, but dress in normal clothes and are primarily employed as stealthy assassins and spies. Kudo, one of the two main ninjas in the book, also indulges in a spot of Clark Kenting. He is also revealed to have poorer reflexes than gunslinger Matthew Stark.
- The Aztec warriors of El Conquistador are depicted almost like ninjas: preternaturally agile, fast, stealthy, skilled and subtly "magic"; they take a castle in no time by infiltrating in it and taking down the entire guard. But they also doesn't follow the rule of Conservation of Ninjutsu, so they have an advantage over the traditional japanese ninjas.
- The antagonists in The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway are a ninja clan turned corporate empire.
- Eric Van Lustbader wrote a whole series of So Bad, It's Good novels about ninja.
- Phoenix Force battled the Tigers of Justice, a radical Japanese group using ninja techniques to attack nuclear power plants to avenge Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In later books they receive the help of John Trent, a Japanese-American master of ninjutsu.
- The pulp magazine version of The Shadow was essentially a ninja...with guns and the coolness factor turned Up to Eleven.
- In Neuromancer, a cyberpunk novel by William Gibson, Lady 3Jane has a ninja butler, Hideo.
- Lady Catherine de Bourgh has ninja guards in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and can't see the logic of anyone not having them. Elizabeth, however, makes short work of them, even taking out a heart and eating it.
- Timothy Zahn's Blackcollar: The Blackcollar commandos are obvious ninjas IN SPACE!. Their favored weapons are shuriken and nunchaku — low-tech to avoid enemy sensors.
- Ajutasutra in Belisarius Series is effectively an Indian "Ninja".
- The Discworld has a few ninja, and some reflections on the art of stealth:
- In Thief of Time, the Monastery of Wen the Eternally Surprised has ninja-like martial artist monks working as Time Police. Lu-Tze is highly contemptuous of anyone running around rooftops in black outfits ("others trained them, I just tried to undo the damage"), and his own strategy of passing unnoticed as a humble sweeper is actually closer to the real ninja.
- Similarly, in Interesting Times, we first see Highly Visible Ninja in the imperial palace of the Agatean Empire, working as bodyguards. (They're apparently pretty good fighters, but much too flamboyant and not as good as a bunch of very, very experiencednote barbarian heroes.) Then, later, protagonist Rincewind discovers that if he just wears a farmer's hat; nobody looks at him.
- The Assassin's Guild of Ankh-Morpork are all but Ninja in name, though they lack any pseudo-Japanese trappings. They wear all black, the kind of black that stands out in the middle of the night, and are trained in poisons, hidden daggers, and climbing. However, the really smart Vetinari wears green and grey when intending to be stealthy as a student. The trope is also subverted in that quite a few Assassins never actually seem to "inhume" anyone, at least after their graduation exercise, preferring to use their conspicuous black clothing to attract women and their obvious presence to act as a political lever.
- Mirror Friend, Mirror Foe by Robert Asprin and George Takei features a member of a surviving ninja clan in the future. It actually averts most of the usual tropes.
- They appear in Taiko, but realistically, as common spies who are looked down upon by samurai.
- The title character of the Alex Rider series dresses as a ninja in Scorpia, when going to assassinate Mrs Jones. However, he does use real ninja tactics when trying to gain access to her floor: disguising himself as a pizza boy and having his weapons hidden in or disguised as his merchandise, and only switches to the stagehand outfit when in an area he'd be thrown out of whatever he was dressed as.
- Although Another Note does not actually describe Beyond Birthday as being a ninja, his way of doing things is certainly very ninja-like. He makes use of toxins (anesthetizing his victims with poison before actually killing them), sneaks into his victims' homes, hides in plain sight, eavesdrops on conversations, evidently works quickly, and takes on the role of an "unprivate detective" to get the families of his victims (and the Final Girl) to trust him.
- Several Super Sentai series feature ninjas, with the main ones being Ninja Sentai Kakuranger, Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger, and Shuriken Sentai Ninninger. They were adapted for the US as Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers Season 3, Power Rangers Ninja Storm, and Power Rangers Ninja Steel, respectively.
- Over in one of Sentai's sister franchises, Metal Heroes includes Sekai Ninja Sen Jiraiya.
- Ultra Series:
- Michael Beck as "Ken Sakura", an orphaned American adopted into a ninja clan, in the 1983 TV movie The Last Ninja.
- Lee Van Cleef played fugitive ninja master John Peter Mac Allister on the short-lived TV series The Master.
- Shown as the film in two episodes of MST3K.
- Ninjas using both 'traditional' weapons and explosives attack John Blackthorne and Mariko in the 1980 miniseries Shogun.
- Charlie from Spin City once daydreamed of winning the World Series, and fighting ninjas.
- The Spike TV show Deadliest Warrior had a ninja go one-on-one with a Spartan. In the end, the ninja was defeated.
- Aasif Mandvi of The Daily Show is a ninja. He has an ability to disappear into the green screen effect.
- Jonathan Raven (a former member of the Black Dragons) in the series "Raven."
- Battle For Money Sentouchuu has ninja androids (Actually stuntmen trained to handle ninja weapons and martial arts) meant to assist players battle each other. Players can get one, but you need 600,000 yen for it.
- In a story published during spring training of 2007, Chicago Cubs then-closer (now starter) Ryan Dempster claimed to be training as a ninja. He was joking... we think.
- Before he was The Great Muta, he wrestled for Championship Wrestling From Florida as White Ninja in 1986.
- Kensuke Sasaki and Mr. Pogo, who in 1989 held the WWC Caribbean Tag Team Titles as The Ninja Express.
- Ninja Sasuke in Lucha Libre Internacional during 1991. "The Great Sasuke", as he would come to be known by the following year, went on to found Michinoku Pro Wrestling.
- Ron Reis wrestled as Super Giant Ninja in WCW.
- Kyusei Ninja Ranmaru popped up in 2001 for the Garbage fed Big Japan Pro Wrestling and was joined in a tag team by Kyusei Ninja Tsukimaru in Yoshimoto Women's Pro Wrestling Jd'.
- In 2007 Toshiya "Rascal" Matsuzaki of Toryumon fame began wrestling in CMLL as "Mini Ninja".
- Dick Togo became a "Ninja Warrior" during 2012 in Toryumon Mexico.
- Ninjas were among the go to jobbers on the Pro Wrestling RESPECT shows for the Ring of Honor and SHIMMER academy students.
- Hsiao-Lan, as well as Rapunzel/Hotaru in Rose Guns Days have a similar role, the latter's being close to that of the kunoichi.
- Triangle Heart 3: Sweet Songs Forever has Shiro, Kyouya, and Miyuki Takamachi. They're usually bodyguards, but occasionally do some assassination work as well.
- The Shall We Date? franchise has several otome VN's with ninjas in the cast. The list includes the Ninja Love and Destiny Ninja series, Shall We Date?: Ninja Assassin and its Spin-Off Shall We Date?: Ninja Shadow etc.
- The Adventures of Dr. McNinja's titular Dr. McNinja, as well as his mother, father, and brother. There are other ninja in the plotline too, but they're less prominent.
- Blade of Toshubi: Toshubi is a ninja mouse.
- Ninjas play a large part in the final arc of Buck Godot, because every race in the known universe has them...
- Daryl Hu, an American of Japanesse and Korean ancestry living in the monster infested city of Kellwood, has a mentally and physically scarring run in with Charby the Vampirate while out jumping over rooftops as a ninja by night.
- The obscure, unknown webcomic Dreamaniac has resident ninja Andrew (who's actually from Switzerland and his younger brother, ninja-in-training Mark.
- The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! has four time displaced ninjas who tried to escape from samurai by entering a hibernation state, and then overslept. Their most notable characteristic is that, once unmasked, their faces are drawn in a manga style completely different from the rest of the characters.
- Freefall had an arc involving a restaurant run by French ninja who would deliver food to your table without you ever noticing, with the nod to real ninja invisibility noted in the trope quote.
- Magick Chicks: Artemis Academy's Ninja Club. Their leader, Tandy, is a member of the student council, has stealth down to such a science that she can seemingly appear from thin air, and even knows a secret art for interrogation purposes. Her club members have proven themselves so capable, in her absence, that they've managed to kidnap Skye and replace her with Rain, in order to spy on Cerise and undermine her authority — all without Cerise suspecting a thing!
- Megatokyo features Junpei, nowadays a l337 ninja, thanks to his training under Largo.
- Mountain Time takes place in a universe where onions use their ninja training to kill condors.
- Feskus of the Nami Warriors is a very skilled ninja...who apparently communicates with just the word "hoy".
- In Rascals, Ninjas do exist in this world in the form of clans. Reiko, Jazmin, and Kyoko are all ninjas of the same clan.
- introduced for the Show Within the Show of Nip and Tuck.
- Ninjas appear a few times in The Order of the Stick including a half-orc ninja who falls for Elan. A Running Gag is for ninjas to go undetected by other characters even when they're not actually hiding.
- Satan Ninja 198X features your average video game playing, bodacious babe obsessed dweeb in the 80s, who is transformed into a Satan powered ninja.
- Shortpacked! has Ninja Rick, A ninja obsessed man who was raised by a betamax copy of Fist of the North Star and has a surprising amount of skill with a sword.
- SPRINGIETTE features Chop Chop Ninja Doom, who throws chips instead of stars.
- And then there's the the title character of the SNAFU Webcomic, TIN: The Incompetent Ninja who takes incompetent to it's logical extreme and is able to commit unbelievably violent acts to anyone except his target.
- Working Doodles features a special type of ninja in it's second page and the evolutionary steps needed to get to that special tier.
- The SCP Foundation universe has SCP-2928, which are literally ninja. One of the disciplines of ninjutsu that they use binds them to the idea of what a ninja is, which means that as long as whoever is looking at them believes that actual ninja are stealthy, sneaky, and undetectable, they will be. But if whoever looks at them believes that ninja are highly visible, then they stand out like a sore thumb. The Foundation intentionally funded shows that made ninja seem more open and visible to weaken them. Also, according to one of the ninja in Foundation custody, the turtles are real, but their creation involved a lot of cocaine.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The fab four have been been kickin' shell on weekday afternoons and Saturday mornings since the mid '80s. They started as traditional ninja by operating in secret, or under the cover of darkness. But it wasn't long before the people of NY knew about 'em. Now? Depending on the series and the setting, they're either adored by the public or they're misunderstood.
- Kim Possible is infested with them: a few one-shot bad guys, some specialized "embarrassment ninjas", a secret ninja high school where Ron spent a week as an exchange student, and of course Monkey Fist's ninja clan made entirely of monkeys.
- Basically every and any action/adventure cartoon in the U.S. is bound to feature Ninja at some point. Skunk Fu!, ostensibly a children's show, has Ninja Monkies!
- In Jackie Chan Adventures the Shadowkhan, a milita of demonic ninja, were often deployed by the bad guys to fight Jackie. Season 4 featured nine different groups of Shadowkhan.
- It took four seasons before Samurai Jack fought a ninja, but he did — a robot ninja at that. It was, at least, a stealthy one, made completely invisible whenever it stood in shadows. And then Jack revealed he could do the same trick with sunlight, leading to one of the most visually incredible fights in the series (which is saying something), as the series is made of cool.
- Of course, Jack himself is both a Ninja and a Samurai. His skills in Ninjutsu came in handy when he had to go through the labyrinth.
- Transformers Animated has Prowl and Jazz as goddamn NINJA ROBOTS. How much cooler can you get? Ironically, Prowl's a pretty honourable guy as a ninja (as is Jazz) but the moment he puts on the Samurai Armour Upgrade, he becomes a totally arrogant asshole one step away from turning into a villain.
- Prowl was slightly arrogant already, as he seems to think a lot of his own abilities. This is tempered by the fact that he actually just is that badass.
- Animated went on to reveal that there's an entire order of ninjas back on Cybertron, which includes Animated versions of almost every Autobot martial artist, melee-weapon user, fist fighter... and Grandus.
- The short Australian CGI spoof Samurice. Ninja Rice steal the sacred Soya Scroll, and samurai hero Ricesashi has to get it back.
- Kyodai Ken (a.k.a. the Ninja) from Batman: The Animated Series.
- In an episode of Thunder Cats, Mumm-Ra summons a samurai named Hachiman and tries to trick him into fighting Lion-O. When that doesn't pan out and one of his minions is captured, he tries to salvage the situation by doing the unexpected: Summon a ninja.
Monkian: I don't see anyone!
Mumm-Ra: Look behind you.
[Monkian looks behind himself, only to fall over in surprise]
Mumm-Ra: This... is the NINJA! If the samurai has all honor, then the ninja has none. His methods are silence, secrecy, and stealth. And his weapons — dagger and disguise...
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Katara and Zuko dress in all black and stealth their way around several Fire Nation navy commands, seen by no one until they attack, in order to get information on the man that killed Katara's mother. It's all kinds of bad-ass.
- The Dai Li are Earthbending Ninjas. While they don't do the all black attire normally attributed to the profession, the training and combat style they use fits the bill perfectly. Unlike most Earthbenders, or any capable bender in the series, they use hidden weapons and misdirection in their combat style.
- Also, Zuko in Blue Spirit mode. Silent, stealthy, wears all black, incredibly badass, one of the only characters to be actually deadly in each appearance... total ninja right there.
- The Equalist chi-blockers in Legend of Korra are stealthy mask-wearing fighters that use a pressure points to disable benders alng with bolas and smoke bombs to throw their opponents off balance. True to the idea of ninja, they also don't care about fighting fair, though when your opponents have Elemental Powers you need every advantage you can get.
- Kabuto, the main villain of Tokyo Mater has ninja racing cars for henchmen. He summons them to distract Mater about halfway through the short, only for them all to be knocked out by Dragon McQueen. At the end of the short, Mater wins the race, and since Kabuto threatened him that if he lost the race, he will strip Mater of his modifications, when Kabuto lost, he is stripped of his own modifications, and is laughed at by his own ninjas who then turn to the side of Mater, now "King of all drift racers."
- Transformers: Prime has Wheeljack. No longer a wacky scientist with a penchant for inventions that blow up. He's now a badass ex-Wrecker ninja with a pair of laser-deflecting katanas and a mask to boot. Not to mention quite cocky.
Starscream: Do you not see that you are vastly outnumbered?
Wheeljack: I see fellas who might vastly enjoy watching me pound some dents into you.
- American Dad!:
- When Roger shows up in one episode: "I'm a ninja everybody! I'm doing NINJA stuff now!!"
- Yoshi and Akiko's mother, Mrs. Yashida who sneaks into the Smith's home dressed to rescue her daughter being held prisoner by Francine so Steve can win a spelling bee. She knocks Hayley unconscious with a dart.
- The heroic Technicolor Ninja protagonists in Ninjago are your stereotypical Highly Visible Ninja. They are able to perform Spinjitzu, which are elemental-powered combat tornado moves.
- Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja features a ninja-superhero protagonist.
- The Canadian animated series Chop Chop Ninja (itself an Animated Adaptation of an iOS game) features a group of students at a Ninja School training to earn the title of "Chop Chop Ninja".
- In Storks, Nate makes it clear in his letter to the storks that he wants a baby brother with ninja skills. Instead, he gets a baby sister ...with ninja skills.
- PJ Masks has Night Ninja, one of the original three Nighttime Villains. He is supported by a group of smaller ninja's called Ninjalinos. As a typical ninja, he is very agile, and some of his powers include (dis)appearing in a puff of smoke, and telepathically levitating objects. Since it is a show aimed at preschoolers, he does not use actual weapons, but he and his mooks have Sticky Splat which can be used for various purposes.
- MythBusters tested some ninja powers.
- Ninja can catch arrows in flight — BUSTED! The myth was tested by shooting safety arrows at the Guinness Book of Records champion ninja. Six arrows hit him. He jumped away from three and caught the tenth arrow; in a real fight, he would have been dead before that tenth one. It is possible, but highly impractical. Also Busted because ninjas knew better than to put themselves in a place to get shot at.
- Ninja can lie in a carp pond all night breathing through his blow-pipe and when the victim goes for a morning stroll, shoot him with poisoned darts. PLAUSIBLE. Using a blow-pipe underwater takes a bit of practice, but is doable. Tory managed to stay under cold water for one hour.
- Ninja with sword versus archer 30 yards away. Archer shoots. Ninja knocks away 1st arrow with sword and charges before archer can reload. CONFIRMED! Jamie guessed he could have reloaded if the distance were 100 yards, but they never tested it.
- Similar to MythBusters, the show Fight Science also did some work with ninja (also special ops of various nations, and fighters from other schools).
- They proved that ninjutsu really does have a deadly punch (compressing the rib cage enough to cause fatal damage to the heart).
- Insane Balance: While standing on one foot on a pole five feet tall, a ninja can dodge shuriken and not fall.
- Some of the more infamous ninja in history (and some folklore) especially originating from Jidaigeki:
- Hattori Hanzo, the Miyamoto Musashi equivalent of ninja, was a part-time ninja: as an Iga retainer in service of the Tokugawa dynasty, he was seen as a retainer with an exceptional special skillset and tactical bravado (earning him the moniker "Devil Hanzo")— however he was also reknown for swordsmanship excellence, and skills with a spear. His appearance as a ninja nowadays is probably a direct result of his tactical choices that earned him his "Devil" nickname; tactics along the lines of subversion, misinformation, assassination, etc.
- Sarutobi Sasuke, one of the men counted as The Sanada Ten Braves. Bodyguard of Sanada Yukimura. Granted his name to five ninjas in Naruto: Hiruzen Sarutobi the Third Hokage and his father, Sasuke; Konohamaru Sarutobi, who is basically Naruto's apprentice; Asuma Sarutobi who is Shikamaru's sensei; and finally Sasuke Uchiha himself.
- Although, it is rumoured that Sarutobi was a fictional character, or at least a fictional name tagged to label a certain ninja that may or may not have been serving Yukimura.
- Sasuke is not the only ninja Yukimura had, however, he has ten of them, known as 'Sanada Ten Braves', with Sasuke being its most prominent member.
- Fuuma Kotaro, Hojo's ninja, most famous for that myth about him luring and killing Hanzo in a naval battle, suicidally.
- Mochizuki Chiyome, Takeda ninja and credited as the founder of kunoichi.
- The Sulsa, the ancient Korean equivalent of the ninja.
- The SAS, Navy SEALs, Spetznaz etc. are ninjas in all but name. And ninjas are part of SPECWARCOM in all but name (and time period).
- Masaaki Hatsumi, who claims to be part of the last remaining ninpo lineage. And yes, they wear the black pajamas. They also wear pajamas in various colors that fit the environment.
- Ninja schools exist, even in America. They're usually specifically trained for the army.
- Besides Ninjutsu, there is another (and uniquely American) martial arts style developped for use in hand-to-hand combat. It's called MCMAP (Marine Corps Martial Arts Program). You won't find schools in shopping centers that teach MCMAP, though, as only members of the US Navy or Marine Corps are permitted to study MCMAP. MCMAP is unique in that it is the only style in which people train in full combat gear, including training in the use of pocket knives and bayonets as offensive weapons (as opposed to something you might disarm an enemy of and use it against him). Basically, it's Ninjutsu adapted to modern combat.
- There's also the Bujinkan system which teaches unarmed and armed combat techniques from Ninjutsu. One of the more prominent teachers of the school, Stephen K. Hayes, since removed from the rolls, is famous for having released a number of "how to" books on Ninjutsu.
- Though Bujinkan may not truly be derived from martial arts used by ninjas, as Ninjutsu is not a martial art (such as karate or taekwondo), despite what many people think. The art of Ninjutsu consists of guerrilla and espionage strategies; and not head-on combat techniques.
- While "ninjutsu" is not in itself a specific martial art (It's an amalgamation of all of the various disciplines including unarmed, and armed combat, as well as espionage, and infiltration and stealth along with various other disciplines taught specifically in Ninjutsu schools in the Iga and Koga regions), there were several styles that ninja tended to use, referred to as "Ninpo", which include guerilla warfare and espionage training alongside combat techniques. These included such styles as Iga-ryu and Togakure-ryu (the latter of which being what Bujinkan is believed to descend from) which are martial arts themselves.
- Ashida Kim is a self-proclaimed ninja who is based in Lake Alfred, Florida. Having written over 30 books on the subject, he claims to have learned his ninjutsu from someone named Shendai. He also claims to have met Count Dante (who is best known for his "Deadliest Man Alive" ads appearing for years in comic books) and trained under him. He also has posted a $10,000 challenge to anyone who wants to fight him. It should be pointed out that the aforementioned $10,000 is not awarded to the person who defeats Kim. It is Kim's fee (plus travelling/lodging expenses and a $25,000 appearance bond assuring the challenger is "serious") for showing up to the fight. Long suspected to be the pseudonym of a Christopher Hunter, recent investigations have suggested that Ashida Kim's birth name is Radford Davis. Also, despite the Japanese first name and Korean last name of his favorite alias, Mr. Davis is very caucasian.