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Playing Card Motifs

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I know that the spades are the swords of the soldier
I know that the clubs are weapons of war
I know the diamonds mean money for this art
But that’s not the shape of my heart
Sting, "Shape of My Heart"

Playing cards have a wide and varied use in fiction. If they show up, they're to evoke an air of luck, gambling, and trickery.

The standard international deck (also known as the French deck), is the most widely-used in fiction as it is in card games. It consists of four suits — clubs (♣), diamonds (♦), hearts (♥) and spades (♠) and 13 cards of each suit, plus two jokers. Respectively, the suits traditionally represent the peasantry, merchant class, clergy, and nobility. The suits also allude to Esoteric Motifs. When it comes to color-coding, hearts and diamonds are red while spades and clubs are black. If the four suits are used in a work, more often than not they'll be to differentiate factions or characters. The suit of spades in particular is associated with death, while the suit of hearts has the usual associations of Heart Symbol when it's not an Alice Allusion.

The components of each deck, and the motifs associated with them, often represent the hierarchy within the card-themed organization in question. Note that the rankings of the cards vary between games.

  • The Ace: The highest rank (although some games have it as the lowest, filling the slot taken by the absent "one" card, and a few allow it to fill either role in different circumstances), and the origin of the term The Ace (and by extension, things like Ace Pilot).
    • The Ace Of Spades is the highest-ranking card, popularly known as the "card of death." Someone using this motif will likely be highly competent in battle. Alternately, its appearance may be foreshadowing danger ahead.
  • The Face Cards are a group of "court" cards (a king, a queen, and a jack or knave), ranked in that order. They are named on French decks, but not on English decks. Whom the "faces" are supposed to represent, if any at all, are points of contention, however recent years have seen them replaced by more generic court characters. For more details, see the Analysis tab.
    • The King cards traditionally rank below the ace and above the queen. When all four are collected, they are termed "the four horsemen." When not overshadowed by the Queen, often The Leader of the playing-card themed organization in question.
      • The King of Hearts is nicknamed "The Suicide King" because the common art for the card includes holding a knife or sword to his head that may appear to be impaling himself. This can be commonly invoked in a motif.
    • The Queen ranks below the king and above the jack. Such characters will often be regal and imperious.
    • The Jack or Knave typically ranks below the queen and above the 10, making him the lowest-ranking face card. Often the right-hand man to the King, the Queen, or both.
      • In an Alice Allusion, the Knave of Hearts is likely to show up alongside the Queen of Hearts. If not, he's going to be The Trickster, thanks to the nursery rhyme.note 
  • Cards ranking from ten to two (also known as deuce) are portrayed with the card's number with as many symbols of the suit as the number. Commonly portrayed as Mooks.
  • The Jokers (often two to a deck) are commonly portrayed as court jesters or fools. The use of the joker card, if any, varies wildly from game to game. In Tarot Motifs, it is comparable to The Fool. If a character is described as such, they may very well be The Trickster or a Wild Card. More recently, thanks to The Joker, Jokers have also occasionally taken on more sinister roles as monster clowns.

Aside from the standard 52-card deck, other common decks include:

  • 32-card "Piquet" deck: 52 cards minus two to six cards.
  • 48-card Pinochle deck: Ace (high) through nine only, twice each in all four suits.
  • French Tarot deck: 78 cards: 56 suited cards (Knight face cards are inserted between the queen and jack) plus 21 trump cardsnote  and the Fool.
  • Spanish Conquian deck: 40-card deck. Ace through Seven, Page, Knight, and King of Swords, Clubs, Cups, and Coins.note  An extended deck of 50 cards also exist, it adds Eights and Nines in each suit, plus two Jokers.

Compare Chess Motifs (for another motif based on a classic game), Tarot Motifs and Alice Allusion. The Gambler will often have this as his scheme, as will the Death Dealer. Supertrope to Dead Man's Hand, which is a specific group of cards (two black eights and two black aces) that symbolizes death; Ace Of Spades is another card/subtrope that symbolizes death specifically. Locations where playing cards are often used, such as The Casino, may make use of this as well. See also Poker.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Alice in the Country of Hearts: Being a dating sim adaptation of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, it's quite rife with this.
    • The Country of Hearts is divided into three conflicting factions with a neutral territory in the middle. The grandiose Castle of Hearts is associated with, well, hearts, the mafia territory Hatter Mansion is associated with spades, the cheery Amusement Park is associated with diamonds, and the neutral Clock Tower is associated with clover.
    • Wonderland itself is divided into "countries." So far, the Countries of Heart, Clover, and Diamond have been seen.
    • Joker oversees the prison realm, and seemingly has a Split Personality to match there being two jokers in a deck of cards.
  • Amnesia: Memories: the routes are named after card suits; Shin's is hearts, Ikki's is spades, Kent's is clubs and Toma's is diamonds. Secret Character Ukyo, whose route is unlocked after completing all four, is the joker.
  • The four kingdoms from Black Clover are based off of the four suits.
  • The Cures from Doki Doki Pre Cure: Mana/Cure Heart (hearts), Rikka/Cure Diamond (diamonds), Alice/Cure Rosetta (clubs), Makoto/Cure Sword (spades) and Aguri/Cure Ace (aces).
  • Fist of the North Star: In the anime, the very first arc has villains with this motif. The gang leaders are named after the suits (Spade, Diamond, Club, and Mr. Heart), Shin's Dragon has a Joker motif, and Shin himself is the King.
  • High Card revolves around this trope: it involves a deck of magical playing cards set in the Kingdom of Fourland, where everyone and everything has a card-themed name.
  • Hunter × Hunter: Hisoka the Magician uses playing cards as weapons, and tends to wear clothes decorated with card suits. Even his speech bubbles are punctuated with them. In character, Hisoka is a combination of the Trickster, the Joker and monster clown.
  • Jewelpet: Some Jewelpets have card suit symbols as necklaces; Jasper and Nephrite have diamonds, Alex has a spade, King has a club, and Ryl and Diana have hearts.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: JoJolion has the female characters of the Higashikata family as homonyms for card suit names: Daiya for diamonds, Hato for hearts, Tsurugi for spades, Mitsuba for clubs, and their mother Cato, a homonym for "card" itself.
  • The first season of Kaguya-sama: Love Is War assigned individual cards to the main characters. Kaguya and Shirogane share the Ace of Hearts, Ishigami is the Ace Of Spades, and Fujiwara is the Joker.
  • Mobile Fighter G Gundam: The Shuffle Alliance acts as the Big Good of the setting. They're a quintet of Gundam Fighters who have playing card themed titles. Who chooses the Shuffle Alliance isn't clear; the current generation simply seemed to have the crests of their title appear on the back of their hands, and the old Shuffle Alliance knew they had to take over.
  • Downplayed in Moriarty the Patriot, but with the return of Moran's #1 Dime card from William featuring the King of Hearts ("The Suicide King") and the Jack of Hearts spliced together, they obviously represent the two characters, William as the suicidal leader and Moran as his right-hand man.
  • One Piece:
    • Doflamingo's Co-Dragons have card suit themes: Diamante (diamond), Trebol (club), and Pica (spade). Doffy himself sometimes go by his alias "Joker". Even his former protege (who was intended to be his right-hand man but ended up betraying him eventually), Law, has the theme of "heart", Corazón in Spanish.
    • Kaido's Co-Dragons are named King, Queen, and Jack. His lesser officers, the headliners, are named after various card games with the exception of those recruited from the Worst Generation. Then there are the Numbers, a group of ten failed clones of ancient giants named after the numbers one through ten, who represent the number cards and serve as Elite Mooks.
  • One story arc in Ranma ½, has the regulars playing Poker against the "Gambling King", who resembles a king from a deck of playing cards.
  • Shugo Chara!: The Guardians of Amu's school; The King's Chair, the Queen's chair, the Jack's chair, and the Ace's chair. The Joker's chair can only be filled by someone with at least three Guardian Characters, making an actual Joker quite rare. Amu's Guardian Characters and their transformed selves, Ran (Amulet Heart), Miki (Amulet Spade), Su (Amulet Clover), and Diamond (Amulet Diamond) also fit the suit symbols.

    Comic Books 
  • Parodied in Alan Ford: three famous and important men who have to undertake an airplane journey together receive the two of spades and consider it an ominous message announcing death and ill-fated departure. By the end of the issue, Number One remembers that the two of spades is also the least valuable card you can get in Briscola (a card game) and thus a way to claim that someone's useless: the person responsible is an otherwise forgettable Butt-Monkey who's always been called "two of spades" because of his incapacity and wanted to get his revenge by using these cards to make other fall into endless paranoia.
  • DC Comics
    • The Joker, Batman's nemesis, corresponds well to his eponymous card by being chaotic and unpredictable. He also tends to use the Joker itself as a Calling Card.
    • Harley Quinn is often decorated in diamonds, partly due to her long association with the Joker.
    • The Gambler is a Golden Age villain and Master of Disguise who gets by mostly on luck. His grandfather was a riverboat gambler and bandit, and the primary inspiration for his villainous turn. He committed suicide after losing at a rigged casino. His grandchildren, the second Gambler and Hazard, follow much the same gimmick, though Hazard has luck powers.
    • The Royal Flush Gang, pictured above, has always had a playing card motif, as they were originally formed by the Born Lucky gambler Amos Fortune. The group's members have always consisted of the various cards one needs to form the titular hand — Ace, King, Queen, Jack, and Ten. The gambling aspect quickly disappeared when they and Amos went their separate ways...except the Justice League version, who first appeared in an episode that took place entirely in Las Vegas. They were also Shout Outs to the Teen Titans.
    • The Green Arrow villain Jeremy Tell, aka Double Down, is a gambler who gets cursed by a deck of magical cards which tear into his skin.
  • Marvel Comics
    • As The Gambler, Gambit uses a playing card motif, with particular fondness for the Joker and the Ace of Spades. In Gambit-related storylines in which Rogue appears as his love interest, it's common to see her represented in his motif as the Queen of Hearts.
    • X-Men villain Mister Sinister began to utilize this motif in the Krakoan Age: he made clones of himself, each marked with a playing card symbol on their forehead, to fight the threat of AI by studying mutants (diamond), posthumans (clubs), cosmic powers (spades), and magic (hearts). The original Sinister had a diamond on his head, which was his original symbol to mark his servitude to Apocalypse. The clone with the diamond continued using the Mister Sinister identity, while the other clones Dr. Stasis, Orbis Stellaris, and Mother Righteous respectively have a club, spade, and heart mark on their forehead.
  • The Mighty Crusaders have in their roster a hero named Black Jack (aka Jack Jones), who dressed in red and black and spade decorations to match his card counterpart Black Jack, aka the Jack of Spades.
    • Black Jack's origin involves the Jack of Spades: Jack Jones was a detective who was betrayed by a corrupt partner and walled alive in a deserted mansion. He was left the Jack of Spades card, a card representing misfortune, as a cruel joke, but Jones used the card to make an air hole, which gave him enough time to be found and rescued. That card not only inspired his heroic identity, but became one of his most precious possessions.

    Fan Works 
  • DNMC has Fulhaus "Clu" Cluspaheadia. If his name wasn't an indicator towards this trope, then his symbol bearing a hand holding five playing cards and his red, white, and black color scheme most likely are.
  • Flowing Star: Lincoln is associated with Spades, with his pocketless orange hoodie having a black spade symbol on the front and back.
  • Infinity Train: Knight of the Orange Lily is filled with references to Alice in Wonderland and in the 400 Rabbits Car, Gladion is given a card reading alongside Specter and Paul London. Larkspur and Lampetia later learn that the rabbits are planning on an anti-Apex group called Project Solitaire with each member represented by a specific card. Gladion fights off one member, General Zangetsu, in the Canals of Fondue Car and his card is the Ace of Clubs that represent a pursuit of knowledge. Zangetsu asks questions about Gladion's past and why he pursues the Apex if there is nothing personal at stake for him.

    Films — Animation 
  • Steven Universe: The Movie: Spinel, the primary antagonist of the movie, has a Gemstone in the shape of a heart. According to Word of God, Spinels in general have their Gemstones shaped like playing card suits.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • As in the comics, the Joker serves as a Calling Card for the Joker in the Batman movies.
  • Callum Change's (former) mansion in Funny Man is decorated with card motifs, especially jesters. Film's main villain is based equal amounts on a standard jester as he is on Punch.
  • In Heroes Henry Winkler plays a Vietnam vet trying to round up his old buddies to start a worm farm, he and his buddies had nicknames of the higher ranked Hearts.
  • In Casino Royale (2006), the Animated Credits Opening puts two bullet holes through a Seven of Hearts, thus identifying 007.
  • Maverick. During a scene where Maverick tries to choose which card he draws from a deck, he picks the Queen of Hearts — a Foreshadowing of his romantic encounter with Annabelle Bransford.
  • In Nobody, Hutch Mansell has a 7 of Spades and a 2 of Diamonds (considered the worst hand to start with in Texas Hold'Em) tattooed on his wrist. Exactly what this means isn't explained, but the moment someone notices it he immediately thanks Hutch for his service and proceeds to hide in a panic room.
  • Ace Hanlon in The Quick and the Dead uses an ace as his calling card to let everyone know he's The Ace. He really isn't.

  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: In Wonderland is the court of the King and Queen of Hearts, in which all the royalty and soldiers are anthropomorphic playing cards.
  • Gambling imagery sees frequent use in Baccano!, being as The Mafia and the camorra play significant roles in the series. Playing card imagery is no exception: the opening credits sequence of the anime styles the kooky thief duo Isaac and Miria as the Joker, and indeed they have a tendency to shake up any situation they unwittingly wander into. The Dreaded killer-for-hire Claire Stanfield, meanwhile, is sometimes associated with the Ace Of Spades in its capacity as the "death card."
  • The Erast Fandorin series often uses card motifs in connection to criminal world:
    • Early in The Jack of Spades, the eponymous Conman of the Novel goes into a prolonged Internal Monologue about the symbolism of the nickname he picked for himself.
    • In He Lover of Death, all Khitrovka gangs seem to be structured like card decks: the gang leader is referred as King, his girlfriend is the Queen and his right-hand man is the Jack, while the regular gang members are spread out between ten and six (from most important to most expendable, respectively). The Ace is a King whose gang dominates the entirety of Moscow underworld.
  • High School D×D: The Brave Saints system of the 10 Seraphs, based on the Evil Piece System of the Devils. Each Seraph has access to 13 cards that are used to reincarnate humans into Angels, with each Seraph embodying a suit. Michael is Spades, Gabriel is Hearts, Uriel and Raziel are Diamonds, and Raphael, Sandalphon, and Metatron are Clubs. The most prominent of the Brave Saints are Irina Shidou, Michael's Ace, and Dulio Gesualdo, Michael's Joker.
  • In House of Leaves, Johnny freaks out over someone giving him a King of Hearts lighter.
  • Magical Girl Raising Project: Shufflin are artificial magical girls created by the Osk Faction to serve as soldiers. The first Shufflin consists of a Joker who controls 52 lesser Shufflin in a sort of Hive Mind. They have different roles depending on their suit: Spades are combatants, Diamonds are good with technology, Hearts are durable, and Clubs are stealthy. If any Shufflin die, the Joker can sacrifice another magical girl to dispel all of the Shufflin and create a new batch of 52, but if the Joker dies, then all of them disappear. Shufflin II are an improved model who are mass-produced without the Joker, so they are more intelligent and there are more than 52 of them, but they can't be easily replaced.
  • Both the book version and the original film version of The Manchurian Candidate have the Queen of Diamonds be the trigger for Raymond Shaw's brainwashing. Discussed by the Army psychologist as a reference to Shaw's mother.
  • No Game No Life: The former King of Elchea's appearance is based on the King cards. Additionally, Tet, the God of Games, has the four suits as his motif, combined with other game-related motifs.
  • Sidekicked is a superhero novel with a villain called the Dealer, whose henchmen are the Jack of Clubs (throws a powerful baton that returns to him), the Jack of Spades (huge and sometimes wields a shovel) and the Jack of Clubs (has a Glass Eye that's actually a supernatural diamond). Each leaves a card either before or after committing a crime. The Jack of Hearts' powers don't really relate to the gimmick, though both break a hero's heart, in different ways.
  • In Retribution Falls, Darian Fray loses a hand of Rake when he draws the Ace of Skulls, which also happens to be the name of a passenger liner carrying the son of a duke that he was conned into attacking with the lie that it was a freighter carrying gemstones.
  • In Wax and Wayne, the villainous Set codenames its ranks in card puns, to wit: The Brute is a "Suit," The Reluctant Mad Scientist in the Set's employ is an "Array", The Brute's superior is a "Sequence", and member of the council are titled "Series."

    Live-Action TV 
  • Alice (2009), being an adaptation of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, is naturally rife with this, but manages to sneak in a Stealth Pun regarding this: Winston, the King of Hearts, is Driven to Suicide. The King of Hearts is nicknamed "the Suicide King" since the way he holds his sword makes it look like he has stabbed himself in the head.
  • Fitting for the Wild West theme of Community's second Paintball Episode, six of the seven main characters are introduced with a freeze-frame and a playing card. Jeff and Britta are the King and Queen of Spades respectively, Shirley, Abed, and Troy are the Ace, Jack, and King of Clubs respectively, and Annie is the Ace of Hearts. It turns out these cards are their votes for whether or not to kick Pierce out of the study group; Annie's red card meant she was the only one who voted for him to stay.
  • In J.A.K.Q. Dengekitai, each of the four heroes is named after a different suit/rank combo: Spade Ace, Clover (aka Club) King, Heart Queen, and Dia(mond) Jack; plus their commanding officer at Mission Control is called Joker. Joker is then replaced in a Retool by the team's Sixth Ranger, Big One, who fills the same role in the analogy even if he's not as blatant about it as the others. The team name (pronounced "Jacker"), besides being an acronym of the ranks, also sounds similar to "Joker".
  • Kamen Rider:
    • Kamen Rider Stronger: General Shadow carries with him a card deck that he can use for attacks or to tell fortunes. Each card in the deck also corresponds to a different member of his Delza Army, with Shadow's personal card being the King of Spades. Snake Woman, Shadow's top henchman (and possible lover) is represented by the Queen of Hearts.
    • Kamen Rider Blade uses this for its overarching motif. There are 52 Undead, which are organized by the playing card suits based off their relative Power Levels. The Riders defeat the Undead by sealing them into cards, which allows them to draw on their power: Aces are used to transform, the face cards give access to Super Modes, and the others grant a variety of power-ups. The Riders themselves each represent one of the four suits, while being named for the corresponding Tarot suit: Blade is Spades, Garrennote  is Diamonds, Chalice is Hearts, and Leanglenote  represents Clubs. There's also a Joker Undead, which is fittingly enough the series' Wild Card.
    • Kamen Rider Double: Shotaro is associated with the Joker (or "kirifuda" ("trump card"), as it's translated once). He's an unpredictable Spanner in the Works who disrupts the various schemes going on around him, with some of the other characters even calling him a "Wild Card".

  • "Desperado", originally by Eagles, contains the lyrics:
    Don't you draw the queen of diamonds, boy. She'll beat you if she's able. You know the queen of hearts is always your best bet.
  • David Pomeranz's King and Queen of Hearts have the eponymous King and Queen as a romantic couple.
  • In "A Deck of Cards" a soldier gets in trouble for pulling out a deck of cards in church. The soldier explains why:
    The Ace reminds me that there is but one God. The duce tells me that the Bible is divided into two parts: The Old and New Testaments. When I see the tray I think of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost ... my deck of cards serves me not only as a Bible, Almanac, but also a prayer book.
  • Motörhead's 1980 single Ace Of Spades, from the album of the same name. Guess what it's about.
  • The Vocaloid song "Alice Human Sacrifice" uses this motif (as part of a bigger Alice Allusion). In order, Meiko is represented by a red Spade, Kaito is represented by a blue Diamond, Miku Hatsune is represented by a green Clover, and both Rin and Len Kagamine are represented a yellow Heart.
  • "Queen of Hearts" by Juice Newton:
    Playing with the queen of hearts
    Knowin' it ain't really smart
    The joker ain't the only fool
    Who'll do anything for you
  • House DJ Danny Tenaglia featured a king of clubs on the cover of his mix album ''Back to Basics'', playing off Danny's nickname as "the king of clubs".
  • "The Red And The Black" by Iron Maiden uses plenty of these motifs, with some lines implying the narrator may be The Gambling Addict.
  • “Shape of My Heart” by Sting, quoted above, is composed of this trope, including this Double Entendre:
    He may play the jack of diamonds
    He may lay the queen of spades

    Professional Wrestling 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Champions
    • Card Shark from Dark Champions
    • Blackjack from European Enemies.
    • Supplement "C.L.O.W.N." (Criminal Legion of Wacky Non-conformists). One of the "villains" of C.L.O.W.N. is the Trump Knight. He has a sceptre that can change to Club, Diamond, Heart or Spade form, with each form having two powers usable in combat.
  • Hucksters in Deadlands are mages who cast spells by playing poker with demons, and most of their spells are card-themed.
  • Four of the Queens from Princess: The Hopeful: The Clubs believe in harmony with nature, The Diamonds believe in enlightenment, The Hearts believe in politeness, duty and social interaction, and The Spades believe in good humor and practical thinking.
  • Queen by Stephen Jerzak causally uses the names of the suits in sentences (I.G “hearts like doves/she’s the queen of the clubs”) and mention playing solitaire, not to mention the whole queen thing
  • A set of Light-Elemental Warrior cards in Yu-Gi-Oh! are based around the tradition King, Queen and Jack. Normal summoning a King's Knight while having a Queen's Knight on the field special summons a Jack's Knight. There is also a Fusion Monster summoned by fusing the three, Arcana Knight Joker.

  • In Fiorello!, "Politics and Poker" has a group of Tammany hacks playing poker while discussing political strategy:
    Second Hack: How's about we should make Jack Riley the guy?
    Third Hack: Which Riley are you thinking of? Jack B. or Jack Y.?
    Ben: I say neither one, I never met 'em.
    Fourth Hack: I say: when you've got a pair of jacks, bet 'em!
  • In Histoire du Soldat (The Soldier's Tale) by Igor Stravinsky and C.F. Ramuz, the Soldier plays cards with the Devil to get rid of his ill-gotten money so he can go on to claim the Princess. The Devil, holding the Villain Ball, wins every round, and on the last round the Devil holds the Ace of Spades and the Soldier holds the Queen of Hearts.
  • In Love's Old Sweet Song by William Saroyan, the Con Man, having finally fallen in love with Ann, asks her to Pick a Card, and she draws the Queen of Hearts.
  • In the opera The Rake's Progress, Tom Rakewell wagers his soul against Nick Shadow on correctly guessing three cards drawn from a deck, and wins by relying on symbolic coincidences. For the first card, Tom thinks of his Love Interest Anne, and names the Queen of Hearts. When a spade propped against a gravestone crashes down, Tom exclaims, "The deuce!", which leads him to name the second card as the Deuce of Spades. Nick craftily reinserts the Queen of Hearts, but before Tom can guess the third card, he drops the words "love" and "return."

    Theme Parks 
  • Cedar Fair Entertainment: The mascot for Steel Vengeance is named Blackjack and has the four suits etched into his hat. This ties into the ride's wild west backstory.

    Video Games 
  • The Binding of Isaac has pickups based on cards, suits included. Ace cards turn all other pickups in the room in to a collectable based on the suit, while 2 cards double (quadruple with the Tarot Cloth item) the current number of that collectable held. Spades cards do these with keys, hearts with... the heart pickup, diamonds with coins, and clubs with bombs. There is also a Joker card that teleports the player character to the devil/angel room, even on floors where it is normally inaccessible.
  • Sneff, from Chrono Cross, throws playing cards at his opponents, and two of his moves revolve around playing cards: Big Deal, in which he tosses an entire deck, and HP Shuffle, in which he shuffles the three digits that make up his HP (091 might become 910, 901, 190, 109, 091 and 019).
  • Deltarune features a large number of playing card-themed characters; the in-universe explanation is that when the Dark Fountain opened in the abandoned classroom, it turned all the objects there, including a deck of cards, into characters and environmental elements. The characters are actually based on a specific card set created by Kanotynes.
    • Chapter 1 revolves around the King, his son Lancer, and his troops, all themed after playing card suits: Rudinn and Rudinn Rangers are diamonds, Hathy and Head Hathy are hearts, the three-headed Clover is a club, the King and Lancer are the respective King and Jack of Spades, and Rouxls Kaard is a pun on the "rules card" sometimes included in commercial decks.
    • The Card Castle where the King resides includes a lot of playing card motifs and puns, including a literal "club" where Clover and a few others have fun together, and the castle bathroom "Royal Flush".
    • The Chapter 1 Superboss, Jevil, is a jester based on the Black Joker card, and likewise has a chaotic and wild personality. During his fight, he uses all four suits as weapons, fitting the Joker card's ability to stand in for any other one.
    • The first shopkeeper, Seam, is partly based on the Red Joker, since they were formerly the court magician. (Though, unlike the other card characters, they aren't actually one in the Light World — they're a plushie!)
    • When Lancer and Rouxls enter Kris' inventory in Chapter 2, they get turned into an actual Jack of Spades and Rules Card, respectively, in the Light World.
  • Dead Man's Hand, befitting the title, have the main character's health represented by poker cards. There's also a Blackjack mini-game in between stages which can boost his health.
  • In Densetsu no Stafy, the four keys that unlock Dolchina and Dolshe's cage have designs based on the four playing card suits.
  • In Devil May Cry 4, Dante's unique Gilgamesh attacks reference poker while Nero's sword attacks reference casinos/gambling. The sword itself is called the Red Queen to fit this.
  • All of the characters in Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker are named after card game terms, like Joker (the Canon Name for Hello, [Insert Name Here]), Solitaire, Warden Trump, Madame Rummy, and Dr. Snap. The main monster of the game is also called the Incarnus, and it has four forms named after the card suits (Wulfspade, Hawkhart, Cluboon, and Diamagon) that can upgrade to "Ace" versions. (But note that while Joker has direct sequels, the card theme doesn't carry over and becomes The Artifact.)
  • A meta example from Fallout: New Vegas: one of the promotional items that shipped with the Collector's Edition of the game was a deck of cards. The deck assigned each suit to a major in-game faction/ending and each card to a character or minor faction, with each suit's king being that faction's leader.
    • The suit of clubs is used for Caesar's Legion, a brutal conquering army in Roman centurion cosplay. Diamonds are used for the technocrat Robert House and the employees of his rebuilt Vegas Strip. Hearts are the NCR, the New California Republic, trying to rebuild America. And spades are everyone else, those caught in the crossfire as the other three factions try to take New Vegas for themselves.
    • Special mention goes to the king of spades, which is the King, the roguish, Robin Hood-esque leader of Freeside, who stumbled onto a stash of old tapes of a great pre-war hero... Now he and his gang, the Kings, are Elvis impersonators, although sadly none of them wear Elvis's iconic rhinestone-encrusted white jumpsuit: the 1974 Arabian, also known as the King of Spades.
    • The jokers, fittingly, are the Courier and Benny.
    • If you help Mr. House upgrade his Securitrons with the Platinum Chip, the Courier can comment about how the visual changes in the Securitrons seems like him blatantly showing his hand. House dismisses their concerns by stating:
      Mr. House: I haven't shown my hand - I've shown one card. I've given my enemies a single, provocative datum upon which to fixate. They have no idea what other cards I'm holding. It's a strong hand, believe me - I dealt it to myself.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Setzer, from Final Fantasy VI uses cards, dice, darts and slots in his attacks. His airship is named Blackjack. And he joins the party by losing a (rigged) coin toss. This clip shows how badass a Setzer can be: He's a wispy silver-haired Bishōnen that sails his airship at top speed, unfazed by the wind as he stands at the rudder, who destroys a heavily-armed gunship by tossing a few sharpened cards at it. Ante up indeed.
    • And the Trickster class in Final Fantasy Tactics A2, who throw playing cards and use magic chants to, for instance, convince opponents that they've been poisoned (which is the same as poisoning them). The tricksters fought in the mission to unlock the class are all dimwitted thugs, though.
    • Final Fantasy X-2: The heroines each have a different suit motif while using the Lady Luck dressphere: spades for Yuna, diamonds for Payne, and clubs for Rikku. Leblanc, whose outfit heavily resembles the Lady Luck, has hearts.
    • Final Fantasy Type-0: The game starts with 14 teens, originally 12 plus 2 new members Rem and Machina, all of whom are cadets at Akademeia as Class Zero. Aside from the 2 new recruits, the members of Class Zero are named after the Japanese pronunciations of "trumps" or playing cards. The original 12 members are Ace, King, Queen, Jack, Nine, Eight, Seven, Deuce, Trey, Cater, Cinque and Sice. There are two other Academy students, Tiz and Joker, who represent the "missing" playing cards 10 and Joker (Tiz is the Hungarian word for ten) and were meant to factor into Arecia's plans for Class Zero until she deeemed them unnecessary. Instead, they report directly to her, though Joker can randomly appear as Support Personnel in missions if certain requirements are met.
  • In Ghosts 'n Goblins, the Red Arremers have a caste system based around playing cards. First, there are the Red Arremer Kings, which have a darker hue to their skin. Red Arremer Aces are next, and they equip themselves with armor. Finally, the highest rank a Red Arremer can obtain is Joker, who acts the leader of the whole clan.
  • Girls' Frontline introduced a unit (BGM-71) where each crew member had a motif based on each of the suits.
  • The antagonists of Golden Sun: Dark Dawn are named Spade, Heart, and Ace in the original Japanese. English versions shift the naming scheme to Tarot Motifs, redubbing them Blados, Chalis, and Arcanus.
  • In Kingdom Hearts, Luxord, No. X (#10) in Organization XIII, is a Time Master who uses playing card and gambling themed attacks. One of his best tricks involves literally turning Sora into a card during battle. Luxord is so connected with cards that, in a room depicting each member of the Organization's personal weapon, his name is above a fanned deck.
  • The King of Fighters:
    • Oswald, debuting in KOF XI, is a Death Dealer and thus his attacks from his fighting style of Karnoffel have playing card theme: Spade, Club, Diamond and Heart can be cancelled into each other up to three times, while Ace is an attack that can either deal minor or massive damage, similar to the value of the card. King and Queen are Counter-Attack and projectile moves respectively. His Desperation Move Four Suits, via its C version, does 21 hits (Blackjack) while Joker has him unload his 52 (53 in XIV) cards at his victim. Furthermore, his color scheme is the one of playing cards: Black suit, red shirt and glasses, white hair, and yellow tie for the details in the figure cards.
    • This even extends to the game's soundtrack: "Joker" is the New Hero Team's theme (Oswald is on this team, by the by), "Queen" is the Rival Team's Theme, "King" is Adelheid's theme, and "Jack" is used for some sub-bosses. Oswald retains a remix of "Joker" in his reappearance in XIV.
    • Oswald's case once more is even a case of Shaped Like Itself; all of his listed moves in his official movesets use the playing card icons as their names! Examples include Q = Queen, ♠♥♦♣ = Four Suits and so forth.
  • In League of Legends, Jack of Hearts Twisted Fate, Ace of Spades Ezreal, King of Clubs Mordekaiser, Queen of Diamonds Syndra and Wild Card Shaco.
  • In Luigi's Mansion, the keys obtained from beating major bosses have playing card suit motifs.
  • Mega Man Star Force 3 features as its main villains a criminal syndicate named "Dealer". It is led by one Mr. King, and has among its high-ranking members Queen Tia, Jack, and Joker. There's also Ace, who deserted the organization. Furthermore, three of the (unwitting) major bosses of the game are Spade Magnes, Diamond Ice, and Club Strong, while King's Dragon is named Heartless, as befitting her status as The Mole. Their base's inner sanctum is even decorated like a gigantic card table.
  • In Mercenaries, you fight against the North Korean Army with each member of the regime having cards for their ranking. The lowest you start with is the Two of Clubs before working your way up to the Ace of Spades. More money is brought in if you bring the targets in alive.
  • ModNation Racers has an elite racer named Wildcard. Famously tricky, he dons a red, black, and white color scheme and decorates his car to playing cards.
  • Persona 5: The protagonist has a Guardian Entity with multiple hearts on its shoulders, and goes by the thief Code Name JOKER. Another party member even justifies this code name by saying it's because the player character is their Badass Crew's "Wild Card."
  • REFLEC BEAT: Colette has an event and four songs based on this motif. To play these songs you have to beat bosses named after the suits.
    • SPEED BLADE by L.E.D. The boss is Francis Club.
    • Ambitious by S-C-U. The boss is Rose Heart.
    • Arcanos by Dj Torriot. The boss is Lily Dia (as in Diamond).
    • Velvet Sentiment by seiya-murai. The boss is Cecil Spade.
    • Beating all four unlocks a new song and Boss: CLAMARE by MAX MAXIMIZER. The boss is called "Joker".
  • In Show by Rock!!, the band Criticrysta has hair decorations (in Funny Animal form) and outfits (in Human form) based on the suits, Rosia's suit is Hearts, Tsukino's suit is Spades, Jacklyn's suit is Clubs and Holmy's suit is Diamonds. Rosia and Holmy's color schemes even adhere to the red association of their respective suits.
  • While ultimately averted in Sonic the Hedgehog 2's Casino Night Zone, its original visual design played it more straight.
  • In Super Mario RPG, a card suit symbol of different colors appears whenever a member of the party performs a special move: Mario has a blue spade, Mallow a green club, Bowser an orange diamond, and Princess Toadstool a pink heart. The fifth member, Geno, instead gets the Joker's red star, as he is originally from the stars themselves.
  • The members of the Heartslabyul dorm in Twisted Wonderland are themed after playing cards, as they are based off of the Queen of Hearts and her card soldiers in Alice in Wonderland. Riddle Rosehearts is the Queen of Hearts, Ace Trappola is the Ace of Hearts, Deuce Spade is the Two of Spades, Cater Diamond is the Four of Diamonds, and Trey Clover is the Three of Clubs.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Amnesia: Memories, each main guy is represented by a different playing card suit that shows up somewhere on their clothes: Heart for Shin, Spade for Ikki, Clover for Kent, and Diamond for Toma. Ukyo, a special Secret Character, is represented by the Joker card instead.
  • Troupe Gramarye heavily features these in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney: the insides of each of their capes are emblazened with a suits pattern, and each member has a brooch shaped like one of the four suits: spade for Magnifi, club for Zak, heart for Valant, and diamond for Thalassa (and Trucy, whose costume is based off of hers).
  • In menus and promotional images for Kissed by the Baddest Bidder, the main cast are represented with playing cards: Eisuke as the Ace of Hearts, Hong Kong gangster Soryu Oh as the King of Spades, Gentleman Thief Mitsunari Baba as the Joker, Ota Kisaki as the Queen of Diamonds, and Detective Mamoru Kishi as the Jack of Clubs. In-game, the high-class hotel and casino around which most of the action revolves is called the Hotel Tres Spades ("three spades"), and has fifty-two above-ground floors.
  • Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors: One of the rooms in which you get trapped is a Casino room, themed around finding numbered playing cards, which you use to solve puzzles to get more cards, and to escape the room. One of the puzzles is a Baccarat table, and there's a conversation about the rules for Baccarat (specifically that the strongest hand is a Nine) which is used as foreshadowing for the inspiration of the Nonary Game. In addition, the character Ace takes his codename from the playing card representing the number one.

  • The four Radical Knights of Radical Land, from The Adventures of Dr. McNinja are each named and in some cases styled after the four suits. They are:
    • Sir Sicknasty of Spades
    • Sir Cowabunga of Clubs
    • Sir Hellacious of Hearts
    • Dame Dudeical of Diamonds
  • In Alice and the Nightmare, social castes, organizations and even sayings all derive their names from cards — castes are named after four French suits, the elite forces are called Jokers and teams are referred to as "decks".
  • Homestuck:
    • The Midnight Crew is a four-member mobster group, each of whom is themed and named after a specific suit: Spades Slick, Hearts Boxcars, Diamonds Droog, and Clubs Deuce. They carry decks of cards that double as weapons and other objects, such as Spades Slick's Ace of Spades card doubling as his cast iron horse hitcher, or a 10-card and a 4-card being used as a makeshift radio.
    • The troll quadrants of romance use the four suits as their symbols.
      • Matespritship, the flushed quadrant, uses hearts, similar to how humans use hearts as a symbol for love.
      • Moirallegiance, the pale quadrant, uses diamonds.
      • Auspisticism, the ashen quadrant, involves three parties: a "mediator" between two opposing personalities, hence the uses of the three-lobed club.
      • Kismesissitude, the caliginousnote  quadrant, uses spades, which may reference the fact that such relationships are based on feelings of hate as spades represent weapons such as swords or spears, and the spade resembles an upside-down heart with a handle at the bottom.
    • Three of the first four kids wore shirts corresponding to different card suits in the past. John used to have a spades shirt before he got his Slimer shirt, Jade had a Skaianet shirt with a logo in the shape of a diamond, and Dave used to wear a shirt with a heart symbol. Rose is the exception, but her "angry Squiddle" shirt from the start of the story is in the loose shape of a clubs symbol.
  • Madame Outlaw: In episode 10, the magistrate discussing the social order is accompanied by visuals of the rich Thaddeus and Estelle as King and Queen cards, and no-name stableboy Doran as a Joker.
  • The Shufflers:
    • Most prominently with Märchen, whose job as a fortune teller has him work closely with playing cards in order to predict the future.
    • Also present as a theme in the comic proper, most prevalent in the opening chapters art that are styled as playing cards of the characters.
  • Similar to Shugo Chara!, the school councils in unOrdinary is named after playing cards, with the positions of King (currently occupied by Arlo), Queen (currently occupied by Remi), and Jack (currently occupied by Blake). There is also an Ace position that is regarded as higher than the King's sometimes, which is said to be occupied by Seraphina. This plays parts during confrontations between schools. Later on, John assumes the 'Joker' identity to terrorize the school, and even later, John crowns himself as King, and Cecile to Queen. It is yet unknown who his Jack is.
    • The patreon backing tiers for the author are also named after these positions.
  • The Strongest Suit… obviously, since it stars anthropomorphic playing cards.
  • Yokoka's Quest, this is a frequently recurring theme for Grace:

    Web Original 
  • One review of Casino made use of this:
    • Ace is the Ace of Spades. The poster boy go-getter. "I just wanna run a square joint." Straight and sharp.
    • Nicky is the King of Clubs. The enforcer/boss of the literal club bearers, or soldiers.
    • Ginger is the Queen of Hearts. The captor/ruler of all men's hearts.
    • Lester is the Jack of Diamonds. Jack of all the trades to get those diamonds. Will do anything and everything to gain money, and materialize women into his control.
  • Richard Bartle's 1996 article titled Players Who Suit MUDs, describing four types of Player Archetypes: Diamonds are achievers (they sparkle), Spades are explorers (they dig), Hearts socialize (they care) and Clubs are fond of Player Versus Player content (they...hit things).
  • SCP-2156, a college student who became so obsessed with solitaire and/or numerology that she broke reality.

    Western Animation 
  • DC Animated Universe:
    • On Batman Beyond, the Royal Flush gang are a villainous team example, taking their names from the cards that make up a royal flush in poker: King, his wife Queen, their children Jack and Ten, and the robotic Big Guy Ace. In their debut episode, Bruce is able to predict their next heist after realizing that their crimes thus far have also followed a (somewhat tenuous) playing card motif:
      Bruce Wayne: All of their crimes are playing-card related, and the earliest playing card decks had swords, not spades.
      Batman: How does the yacht fit in?
      Bruce Wayne: It was part of a yacht club.
      Batman: Ouch.
    • Other versions of the team are featured in the Justice League episode "Wild Cards" and the Justice League Unlimited episode "Epilogue." In "Wild Cards" the team was assembled by the Joker after he freed them from a government metahuman research facility; that team's Ace went on to form the "Epilogue" version of the team by using her reality-warping abilities to give superhuman powers to the other four members.
    • Even earlier in Batman: The Animated Series, a sleazy billionaire discovered he'd spent too much building a casino-hotel and was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. He promptly changed all the style and decor of the casino to obviously rip-off The Joker's image. Though it was all a ploy to get the Joker to blow the place up and clean up from the insurance, he played it off saying it was only a playing card gimmick.
      "Please, the joker is a time-honored symbol long associated with cards and games. I can't help it if it bears a passing resemblance to some costumed lunatic."
  • In one episode of Jackie Chan Adventures (specifically, an episode parodying the James Bond series), Dr. Necrosis' Dragon had power over playing cards, and always spoke in metaphors and puns related to them. "The deck is stacked in our favor! We have the upper hand!" "Dealer calls a new game!" "I thought he folded..."
  • The Loud House:
    • Ace Savvy and his sidekick One-Eyed Jack, Lincoln and Clyde's favorite comic superheroes, are themed after playing cards, with Ace having a signature pose of showing out a deck of cards.
    • In "Pulp Friction", for the Ace Savvy comic that he and Clyde submit for a fan contest, Lincoln creates a number of characters based on his sisters and people he knows about, most of whom are named after a type of card or a related term associated with playing cards. In particular, the ones based on the sisters are summoned by Ace in the comic through a deck, and with Ace, Jack and later Wild Card Willy, are jointly referred to as the "Full Deck" or "Full House Gang".
  • Used widely in The Magician: The Hero is a death-dealing Magician Detective named Ace Cooper. The Big Bad's name is Black Jack, and his dragons are called Diamond and Spade. On top of that, Black Jack owns a casino, and even the clothes he and his henchmen wear have a red and black color motif.
  • Ezekial Clench of Samurai Jack was a Wild West–style villain with a slight playing card motif; The spurs on his boots were shaped like spades, he had a card in his hat... Oh, and his cybernetic hands, the wrists of which had the playing card suits on them. The hands had a special ability depending on which suit was facing up. (He changes the setting by turning the wrist so that the desired suit is on the back of the hand.) He's also a bounty hunter, and on the run from his ex-wife, so luck is a big deal to him. (He does decide to call a truce with her to go after Jack, which turns out to be a very bad idea.
  • Poker-Face, from SilverHawks. His weapon is a staff that releases a card-suit shaped laser. His eyes are slots that change to match the occasion ($ signs when thinking about money, for instance).
  • In an episode of The Simpsons, Homer and Marge are at the movies and see a trailer for their universe's version of Cars called Cards, about anthropomorphic playing cards.
    Announcer: Fifty-two jokers, playing the game of their lives.
    Child card: I don't wanna be a 3! I wanna be a 7!
    Adult 5: Shut up, kid. You're as crazy as an 8, I'm telling you.
    Announcer: With Eddie Murphy as the Jack of Clubs!
    Jack of Clubs: You don't understand, officer. I thought that king was a queen.
    Announcer: This summer, the house is full and the deuces are wild in Cards.
    at a card game
    Drunken 8: Hey, Jack, you got any twos?
    Jack of Diamonds: You can't handle the twos!
  • The four plot-important Mewni royals in Star vs. the Forces of Evil have Facial Markings based off of playing cards. Star Butterfly has hearts and her mother, Queen Moon Butterfly has diamond-shaped markings. Eclipsa Butterfly, The Queen of Darkness has spades. Ms. Heinous — headmistress of St. Olga’s Reform School for Wayward Princesses and Eclipsa’s daughter has club-shaped markings.

    Real Life 
  • During the Second Gulf War, the United States distributed a deck with the 52 "most wanted" Iraqis with Saddam Hussein being the Ace of Spades. During that time, they also distributed a deck of missing artifacts.
  • The state of Florida released a deck with unsolved cases for inmates to play around with.
  • In WW1, the United States Army created its tank arm from scratch. Going back to its cavalry traditions and dividing a tank regiment into four squadrons, it used hearts, diamonds, spades and clubs as distinguishing markings painted on the turrets.
  • During World War II, the troopers of the 101st Airborne Division had playing card suits painted on their helmets to denote which regiment they were serving in, with the 327th wearing Clubs, the 501st wearing Diamonds, the 502nd wearing Hearts, and the 506th wearing wearing Spades. The units carry on this tradition through to the present day.