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Yoru: We all choose our own paths, Wayne-San! [Kyodai] walked a dark trail. It was not your responsibility. If you see Batman, tell him I have great respect for him.
Bruce: Why? He's as much a ninja as Kyodai was.
Yoru: Not so. Batman offered to help his adversary, and a lesser man would have used the knowledge of the [Touch of Death] against his opponent. Batman is the essence of samurai, Wayne-San. You would do well to remember that.
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A character which blurs the line between samurai and shinobi, whether in design or behavior.

Samurai are like the Eastern equivalent of Knights; nobles from Blue Blood families trained to be warriors for their lords and Shoguns. They are carefully trained in ancient techniques that emphasize a sense of honor, preferring close combat in open venues. The Samurai follow a Code of Honor known as Bushido ("the way of the warrior"), a moral code that emphasizes chivalry and loyalty to a master, even if it cost them their lives or freedom. Exceptions to this one rule are called Rōnin, who still adhere to bushido but have no master to speak of.

Ninja (also known as shinobi) follow the code of Ninjutsu; a set of tenets and rules that emphasized survival and results. Popular belief state that the ninja sprang from peasant classes, utilizing weapons and techniques born from Mundane Utility with quick and decisive means of incapacitating threats. They were assassins, their targets often high-profile members of society that either posed a threat to the clan, to the people or were unfortunate enough to have a bounty put on their heads, often by samurai.

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While historically ninja and samurai have a long and complicated relationship with one another, fiction likes to paint Ninja and Samurai as mortal enemies, one which represented the ruling class and the other which undermined it. Both are warriors born from the same region (though definitions vary between provinces), so a lot of pop culture outside of Japan (and even sometimes within it) tend to confuse the two in a variety of ways. This is often done because combining the two looks cool. More justified examples have In-Universe reasons, born of desperate situations or one defecting to the other.

The Cyberpunk genre often conflated samurai and shinobi in their portrayal of (Japanese) Corporate Samurai: on the one hand, they are portrayed as stealthy, unstoppable assassins, while on the other hand, they are typically employed by a Mega-Corp and bred for Undying Loyalty to whatever clan owns it (or lack of one in the case of Street Samurai).

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Sub-Trope of Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot. See also Samurai in Ninja Town, with which this can overlap.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach: The Gotei 13 squad are pretty much ghostly samurai, being sword-wielding soldiers who enforce the law in Soul Society. Yoruichi and Sui-Feng have fighting styles and skills based around stealth and speed, similar to pop culture depictions of ninja. Sui-Feng is also the leader of the Onmitsukido, an organization that is concerned with undercover operations.
  • Shurimon from Digimon Adventure 02 is called the "Samurai of Sincerity", but all of his bells and whistles (the Kusanagi on his back, his heavy use of shurikens, his ability to move undetected in a flurry of leaves) all point to him being a ninja.
  • The ninja protagonists of Kyattou Ninden Teyandee were called samurai when the show was localized into Samurai Pizza Cats, and as almost nothing but the dubbing was changed the "samurai" still used ninja weapons like shuriken and kunai.
  • Naruto: Ninja in this setting function just as much as soldiers in open combat as they do as spies and assassins, if not more so. Add in their superhuman powers and you basically get a weird combination of ninja, samurai and wizards. The actual samurai, from the Land of Iron, are mostly set apart by their aesthetic and combat abilities being standardized around swordsmanship (and the latter's mostly just because only a few of them have names).

    Comic Book 
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:
    • The Shredder is supposed to be a ninja yet wears samurai-like armor.
    • Leonardo is The Leader of the "Ninja Turtles", however he uses a couple of katanas (a classic Samurai weapon) and follows the Bushido Code of Honour.
  • Wolverine was trained as a samurai and is often associated with numerous samurai-themed superheroes and villains, such as the Silver Samurai and Scarlet Samurai. However, his animal senses and animal-themed abilities also make him a naturally-gifted hunter and stalker, and he has been further trained in covert operations and stealth assassinations. And, as the Trope Namer of Wolverine Claws, he even employs weapons more befitting a ninja.

    Literature 
  • Played for Laughs in Discworld, where the portrayal of Agatea causes all the Japanese and Chinese tropes to bleed together promiscuously and randomly. If it is viewed in the West as a Weird Japanese Thing, it will turn up in Terry Pratchett's Agatea. In Interesting Times, the almost-hero Rincewind spends a lot of time evading warriors, guards and generally annoyed people who combine aspects of samurai, ninja, regular footsoldier and even sumo wrestler.

    Live-Action TV 

    Video Games 
  • Goro Takemura from Cyberpunk 2077 has been scouted, augmented, and employed by the Arasaka Mega-Corp to be the personal bodyguard of the patriarch CEO Saburo Arasaka. After Saburo is killed by his own son, Takemura goes rogue and his story arc is essentially that of a Rōnin. On the other hand, he is of "peasant" birth (i.e. recruited from the streets), specializes in assassinations and other dirty work, and, notwithstanding his Undying Loyalty to the Arasaka clan and his snobbish disdain for any culture other than Japan's, is basically a cyborg ninja.
  • Ghost of Tsushima, the Player Character Jin Sakai starts out as a samurai who adheres to the samurai code of honor, only to be forced to take on less honorable means of freeing Tsushima from the Mongol Hordes (using stealth and underhanded tactics). As the game goes on, he learns more stealth techniques and even acquires weapons that are stereotypically ninja. While his growing resemblance to ninja in his appearance and technique are never openly stated — instead referring to him as a "Ghost", the ninja weapons referred to as "Ghost-weapons" — he can be considered a transitional warrior between both.
  • Impa from The Legend of Zelda series, particularly her more Action Girl portrayals in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Hyrule Warriors, and Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, has a very ninja-inspired appearance and skill set like the rest of her Sheikah tribe, including stealth-enhancing clothes, Deku Nuts that function like stun grenades, and a form of Smoke Out teleportation. However, she also defends the Royal Family of Hyrule by wielding swords like katanas in close-quarters combat, which more closely resembles a samurai.
  • Ryu Hayabusa of Ninja Gaiden has little use for stealth, often fighting openly as he carves a bloody path through his enemies. He also often espouses the importance of virtues such as honor and courage and is more like a Supersoldier than an assassin or spy.
  • Shinobu of No More Heroes is an Occidental Otaku (a lot like the protagonist), who combines aspects of Ninja and Samurai while living a double life as a schoolgirl (at least until the second game, when she's graduated and become a full-time assassin). Notably, her outfit and fighting style suggests a stereotypical ninja, but she uses a katana and is fond of at least giving lip service to honor and duty (such as avenging her father). It's made clear this is because she's invoking the trope in-universe as part of her aesthetic.
  • Ninjamurai has the protagonist, Takezou Nishimura, a young warrior who is the offspring of a female ninja and a male samurai. He can switch between the ninja-based Stealth mode and samurai-stance Attack mode. The former grants the ability to Double Jump, move faster and turn invisible for a limited amount of time, but it makes sword slashes slower. The latter doesn't have those movement options, but the sword slashes are faster and can allow for combos.
  • Samurai Shodown:
  • The Wolf in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is openly called a shinobi, utilizing stealth techniques when facing hordes of enemies and many of the game's antagonists being Samurai lords, a lot of his characteristics makes him more like a samurai. While stealth-based combat is an option, the game encourages more aggressive styles of gameplay that real-life shinobi tended to avoid. His mode of dress (bright orange and yellow) clashes with the environment which is counter-intuitive to traditional shinobi attire and his philosophy in life is based around protecting and serving a master (though this is more due to the machinations of his adopted father Owl).
  • Warcraft III: The Blademaster hero has elements of samurai in his design (giant sword, banner with a flag on his back, and a Critical Hit ability) and ninja (one of his skills creates illusions of himself, the other lets him go invisible and deal extra damage on his next attack).
  • Streets Of Rage 3: The Stage 4 boss, Yamato, wears samurai armour and utilises Iaijutsu with a large No-Dachi, but he also throws shuriken, turns invisible and can split into multiple clones.

    Western Animation 
  • The Batman: The Animated Series episodes "Night of the Ninja" and "Day of the Samurai" spotlight the line that Batman walks between following in the footsteps of his samurai master, Yoru, and his fellow pupil Kyodai Ken, who embraces the path of ninjutsu. At one point, Kyodai attempts to persuade Batman to embrace the same path, as the Caped Crusader's methods are very ninja-like, only for Batman to reject it and identify himself as a samurai. When Kyodai is defeated and seemingly dies, Bruce Wayne and Yoru further discuss the differences.
  • The titular protagonist of Samurai Jack is primarily a samurai, though he was also trained in ninja-style stealth and assassination techniques. This is best shown in the episode "Jack vs. the Ninja", when Jack encounters a robotic ninja; which leads to a stealthy duel where both of them fight with ninja gear and moves.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003): Karai is trained in ninjutsu yet is also an aspiring practitioner of bushido.
  • Cyber-Ninja Corps in Transformers Animated are a Cybertronian brotherhood that operate as a security apparatus, guarding their technology and performing long-distance missions. While their martial arts are very much ninja-seq. — relying on stealth and Processor over matter — their loyalty to the Autobots in the war effort is more like samurai. Older Cyber-Ninja masters like Yoketron wear armor and helmets that resemble real-life samurai armor.

    Real Life 
  • Surprisingly, there is actually a grain of truth for this trope. There were samurai that were trained in the art of ninjutsu and upheld the code of bushido. The most famous example is Hattori Hanzo who was a samurai for the Tokugawa clan during the Sengoku Period of Feudal Japan. He was also a ninja who saved Tokugawa Ieyasu from the Imagawa clan during the Siege of Kaminogo Castle, and again from the forces of Akechi Mitsuhide by escorting him through the perilous Iga village and using his ninja connections to secure a path, and frequently wore samurai armor as a frontline soldier who would ride into battle with a spear despite his occupation.

 
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Video Example(s):

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Green Samurai Ranger

Cam, the Sixth Ranger of this season, is identified as the Green Samurai despite the team being ninjas. He has a Super Mode that increases his speed by discarding his armor and giving him an appearance more in line with the other Rangers' suits. It should be noted that Cam's Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger counterpart is called a ninja not a samurai.

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