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The Triads and the Tongs

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Asian Gangsters by WegoDesign

"Triads had existed in China for centuries and were the most misunderstood, most complex, and most dangerous criminal organizations to infect the modern world. Chinese Triads made the Sicilian Mafia look amateurish."

The Mafia.... BUT CHINESE!! Subject of a thousand Hong Kong Films and a recurrent trope in Western stories with East Asian villains (sorta replacing the Yellow Peril), the Triads started life as a Ming-restorationist Secret Society during the 1760s. There was a precedent for this sort of thing working, given the Red Turban society and rebellion which fractured the Yuan Empire and allowed the Ming to conquer China in the late 14th century, though said society's original intent had actually been to restore the Song Empire.

Accordingly the Triads were associated with the colour red and the name 'Hong' because it was part of the first Ming Emperor's reign name (Hongwu, lit. 'superlative martial accomplishment') and the name of one of the society's founders. From the beginning they created an official mythology which claimed that had actually been created during the Ming-Qing wars of the 17th century, after the burning of the southern Shaolin temple, by five survivors of the battle. Some even claimed that one of them was Jee Sin, who was the master of the 5 Elders of Southern Chinese kung fu.

After contributing to the fall of the Qing Empire in the 1911 revolution, without resurrecting the Ming (as had been their original intention), the Triads now found themselves without a purpose and there was a split between the Mainland and overseas branches. The Mainland group is what we now commonly refer to as the Triads, while the overseas group became known as the Hongmen. The mainland Triads now turned to crime as they were unable to reenter normal society. After the Communist takeover, many Triad members moved to Hong Kong and Taiwan to escape new measures against organized crime. Hong Kong's Triad problems peaked in the 1970s, helped by police corruption.

The Hongmen is divided into 180 branches, and is arguably a Freemason-like organization, with an emphasis on patriotism, given the circumstances of its origin. Distinguished politicians such as Sun Yat Sen and Chiang Kai Shek were senior members. It shares traditions with the Triads, since they were one and the same not that far back. They are illegal in Hong Kong due to their relationship with the Triads, but are legal in Taiwan as a secret society. Not surprising, since President Chiang Kai Shek was a member. They exist in China as a political party, and hold the single non-communist ministerial seat. It has branches in other overseas Chinese communities, where it is referred to as Chinese Freemasonry. Its membership is rapidly aging with the change in the times.

Another group are the Tongs (literally "meeting hall", each Tong was named after the hall in which they were headquartered), modeled on the Triads, which arose in the US in response to the need for support organizations for new immigrant Chinese, as well as taking charge of protecting their members from violence from other groups. Some Tongs are fully legitimate organizations, providing charity to needy immigrants, giving them jobs and such. Others are more criminal in outlook, engaging in drug smuggling (opium being the most stereotypical one), prostitution, and racketeering. But usually, the average Tong was composed of both criminal and legitimate branches, with the criminal activity funding the charity (and the charity providing cover for the crimes). Many Triad members would join Tongs on reaching America, causing some Tongs to be strongly influenced by the Triads.

Chinese secret societies are guaranteed to exist anywhere in the world with a significant Chinese immigrant population, from Australia to L.A.

The secret societies used to be governed by strict codes of conduct and an inflexible hierarchical system, but that system has broken down in recent years, leading to behavior that many older members would consider unethical. The traditional secret societies have 36 Oaths which basically say, "don't screw over your sworn brothers, or you will get chopped up with lots of blades." (This phrase is repeated many, many times during the oaths, just to remind you). Doesn't mention anything about the morality of killing innocents. The oaths are sealed with the drinking of blood mixed with wine, and the oath-takers enter into a sworn brotherhood with the rest of the members of their organization. No problems with having more sworn brothers from elsewhere, though.

The traditional hierarchy and rituals, based in esoteric numerology and mythology, are not always followed as strictly or exactly as the old days, but many traditions live on in lingo and ceremony. The leader of a Triad is called the Mountain Master or Dragon Head. Below him are his highest tier lieutenants: Deputy Mountain Master, who acts as the Dragon Head's advisor and proxy, Incense Master, who oversees ceremonies and initiations, and Vanguard, who handles recruitment and assists the Incense Master. The middle officers are the Red Poles, White Paper Fans and Straw Sandals. Red Poles are the gang bosses and war leaders, commanding their own units to attack enemies, defend turf and engage in street crime. White Paper Fans are the consiglieres and administrators, managing and advising on finances, business and legal matters. Straw Sandals are liaisons, organizing and scheduling important meetings or gang fights. At the bottom are 49ers, who are simply the low-ranking initiates under Red Poles, and Blue Lanterns, the miscellaneous thugs, dealers, and contacts who are informally affiliated with or freelance for the group but not properly initiated into the Triad for life. Blue Lanterns tend to outnumber 49ers in modern times, but obviously are less trusted and more expendable. 25er is slang for a corrupt cop or contact in a rival group, serving as spies and informants.

As mentioned earlier, the traditional punishment is death by a hundred cuts, or getting ambushed and hacked up which is easier and quicker. Hong Kong triads especially love their cleavers, given the difficulty of obtaining guns in Hong Kong. A machete is fine too. Overseas groups may use guns, automatic weapons and explosives, if they don't find them dishonorable. Some martial arts, especially some of the Southern Shaolin styles tend to have a reputation as being used by the Triads, especially due to their common origin myth in the Southern Shaolin temple.

The patron god of the Triads is none other than Guan Yu (of both literary and video game note). He is also the patron god of the police... and a patron god for business. Basically, Guan Yu is the god for any high risk endeavour where you want trustworthy 'brothers' watching your back.

It should be noted that "Chinese Mafia" is both an oversimplification and misconception of Triads and Tongs, as neither have that much presence in China itself. Triads have some influence in certain regions of China, but operate most extensively outside of mainland China, as Mao's regime dismantled traditional secret societies during the Cultural Revolution, and the Tongs are largely a western phenomenon with most members being of the Chinese diaspora. Within the actual People's Republic of China there are criminal outfits called Black Societies, which wield significant but subtle political power and clout with local law enforcement, and Dark Forces, which are less organized, less powerful gangs (both terms being awkward translations of Chinese terms), neither having any relationship to traditional Chinese mysticism. Essentially, Triads are ethnically Chinese criminal societies abroad.note 

Compare and contrast with The Syndicate, Yakuza, The Mafia, The Mafiya, London Gangster.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Black Lagoon: Mr. Chang from is a member of Sun Yee On, and members of the 14K also make an appearance.
  • Cowboy Bebop: The Red Dragon Syndicate is basically this. While the leadership shown is ethnically Chinese, it doesn't appear to be required as multiple mentions are made of how Spike was originally going to take over.
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: In the second season, the Triads show up in an episode where Major Kusanagi visits the territory primarily occupied by (generally Korean and Chinese) refugees. They have a dignified Don, but the lower ranked gangsters are all common thugs.
  • Haou Airen: An Ordinary High-School Student named Kurumi Akino saves the life of a handsome stranger and nurses him back to health. It turns out he's Uon Hakuron (a.k.a. Li Shen Wong), a dangerous and sexy Triad leader, and soon after said incident she's kidnapped from school and taken to Hong Kong. Did we mention that Mayu Shinjo has a thing for Fetishized Abusers?
  • Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam: Stephanie Luio and her group are all but stated to be associated with the Triads. She has goons at the ready and her company is also a front for all sorts of illegal activity.
    This is Hong Kong City. You can't trust anyone.
  • Noir: A two-part episode pits the team against the Hong Yiban triad.
  • Sanctuary: The Triads play a role as a rival to the Yakuza.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: Gotham's secretive China Town has been ruled over by numerous Chinese based gangs over the years. Eventually the Ghost Dragons, who started out as Robin villains, took control from the fractured Triads and Tongs in the neighborhood. The Ghost Dragons' influence spread further into the city as The Mafiya lost ground.
  • The Triads play a prominent role in the Corto Maltese book Corto Maltese in Siberia (Corte sconta detta Arcana), as well as in the Animated Adaptation based on the book, Corto Maltese: La Cour secrète des Arcanes.
  • In The Couriers, Special was previously a minion of the NYC Triad gangster Johnny Funwrecker, whose downfall at her hands is presented in the final graphic novel of the series, "The Ballad of Johnny Funwrecker". Additionally, the second novel features Triad thugs working for a corrupt People's Liberation Army officer.
  • New York's Chinatown Tongs are a major force in DMZ, especially due to their cunning leader Wilson.
  • The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones: In issue #28, Dr. Jones runs afoul a Tong who want the Chinese mummy he is in San Francisco to collect.
  • In Judge Dredd, the judicial system of Hong Tong (the future Hong Kong) has been largely infiltrated and taken over by Triads, much as the Hondo-Cit (Japan) Judges were overtaken by the Yakuza.
  • In Punisher MAX the Triads and the Tongs are one of the many criminal organizations operating in New York City. They have a brief but memorable appearance when Nicky Cavella pays them a visit and teaches them why you don't fuck with the Cesare Crime Family. Hint: It involves child homicide and soup... please don't ask for more details.
  • The villains in The Shadow Hero are a Tong that has degenerated into a mere criminal gang, although the ending implies that it may regain its honour under a new leader.
  • Sin City mentions Tongs being present in the town (Miho once needed saving from a bunch of Tongs) but they have yet to appear in the series.
  • Darcy Parker in Strangers in Paradise supposedly had Triad connections. Since she began her criminal empire in her native Hong Kong, this is not surprising.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • In an earlier version of Turning Red, there was a traditional Big Bad early on, in the form of a Chinese gangster called Benny Blacktooth who wanted to take the temple for himself.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The first two A Better Tomorrow films deals with brotherhood and bloodshed in a powerful triad in 1980s Hong Kong.
  • The Wing Kong and Chang Sing street gangs, referred to specifically as "triads", in Big Trouble in Little China. The Wing Kong are Mooks for the villain, and wear red and black uniforms, while the Chang Sing are good guys who wear white and gold.
  • The Buster Keaton silent film The Cameraman, in which Buster the newsreel cameraman goes to film a parade in Chinatown and winds up capturing a shootout between rival gangs (the "Tong War").
  • City of Industry: The Triads are one of the gangs allied to the bad guy, a robber who betrayed his partners after a jewelry store heist.
  • The Triads are the main villains in the Mark Wahlberg film The Corruptor.
  • Death Race has a prison gang leader, aptly named "14K" who's described as "First generation Chinese-American, tenth generation Triad".
  • Election, and its sequel Triad Election in which the oldest HK Triad kills and maims more of its own members than the rival gang.
  • Fu Manchu often works with/controls these groups in films which feature him.
  • The Game Changer, set in 1930s Shanghai, where two besties joins a triad, falls for the same girl who's the triad leader's daughter, and messes their lives up by the end.
  • Guardian Angels has a cabaret owner trying to rescue his late friend's son (and millions) from the Triads.
  • Infernal Affairs and its sequels. The first film was remade into The Departed, with the Triads replaced with The Irish Mob.
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom opens with Indiana Jones confronting a Shanghai mobster named Lao Che and his henchmen. Indy tries to bargain with Lao for the ashes of a Qing dynasty emperor, only to be double-crossed when the gangster poisons Indy and offers an antidote in exchange. Naturally, a fight ensues in Lao Che's nightclub.
  • Kick-Ass 2: Kick Ass and Justice Forever crash a Triad-run poker game to take down a human trafficker early in the film. The Motherfucker also hires an ex-Triad enforcer (whom he dubs Genghis Carnage) to be part of the Toxic Mega Cunts.
  • The Killing of a Chinese Bookie: The "bookie" in the title turns out to be the local head of the Triad.
  • In King of New York, Jimmy Wong is the greedy Triad mobster that Frank White must take out to create a multi-ethnic crime syndicate.
  • In Kung Fu Hustle, several street gangs are causing trouble in 1930s Shanghai; with the Axe Gang (led by Brother Sum) being the most feared and powerful criminal organization in the city. In fact, the film begins with a minor mob boss (the leader of the Crocodile Gang) bullying a local cop inside a police station, only for he and his men to be eliminated by the Axe Gang soon afterwards.
  • The main villains of Lethal Weapon 4. Their leader, Wah Sing Ku (played by Jet Li in one of his only villain roles), seeks to free the real founders of the Triads, the Four Fathers, with the use of Counterfeit Cash.
  • In Licence to Kill, Franz Sanchez is negotiating a business deal with Chinese drug barons, hoping to expand his cartel into a Trans-Pacific empire. However, one Chinese gangster, Kwang, is later revealed to be an undercover Hong Kong narcotics officer hoping to entrap him.
  • The Night Comes for Us is a martial arts/mob movie dealing with the South East Asian Triad-controlled underworld of Jakarta. In the movie's universe, the Triad has six top enforcers, known as the Six Seas. The hero, Ito, is one of the Six Seas who has turned against his old masters to protect a little girl he was ordered to kill.
  • The Professional: Leon takes out the Triads and Stansfield's second-in-command Malky during a drug deal.
  • Push featured the triads as baddies.
  • Romeo Must Die has an African American gang and a Chinese gang butting heads over waterfront property.
  • The second and third Rush Hour movies deal with the Triads. Of particular note are the Parisian Triad members who don't even speak Chinese. The first movie has a Chinese gang, but they are working for an Evil Brit.
  • Shanghai Grand, remake of the triad drama Shanghai Bund, revolves around two friends' rise in power in a Shanghainese triad and their eventual downfall caused by betrayal and backstabbings.

  • In David Wingrove's Chung Kuo series, the Triads become increasingly powerful in the lower Levels.
  • Crosstime Traffic: Despite the German occupation of the United States, the Chinese Triads still operate in the San Francisco of Curious Notions.
  • Hong Kong Triads feature in Dark Heavens, led by Simon Wong.
  • Part of the backstory of the titular doctor of Dr. No. He started out as the treasurer for a Tong, before running away with their money to continue his career. They chopped his hands off when they found him and left.
  • The Yellow Peril variant is referenced, and averted, in East of Eden, in which Adam Trask's Chinese servant Lee tells Adam and Samuel about going for help to his "family association".
    Samuel: "I have heard of them."
    Lee: "You mean Chinee hatchet man fightee Tong war over slave girl? It's a little different from that, really."
    • How different? Well, it turns out that Lee and his Tong leaders have been studying ancient Hebrew in order to analyse a single word in The Bible.
  • Due to Even Evil Has Standards, they're the good guys for once in The Power of Five.
  • Key to the plot of Michael Connelly's novel 9 Dragons, in which Harry Bosch's daughter is kidnapped by a Triad gang.
  • Portrait in Sepia: Tao Chi'en has been doing his best to rescue girls from sexual slavery in Chinatown, and it is politely tolerated. But when he gets involved with a pair of American missionaries who disrupt the people in charge of the business, the tongs are outraged he involved outsiders and send out a hit on him. Assassins ambush him while he is out on the street with his granddaughter, leaving him for dead.
  • In Skeleton Key a branch of the Triads called the Big Circle attempts to set up a betting scam at Wimbledon, but Alex uncovers the scam and ruins it. A Big Circle agent later attempts to assassinate Alex in revenge.
  • The Triads in Hong Kong are a persistent thorn in Dirk Struan's side in James Clavell's Tai Pan. Unknown to him, several Chinese characters are members, including his illegitimate son.
  • The Upgrade by Wesley Cross: The Red Dragon gang is Jimmy the Butcher's primary employers but he supplements his income by working for Guardian Manufacturing.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In an episode of Arctic Air the police are looking for a hitman from Vancouver who is trapped in the arctic community when a snowstorm stops all traffic in and out of town. One of the older mechanics starts telling stories about how nasty and deadly Triad assassins are. His stories are mostly nonsense and the hitman is actually Caucasian and working for a biker gang rather than any Chinese crime group.
  • Bosch: Bosch's ex-wife Eleanor Wish uses her position as a professional gambler to assist the FBI in their investigation into Triad activities in Los Angeles; this results in her death in a drive-by shooting.
  • An episode of Castle features a tong. This example is unusual in that a character mentions that most tongs are legitimate organizations.
  • In Deadwood, a Tong gang supported by George Hearst wrests control of Celestial Alley from the local strongman Mr. Wu, with the goal of supplying Chinese prostitutes and opium to white residents. Eventually Al Swearengen helps negotiate for Wu to retake control of Celestial Alley and slaughter the new Tongs.
  • The Doctor Who story "The Talons of Weng-Chiang" has the Tong of the Black Scorpion as mooks serving their Physical God Weng-Chiang (who turns out to be a psychotic time-traveller from the future who bamboozled them with high-tech tricks).
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe
    • Daredevil (2015): Madame Gao ostensibly is a Triad boss, who smuggles heroin into the United States using Rand Enterprises. During the first season, she uses her connections with Wilson Fisk and the Ranskahov brothers to distribute the heroin on the streets of Hell's Kitchen. After the Ranskahovs are killed and Fisk is put in prison, Gao continues the operation using her role as a leader of the Hand.
    • Iron Fist (2017): In the second season, one of the major plots is a growing war between two Triad gangs, the Golden Tigers and the Yangshi-Gonshi as a result of the power vacuum left by the Hand's elimination in The Defenders (2017), a war that Davos eventually inserts himself into.
  • Tongs were the focus of a couple of episodes of Kung Fu (1972).
  • Monk: In the episode "Mr. Monk Gets Cabin Fever", Adrian Monk accidentally stumbles upon a gangland murder in San Francisco's Chinatown district. This forces Monk to seek federal witness protection by hiding in a remote cabin in the woods. Meanwhile, Monk's cop friend Randy Disher is dating a pretty woman of Chinese descent, who's secretly aligned with the local Triad and tricks Randy into leading her gangster friends to Monk's hideout. This results in a shootout between the Triad hitmen and law enforcement.
  • Nikita: The mission that qualified Nikita for active duty involved the assassination of Victor Han, a member of the Department of Homeland Security in its early days. In actuality, the assassination was faked in order to remove Han, a triad member, from the intelligence community without pissing off said triad overmuch. Fast forward to the present day, and Nikita lays into a triad's New York operations only to discover Victor Han is in charge.
  • Peaky Blinders: The Historical Domain Character Brilliant Chang shows up in the 5th series as a tentative ally to the main characters. The real Chang was a notorious London-based opium baron, and is sometimes said to have inspired the Fu Manchu novels. Chang is presented on Blinders as a bit of a Magnificent Bastard and certainly not the worst person around.
  • A really ridiculous episode of Psych depicted a kidnapping related to two rival Triads in Santa Barbara. Yes, two Triads in Santa Barbara.
  • Sherlock: A group of Tong serves as the main villain in the episode "The Blind Banker", though it's referred to as an ancient Chinese crime syndicate rather than a Chinese-American organization a little over a century old ( and, as with the previous episode's villain, it turns out that Moriarty's The Man Behind The Dragon Lady).

    Pro Wrestling 

    Tabletop Games 
  • These still exist in the BattleTech setting, even a thousand years into the future, due to the game's subtext on how humanity's problems don't change, only the scope. They are mentioned less often than the Yakuza, who trouble the more Japanese-themed Draconis Combine, but Tongs in particular are often referenced in stories and campaigns set in the Capellan Confederation. Because of the Confederation's 'hermit nation' reputation the Tongs are rarely openly acknowledged, but are an open secret elsewhere (to the point that even military officers from their rival nation, the Federated Suns, are aware of the identities of senior native Tongsmen).
  • In Eclipse Phase a few Triads are essentially the only ethnic syndicates to survive the Fall thanks to China's significant presence on Mars beforehand. The few survivors of the Mafia and Yakuza and Cartels coalesced into the Night Cartel.
  • Feng Shui: The Triads serve as a common enemy and occasionally ally. As with other criminal syndicates in the Feng Shui setting, they're largely controlled by the Ascended.
  • The Martian Triads are one of the major inner-system crime organisations in the GURPS Transhuman Space setting. While they do the usual organised crime stuff (loansharking, smuggling, protection), the bulk of their income comes from selling restricted and illegal bioroids, and they're known to have at least one Evilutionary Biologist on staff.
  • Hong Kong Action Theatre: One of the game's few supplements, The Triad Sourcebook, is an invaluable resource on the Triads and their use in Hong Kong action games in general.
  • Mutants & Masterminds: The SuperTeam Handbook supplement introduces the Iron Claw Tong as antagonists, a San Francisco-based crime syndicate led by the Iron Empress and composed of both mundane Chinese criminals and elite Claw warriors trained in the arts of stealth and assassination. This being Mutants and Masterminds, they also possess the gene collider, a unique piece of technology that can forcibly insert genetic information into a host, creating Artificial Hybrids. If you think all of that sounds a lot like the Foot Clan, you're right.
  • Killing Streets, an expansion for Kindred of the East, describes the Old World of Darkness take on the state of in-game Triads and how to turn a campaign towards involving them. That's right, Chinese Demon Vampire/Were-whatever Gangsters.
  • Shadowrun: The Triads are one of the game's biggest powers and effectively have all of Hong Kong in their pockets. The Yakuza are engaged in a vicious rivalry with them in San Francisco.

    Video Games 
  • In Akatsuki Blitzkampf, the Scary Black Man, Dawei Ye Lue and the Dark Action Girl, Marilyn Sue Dajie are members of the fictional Black Hand Triad under the leadership of a man named In Fu. Their Story Modes are kickstarted when In-Fu is murdered by Marilyn under orders of the witch, Mycale. It's also strongly implied that Yin Hu was a clone of the Big Bad Murakumo, and was offed because he was developing his own agenda.
  • The White Mountain Triad is a minor faction in Alpha Protocol, and its leader, Hong Shi, is a source of intel, missions, and resources during the first half of the Taipei mission hub.
  • Triads are mentioned in City of Heroes... as being wiped out by the Tsoo, a magically tattooed gang of ninjas and wizards. Really. Given their focus on ancestor worship and ability to summon said ancestors' spirits, it's likely that in this game's verse, the Tsoo actually came first and that a lot of the Triads were willingly assimilated.
  • Naturally present in the Chinatown level of Dead to Rights. They return for the 2010 reboot, though for some reason most of them, including their boss, have a Monster Clown motif as well.
  • Deus Ex Universe:
    • Deus Ex features these from the Hong Kong levels onward.
    • Deus Ex: Human Revolution features the Harvesters, a gang in the fictional two-tiered Chinese city called Hengsha, who "harvest" mechanical augmentations from others. Their leader is Tong Si Hung, the father of Tracer Tong from the first and second games.
  • In The Elder Scrolls, the Camonna Tong is essentially the native Dunmeri (Dark Elf) Mafia, with elements of The Syndicate. Into the early 4th Era, they essentially run Morrowind's smuggling, drug, and illegal slave trade operations. There is also the Morag Tong, a legal (at least in Morrowind) assassin's guild that is officially sanctioned by the Dunmeri government as an alternative to destructive open warfare between the Great Houses. Both of these come from Tong being Dunmeri for 'Guild' (Morag means 'Forester'. What Camonna means was never explained).
  • Far Cry 4: Pagan Min, as well as his top lieutenant Yuma Lau and most of his Royal Guard, originally belonged to a Triad-run drug cartel headed by Pagan's father operating in the Golden Triangle. It's mentioned that after Pagan killed his father and usurped control of the gang, he butted heads with the Triad's "old guard" for dominance, but lost and was run out of Southeast Asia as a result.
  • The Getaway features a London branch of the Triads, and its spin-off Gangs of London has the Water Dragon Triad as one of the five playable factions.
  • Grand Theft Auto:
  • Hitman: Codename 47: The very first set of levels involve stirring turmoil between the Red Dragon and Blue Lotus Triads by killing key members during negotiation attempts as part of a plan to get close to and assassinate the Red Dragon leader, Lee Hong. Those were remade in Hitman: Contracts.
  • Hong Kong Ninja depicts the city in the future under total control of the triads, whose leader, Scorpion, had allied himself with a rogue ninja clan. Triad mooks dressed in slick suits, carrying pistols and looking a lot like extras from some John Woo film, are a recurring enemy type.
  • In Kaiserreich: Legacy of the Weltkrieg, the Triads have become very influential in the Legation Cities, and part of their focus tree involves dealing with the Triads. Alternatively, the player may choose to have the Triads launch a coup and outright take over the Legation Cities, making the Triads a nation-state in their own right.
  • LEGO City Undercover: Chan Chuang is the leader of one of LEGO City's two main gangs. He seems to be a friendly, polite individual, in contrast to the rest of his men. Key word is "seems", because he has a Hair-Trigger Temper, AND IS HEAVILY PRONE TO RAISING HIS VOICE WHENEVER ONE OF HIS DUNDERHEADED UNDERLINGS BOTCHES THEIR WORK! He also keeps a rabbit that he strokes in order to sooth his temper, though that rabbit attacks him behind Chase's back.
  • Like a Dragon: The Snake Flower Triads are one of the first game's villains, led by Lau Ka Long, who returns in the third game. The Triads once again play a role in the sixth game as one of the groups trying to go after Haruka and her child due to the fact that the child's father is secretly one of the sons of the boss. In Yakuza: Like a Dragon, the Yokohama Liumang are one of the three big criminal factions of Ijincho, with their leader Tianyou Zhao serving as a major supporting character and eventual party member after their plotline is resolved.
  • Loopmancer is set in a futuristic version of Hong Kong in 2046, where the triads have run amok in the underworld and working with a MegaCorp for harvesting Human Resources from a rural village. Naturally, you're tasked with investigating and stopping them.
  • The Triads play a semi-major role in the last 3rd of the plot of Mafia II.
  • Mafia Wars: The Bangkok mission has the player choose to ally him or herself with the Triads or the Yakuza, affecting which missions become available.
  • Perfect Dark Zero's first few levels pit you against a Triad gang led by Killian.
  • In Persona 2, the triads - particularly the "Taiwanese mafia" Tai To Tien - are part of The Conspiracy, and their members are frequent random encounters in Club Zodiac. In addition, they manage the mass kidnappings that take place during the game and are hired to commit hits on people who dig too deep in the business of their sponsors.
  • Shadowrun Returns: Hong Kong, given the setting, features them pretty heavily. Your main benefactor and boss, Kindly Cheng, is a Straw Sandal (a middle-manager) of the fictional Yellow Lotus triad and the background lore mentions an escalating turf war between Yellow Lotus and (also fictional) Red Dragon. Several of your runs involve hits on the Red Dragon, like kidnapping one of their Red Poles (a military commander) and pulling a False Flag Operation to put heat on them from a MegaCorp.
  • Sleeping Dogs is set in Hong Kong's criminal underbelly, with the protagonist Wei Shen being an undercover cop trying to infiltrate the Sun On Yee gang.
  • Soldier of Fortune II appropriately has Mullins fight Triads in Hong Kong.
  • The Inner Demons from Spider-Man (PS4) are a criminal organization comprised mostly of Chinese immigrants, many of whom were former Triad mobsters back in the old country. However, despite initial appearances, they're not really a normal street gang which engages in illegal activities for monetary profit; but are actually more like fanatical terrorists who serve a cult-of-personality centered on their boss Mr. Negative, who orders them to commit acts of violence and destruction around New York City, all as part of his personal vendetta against Mayor Norman Osborn.
  • Stranglehold, in keeping with its cinematic predecessor Hard Boiled, has Tequila going up against two of these along with a Russian crime syndicate.
  • Strider 2: Strider confronts a large-scale Chinese Mafia terrorist strike in the first stage of
  • In True Crime: Streets of LA the Triad was your introductory set of mooks. In True Crime: New York City, the Shadow Tong was a more intermediate set.
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines, the Tong are a major presence in Los Angeles' Chinatown, thanks to the Chinese Vampire Ming Xiao backing them to destabilize the area and allow her Kuei-Jin faction to gain a foothold. The player character has to rescue a powerful businessman's kidnapped daughter from the Tong and later gives a Tong leader a hard lesson about Mugging the Monster.
  • Rubi of WET travels to Hong Kong on several of her missions, and thus has to fight these guys several times during the course of the game.
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown: The "Slingshot" DLC introduces Shaojie Zhang, a former member of the Triads who defects to XCOM after acquiring a dangerous piece of alien technology.

  • The first arc of Paradigm Shift has a B-plot about the Chicago PD investigating and shutting down a major weapons smuggling operation being run by one of the local Triads.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • The two largest Triad groups known are the Sun Yee On and their rival, the 14k. They are the namesakes of the groups given focus in Sleeping Dogs. Their memberships reach in the ten-thousands.
  • Time marches on. A "Tong" in Chinese can mean group, organization, association, club, etc. The likelihood of Tongs containing members who speak Chinese (or at least were ethnically Chinese born) is high, but the odds of it being a criminal organization is no higher than an Italian restaurant today being a Mafia front.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Triad, Triads And Tongs



Katsumoto interrogates a POI, who owned a hotel that went bust due to COVID-19 and being in debt to triads, which used it to host their Honolulu scamming center. When Katsumoto says that the triads are "helping him", his face says it all as if he's about to freak out.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

Main / TheTriadsAndTheTongs

Media sources: