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Manga / A Certain Scientific Railgun

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L - R: Kazari Uiharu, Ruiko Saten, Mikoto Misaka, Kuroko Shirai
"Everyone has to look out for themselves. That's the way it works."
Mikoto Misaka

Mikoto Misaka is the third-most-powerful Esper in Academy City, a state-of-the-art city dedicated to the scientific study and development of Psychic Powers. Every student in Academy City is given an "Esper Level" to indicate their power, and Mikoto is a Level 5: the best of the best, an electromaster with the nickname of "The Railgun".

Together with her friends in "Judgment" (the student-run "Public Moral Committee"), she works to protect the peace in Academy City from delinquents and hoodlums. The story narrates the events of A Certain Magical Index from Mikoto's perspective, as well as delving into her own conflict with the darker evils that lurk in the shadows of Academy City.

A Certain Scientific Railgun is an ongoing manga spin-off and supplementary reading to the A Certain Magical Index Light Novel series written by Kazuma Kamachi which began in 2007. Unlike the main light novel series, the Railgun manga purely focuses on the science elements of Academy City, and not the greater Magic/Science conflicts of Index. However, there are side-story novels, included in the limited edition volumes of the Index anime, where Mikoto and her friends unknowingly encounter elements of the Magic side. The manga series currently has 16 volumes released, with five completed arcs and a sixth in progress. It later got its own Spin-Off A Certain Scientific Railgun: Astral Buddy that ran from 2017 to 2020, starring Hokaze Junko, the Number Two to Mikoto's rival Shokuhou Misaki. Starting in 2021, a sequel to this spin-off starring Misaki herself, A Certain Scientific Mental Out, began serialization. Railgun and Astral Buddy are localized by Seven Seas Entertainment.

Similar to its parent series, Railgun has received an Animated Adaptation courtesy of J.C. Staff. The first season debuted on October 2009, focusing on the Level Upper arc of the manga as well as some anime-original material penned by the author. A one-shot story set during this season was also released in October 2010 in the form of a half-hour OVA; unlike the TV series, this has not been licensed in the English-language market. A second season, A Certain Scientific Railgun S, aired in Spring 2013, focusing on the Railgun version of the Sisters arc and an anime-original plotline. A third season, A Certain Scientific Railgun T, aired in Winter 2020, following the third season of the Index anime and the Accelerator anime, adapting the Daihasei Festival and the Dream Ranker arcs. Along with Index, the anime is being licensed by Funimation entertainment, with Crunchyroll also providing a simulcast for the third season.

This series shares a character sheet with A Certain Magical Index.

Also, check out the franchise's other spinoff, A Certain Scientific Accelerator.

Has a recap page.

A Note on Timelines

Railgun takes place during the same time period as Index, and their respective timelines interleave with one another. The details differ somewhat between the manga/light novels and the anime.

The manga's events begin two weeks before the first Index novel. As it stands, Chapters 18 to 39 occur around the time of Volume 3 in the novels, Chapter 40 is around Volume 5, Chapters 41-42 and around volume 8, Chapters 43 to 70 take place around Volume 9, and Chapters 71 to 97 spans around Volumes 10 to 16.

In the anime, the timeline is similar but with some slight differences. A few scenes note  from Volume 8 of the Index novels (which were not in the Index anime) are placed in the Railgun anime's first episode (thus moving them ahead by a couple of months). Otherwise, roughly speaking:

  • Railgun episodes 1-14 and the OVA take place just before the start of the Index anime. The rest of Railgun's first season takes place during or shortly after the first six episodes of Index.
  • Railgun S takes place simultaneously to the remainder of Index season 1, and covers some of the same events.
  • Episode 1 of Railgun T takes place between episodes 7 and 8 of Index II, with episodes 2-15 interleaved with events from Index II episodes 8-14. The remainder of Railgun T stretches from then until just after episode 6 of Index III.

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These works provide examples of:

     A - G 
  • A-Cup Angst: Mikoto is very self conscious of the fact she is not as... "developed" as other girls her age, if not younger. A part of the Dream Ranker arc (shown in Episode 18 of Railgun T) has Mikoto discover an Indian Poker card that is supposed to be the mythical "Bust Upper", only to lose it.
  • Adapted Out: In the anime, Seiri Fukiyose's cameo appearance in the Daihasei Festival Arc was replaced with Mii Konori due to the former's voice actress being on hiatus. A Fantasy Sequence involving Fukiyose during the Dream Ranker arc was also dropped along with a cameo where she was replaced by Tsukuyomi Komoe.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness:
    • In the manga, Saten was shorter than Mikoto and had a flat chest. In the anime her height is sometimes the same as Mikoto's. Her bust in some official art (when she is in a bikini) is increased to a C cup. JC Staff really likes her.
    • JC Staff is really generous with these upgrades, especially about the eyes. Shinobu doesn't look like a Deep One and Misaka Sisters' look a lot less dead.
  • Adaptation Expansion:
    • The anime gives more character development to the cast from the Railgun manga and even explains more details about Academy City and the people who live there. Furthermore, It continues where Level Upper arc left off and gives it a proper end.
    • The entire series is essentially this, especially Railgun's version of the Sisters arc, which explains Mikoto's struggles against the Level 6 Experiment in more detail compared to the Index version. It also shows a more introspective side of Accelerator, which makes his Heel–Face Turn more understandable.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Episode 14 focuses largely on Ruiko, while episode 17 gives the spotlight to Tsuzuri.
  • Affably Evil: Frenda, Mugino, Rikou and Saiai act like your normal everyday teenage girls except when they do mercenary work as Team ITEM, they are damn good.
  • Affectionate Nickname: In the English dub, Shirai refers to Misaka as "sissy" (as in, sister).
  • All Myths Are True: The urban legends talked about in Episode 4 all turn out to actually be true, including the Imaginary Numbers District, Toma's Imagine Breaker and the Level Upper.
    • As it turns out, the rumors about money cards being spread out in Academy City's side alleys and someone with Mikoto's face running around when Mikoto can prove she's somewhere else also turn out to be true. As do Saten's rumors about Indian Poker and even the "Goalkeeper", a mysterious hacker nobody knows the identity of, who turns out to be her closest friend.
    • Bust Upper, first brought up in Railgun SS 1, in which it makes breasts bigger, became true in a form of an Indian Poker card that Mikoto and Kinuhata fought with, but was given to a girl instead by coincidence.
    • Subverted with the 'Soul Diffusion' theory. Turns out that the Doppelganger does not actually possess any material that she absorbs, instead those are actually done by mixture of artificial muscles and mold that she can manipulate. Indeed, no occult involved.
  • All Part of the Show: In the Railgun Side Story: Liberal Arts City, a battle between Mikoto and a Mixcoatl piloted by Xochitl is passed off as a show to everyone else, despite the danger being very real. Once things get completely out of hand later on, they couldn't keep it up.
  • All There in the Manual: If you aren't reading Index and the side stories, you'll have no idea why Kuroko was in the hospital during the festival, what Mikoto's bet with 'him' is or why Saten thinks a complete stranger looks a little familiar, nor why the stranger helps her. If you have read all that stuff though you can catch the continuity nods and use them to piece together a timeline, which would otherwise be difficult if the stories were more separated.
  • All Your Powers Combined: The "Level Upper" hivemind gives its instigator the free use of the powers of all of its members, when an esper is only supposed to have one. By the time of The Reveal, this count is literally Over Nine Thousand.
  • Alpha Bitch: Considering Tokiwadai is a school for girls of the elite rich, there are bound to be some Alpha Bitches at that school.
    • Kongou is a bit of a subversion. When first introduced she acted like a stereotypical Alpha Bitch with Hidden Depths, before her hidden depths began being more expanded on and she genuinely starts helping people and always comes to the defense of her friends. In the second half of the second season, she even asks her father to use their airport's Humongous Mecha as a battle vehicle against STUDY! She became a full Lovable Alpha Bitch with every single appearance.
    • Shokuhou Misaki, nicknamed "The Queen of Tokiwadai" is the primary Alpha Bitch at said school. Beautiful and Narcissistic? Check. Popular and with a huge number of devoted followers? Check. Manipulative? She has a LEVEL 5 ability which specializes in it.
    • Kuroko acts like the Alpha Bitch towards those she see as below her and does it unintentionally sometimes. It's implied in a flashback that she thought Mikoto was this until the two actually met.
    • Averted with Mikoto. Despite coming from a rich family and being just as famous as Misaki, grew up like a normal girl thanks to her mother and acts kind and friendly to all people, no matter what social class they come from (much to Ruiko's surprise).
  • Amusing Injuries: Kuroko would not have survived getting her darned neck broken by the dorm supervisor in Episode 2 if it wasn't ''so darned funny.'' Same thing when Mikoto punishes her in general for being too perverted at the time.
  • Another Side, Another Story: The Sisters Arc this time is from Mikoto and Accelerator's point of view. And it is much Darker and Edgier.
  • Anti-Magic: Touma's right hand, the "Imagine Breaker".
  • Anti-Villain: Professor Kiyama, whose motivation of saving children who were her students rendered comatose by a corrupt government experiment is noble enough to earn Mikoto's sympathy and offer to help her accomplish it.
  • Arc Welding: The finale of the Diffusion Ghost arc prominently features the eponymous tower from Miracle of Endymion.
  • Arbitrary Weapon Range: Even used as a plot point, the title-named character's signature move seems to go from "would wreck a tank" to "bounce off harmlessly" exactly at 50 metres. The exact number is artistic license, but it instantly going from lethal to harmless is justified due to the coin melting.
    • In the first Railgun SS, the melted remains of the coin still manage to damage her target since it was close enough for them to barely reach it.
  • Artistic License – Animal Care: While Mitsuko is shown to care a lot for Ekaterina, her pet python, it is implied she feeds it live food, which is generally considered to be a bad idea since the snake can get either attacked by the prey or die from a stomach rupture when the prey is too large. The anime fixes this in Episode 17 of S where the rats she buys are dead and in vacuum-sealed packages.
  • Art Major Physics:
    • In reality, lightning travels extremely fast (about 92,000 miles per second, or 148,000 kilometers per second) so dodging or blocking Misaka's attacks should probably be out of the question. That's just the first one. This series isn't about the clash of Magic and Science, but the clash of Magic and Techno Babble. Given that it opens with acknowledged psychic powers, you should really expect that sort of thing.
    • Misaka's odd ability to completely ignore the shockwave and recoil of firing her "Railgun" out of her hand, which should at the least rupture her eardrums(if not outright kill her) and shatter the bones of her arm every time she uses the power.
    • Also, Misaka herself comments on the fact that she is limiting her power just so they can get a reading in the first episode. The people administering the test are probably too scared by her power to notice anything odd.
    • Justified - the entire premise of esper powers is that espers can subconsciously alter reality and substitute their own rules into it, and they accomplish this by performing millions of complex calculations per second. Some do this faster than others, with Misaka Mikoto being stated to be faster at said calculations than a super-computer.
      • Some of the espers' abilities are outright stated in the manga to not work or be plain dangerous to the user, if the user can't concentrate on the calculations required. Examples include Kuroko's Teleportation, which in the best case doesn't work at all, and in the worst case could put her right in front of a speeding car, inside a wall or far enough up in the air that she would be injured when landing.
  • Art-Shifted Sequel: The Sisters' eyes in the original first two seasons of A Certain Magical Index are blank and lacking in the detailed reflectiveness of the other characters' eyes, so as to distinguish them from the original Misaka. When the Sisters arc is shown from Misaka's perspective in the second season, their eyes are drawn as normally as the original's, with only their trademark goggles to visually distinguish them.
  • Artificial Riverbank: Where Misaka and Touma have a duel.
  • Ascended Extra: Saten and Uiharu are fairly minor characters in the manga, neither of whom is particularly close to Mikoto. While they were prominent in the Level Upper arc, they largely faded from view after that apart from occasional cameos. Even Kuroko doesn't have nearly as many appearances in the manga as she does in the anime. Uiharu and Saten do become relevant during the Jailbreak arc, however, with Uiharu actually beating Mikoto to "free" the prisoner, simply by using her hacking-skills, followed by Uiharu being abducted by the arc's villain for said hacking-skills.
  • Ash Face: Kuroko is a frequent victim of this, inevitably provoking Mikoto's electric attacks when her Stalker with a Crush shtick goes too far.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses:
    • Kongou and Kuroko, who are both rivals teaming up against the MAR mech troops!
    • Touma teams up with Gunha, the seventh Level 5, to take on Mikoto during her transformation into a Level 6.
  • Badass Adorable: Mikoto and Kuroko both qualify.
  • Badass Boast: A few. The anime gives Kuroko this particularly memorable boast: "It looks like I'll be hazardous to your health today."
  • Badass Normal: A couple, including:
  • Bait-and-Switch Credits:
    • The opening credits of the Sisters Arc episodes depict Mikoto battling ITEM alongside Kuroko and Touma. In reality, it's just Mikoto by herself.
    • The opening credits for the Daihasei Festival Arc shows Mitsuko blowing away Mitori's Shadow Puppet, implying that she will fight her. Its only Kuroko who fights Mitori.
    • You think Mikoto will have a Curb-Stomp Battle against the Doppelganger's fake copies as shown in the opening for the Dream Ranker Arc? Think again. She did not fight them and neither the fake copies. What she did in reality is to only cut the threads that the fake copies generate and nothing else.
  • Bait the Dog: In the manga, two scientists are around when 9982 cleans up. They joke and laugh and 9982 criticizes the tea. All very friendly and affable. Oh, by the way 9982, don't forget to clean up the half dozen bloody corpses of your sisters before you change into the uniform, or you're just going to have to do it again. Toodles!
  • Barely-There Swimwear: Kuroko's in Episode 13. Mikoto was not amused. Pops up again in Liberal Arts City.
  • Beach Episode: Episode 13, with malfunctioning holograms.
  • Beam-O-War: Episode 24 of the first anime season, between Mikoto and Therestina.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Touma has a lot of these. He blocked the Graviton Bomber's power, saving Uiharu and a little girl, as well as Mikoto. He ended the experiment of Level 6 Shift Project by defeating Accelerator. And finally, he saved Academy City and prevent Mikoto from reaching Level 6 by bringing out 8 dragons from his severed right arm.
    • Given Kuroko's job and ability to appear completely out of the blue, she pretty much does this trope on a daily basis. Mikoto is so aware of this that in one occasion, she was actively counting on Kuroko to do this.
    • Not to be outdone, previous Butt-Monkey Kongou Mitsuko pulls this off twice. The first time was, unfortunately off screen. The second time she knocks two helicopters out of the sky by blasting a truck at them. Not bad.
    • In Episode 24 of season 2, several characters pull these off. First, Konori brings Judgment reinforcements to prevent STUDY's robots from leaving the assembly area, then Kongou's dad brings a Humongous Mecha to the area to counter STUDY's mechs, and Mugino saves Mikoto from some robots utilizing her Meltdowner powers.
  • Big Eater: Index's and Himegami's respective appetites haven't vanished even while cameoing over to this series.
  • Big Ham: Accelerator relishses in taunting the Sisters and Misaka as they continually fail at harming him or blocking his attacks. One fan-theory is that he's actually just trying to provoke a human response from the clones, which would lead to the experiments ceasing, because despite how psychotic he is, he didn't want to kill anyone to begin with.
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows: The reason for Miho attacking Tokiwadai students in the first place.
  • Bland-Name Product:
    • A brief shot in Episode 10 (when the characters are discussing computer networks as an analogy for how Level Upper might work) reveals that Konori uses a "Macindows" laptop equipped with an "Outel" processor.
    • And then averted when the Dorm Supervisor is seen going into a Pizza Hut.
  • Blood Sisters: Mikoto, Kuroko, Saten and Uiharu.
  • Boke and Tsukkomi Routine: Much of the humor in Kuroko and Mikoto's friendship stems from this: the former says or does something spectacularly stupid/perverted, and the latter rewards it with a hard knock to the head.
  • Bonfire Dance: Mikoto is tricked by Saten to dance with Touma next to the campfire in the Daihasei Festival Arc where the two have an honest conversation before the jealous Kuroko interrupts and ends it.
  • Book Ends:
    • In the beginning of the first episode of Railgun, Mikoto is humming at a bridge. The last episode ends with Mikoto at the same bridge but now with her friends Kuroko, Saten and Uiharu watching a blimp with a birthday message to Kiyama.
    • In the first episode of the third season, one of the Sisters give Mikoto a cake-in-a-jar from the store, in which she gives it to Kuroko at the end of the episode. The last episode shows Mikoto buying the same cake-in-a-jar and giving it to her Sister.
  • Brandishment Bluff: In the second episode of Railgun S, a mysterious girl that has been distributing cash cards in alleyways does this to a gang of Skill Out members who try to rob her. She pretends to have an esper ability that allows her to kill anyone she touches with a thought in order to frighten them into leaving her alone.
  • Breather Episode:
    • The Beach Episode in Episode 13 provides a much-needed break after the close of the Level Upper arc.
    • Episode 19 is Lighter and Softer compared to the final arc in the first season that immediately follows it.
    • Episode 7 of season 2. Although Misaka starts attacking labs that were responsible for the Sisters Project, it largely takes place offscreen, and instead the focus is on Kuroko, Saten, and Uiharu.
    • Subverted with Episode 11 of Season 2. It starts out as one, with Mikoto kicking the vending machine that ate Touma's 2,000 yen bill, but then Mikoto sees yet another Misaka sister, who informs her that the project is still ongoing, and that one took place that morning. She doesn't take it very well when she learns there are at least 183 other facilities which are now involved with the sister's project.
    • Episode 17 of Season 2, which focuses on a hotpot party with the four main girls, with Mikoto running into Frenda and Mugino in a family restaurant. That encounter, while not exactly friendly, is on a very comedic level as Kuroko and Frenda get into a heated argument about whether Mikoto or Mugino would win in a fight, with both girls inadvertently revealing embarrassing details about the two.
    • Railgun T, Episode 18: The whole Bust Upper incident surrounding Mikoto and Kinuhata trying to get the card. The dreams themselves are hilarious and are much needed breather for the upcoming episodes. Subverted though when Mikoto encounters Ryouko via Indian Poker, with a warning to an upcoming threat.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Mikoto suffers this briefly in Episode 4 of Season 1 in her first real fight against Touma. She tries various attacks, only for Touma to cancel every single one of them, then tries zapping him directly by grabbing his right hand. Unfortunately for her, his right hand cancels out her power. When they both realize she's helpless, Touma makes a fist with his left hand, and she flinches in anticipation for his punch. But seeing how pathetic she looked, he decides against hitting her, and lays on the ground pretending to be beaten. She appreciated the gesture.
  • Brown Note:
    • The main plot in the first half of the anime centers around a "Level Upper", which turns out to be an audio file. It works by synaesthesia, using sound alone to manipulate all of the senses at once—not, sadly, The Power of Rock—in order to effect an increase in power by networking the users together and sharing their powers with each other. Unfortunately, its users inevitably fall into comas. Here's the audiofile itself.
    • The real file is on the second soundtrack of Railgun as the 12th track. It is not as harsh as the one on YouTube.
    • In the second half of the anime, there's some importance given to another Brown Note "Capacity Down", which causes any power users to experience great pain and be incapable of calculating the necessary things to use their abilities. Good thing the resident level 0 brought a baseball bat to the last battle.
    • Later on, Accelerator uses a third Brown Note to allow his brain to function well enough to even form a coherent sentence, let alone walk or use his vector manipulation ability.
  • Butt-Monkey: Mitsuko Kongou.
  • Call-Back: In the beginning of Episode 1, Mikoto is humming a particular tune. Later in the end of Episode 7, Touma is humming the same tune.
  • Call-Forward:
    • In Railgun S Episode 8, Mikoto has to fight Frenda of ITEM. At one one point she almost loses her legs and comments that they're her pride as a woman. Guess what happens later on in the Index novels... If you guessed having her legs blown off, give yourself a pat on the back.
    • The AIM Burst in Episodes 11 & 12 is a more subtle Call-Forward. Notice that halo on top of its head? Now fast forward to the Academy City Invasion arc. That's right, the AIM Burst is a forerunner of Fuse=KAZAKIRI.
    • In Railgun T, Episode 19, Frenda is seen window shopping, looking at a pocket watch in particular. This is a nod to the fact that she bought a pocket watch as a birthday present for Shinka Kanou, who only only gets the present in the 12th New Testament Index novel.
  • Canon Immigrant:
    • Anything from characters to plotlines in the Railgun manga/anime is canon in the main Index series as it was approved by the author of the novels. This include Saten who makes a cameo appearance in the novels and Capacity Down is used on Accelerator in Volume 19 of the novels. This also counts in the Railgun manga, where anything added in the Railgun anime is treated as having happened in the manga, though only mentioned in passing. Including Harumi's students being cured.
    • There's also Shinobu Nunotaba, a scientist formerly working on the Radio Noise Project, and Nayuta Kihara, who has already ascended to canon.
    • The Disciplinary Guides, a Dark Side group that appeared in the various Railgun PSP games, is mentioned in Railgun T.
  • Casual Kink: Kuroko enjoys getting electric shocks from Mikoto, especially while under the effects of an aphrodisiac.
  • Catchphrase: Nearly everyone has one.
    • Kuroko's catchphrase: "Judgment desu no!".
    • Saten's catchphrase: "UUU-III-HAAA-RRUUUU!!!", plus with a skirt flipping.
    • Kurozuma's catchphrase: "If it's milk, it has to be Musashino!"
  • Cat Smile: Komoe-Sensei, and other characters during the Furo Scenes in Railgun Episode 17.
  • The Cavalry: During the climax of the Febri arc, STUDY used legal manipulation to get Anti-Skill out of the picture. So Judgment is called in instead. All of Judgment.
    • Misaka in the "Sisters" arc discovers that "Tree Diagram" supercomputer satellite is no more, and her near-completed best plan to stop the vicious experiment has thus lost its key element. The aftermath of that Index' unshackling incident, early part of Index series plot, was not disclosed to in-universe general public, and that includes Misaka.
  • Chainsaw Good: Mikoto attacks Touma with a chainsword materialized from iron in the air and sand, nearly lopping off a few limbs before she turns it into a Whip Sword and he's able to dispel it.
  • Character Development:
    • Mikoto started as an idealist but later becomes an understanding realist when she learns not everyone has the will and effort to become a higher level esper and learns to respect and be sensitive to other people's feelings especially the Level Upper users like Saten. But then it gets bad when she becomes a unbalance cynical, Stepford Smiler during the Sister arc. Things got much worse and then she got better.
    • Saten start as a cheerful Genki Girl despite being a Level 0. As the series progress, she gets jealous and envies her other friends who have powers which lead her to use Level Upper to finally get one but at the price of getting into a coma. After waking up from her coma and realizing there are somethings more important than powers, she becomes proud of being who she is and resolves to work harder to get the powers she had under Level Upper, the right way.
  • Character Exaggeration: Yes J.C. Staff, we know Kuroko is madly in love with Mikoto, but was it necessary to make it over the top in the Railgun anime? Luckily, this was toned down with the third season.
  • Charm Person: Misaki Shokuhou, thanks to her Mental Out ability, is able to control the mind of nearly anyone she wishes, with the exception of Misaka and Accelerator due to the constant reflecting fields they emit.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Episode 4: in a list of "urban legends", the Level Upper is mentioned. Similarly, closeups of criminals' mp3 players are seen as far back as the first episode, eventually it is revealed that the Level Upper is actually a sound file that one can listen to.
    • Episode 12: The camera focuses to a group of 4 girls at a restaurant and a mysterious lady who likes Margery Daw at the nuclear power plant.
    • Remember Episode 17? The one featuring a mysterious girl whose pendant has a picture of a certain scientist's student and the earthquake that happened in that episode? Guess who's the new transfer student at Uiharu's school and what the members of Anti-Skill and Judgment are talking about in episode 20?
    • Remember the Capacity Down? Yeah, we get to know who built it, and see it in use again.
    • The girl who Mikoto sees in a dream in Episode 18 of the third season tells of an upcoming threat. Guess what? It became relevant later on, as we see he again and her issues with the Doppelganger.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Saten Ruiko is a Level 0, so even with an aluminum baseball bat she can't do much in a battle with a giant mech, yet she proves instrumental in the final battle in Episode 24 as she was the only one Therestina didn't detect and the only girl in the group aside from Kiyama not being affected by Capacity-Down and manages to destroy it!
  • Clothing Damage:
    • Happens to Mikoto during her first fight with ITEM, although its not done for Fanservice, but rather due to how intense the fighting gets with explosions.
    • The sheer power given off during Mikoto's Level 6 Shift burns all her clothing to ash. Touma covers her with his jacket.
  • Color Failure: Happens to Kuroko in Episode 20 of Season 2 when she enters the bathhouse, fully intending to bathe with Mikoto in all her glory. Then she sees their dorm supervisor, who then forces her to massage her. Kuroko turns white upon seeing her.
  • Continuity Nod: The girls find notes from the studies done on Kimi Shundan when she was a child. Uiharu points out that the researchers seemed to know in advance that she would be the "ninth Level 5," which confuses everyone. This references both the Parameter List (several of the current Levels 5s, such as Mikoto, were still lower-level then) and the fact that it's been previously implied that Awaki Musujime had the potential to reach level 5 before her Teleporter Accident.
  • Cliffhanger:
    • Mikoto charges at Accelerator at the very end of Episode 5 in Season 2 after learning about the Level 6 Shift Experiment to make him a Level 6 by having him fight and kill over 20,000 sisters, and arriving just in time to witness him kill the sister she spent the day with. The normal ending theme is dropped for a dramatic "Pan Up to the Sky" Ending and fast, rolling credits.
    • Chapter 61 of the manga, Episode 10 of Railgun T anime: Gensei Kihara forces the power of the MISAKA Network into Mikoto, causing her to transform into a vaguely demonic form and ending the chapter and episode with the line, "Now, let the experiment begin; Can Misaka-kun reach Level 6?"
    • Railgun T, Episode 23: The episode ends with the Doppelganger creating a kaiju-sized monstrosity in order to crush Mikoto.
  • Consulting a Convicted Killer: Mikoto visits her old enemy Therestina Lifeline in her cell for clues on the organization STUDY and for how to save Febri from her life-threatening position. Therestina really didn't want to help, but her advice proved very useful.
  • Continuity Cameo:
    • Index and Aisa appears in Railgun Episode 17. And everyone in Index appears in the ending of Episode 24.
    • The Queen of Tokiwadai finally makes an appearance in Chapter 41 of the manga and Episode 1 of Railgun S, complete with a reveal of her full name (Shokuhou Misaki).
    • Chapter 87 of the manga and Episode 21 of Railgun T brings in the dark side group Scavenger, who debuted in A Certain Scientific Accelerator.
  • Continuity Drift: Minor, but there are several scenes, especially during the Sisters arc, that slightly differ from how they were shown in A Certain Magical Index (i.e. In Index, when Kuroko is unable to teleport Touma, he is standing and able to get out that his right hand is involved in her power malfunctioning, whereas in Railgun, he is sitting and can only just barely begin to speak before she forces him under the bed).
  • Continuity Nod: Railgun is filled with nods to the To Aru series if you look closely.
    • In season one episode seventeen of the anime, during the Day in the Limelight for bumbling Antiskill part-timer Tessou-sensei, her acquaintance small-stature pink-haired Komoe-sensei gives an opinion on everyday life in Academy city, casually shocking her by mentioning that some troublemaker students blew the roof off her house once. This references the Index series, where the Living MacGuffin Index had a kind of a magical leash on her removed thanks to Touma's efforts, but not before one of protection magic layers produced a pillar of light, blasting through the roof. Oh, and through the "Tree Diagram" supercomputer satellite, too.
    • Episode 20 shows Mii on the computer, and next to it is a bin, overflowing with milk cartons. Remember that?
    • Episode 19 helps explain why the Tokiwadai Dorm supervisor in Index is different from the one in Railgun, explaining there are in fact 2 Tokiwadai dorms.
    • Remember Episode 18 when Uiharu's & Saten's teacher wanted to propose to the teacher from Cypress Park? Guess what's on his hand in Episode 20.
    • In Episode 15, everyone except Kuroko still haven't forgotten that Saten used Level Upper.
    • In Episode 6, we see a girl who is suspected of being the Graviton Bomber. She isn't. We meet her again, during the special classes for the Level Upper users.
    • Several characters from the Railgun anime appeared in the manga like Erii and that female gangster Mikoto fought.
    • A minor one. The Judgment member who saved a girl from the Graviton Bomb by knocking her down and protecting her with his own body was an instant hit with the fans. We later found out in the manga that he's dating her. Good job Hero!
    • Chapter 43 references Misaka's experiences during the Someone's Watching incident of the OVA, which was cut in the anime due to those scenes being altered.
    • The Railgun manga has many nods towards the side stories. In Chapter 43 (Railgun T, Episode 1), Mikoto is mentioned to have experience doing demonstrations in Russia (Shopping Mall Demonstration SS), in Chapter 44.5 (Railgun T Episode 2), a disguised Xochitl runs into and remember Saten from the Liberal Arts City SS, and even more subtly, in Chapter 42 Saten makes an offhand comment about how the jeans she ordered from England haven't arrived yet (Norse Mythology SS).
    • Episodes 19 and 20 of Railgun T serve as a prelude to the events of 15th Index novel, as Saten befriends Frenda and later runs afoul of of SCHOOL as SCHOOL is hunting Indian Poker cards that contain information on the Tweezers.
  • Convenient Photograph: The short novel "Code Game", while on a school field trip at Anti-Skill, Saten Ruiko takes a picture of some wanted posters of suspects that Anti-Skill was tracking down. This triggers her smartphone's photo facial-recognition auto-categorization feature, which reveals that one of the suspects was in the background of one of her selfies, fleeing on a bike. The photo conveniently had the license number of the bike, allowing Anti-Skill to track down the suspect.
  • Cool Airship: The Mixcoatls in Railgun SS, made of obsidian, wood, and cloth, that can out fly fighter planes.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Esper powers affect reality based on their users' internal reality. According to the pseudoscience of the series, if a Schrödinger's cat experiment was set up, espers would find the cat in the state that they believed it to be, because they believed strongly enough that the cat was that way. Hypnosis, brainwashing and drugs are used to throw the subjects internal reality out of whack. So, it might be argued that the strongest espers like Mikoto and Accelerator are the most stubbornly out of touch with the reality normal people live in.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Kuroko, who threatens Touma the moment she sees him out of suspicion over his relationship with Mikoto, telling him that if he wants to make a go at Mikoto he'll have to go through her first. Though despite her jealousy, she never tries to sabotage or otherwise impede Touma's conversations with Mikoto. While clingy and jealous, Kuroko has the best interest for Mikoto at heart.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Accelerator suffers from this, as proven in the Sisters Arc. His mind works so fast and his power is so strong, that he passively reflects everything thrown at him without even thinking about it. What happens when someone who has never been hit physically in his whole life gets punched by the one guy who can negate that passive reflection? He goes down really fast. Relying on his reflection to protect him has actually led to Accelerator being one of the physically weakest espers in Academy City.
  • Cool Car: Kiyama's Lamborghini. Saten is also seen cross-stitching a different Lamborghini during the school festival. Hamazura drives a Mini Cooper S to chase thugs who kidnapped Ruiko.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Mikoto is usually on the giving end of these, although during her first fight with Therestina, she's on the receiving end of one.
    • Also played straight with Mikoto vs Touma fights. In one battle, she grabs his right hand and attempts to electrocute him like she's done to many other opponents. Except that it doesn't work due to his special power, and Touma makes a fist. However, the pitiful look on Mikoto's face along with her attempt to block his punch causes him to lie on the ground and declare her the winner. Which she doesn't take very well either, even after he points out why he purposely "lost" the fight.
  • Cute Bruiser: Mikoto. She's a middle-schooler that so happens to be an incredibly powerful psychic.
  • Cutting the Knot: Averted with Touma. A lot of Railgun's plots could have been solved in about three seconds if he were there.
  • Darker and Edgier: Touma's side of the Sisters arc was one of his darkest arcs by implication of all the horrible things that had happened. On Mikoto's side, we see it all.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: When it comes to orphans and love, the Dorm Supervisor shows a nicer and kinder side. Too bad the love part didn't last.
  • Delinquents: They sure like to hit on Misaka.
  • Delusions of Doghood: Saten in Episode 2 of Railgun S, when tracking Urban Legends about cash cards.
  • Designated Girl Fight: When the scientist in charge of the Sisters Project learns that Mikoto is destroying their labs, he decides to sent in a team of mercenaries. Said team is Team ITEM, but it's a subversion as they hired not because they were girls, but because the team is composed of professional mercenaries and their leader is a Level 5.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Touma against Accelerator. Accelerator passively reflects literally everything that isn't the light he needs to be able to see and the air he needs in order to breathe. This means lightning, bullets, coins traveling faster than 3 times the speed of sound and so on. Touma defeats him by literally punching him with his right hand.
  • Diegetic Soundtrack Usage: Mikoto singing "only my railgun", the first OP theme in Episode 13 and her violin solo of "Real Force", the second ED theme in Episode 19.
  • Doomed by Canon:
    • Viewers who have seen the first season of A Certain Magical Index will already know a few of the plot points and events that happen in Season 2 of this show, which focuses on the Sisters' arc. See Foregone Conclusion for further information.
    • During the events of the Dream Ranker Arc in the third season (specifically Episodes 19 and 20), Saten ends up befriending Frenda, with the budding friendship cut short by Frenda's death in the 15th Index novel. Saten ends up Locked Out of the Loop, wondering what happened to Frenda.
    • The above subplot also introduced Yumiya Rakko, the original sniper for the organization SCHOOL. While she survives her defeat at the hands of Frenda, the events of the Battle Royale arc are already nearing, where is it stated she would be killed.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Female: Kuroko repeatedly tries to drug, grope, and rape Misaka. It is all played for laughs, and she is still treated as a completely heroic character.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: When the main girls run into Febri for the first time in Episode 19 of Season 2, she seems overly friendly to them, except Mikoto. Even Kongou and her friends get more respect than her. Mikoto tries to do various things to get Febri to like her as well, but other than being forced to give away her rare pink gekota finger puppet, Febri doesn't really care about her for some reason. She does however, start to slowly warm up to Mikoto in the next episode, but just barely.
    • Played straight with Shaei. He calls Kuroko and Uiharu without honorifics, which annoyed the former.
  • Eagleland: Definitely flavor 2 in the Railgun SS: Liberal Arts City, almost to the point of being anvilicious; the author sees America (in a very stereotypically Japanese way) as the movie-obsessed land of women with huge breasts, overly large vehicles and people toting guns everywhere.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: The Railgun manga and its anime adaptation has characters from the later novels appearing much earlier.
    • In manga Chapter 1, Aiho Yomikawa makes a cameo appearance after the crime scene.
    • In Chapter 8, you can see Stiyl passing by Uiharu.
    • In Chapter 11, Mikoto & Kuroko meet a certain Frog-faced doctor.
    • In Chapter 15, the "Shonen Hero" in one of the Level Upper user's memories is none other than Gunha Sogiita, the seventh Level 5 esper, and in the same chapter we have the appearance of a group of girls hanging out. Those girls are none other than the members of ITEM led by the fourth Level 5 esper, Shizuri Mugino, and would later play a major role in Railgun's Sisters Arc.
    • In Chapter 79, Fusou Ayame, one of the "heroes" that cause trouble in New Testament Volume 7, appears in a Indian Poker dream that Mikoto examines. Ayame would later appear in-person in the Jailbreaker Arc.
    • In Chapter 97, Uiharu and Saten discuss the urban legend of a talking Golden Retriever, who prevented a man from committing suicide. The Golden Retriever is in fact Kihara Noukan, who was introduced in the New Testament novels.
    • In Chapter 99, Oumi Shuri, one of the viewpoint characters in New Testament Volume 4, is seen participating in the Jailbreak Trial.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: A few examples:
    • For all the obstacles, the setbacks, the pain and the suffering she went through and the way the city treated her beloved students, Kiyama finally got her happy ending where she is reunited with her now awakened and cured students. And it's one she truly deserves.
    • Mikoto goes through this quite a bit as well, and has to really work for her happy endings. Fortunately for her, although she sometimes tries to solve it herself, other times she is given a helping hand, such as Touma going to defeat Accelerator to force a stop to the Sisters project when she resigned herself to dying in an attempt to stop their deaths.
  • Eldritch Abomination:
    • The AIM Burst creature after people have been shooting it, causing it to grow and deform, most notably Squick developing eyes in random places.
    • Once half of the Doppelganger gets destroyed, she starts to absorb any objects around her, 'possessing' them and gets regenerated if they got destroyed as well, resulting to become a kaiju-sized threat. That's not all, once the monster gets destroyed, abominations of the Doppelganger come out. Creepy, isn't it?
  • Electricity Knocks You Out: Double subverted in an episode. After being tased, Misaka cheerfully explains that electric stun guns don't work on her and then uses her powers to render the person who tased her unconscious.
  • Ensemble Cast: In the anime, the core main characters consist of Misaka, Shirai, Saten and Uiharu and they all have ample turns in the spotlight. In the manga, the only real "main" character is Misaka. Shirai is a recurring secondary character while Saten and Uiharu aren't very important outside of the Level Upper and Jailbreaker Trial arcs.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Episode 3: The girls are stumped over why a girl shows up on camera but isn't seen by her victims, since everyone with the power to turn invisible has an alibi. After Kuroko remarks that she "didn't notice" the pigeon Uiharu saw fly by, Mikoto realizes that the girl must have the power to erase her presence from the minds of people who see her directly.
  • Epic Fail:
    • Episode 17 makes it very clear that Tessou is the resident Butt-Monkey. In a minute and a half.
    • Another was when Mikoto tried to blow away the graviton bomb with her railgun but drops her coin. But thankfully Touma was able to protect everyone from the explosion.
  • Evil Laugh: The opening credits already mark Therestina out as an obvious bad guy but she invokes this trope in Episode 23 with such furious insanity that it is utterly scary.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: The students of Tokiwadai adore Mikoto. Except some don't like her and/or pretend to like her while others are part of the biggest faction within Tokiwadai who are followers of Tokiwadai's other Level 5, "The Queen".
  • Evil Old Folks: Kiyama's former boss, Gensei Kihara, is a heartless scientist who sees no problem with using children for his experiments. To him, they are "ingredients" to be use in the name of science.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: For Mikoto in the Railgun Sisters Arc and when fighting Touma.
  • Fanservice: With a huge female-only cast including at least one perverse loli and skirt-chaser, you can guess there is LOTS of it. Though it manages to be self-conscious, tongue-in-cheek and good-natured.
  • Fantastic Firearms: Mikoto uses her Psychic Powers to project twin (Positive and Negative) lightning bolts, which she then uses to shoot coins at enemies. This is what gave her the nickname "The Railgun" in the first place.
  • Fantastic Racism: Though everyone in Academy City is treated with equal rights in theory, in practice your chances of getting passed over for jobs, universities and all other opportunities in life steadily increases the lower your Power Level gets. Well meaning Level 5's such as Mikoto try to reassure their "lesser" peers with ultimately hollow mantras of "Do your best!! Your power level doesn't matter!!" oblivious to the fact that certain people are simply born incapable of crossing certain hurdles no matter how hard they try. Naturally, this breeds intensely bitter resentment, especially amongst the Level 0's of the city's population; ripe for exploitation by people like Professor Kiyama Harumi through schemes like the "Level Upper" incident... Scientists such as Therestina and the rest of the Kihara Family don't even treat espers as humans; merely test subjects for their experiments.
  • Fate Drives Us Together: Kuroko tries to invoke this; she was assigned as Onee-sama's roommate, so clearly they were destined to be together! Mikoto responds that no, Kuroko manipulated her way into Mikoto's room and there's no destiny about it.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: Episode 3 is about a culprit who sneaks up on girls, stuns them with a taser and while they are unconscious performs on them the depraved, heinous act of drawing them huge eyebrows. Sure, tasing someone to the point of unconsciousness is pretty bad on its own, but people are more pissed about the second thing.
  • Fetus Terrible: A flying psychic malformed embryo... thing... formed from the negative emotions of thousands of espers. Not really conscious but damn good at blowing stuff up. Regenerates in a fraction of a second. Also, tentacles. Only My Railgun can save you now.
  • Filler: Because there were only 4 manga volumes of Railgun at that time and the Sisters arc was still ongoing, filler episodes were created after the first arc in the Railgun anime to fill in its 24 episode slot. The second season gets another filler arc because the manga was again in the middle of an arc. However, the anime arcs do seem to be retroactively canon. There are also more isolated moments of padding, such as an episode devoted to looking for clovers and an odd focus on the main girls wandering around eating random things and talking about girly things. Averted in the third season, although filler scenes are still present from time to time.
  • First Time in the Sun: Mad Scientist Nunotaba Shinobu brought one of the Misaka Sisters to the rooftop of the facility. The Misaka clone expressed all-too-human awe of the sunset (sunrise?) and the many new sensory inputs that she experiences. This event led Shinobu to stop being a Mad Scientist.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Kongou Mitsuko et al with Misaka Mikoto et al.
  • Flanderization: The anime exaggerates some characters, most notably Kuroko Shirai. While she was an intentionally cliche schoolgirl lesbian character in both Index and the Railgun manga, she was also very capable of being serious, highly responsible and worried a great deal about Mikoto when she was in trouble. However, during either moments of padding or outright filler in the anime she tends to behave like a sexual predator who frequently tries and occasionally succeeds in molesting Mikoto. Fan reaction has been mixed with some preferring the zanier Kuroko from the anime and others preferring the more down to earth and responsible version from the manga and light novels. Luckily, the third season toned it down.
  • Food Porn: One of the most obvious visual tics in the anime is that whenever Mikoto and her friends appear they'll probably be eating something like parfaits. No reason, apparently they're all just constantly eating.
  • Foregone Conclusion:
    • The Sister's Arc in Railgun, since its events was already shown in Index. However, this time it shows the events from Mikoto's perspective, and we see what she was doing during this arc, which had only been hinted at in Index.
    • On a more lighter note, during the Dream Ranker Arc Mikoto and Saiai discover that there is an Indian Poker card with the secrets behind the Bust Upper. Given that Index is further down the timeline and their figures remained the same it is obvious that something will keep the two from getting to use the card.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the manga Kiyama gives a hint to Mikoto over where she got the idea to create Level Upper. The origin of that idea? The Sisters project. Skipped in Railgun anime which is switched to Therestina telling Mikoto everyone in Academy City is a guinea pig to reach Level 6.
    • Remember some of those Urban Legends the girls were talking at Episode 4? They hint about what's going to happen in the Index anime.
    • In the first episode of the second season, Mikoto has a very brief flashback to when she gave her DNA map to the researchers. This is explained in the next episode.
  • For Great Justice: The Liberal Arts City had been implied to have captured espers and experiment on them, as well as get rid of people who snoop using Secret Police, control information, and other various things to create their own espers using a different method from Academy City, based off the magicians attacking them for this reason. They claim it's so they wouldn't be behind the times as the "World Police" since it's possible that espers would become common place in the future, but they were just as bad as Academy City's For Science!!
  • For Science!:
    • We get a flashback of a previous incident in which orphaned children (complete with one girl talking about how grateful she was to the city for taking care of them) are used as research experiments (you see where this is going, right?) and ultimately sent into comas when put through a treatment to test pushing psychic powers to their limits. As the experiment goes terribly wrong, the head researcher stops another from calling for ambulances, saying the results are much more interesting and no one will miss the children. It doesn't help that the Academy City's Board of Directors allows this kind of activity.
    • Academy City is just a testing ground for them to be able to get the god-like power of a Level 6. Everyone within are guinea pigs for many kinds of experiments, at least that's what Therestina Kihara Lifeline said.
    • The Kihara Family as a whole takes the cake with this trope. Luckily, it's not without exceptions.
  • Four-Girl Ensemble:
    • Mikoto, Kuroko, Uiharu and Saten... they complement each other well, don't they?
    • Frenda, Mugino, Rikou and Saiai can count too despite being, well villains? Nah, who cares!
  • Gambit Pileup: One of these turns out to be going on in the Ability Demonstration side story novel. Mikoto and Lessar spend most of the story tracking suspected culprits only to keep finding yet another layer of manipulation, by yet another group working at cross-purposes to the others.
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: Shirai does this to Uiharu in Episode 23 while the latter suffers through a Heroic BSoD after realizing Therestina had no intentions of helping Haruue, and wasn't really going to help wake the other children up like Kiyama had intended to do.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Mikoto is so desperate to save Febri's life that she finally involves her friends in the Dark Side of Academy City and asks for the imprisoned Therestina's help.
  • Going Commando:
  • Gondor Calls for Aid:
    • During the second half of season 2, Mikoto at first contemplates going up against STUDY by herself to find the recipe for the lollipops Febri needs to neutralize the poison in her body. However, after hearing Kongou tell her about her friends being upset she didn't ask them for help, and remembering Touma helping her to stop the Sisters project, Mikoto tells her friends about what she planned to do. Although she was worried about putting them in harms way, they were all too eager to help her out.
    • Before the final battle of season 2, Mikoto and her friends go to Yomikawa for help, but Anti-Skill has been removed from play due to legal wrangling. They call in Judgment instead. Hundreds of them show up.
  • Good Cannot Comprehend Evil: Misaka cannot understand why Accelerator would willingly partake in the Level 6 experiments when he's already the most powerful esper in the world by a long shot.
  • Goofy Print Underwear:
    • Mikoto's so fond of bunnies and frogs it's no wonder she wears shorts under her skirt...
    • Some of what Uiharu wears may also qualify (though we don't actually see it).
  • Gory Discretion Shot: When Accelerator is seen fighting a sister onscreen for the first time in Episode 5 of Season 2, he rips one of her legs off. The camera follows the leg as its brought upwards, but it largely tries not to show the lower portion of her body after this scene so as to minimize the gore. As the sister slowly crawls away from him, she reaches for the Gekota pin Mikoto put on her earlier, followed very shortly by him dropping a train car on top of her, and a pool of blood flowing from under the train.
    • Also another example involving Accelerator. When he cornered a sister in a back alley, he decides to kill her by reversing the direction of her blood flow. If you understand how the human body works (veins and arteries are specifically designed to not allow blood to flow backwards at all costs), you would know the resultant blood splat which covered the camera was actually doing us a huge favor.
    • Subverted in Railgun T, Episode 14, where Touma's severed arm is fully shown.
  • Gratuitous English:
    • As partially explained in the main entry under Alternate Character Reading, all the Gratuitous English skill names and terms are simply readings assigned to that name/term's kanji. eg. Anti-Skill (kanji reads Guardsmen), Dummy Check, Imagine Breaker (kanji reads Illusion/Fantasy Killer), Judgment (kanji reads Disciplinary Committee), Skill-out, AIM (kanji reads No Awareness).
    • Also the English terms "Level Zero", "Level One", etc. are used for the super power levels.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: This was a main motivator for the STUDY group in the second half of season 2. No matter how smart or accomplished they were, in Academy City, espers always got the bigger spotlight. The main leader of their group was noted to be an brilliant scientist, but in a Flash Back showing him talking to a group in an auditorium, there were in fact very few people there. So his group intended to create wholly artificial beings with esper-like powers with the intention of mass producing them and rendering normal espers obsolete.
  • Guilty Pleasure: In-universe example: Mikoto has a love for childish cute things like the Gekota franchise, but feels incredibly embarrassed about it and tries to hide it because many characters point out how her likings are rather childish.
    • This includes her own clone, Misaka 9982, who outright says she's disappointed by the original's childish tastes.
     H - M 
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: Kuroko and Frenda get into a heated argument in Episode 17 of Season 2 as to whether Mugino or Mikoto would win in a fight. It culminates into Frenda grabbing Mugino's breasts, while Kuroko fawns over Mikoto's chest, causing both ladies to smack their respective partners.
  • Harsh Word Impact: When Misaka 10032 sums up Mikoto's lesser qualities as a big sister in chapter 37 of the manga.
  • Headdesk: When given the idea that Mikoto could contract the stripper lady disease, Kuroko does this
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: X-Ray vision may not seem to be that impressive on its own, but when that means Konori Mii can never be surprised by concealed weapons, coupled with her bone-breaking martial-arts skills, makes her more than a formidable match in battle.
  • Heel Realization: Accelerator after he gets beaten by Touma. He realizes that no matter how much power he has, unless he uses it for the right reasons, he will never have any friends.
  • Heroic BSoD: Mikoto suffers a bad one after she failed to save Misaka 9982 from being killed, and almost got killed herself by Accelerator and spends a night moping about it until she decides to destroy the Research Centers involved in the Level 6 Experiment. Unfortunately, it was all in vain when she learns Academy City can replace those labs as many times they want making her return to her BSOD state. And it got worse when she finds her only lead to help stop the plan, the Tree Diagram satellite, was revealed to be destroyed.
    • Kuroko suffers a minor one in Episode 11 of season 2 when Uiharu and Saten both mention that Mikoto's recent behaviors such as not eating much and sneaking off at night is due to her secretly meeting a boyfriend. The shocked look on her face doesn't change for several scenes, and she ends up putting too many sugar cubes into her drink. She suffered this again in Episode 17 of Railgun T, but for comedy purposes.
  • Hero of Another Story:
    • Anti-Skill, Academy City's real police force. Despite the fact that always seem to be 10 seconds too late to help Kuroko arrest criminals, or stop Misaka from using them as a lightning rod, they really are useful at times, and actually have a bit of a cavalry / The Rest Shall Pass moment when they disobey orders and keep Telastina's mook army occupied during the highway duel.
    • This can also be applied to Touma, who is literally the hero of the ''other' story. Most of the time he will show up just walking in the background, and a few times he encourages Misaka, or points out how stupid she's being, there are occasions when he becomes The Cavalry and saves her from various threats, ranging from exploding balls of aluminum, or just the son of the head of her school. She hasn't the slightest idea that he actually gets into life or death situations like the Sisters arc all the time.
  • Hey, That's My Line!:
    • Mikoto's saying that there is really never a dull moment in Academy City gets stolen by other characters in two instances, to her annoyance. The first is on the last episode of Railgun S, where Kuroko, Uiharu and Ruiko parodied this line to Mikoto, and in Railgun T, again at the last episode, where Misaki said this line, again which annoyed Mikoto.
    • In episode 24 of Railgun S, when every member of Judgment assembles at the end of the second season, they get things going 'the way Shirai-san would', grabbing their armbands and shouting, "Judgment desu no!" The aforementioned Shirai-san is present, and yells indignantly.
  • Hide Your Lesbians: Subverted. While it is hilariously obvious that Kuroko is gay for Misaka, not once in the whole series has she ever been called or admitted to being gay/lesbian. She has been called "pervert" plenty of times, though.
  • Hivemind:
    • The true purpose of the "Level Upper" is simply to harness the combined mental power of 10,000 espers as a super-computer substitute; this has the side effects of temporarily increasing the participants' powers (through leaked experiences) and granting the mastermind All Your Powers Combined but later sends the users into a coma.
    • And of course, the SISTERS' hivemind also makes an appearance here.
  • Hollywood Hacking: Misaka Mikoto herself. Granted, she's a master of electricity, but bypassing passcard locks, hijacking security robots, erasing herself from security footage, and breaking into a secure facility's network from a phone booth can't be THAT easy, even if you can control electricity. Have to just chalk it up to skill plus Rule of Cool.
  • Hope Spot: A few in Season 2:
    • Mikoto finds out about a project to clone her... only to discover moments later that it was canceled. She misses the part where it was repurposed for something far worse.
    • Shinobu attempts to upload emotions to the Misaka Sisters Network, in the hope that they would start to refuse orders, and ultimately be freed from the project. Unfortunately, Last Order blocks said command from being executed, and Shinobu is knocked unconscious and taken away before being able to do anything else.
    • Shortly after Mikoto destroys the second to last lab involved in the Sisters Project, and finds out that the company behind the last one has declared bankruptcy. She thinks that she's finally set them free and allowed to live as they wish. But the lab managed to outsource the data, and now there are dozens more working on the project. No matter how many Mikoto destroys, there will always be more willing to take up the work.
    • Mikoto decides to hack Tree Diagram to change the equation and stop the project. Only to find out that the satellite was destroyed weeks ago. This also pre-emptively throws a wrench into her backup plan to destroy the satellite in the hope that the program wouldn't be able to run without it. That obviously is off the table.
  • Hostage Situation:
  • Hot-Blooded: Mikoto's battles, especially those in Episode 12 and 24 qualify; In particular the second, her final battle atop a speeding vehicle to save Harumi's comatose students from the clutches of Big Bad Therestina in a Humongous Mecha. When she catches the mecha's Rocket Punch, rips it off the and fires it like a giant missile BACK INTO the villainess to the heart-poundingly Hot-Blooded beat of "LEVEL5 -judgelight-", Manly Tears will be shed.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • Kuroko berates Kiyama for undressing in public as it's immoral yet Kuroko will do the same things to Mikoto.
    • Also done by Mikoto chastising Kiyama's heading off into danger, alone. This one's lampshaded immediately by Kuroko and Saten.
    • Mikoto laughs at Touma for losing 2,000 yen to a vending machine, but then quietly mentions to herself that the same machine ate a 10,000 yen bill from her.
      • To be fair, 2000 yen bills are rare, whereas 10000 yen bills are pretty common. Kamijou's bad luck in this case has more to do with him having to use such a rare bill, and less to do with the actual monetary value of said bill.
  • The Heartless: The Fetus Terrible, above.
  • Handwave: In the first Railgun DVD extra, Mikoto wonders why there are so many windmills in Academy City and wonders whether there are really enough to power the city before the whole cast agrees that anything is possible in Academy City and they should stop talking about it.
  • I Am Not Left-Handed:
    • When Therestina, in her giant robot, is chasing Mikoto, she says that her railgun has a range of 50 meters. Mikoto then tells her that coins are not the only thing she can shoot, and proves it by shooting the robot's own detached claw, which must have weighed at least as much as her, at the robot. It could also count as a Power Limiter.
    • On a more general note, any time a Level 5 doesn't instantly vaporize their enemy, they were holding back.
  • If It's You, It's Okay:
    • Kuroko is only okay with Mikoto doing erotic things (or, rather, things the former infers as being erotic) when she's doing them in regards to her.
    • Similarly, Saten only cares about seeing Uiharu's panties on a daily bases, finding the idea of looking at anyone else's weird. (She claims she only does it to make sure that Uiharu is actually wearing panties each day, but few believe her.)
  • I Just Want to Be Special: A large part of Ruiko's (and other minor characters who aren't Espers) angst, as they has absolutely no potential in Esper ability, in a city full of people training to be Espers. Then she, along with many others, gets her hands on the Level Upper...
  • Improbably Female Cast:
    • Aside from Touma, there is a conspicuous lack of male characters of any significance in this particular series.
    • Kurozuma, a badass guy is introduced in Episode 15... just to be Put on a Bus at the end of the next episode.
    • Accelerator also makes an appearance as the main villain of the Sisters arc.
    • Gunha Sogiita helps Touma save Mikoto in the Daihasesai Arc.
    • Shaei is one of the characters in the Dream Ranker arc.
  • Immune to Mind Control: Misaka and Accelerator thanks to the EMP Reflecting Fields they are constantly emanating.
    • Or to be more precise, Misaka is constantly emitting an EM-field that blocks Misaki's mind control powers. Accelerator just reflects everything by default, including other esper-powers and even people trying to talk to him. The only thing he doesn't reflect by default is light, since even someone as powerful as him needs to be able to see where he is.
  • Improbable Falling Save: The first episode of the second season sees a terrorist toss a hostage from a helicopter as a means of trying to distract Mikoto Misaka, who'd been using her electromagnetism to anchor the helicopter and prevent it from escaping. Fortunately, Ruiko Saten was on the fire escape and caught the flung hostage before she could fall. And when the added weight started to prove to be more than she could handle, she and the hostage were teleported to the roof by Kuroko Shirai leaning out the window.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Kuroko is lesbian and her target of affection is Mikoto... who happens to be 100% straight, something Kuroko refuses to accept (and thus regularly gets electric shocks from Mikoto).
  • Indirect Kiss:
    • Kuroko becomes elated at the prospect of getting a bite of something after Mikoto and later freaks out when Mikoto and Saten innocently spoon-feed each other samples of their ice-cream. Kuroko desperately asks for equal treatment, but Mikoto refuses—after all, didn't they order the same thing?.
    • Kuroko gets the same flavor of crepe as Mikoto in an effort to get more intimate with her, and is horrified when Mikoto shares a bite with someone who got a different flavor.
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: Harumi Kiyama. Due her to many years hold up by herself as a researcher, she has very lax social skills, and her favorite solution to dealing with the heat or any drink spilled on her is to strip her clothes off, regardless of who is around or where she is. She defends her actions by saying that she's not exceptionally attractive, and that bikinis show the same amount of skin as a bra and panties.
  • Instant Awesome: Just Add Mecha!: Ekaterina MK-II in Railgun S. It's probably just there to level the playing field for Saten and Uiharu.
  • Intimate Lotion Application: The anime original episode 13 has a Heat Wave hit Academy City and Kuroka gets outraged that Mikoto hasn't put any sunscreen in her body to protect herself. She quickly volunteers to do the task, but Mikoto can clearly see Kuroka also has perverted intentions in mind, and refuses the offer. Later when they pose as swimsuit models in a virtual room, it's a Running Gag to see Kuroko chasing after Mikoto to rub sunscreen on her in the background.
  • Inverse Law of Complexity to Power: The level 5's of the world seem to have very broad powers. Misaka boasts power over electricity, while Accelerator has control over all physical vectors. Lesser espers have abilities like Jufuku Miho's Dummy Check, which simply makes her less noticeable to those around her.
  • Invisibility: The anime mentions offhand that there are 47 students with the power to turn completely invisible, and that count doesn't include more specific powers like the ability to not be noticed by direct sight.
  • Ironic Echo: During the Tokiwadai Midsummer Festival, Uiharu berates Saten for eating a beautiful flower made of sugar. Later, Saten berates Uiharu for cutting and eating a beautiful cake.
  • Irony: In the second season's Breather Episode, while Kuroko is learning an Aesop about how she doesn't have to do everything alone, Mikoto is fighting a one-woman war against the Level 6 Shift Program.
  • Irritation Nightmare: In the Dream Ranker arc, Junko Hokaze gives an Indian Poker card to Mikoto Misaka, allowing her to experience the former's dream in an attempt to bond Misaka and Misaki Shokuhou. Mikoto enjoys the dream at first due to being able to play with Gekota... then it turns into a nightmare when she finds herself becoming Queen Misaki's maid and forced to wait on her hand and foot. Mikoto grows increasingly angry with every task she's forced to donote , but she finally reaches her breaking point when Misaki tells her to be her maid for life, causing her to wake up angry and horrified.
  • Karma Houdini: Accelerator. Those who have read the Index Light Novels or watched the Index anime know that after murdering 10031 Misaka Sisters, he is still allowed to walk the streets of Academy City, all because his murder spree was part of a government-approved experiment. Although there are a few people who don't forgive him quite that fast, even the remaining 9969 Misaka Sisters and Last Order seem to have completely forgiven him for what he did.
  • Kid Detective: Our heroines' favourite pastime when together, the main source of their many adventures.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: This is done to Uiharu, Saten, and Kuroko by the #5 Level 5, Misaki, to make them forget their friendship with Mikoto. Misaki later restores this memory but erases their memories of helping stop Mikoto's Level 6 Shift.
  • Lettered Sequel: The second and third seasons are titled A Certain Scientific Railgun S and A Certain Scientific Railgun T respectively.
  • Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition:
    • The Index DVDs contain an 8-part Railgun side story mini novel written by the author of the novels, Kazuma Kamachi and art drawn by Motoi Fuyukawa of the Railgun manga. Wanna have good reasons why you want to read this mini novel? Lets see:
      • The Railgun cast vacationing in the USA with a Beach Episode too.
      • The US forces versus the Aztec Organization.
      • The Aztec's flying Fortress versus Xochitl, the Aztec magician who first appeared in Volume 15 of the Index's light novels, flying on her surfboard and teaming up with Mikoto who's is flying. Yes, Mikoto is flying and fighting a flying fortress! Get the Limited Edition DVDs now!
    • For the Railgun DVDs, the limited editions contains an 8-part Index side story mini novel starring Kaori Kanzaki, written by the author of the novels, Kazuma Kamachi and art drawn by Kiyotaka Haimura of A Certain Magical Index light novels in each DVD. So what's it about?:
  • Limited Wardrobe: It's stated in Railgun that Tokiwadai requires its students to wear their uniforms at all times when out in public.
    • Subverted with Saten and Uiharu, who both wear a new outfit every time it's a new date, and sometimes even more often than that.
  • Love at First Punch: Inverted. Mikoto first met and took an interest in Touma after he blocked her electric attack.
  • Love Potion: Kuroko laces this in the sports drinks she gives Mikoto... which hilariously backfires on her.
  • Luminescent Blush: Misaka in some situations involving Touma where she isn't trying to kill him, and some where she is.
  • Male Gaze: A perfect example in Chapter 47 of the manga (Railgun T, Episode 3), when Touma meets Shokohou Misaki, he can't help but stare at her assets.
    Mikoto: Just now...I felt his gaze dropping thirty centimeters for a moment!!
    • The anime really likes to point the camera straight at the female characters' assets. This even applies to serious, dark situations, such as during the Sisters Arc, where during Mikoto's attack on the facility that received data from the Tree Diagram, the camera is still pointed straight at Mikoto's posterior instead of showing what she's actually seeing (unlike the manga that actually showed the monitors she was looking at).
  • Mama Bear: Kiyama Harumi.
    Professor Kiyama Harumi: I will do anything to save those children! Even if it involves making this entire city my enemy, I WON'T STOP!!
  • Meaningful Name: Shirai Kuroko's name literally translates as "White-Well Black-Girl", a nice contrast that reflects her outwardly cute but inwardly perverted persona. Mikoto even points this out in Episode 2 before beating her senseless, shouting "I'm gonna fry you as black as your name!!"
  • Meido: Episode 19 has several, including a rather uncomfortable looking Mikoto and reveals that Academy City has a school dedicated to training them.
  • Metallicar Syndrome: Averted, the fact that Harumi Kiyama drives a very distinct Lamborghini Gallardo helps considerably when they're trying to find her on traffic cameras since they recognize it immediately.
  • Mirror Character: Kiyama and Mikoto. Both of them are good people who became cynical due to the fact those they loved were screwed by the corrupt Academy City administration (for Kiyama is was her students, for Mikoto her clone sisters) and both of them could not fight them as they were powerless against the administration. Though as shown in the "sequel" Index, Mikoto eventually grows out of said-bitterness. And thankfully both of them got their Happy Ending.
  • Mission Control: Uiharu puts her computer skills to good use in Episode 3, watching the action through an extensive web of surveillance cameras and giving directions to the other three girls through their earpieces.
  • Modesty Shorts:
    • One of Mikoto's signature traits. Much to Kuroko's dismay.
      • This is also one of the ways Touma is able to tell if he's talking to Mikoto or one of the Sisters - by peeking up their skirt.
    • Averted with Uiharu, despite Saten constantly flipping her skirt up.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • Mikoto's side of the Sisters arc. Oh look, Mikoto is playing with some kids! Cut to her clone cleaning up a room filled with another dozen murdered MISAKAs. Isn't it adorable, seeing Mikoto and her clone behaving like real sisters? Then Misaka 9982 gets brutally murdered by Accelerator. The anime is worse than the manga in this regard, since in addition to Mikoto's cute scenes, the plot also cuts to Saten, Uiharu, and Kuroko's Slice of Life antics in the middle of otherwise dramatic episodes.
    • Actually averted in one specific instance: Episode 5 of Season 2 ends on a very dark cliffhanger, which would jar with the fun and upbeat ending theme. They solved that problem by simply not having an ending theme that episode.
  • More Dakka: Episode 24 is filled with this trope.
    • Kongou shoots down two armed helicopters by blasting a truck into them.
    • Kuroko arms herself with an ammo belt of needles and spams them into the MAR mechs Grenade launchers.
    • Mikoto fights against Therestina's Giant Mech. When coins can't penetrate the mech's armor, she summons Kuroko to send one of the mech's fist to her and use it to blow the mech to smithereens.
    • Mikoto's Railgun versus Therestina's portable Railgun. When both blast their railguns which are equal in power, Mikoto overcomes Therestina by firing in full power and blasting her into a wall.
  • Mundane Utility:
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Two big examples:
    • Dr. Harumi in Episode 11, when she realizes that the kids were just guinea pigs for Dr. Kihara's brutal experiments.
    • Misaka in Episode 23, after she realizes that Therestina tricked her into giving the location of the children.
    • Mikoto again in Episode 6 of Season 2, when she learns that the scientists who used her DNA simply cloned copies of her to die in battle against Accelerator, instead of helping others as they originally led her to believe.
  • Mundanger: What made the tragedy of Professor Kiyama Harumi so easy to relate to for adult audiences is the very human fear in every mother that society would hurt, betray and take their beloved children away from them. This infuses her quest to save her students, extreme measures notwithstanding, with a sad and admirable nobility that you can't help but root for.

     N - Z 
  • Naked on Arrival: Misaka 9982, a perfect clone of Misaka Mikoto, is first seen when she emerges from the tank in which she was created, completely naked.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Mikoto gives some advice to Saten telling her that levels aren't important in life yet she is quietly offended by this since Mikoto's a Level 5 while she's a Level 0. Mikoto realizes the consequence of what she said when she learns Saten fell into a coma using Level Upper and the AIM Burst begins broadcasting the collective thoughts of all 10,000 Level Upper users: I Just Want to Be Special.
    • Mikoto led Therestina Kihara Lifeline straight to Harumi's lab and the Child Errors who are indirectly responsible for the Poltergeist incidents. As luck would have it, she takes after her grandfather just like his son did.
  • Nobody Can Die: Subverted. While it seems ridiculous how many characters, even lowly mooks or extremely unethical mad scientists who are just begging for a Karmic Death, manage to get away with only being put in a coma for a few weeks, the series does show several innocent bystanders (and obviously the 10,031 Sisters killed by Accelerator) not managing to walk away with only a few cuts and bruises.
  • No-Sell: The first Misaka sister seen fighting Accelerator onscreen in Episode 5 of Season 2 tries an experiment in which she sets off a landmine in an attempt to get through his barrier. While it does blow up, a few moments later he walks through unharmed.
    • Mikoto attacks him shortly after the first sister battle in Episode 6 of Season 2. Like the sister, virtually all of her attacks have no effect on him, and its likely he would have just killed here right there were it not for her Plot Armor as well as the arrival of multiple sisters intervening and telling him not to attack her which would disrupt the experiment.
    • Kamijou's Imagine Breaker stops coins traveling at 1300m/s, lightning bolts, remotely controlled iron sand shaped into the shape of a chainsaw-whip and even highly concentrated energy beams (as in essentially lasers) fired at him by Misaka Mikoto. It also negates any other supernatural ability, as seen when he's the only person who can punch the crap out of Accelerator, by negating his vector manipulation, or when Kuroko tries to teleport Kamijou out of the dorm but can't, because she can't teleport his hand, and she can only teleport entire people or objects.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: During the Upper level arc, Ruiko mentions that she can relate to those people using the level upper program to obtain Esper powers, since none of them have any natural ability to do it, just like her. Misaka gets a glimpse of their pain while fighting the AIM Burst creature.
  • Obliviously Evil:
    • The researchers in charge of the Sisters program are implied to be fairly normal people who simply don't see the Sisters as being human. The analogy used is like sacrificing guinea pigs to cure cancer: You can do it because you don't believe you're committing murder, but rather making a small sacrifice for a greater good. A few of the researchers have better moral compasses, but they're outnumbered and powerless.
    • It doesn't help the reason why they are trying to make a Level 6 in the first place is to further the plans of Aleister Crowley, the ultimate Big Bad of the entire Raildex verse.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: We don't get to see Kongou Mitsuko's rescue of Mikoto from the power armored MAR goon after Therestina knocks her out. But it's subverted in the next episode where we do see her powers and it was awesome!
  • Oh, Crap!: Several characters have that look on their face, usually Kuroko or one of the Misaka sisters when fighting Accelerator.
  • One-Man Army: Several characters attempt to take out various opponents by themselves, such as Shirai and especially Mikoto.
  • Only Sane Woman:
    • Yoshikawa berates her fellow scientists over wasting their time figuring out what type of panties Mikoto wear so they could make the Sister clones wear the same panties when they only need the cheap discount panties she bought for them. Even the Supercomputer Tree Diagram thought their idea was stupid.
    • On a similar note Chapter 43 of the Railgun manga Lampshades Mikoto as "the only sane Level 5".
  • Ojou: Most, if not all, of the Tokiwadai students are Ojous.
  • Origins Episode: The arc following the "Jailbreaker" arc doesn't continue down the series timeline, but instead is set a year prior featuring Mikoto's first days at Tokiwadai Middle School.
  • Our Dragons Are Different:
    • When Touma's right arm is torn off by a Mikoto gradually transforming into a Level 6, eight dragons emerge and proceed to devour Mikoto's power, turning her back into a Level 5. Readers of Index will know about Touma having one dragon that emerges upon the loss of his right hand or right arm, apparently being sealed by Imagine Breaker, but this scene takes that further.
    • Kimi, an esper, apparently has the power to manifest and control a dragon from her right arm. Said dragon appears to be one of the eight that emerged from Touma in the above incident, leading to speculation that she somehow trapped and controlled it.
  • Power Perversion Potential:
    • Kuroko has used her ability to spy on, take pictures of, cop a feel of, and even strip Misaka of her underwear. Yeah, the potential for teleportation's misuse has been touched upon.
    • There is also Kuroko's reaction to being electrocuted by Misaka, but that is more to do with Kuroko than some of the uses of electricity.
    • Konori uses her X-ray vision to peek under Kuroko's clothes while the latter is hospitalized in the third season. Granted, she's (ostensibly) only checking out Kuroko's injuries, but Kuroko's embarrassed reaction suggests the latter sees it as this trope. Konori's teasing smirk doesn't help.
  • Psycho Lesbian: Fondling Mikoto in the shower? Yup. Taking stalker picture albums of her? Sure. Lacing her drinks with aphrodisiacs "Computer parts?" You bet!
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "IT JUST SO HAPPENED! TO BE OUTSIDE!! THE PANEL!!!"
  • Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud: The clones of Misaka from season two are talking this way.
    Sister 10031: "Your next partner for the experiment is me, Misaka 10031, reports Misaka."
  • Real-Place Background: Academy City is based on the towns of Tama Center and Tachikawa near Tokyo. The monorail that runs between them appears throughout, and many other landmarks are clearly recognizable.
  • Re-Cut: The final episode of the third season will have an extended epilogue that will be released on Christmas Day on the 8th BD Volumes of the season.
  • Red Shirt Army: The Misaka Sisters are treated like this. Made worse for Mikoto by how nonchalantly they accept their fate after she witnesses one of their gruesome deaths in Episodes 5 and 6.
  • Required Spinoff Crossover:
    • Mikoto running into Touma, which happens time to time before and during the events of the first and third novels.
    • Since the Sisters arc is included in the manga, Accelerator also makes an appearance.
  • Rescue Romance: Subverted. Touma's and Mikoto's first meeting has Touma trying to safely lead her away from another gang and unintentionally pissing her off with repeated references to her being just a brat while talking to the guys. Electricity ensues.
  • Retcon:
    • The events of the Level Upper arc in the anime took place two weeks before the 1st Index novel which the latest manga chapters confirms.
    • In the 12th novel of Index Mikoto greets Uiharu with "You are Uiharu Kazari, right?" as if they had only met once or twice before. Odd considering that they spent the whole summer solving cases together. This was of course before the Railgun manga (and their adventures together) was published. In an omake in the 4th Volume of Railgun this is explained as Mikoto just having forgotten Uiharu's first name. The omake is even called "Matching consistency."
    • Lampshaded in A Certain Scientific Railgun ch 56.5, in regards to the movie and the Endymion Space Elevator.
      Uiharu: The titular Endymion is the world's first space elevator! It has been under construction since 3 years ago without the city revealing what its purpose is! It is a bridge connecting Earth to space!
      Saten: Oh... Hey, Uiharu. If it's been under construction for three years, then that ridiculously huge tower was already there when this manga began, right? Has it really been here all that time?
      Uiharu: What are you saying, of course it has. Did Mental Out mess with your memories?
      Saten: But it's never been drawn in the background before...
      Uiharu: It just so happened to be outside the panel.
      Saten: Don't you call this a retco—
      Saten: O-Okay.
  • Revision: More details are given about certain people in the novels without changing the plot much like how did Last Order gain human emotions, what lead to Amai's bankruptcy in the first place, the rivalry between Mugino and Mikoto, where Amata's behavior came from and the original creator of Capacity Down.
  • Right Now Montage: In "Eternal Party", Janie opens her eyes to see Febri watching her. Febri wishes her a good morning, then calls Nunotaba over. She presents a huge rice ball, saying she made this for both Janie and Shinobu. Thanking her tearfully, Shinobu says she, too, has a lot of things she wants the twin girls to see.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: In Episode 7 of season 2, while it takes place largely offscreen, and Misaka takes great stride not to actually kill anyone, she starts attacking labs that are responsible for the Sisters project, vowing to put an end to the apparent atrocities they've caused.
  • Rubber Face: Kuroko does this to Uiharu in Episode 7 of Railgun S.
  • Running Gag: Several including:
    • Kuroko trying to get kinky with Mikoto and getting a beating by her.
    • Saten flipping Uiharu's skirt to show her panties.
    • Kuroko's punishments from the Dorm Supervisor.
    • Mitsuko trying to be serious only to get Butt Monkeyed.
    • Dr. Kiyama stripping in public.
    • Uiharu gets two in the manga; being sick and periodically wearing a cough mask, and almost getting to enjoy a tasty treat (like a cake) before something comes up.
    • Misaki teasing Mikoto every time she is with her, resulting in a petty fight between the two. While the first instance of this is not comedic, later ones are, especially after the Daihaseisai Arc.
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: The Dorm Supervisor of Tokiwadai Dormitories. Also Mii Konori in the manga, especially around Kuroko.
  • Scissors Cuts Rock: During the Sisters Arc, Frenda Seivelun makes the mistake of underestimating Level 5 Electromaster Mikoto by using ceramic, the strongest insulator of electricity, against her. Unfortunately, however, ceramic doesn't take heat very well.
  • School Festival: Episode 19.
  • School Idol: Mikoto at Tokiwadai Middle School. Almost all the other girls at the school address her as "Misaka-sama", and she's known as "Tokiwadai's Ace".
  • Schrödinger's Cat: Used to explain why Espers are able to use their abilities.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Misaka tends to do this a lot. Ruiko also utilizes this trope on Yomikawa after a Chekhov's Classroom lecture in Episode 14 about not giving up when the latter is hesitant to help and claims they need approval to do anything.
  • Senseless Violins: Played straight by one of the Misaka clones in the manga. In the anime, all the Misaka clones heading to their respective "experiment" carry a cello-case containing a fully automatic rifle.
  • Serious Business:
    • In Railgun, a team of top scientists spending an entire omake chapter speculating on what kind of panties Mikoto wears under her shorts, even sending a special ops team in a (thwarted) attempt to steal them.
    • In Episode 4 of season two, Misaka spends quite a bit of money to get a label pin of Gekota. After not finding it in the first vending machine, she takes the kids she was playing with to another one, and finally manages to get one, although she immediately realizes she can't wear it openly on her clothing without looking like an immature kid.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: In a way, the Sisters arc. Nothing Mikoto does matters in the end. Everything she tries fails and the entire situation is resolved by someone else. On a personal level, however, it matters that she tried and that the Sisters know she tried.
  • Shock and Awe: Mikoto has power over electricity, which she exploits in her signature railgun attack, accelerating a coin to multiple times the speed of sound. She also uses it to materialize a chainsaw whip out of nearby iron particles in Railgun. Whatever else you say about her, she certainly is creative as a Level 5.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Even as fond as the anime is of watching middle schoolers eat and lounge around doing vaguely girly things, all of Mikoto's friends are kicked out of the plot when the Sisters arc gets underway. Only Kuroko really gets to appear and even then her role is almost entirely serious.
  • Shouldn't We Be In School Right Now?: Most of the characters are in school and some in boarding school but the only time we see anyone in class is during the school holidays.
  • Shout-Out:
    • A Shout-Out to the 1942 classic Casablanca appears in Kuroko's imagination in Episode 2, with Mikoto playing Humphrey Bogart's Rick and Kuroko as Ingrid Bergman's Ilsa on the mist-filled runway in the finale; right down to Mikoto/Rick lovingly caressing Kuroko/Isla's cheek saying "Here's looking at you, kid!"
    • Another one to Stanley Kubrick's A Space Odyssey featuring The Monolith (and bone) appearing in Episode 13 of Railgun.
    • Episode 14 has Kuroko referring to an exact replica of the "Vivian Leigh and Clark Gable kissing 1939 poster for Gone with the Wind in a supposed 21st-century teens pop-culture magazine.
    • In an Extra of the First Railgun DVD, the Dorm Supervisor breaks Kuroko's neck thrice in a row, and the poor Kuroko screams "Abeshi!! Hidebu!! Tawaba!!" each time like the villains whose heads Kenshiro detonates with Hokuto Shinken in Fist of the North Star.
    • In Chapter 25 of the manga, as Mikoto resolves to stop Project: Radio Noise via terrorist attacks, she says "Just who do you think I am?" This is a more-than-likely Shout-Out, as she is attempting to touch the untouchable and break the unbreakable. Also, in the anime, she actually says "ore", instead of "watashi" in that one sentence.
    • In Episode 7 of the second season, the main characters visit a riverbank to help a girl look for a four-leaved clover to give as a present, which harkens back to a key moment in Honey and Clover.
    • The cover of Chapter 74 of the manga has the main characters wearing the clothes of the heroines of The Zashiki Warashi of Intellectual Village, another of Kamachi's works. The chapter itself displays examples of espers using cameras to tap into their precognitive powers. One esper does so in the same manner as Joseph Joestar.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Delivered by both Saten AND Mikoto to Therestina's hateful declaration of the worthlessness of human life. Saten takes a firm grip of her aluminum baseball bat, shouts "Whatever Levels we are, we're not garbage. YOU LEAVE MY FRIENDS ALONE!!" and smashes the console controlling the Capacity Down device that paralyzed her superpowered friends. Mikoto then shoves the rest of Therestina's hatefully delivered Breaking Speech right back in her big ugly mouth... with her railgun.
  • Signature Line: "There really never is a dull moment in this city, huh?" Some characters also steal this line from Mikoto (see Hey, That's My Line!).
  • "Silly Me" Gesture:
    • Frenda does this in Episode 8 of Season 2 after Mikoto finds out the explosive gas in the room was just a bluff.
      • She does it again after running into Mikoto in Episode 17, and Mugino reminds Frenda that it was her dolls that allowed the former to get away in the first place.
    • An image of Kuruko doing this is used as a Hit Flash on a couple of occasions when received a well-deserved beating from Misaka.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: Kuroko towards Misaka, obviously, but also Saten towards Uiharu. At one point she's warned not to flip the new girl's skirt, and she can't understand why she would want to.
  • Sleep Cute: Edasaki on Kiyama's couch.
  • Spontaneous Weapon Creation: Misaka uses electromagnetism on the sand and dirt around her to create a Whip Sword out of iron sand.
  • Springtime for Hitler: The Level 6 Shift Experiment was meant from the very beginning to be stopped so that the Misaka Network, the real purpose of the project, could be spread world wide as a part of Aleister Crowley's plans.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Misaka chases Touma around the city, once for a whole night.
  • Stock Footage: Averted, making it difficult to determine when events are occurring compared to Index.
    • Misaka kicking the vending machine at the end of Episode 7 is reused from the 10th episode of Index, down to which can comes out. The only difference is that Touma is not in the background.
  • Stupid Sexy Flanders: During Episode 13, most of the girls are just talking or bickering before posing for photos. Then comes Mii in her swimsuit. All the girls immediately shut up and just stare in awe at her. Hell, even a female snake! This is history in the making, when a trope surpasses the boundaries of species!
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: In Episode 16 of season 2, Saten helps Mikoto to make some cookies. In Episode 17, it shows some further details during a Flash Back, and Saten asks if the cookies are for her new mystery boyfriend. Mikoto starts to deny that its for him, and that she's just simply repaying a favor. But she says it in such a cute and clumsy way that Saten can't help but to smirk and pry even more information out about why she's baking those cookies.
  • Tap on the Head:
    • Mikoto knocks out Shizuri Mugino this way in Episode 10 of season 2, when she uses a doll loaded with a bomb and metal to smack the latter on the side of the head. While it knocked her out long enough for Mikoto to finish destroying the lab, it doesn't keep her down for too long.
    • Touma does a soft version of it to Mikoto in Railgun T, Episode 14 after saving her from reaching Level 6.
  • Technopath: Mikoto can directly control security computers, cameras, robots and read the circuitry of computers directly as an extension of her electricity powers. Truly a Level 5 indeed.
  • Tele-Frag: Kuroko's teleportation ability displaces anything in the target area, so she can use it to stick metal needles directly into a person's body...or use plate glass windows to topple a building by slicing all the support beams.
  • Teleportation: Kuroko can teleport herself or anything she comes in contact with as long as it weighs 137kg or less. The higher concentration required relative to other types of powers prevents her from using it if she can't stay focused.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • In the beginning of Episode 11 of Season 2, the scene starts out similarly as it did during Touma's first encounter with Mikoto at the beginning of Index, but taken from her perspective. While several guys are trying to hit on her, she thinks to herself at how people are just walking by, largely because they wouldn't be able to do anything even if they did try due to the sheer amount of guys there. She then mentions that anyone who did try to intervene must be an idiot... just as Touma does exactly that to try and get her out of that seemingly uncomfortable situation.
    • In Episode 24 of Season 2, STUDY isn't too worried about the few espers attempting to fight them, since they have a huge army of robots at their disposal, have used legalese and red tape to prevent Anti-Skill from interfering, and have an artificial human controlling said robot army. They feel nothing is going to stop them. Until Mikoto shows up anyway...
  • The Reveal:
    • We finally learn what Uiharu's power is in Episode 22 and it's... "temperature regulation of objects she touches." Consider Uiharu is only Level 1. Now, consider the deeper physical implications of keeping an object's temperature "at will". Put in other words, this is "negation of entropy". This might be what allows her to keep the flowerbed on her head always fresh, and if she had as much creative spirit as Mikoto with electricity, think of the possibilities.
    • There's also the Queen of Tokiwadai's name and face, finally revealed after being in hiding for 20+ volumes in the novels.
    • The United States is fully aware of Academy City's true technological prowess, including the fact that it has a military.
  • Theme Music Power-Up:
    • During the final part of the fight with the AIM Burst.
    • Happens twice in Episode 24, when Mikoto takes down Therestina's Humongous Mecha with a huge Railgun attack and then when she defeats Therestina herself after Saten destroys Capacity Down.
    • This happens four times during Episode 24 of Railgun S (Season 2), with "sister's noise" playing during Judgment's battle with the Power Suits, then "eternal reality" playing during more Big Damn Heroes, "future gazer" playing during Shinobu and the Misaka Sisters Big Damn Heroes moment and lastly "LEVEL5 -judgelight-" playing as Misaka intercepts the ICBM.
  • Theme Naming: In every last arc of the three seasons in Railgun, words related to ghosts or soul are involved for some reason. For instance, the first season has "Poltergeist", the second season has "Diffusion Ghost", and finally the third season has "Soul Possession". None of them are actually related to ghosts or soul especially the third one as it was proven false and are only terms used for the lore in the series.
  • This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: Mikoto insists on stopping the Sisters Project by herself, believing the entire mess is her fault in the first place.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: Kuruko seems to enjoy the electric shocks Misaka gives her.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Loosely with Misaka and Kuroko, but definitely present with Saten and Uiharu.
  • Trailers Always Lie:
    • The first opening of season 2 shows Mikoto fighting ITEM, with a few details wrong. Some are minor (such as wearing her school uniform instead of civilian clothes), while others are much more major—namely, being helped in the fight by Kuroko and Touma.
    • Likewise, the second opening of Season 3 depicts Mikoto battling the Doppeganger's fake copies, with once again a few details wrong, such as wearing her school uniform instead of civilian clothes and the fake copies fighting back, which actually did not do in the episode depicting it, especially episode 24.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The second opening of season 1 makes it pretty obvious that Therestina is a villain, but at least they don't show her actually fighting the heroes, so it's still a bit ambiguous.
  • Tsundere: Misaka, so much that it is lampshaded.
    Harumi: You uh... You like him?
    Mikoto: W-What?
    Harumi: You know, when a girl behaves all cold towards the guy she likes. It was popular a while back... Tsun... Tsun... Tsundara? No... Tsunjire?
    Mikoto: Not a chance!
  • Transferable Memory: The Dream Ranker arc revolves around Indian Poker cards, devices that contain recordings of people's dreams. The technology ends up being used to store classified information as well.
  • Unknown Rival:
    • Misaka to Touma, as she thinks his Imagine Breaker is the sign of immense power. It isn't helped by the fact that his nonchalant attitude towards her and her power hurts her pride.
    • Kuroko also considers herself Touma's rival for Misaka's affections, not that he would ever notice.
  • Urban Legends:
    • Episode 4 shows us that there are a few of these around. The Undressing Woman and the ability to nullify other abilities are... well the former is shown in the episode and the other is obviously Touma, so those two are confirmed. There are others though.
    • Goes further than that. Heck, the entire plot of the Railgun anime is based on these. From the Level Upper to Someone's Watching in the OVA.
      • This actually goes for both seasons of the anime.
  • Villainous Rescue: Mikoto is saved in the arena by Mugino and her partners in Episode 24 of season 2. While she was actually there to destroy the robots that were copying her Meltdowner powers and wasn't too interested in fighting Mikoto, the latter still uses the opportunity to escape with Febri.
  • Waif-Fu: Kuroko.
  • We Have Reserves:
    • The Sisters. See For Science! for details.
    • STUDY's leaders aren't too worried in Episode 24 of season 2 when some characters try to resist their plans. After all, they have over twenty thousand robots at their disposal, along with an artificial human, Janie controlling them. What could possibly go wrong?
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Kiyama-sensei and her Level Upper plot. A little less extreme than most, since she does have a way to reverse the effects of the Level Upper-induced comas once she's done.
  • Wham Episode:
    • In Episode 4 of season 2, when Misaka runs into one of the sisters for the first time. Then after the credits roll, the two scientists preparing another sister tells her to clean up the mess in a room, which has several dead sisters in it.
    • In Episode 5 of season two, Misaka learns about the Level 6 Shift, and arrives too late to save her sister Misaka 9982. Accelerator kills her before her eyes.
    • Chapter 61 of the manga and Episode 10 of Railgun T anime. The "Exterior" Misaki mentioned before turns out to be a cloned portion of her brain grown to gargantuan proportions, designed to allow anyone to use her power. Gensei Kihara hijacks it and uses it to force Mikoto to join the MISAKA Network and undergo the Level 6 Shift.
    • Chapter 64 and Railgun T Episode 12 confirms that Mikoto can reach Level 6, and if she does, she'll not only die, but take the entire city out with her.
    • Chapter 106 reveals one of Touma's dragons is somehow being controlled by a criminal esper.
  • Wham Line:
    • Many suspected that Therestina would be the Big Bad of the first season's last arc, but the following exchange puts everything in a different, more horrifying light.
    Random Doctor: It's just about time, Doctor Kihara.
    Therestina: I'll be right there.
    Harumi: Kihara...?
    Therestina: Oh, didn't you know? My middle name is Kihara. Therestina Kihara Lifeline.
    • When Mikoto meets Shinobu Nunotaba.
      Shinobu: Ah, I see... you're the original, huh?
    • And then there's this one in chapter 61 and Railgun T Episode 10:
      Gensei Kihara: Now, let the experiment begin; Can Misaka-kun reach Level 6?
  • Wham Shot: Episode 18 of Season 2. Though there are hinting shots beforehand, it is only when we get a below the eyes shot of Nunotaba Shinobu raising her hand that we know that her fate might be resolved in the anime like Harumi's. Episode 20 shows her face in full, showing that she's indeed part of that group of scientists.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: This was the fan's immediate reaction to Uiharu's power. Then a little bit of Fridge Logic kicks in—she is only a Level 1, her power was never going to be very impressive. Give it time to grow though, and depending on how it works, it could be a very useful power indeed. Episode 20 reveals that her power lets her keep things at a constant temperature. Cool.
    • She also uses it again in the Jailbreak Arc to keep an ice cube hidden under her shirt ice-cold, to prevent herself from passing out from heatstroke, while overheating the servers in the room she's being held in with three armed guards. That's some pretty clever thinking from a Level 1.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?:
    • Mikoto struggles with this in Episode 6 of season 2 after learning that her clones are just being used as guinea pigs to try and increase Accelerator's power. She tells Shinobu that she's just opposing the program on principal for stealing her DNA map under false pretenses, and doesn't care about the clones. When Accelerator asks her a similar question later, she says the clones are her sisters, and it's her job to protect them.
    • Later in the same arc, Touma also feels that despite there being many sisters, each one is unique and therefore shouldn't be senselessly killed off. He puts a stop to the project by taking down the Level 5 Accelerator, despite being a Level 0 himself.
  • Winds Of Change: The "Sisters" arc in both anime has the wind turbines in Academy City suddenly shift directions, a sign that the clones of Mikoto Misaka have decided to aid her, and are shifting the air currents to disrupt Accelerator's calculations, making his attack dissipate.
  • You Are Not Alone: Mikoto tries really hard not to let anyone know about her attempts to destroy the Sister's project. While it works on Kuroko, Ruiko, and Uiharu, Touma witnesses enough to figure out what's going on, and when he hears about Mikoto's attempt at a Suicide Mission to die to Accelerator, he intervenes on her, and the Misaka sisters, behalf.
    • Kuroko, Saten and Uiharu all tell Mikoto that if anything is bothering her, she should come to them and open up, instead of having to deal with everything on her own. She still decides to go up against the Level Six Shift Project alone, part because she doesn't want her friends to get hurt, and part because she knows that Kuroko and Uiharu would be required to turn against her as part of Judgment.
  • You Leave Him Alone!: Invoked by Saten in the Final Episode as she smashes the device that paralyzed her superpowered friends and left them at the mercy of Therestina, the Big Bad.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: Just before the big battle at the assembly at the end of the second series. Konori, Kongou and her two friends, Kuroko, and Uiharu and Saten announce that to the mechs. Moments later hundreds of members of Judgment show up to help fight.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): To Aru Kagaku No Railgun


Misaka's Despair

Misaka falls into despair when she realize just how bigger Misaki's breasts are.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (14 votes)

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Main / ACupAngst

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