In 1986, life was good for Dr. Kenzo Tenma. A Japanese immigrant working as a neurosurgeon in West Germany, he had the favor of the hospital director, a beautiful fiancée (the director's daughter), and a promising future. But one day, the guilt of primarily attending to the wealthy patients and leaving poorer people in need of his skills catches up to him. Ordered to save the Mayor of Düsseldorf, Tenma instead listens to his conscience and operates on Johan Liebert, a 10-year-old boy who was shot in the murder of his adoptive parents. As a result, the child lives, the mayor dies in the hands of less talented surgeons, and Tenma is demoted by his superiors and dumped by his fiancée. Even though his life is now in ruins, Tenma still believes that he did the right thing.
Suddenly, the hospital directors who demoted Tenma die in mysterious circumstances, leaving a vacant position that only he can fill. Then Johan escapes from the hospital with his catatonic twin sister Anna. Although none of the deaths can be directly attributed to the good doctor, a certain Inspector Lunge is unconvinced of his innocence.
Nine years later, Tenma is still working in the same hospital. One night, a criminal patient runs in terror, trying to escape a person he calls "the Monster." Tenma follows him to a parking garage, only to see him mercilessly shot. It's even worse when he sees who the killer is: the same boy he saved nine years ago. Now a young adult, Johan confesses that he was the one who killed Tenma’s superiors years ago as a way to thank the doctor, and departs.
Horrified that he is responsible for the existence of such a monster, Tenma abandons his work and his life, devoting himself to finding Johan again and killing him for good. Following Johan's blood trail, however, becomes tricky and absorbing, and as Tenma's hunt becomes riddled with clues from the boy's childhood, finding the truth about Johan's past becomes as imperative as finding Johan himself. The quest is further complicated when Tenma is framed for Johan's crimes, and Lunge begins a chase of his own for the now fugitive doctor.
The series, written and drawn by Naoki Urasawa, one of the most popular mangakas in the business, has received several major awards and substantial critical acclaim; it is painstakingly drawn and thoroughly researched, with an extensive cast and a complex, multi-layered story. The adaptation is almost identical to the original, differing only in several scenes that were cut and several that were added.
The original manga was serialized in the Seinen magazine Big Comic Original from 1994 to 2001. After the manga ended, Urasawa wrote and illustrated the Light Novel Another Monster, a retelling of the events of the series as an in-universe True Crime novel.
The manga also has a 74-episode anime adaptation, which aired from 2004 to 2005. The anime was a fan-favorite on Sci Fi Channel's Ani-Mondays block. Unfortunately, it is no longer available on Hulu or the Manga Entertainment app for Xbox 360 (dubbed) as Viz Media dropped the license. Fortunately the Australian company Siren Visual has licensed the anime for full release, dubbed and all in its respective country. In early 2022, the series was released on Netflix in the US, subbed.
Not to be confused with the Oscar-winning film starring Charlize Theron even for a minute (although that one is also about a serial killer). Also not to be confused for the 1999 film or 1999 young adult novel.
Guillermo Del Toro has been trying to get it adapted into a live-action series for some time. HBO has turned it down, so time will tell if it ever comes to fruition.
Monster provides examples of:
- Absence of Evidence: Johan's crime scenes are devoid of feeling. In one arc, this enables Lunge to determine that a certain murder was committed by a copycat and not Johan.
- Air-Vent Passageway: Used by a woman in labor!
- Alone with the Psycho: Happens quite often in this series.
- Always a Bigger Fish: Nina is saved from Professor Geidlitz by Johan. What makes this better is that they were using her as bait to lure Johan in to convince him to lead their group and make "the master race" dominant once again, seeing him as the next Hitler. Anna tried to warn them that Johan didn't care about their cause or any cause. They discover too late that she's correct.
- Ambiguous Situation: Richard's death. It's unclear if he threw himself off the roof, got drunk and fell off, or Johan pushed him. Reichwein deduces that the alcohol found with him was a brand he hated, but it's not specified whether any alcohol was found in his system.
- Angsty Surviving Twin: Another Monster reveals that Johan and Nina's mother (whose real name is Viera) was herself a twin, but her sister died at birth. Viera's mother always compared her to her dead sister, which is why Viera tried to do her sister's share of everything - and strangely enough, she believed that her sister was in fact alive somewhere, under the name of Anna.
- Amnesiac Dissonance: Used with two of the main characters and some interesting children's books.
- An Aesop: Even evil people deserve life and a chance at redemption and forgiveness.
- Anime Theme Song: Being anime, it has one, but it's quite unconventional. It was kept for all 74 episodes. It's an Instrumental Theme Tune apart from some ominous chanting.
- The Antichrist: A major motif in the series.note
- Anyone Can Die: Do you have a favorite character you really like? Have they, at any point, so much as made eye contact with Johan? Beeeeg mistake.
- Arc Number: 402.
- Arc Words:
- "Look at how big the Monster inside of me has become!"
- "People can be... whatever you want them to be."
- "Welcome home."
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Dr. Heinemann involves himself in dirty dealings, has complete disregard for human life, and steals candy from children. He pays dearly for that last one.
- Art Shift: Bonaparta's story books.
- Artistic License:
- Artistic License – Law Enforcement: In the Anime, cops from all over Germany (be it Berlin, Hesse or Bavaria) have the North-Rhine Westphalian coat of arms on their uniforms. Other police and prison guards are seen sporting a fictional coat of arms of a brown lion on a yellow field (which appears to be very loosely based on the Baden-Württemberg coat of arms).
- Food: In one episode of the anime, Dieter is seen cutting and eating a Bavarian Weißwurst like a normal sausage. The skin is actually inedible.
- Artistic License – Geography: The Oberösterreichische Nachrichten, a regional newspaper for Upper Austria, is shown to provide a local edition for Ruhenheim, a (fictional) German city likely located in Allgäu, Bavaria - complete with local lottery numbers.
- Asshole Victim:
- Thanks for killing Heinemann, Johan; Oppenheim and Boyer were pretty despicable too. This is probably the only good thing you've ever done, Johan. But remember: the enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend.
- And the corrupt cops in Prague.
- The Atoner: Franz Bonaparta as the most obvious example, but also Wolf, Schubert, Rosso, Bernhardt, and many others. Also given inversions and subversions, temporary and otherwise. Atonement and redemption are arguably two of the series' key themes.
- Tenma himself could fit the mold fairly well - as kind-hearted as he is, he sees his absolute biggest mistake as being something he alone can fix. And despite numerous opportunities he gets where he could abandon his self-set mission, he refuses every time. Ironically, this trope is the reason Tenma saved Johan in the first place.
- Bad Boss: Director Heinemann takes credit for Tenma's research and exploits his skills to save rich and influential patients... even if it means letting other patients die. He then does his best to screw Tenma's career over for daring to defy him. He also takes credit for research done by his subordinates.
- Bastard Understudy: Christof to Johan.
- At the very least, Peter Čapek and the organization he represents may have aspirations to mold Christof into this as a substitute for Johan if the latter proves too unwieldy for them, but according to Christof, the joke is on them, since Christof was merely using the organization to arrange a reintroduction with Johan for himself.
- Beauty Equals Goodness: Averted. People of all appearances occupy all positions on the morality spectrum.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: In oh, so many ways. Let's count 'em:
- Be careful wishing your boss and his cronies would drop dead out loud — it'll cost you if a certain young boy is in the room when you do it.
- Wishing to find out what happened to your twin sibling when you were separated can go very badly wrong for both of you with massive psychological damage.
- Wanting to start World War III by finding a charismatic leader with skills? Be careful with that thought...
- Wishing to have a saviour to jump in and smash the bad guys who are hurting you and your friends can turn you into something amazing and awesome... but, also downright scary when you have no clue how you did what you did.
- Bilingual Bonus: The German and Czech on signs, in documents, and everywhere else is pretty fun for students of the language.
- Occasionally, the non-Japense/non-English names foreshadow or signify something about the place, such as Hotel Versteck, which is German for "hideout".
- Bittersweet Ending: Everybody who survives the story gets new chances to rebuild their lives again, but did Johan leave that hospital bed and is he still out there? And if that's the case, where did he go?
- According to Another Monster, Johan remains in a coma like the last time we saw him. Well, at least that's what the general public believes. Johan could still be behind those new homicides...
- Black Comedy: Heinemann's funeral has some of this, like the eulogy about how he spent his life helping the needy, and when a police officer calls the deaths a "tragedy", Tenma can just barely bring himself to agree with the sentiment.
- Bodyguard Crush: Martin develops one for Eva.
- Bookends: Johan gets shot in the head and Tenma saves him.
- Boom, Headshot!:
- The series' favorite method of ending people. Probably justified in that most of the murders are committed by experienced killers who don't like to risk leaving anyone alive. Johan, however, manages to get shot twice in the head by two separate people, neither of whom had much firearms experience. One was a little girl, and the other was a hallucinating alcoholic. It's like his brain is a bullet magnet. A bit of shown their work on that one. Johan is supposedly The Antichrist, and according to some legends about The Antichrist, he is supposed to suffer two head injuries before going on his ultimate rampage.
- Martin mocks a guy for not shooting someone in the head. That someone was him.
- Brand X: Zig-zagged. Monster is chock-full of real undisguised German and Czech brands, including Mercedes and Volkswagen automobiles, the Malteser aid organisation, Werther's Originale hard candy, Racke Rauchzart whisky, Prazdroj and Budweiser beer, and the now-defunct supermarket brand Schlecker. Product Placement clearly wasn't intended, especially since some of these brands get pretty unflattering portrayals.
- Break the Cutie: Poor Nina, and poor, poor Tenma.
- Broken Ace: Our resident twins. Johan is psycho and Nina is damaged and repressed.
- Bring My Brown Pants: The Baby, as Nina points a gun at him. The Baby is terrified and notes that she is most definitely Johan's sister.
- Broken Pedestal: At the start, Tenma greatly looks up to his boss and seems to view him as a father figure. Said boss exploits his surgical skills for media publicity, plays political games that get one of Tenma's patients killed, and screws his career over for daring to defy him.
- Nine years later, Tenma still tells his patients about how proud he is to have saved Johan, crediting him for turning his life around. Too bad it's all about to come crashing down...
- Another example happens with Jan Suk, who admired a police who actually was corrupt.
- Bullying a Dragon: The Neo-Nazis hold Johan's sister hostage in order to force him to lead them, despite repeated warnings from Tenma and Nina that this isn't a smart move. Johan shows up and kills Dr. Geidlitz and a bunch of his men.
- The Bus Came Back: Chapter 104, "The People Left Behind," features many of the one-shot characters who Tenma has helped throughout his journey, such as his patients, Dr. Schumann and Petra, and the unnamed female Vietnamese med student in Munich, reacting to Tenma's arrest in Prague.
- But Not Too Foreign: Despite being set in Germany, the main character is Japanese.
- Butt-Monkey: Tenma at the beginning, detective Jan Suk, Otto Heckel, Eva and ALL of the children that show up in the story.
- Care-Bear Stare: Tenma. Also done by Grimmer, including on Lunge, of all people. Nina, when not in a bad mood. Dieter's is a major one, and undoes Johan-induced damage.
- Cassandra Truth: Tenma has a lot of trouble getting people to believe his story.
- Cast of Snowflakes: In this story, the character designs are very distinctive.
- Chekhov's Armoury
- Chekhov's Army: Many of the major supporting characters take a few episodes after their introduction before they take an active role in the story.
- Chekhov's Gun: Lunge packs a rifle and a pistol before his fight with Roberto. During the fight, he loses the first, but reveals the tiny gun.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Wim's father, who is introduced as nothing more than Ruhenheim's town drunk, is the one who ends up shooting Johan, thereby saving Tenma from the Sadistic Choice of either abandoning his ideals or watching Wim die.
- Chekhov's Skill: Dr. Reichwein is shown on the jogging track of an indoor gym while mulling over a case. This helps when he chases after two youngsters at a dead sprint.
- He is also seen nagging his secretary to remember to lock the office door on her way out. When an unknown man enters later, a quick glance at the lock confirms that he is an intruder, buying him a few precious minutes to plan his escape.
- Closed Circle: Johan turns the mountainous townlet of Ruhenheim into one by timing his massacre with a severe rainstorm flooding the streets to the outside world, then having the phone lines cut and the local police force slaughtered.
- Co-Dragons: Dr. Oppenheim and Dr. Boyer are this to Director Heinemann at the start, with Boyer also being The Starscream to Tenma.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Inspector Zemen subjects Grimmer to this... with nail clippers. It's way worse than it sounds.
- Commie Land: Much of the story can be traced to communist East Germany and Czechoslovakia.
- Converse with the Unconscious:
- Used earlier as an incredibly black brick joke after Tenma complains of the politics of his hospital to a supposedly unconscious ten-year-old Johan.
- Before Johan suddenly wakes up and just stares at Tenma.
- Cool Guns: Nina's use of the four-barreled COP derringer.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Director Heinemann is the hospital equivalent, caring only about money and media attention.
- Cry Laughing: Tenma after Dr. Heinemann, Dr. Boyer, and Dr. Oppenheim are murdered and he gets promoted to an even higher position than he had lost. Later on, Johan is implied to have done this after finding out that he wasn't the one who was really sent to the Red Rose Mansion.
- A Day in the Limelight: Very frequent. Chances are, if you're a side character in this series, you'll get your "very own episode" or your "very own series arc". Also an Inverted Trope, in that the title character (if that's how you see Johan, anyway) gets comparatively little air time.
- Debate and Switch: Is all life equal? The only thing equal is death? Is it alright to save one, then? Do some people deserve to live more than others?
- Deconstructed Trope: Many, but mostly idealism vs. cynicism and what it means to be a complete monster.
- Defusing The Tykebomb: Mostly played with, though not for laughs: Tenma gets his intervention in early with Dieter, Nina attempts this retroactively with her brother, and Grimmer tries with Pedrov's boys, misguidedly as it turns out.
- Depraved Dwarf: The Baby, a dwarf and the leader of a criminal group.
- Dies Wide Open: The security guard in Episode 4.
- Despair Event Horizon: Tenma comes close to hitting this by the end of the second episode. It doesn't get much better from there.
- Nina comes perilously close near the end, to the point that Tenma has to talk her out of suicide.
- Dirty Communists: Played straight. The crimes of neither the East German nor Czechoslovak communist regimes are ever justified and the flashbacks depict them as dark and unfriendly, which pretty much corresponds with the common view of the communist period in Eastern Europe. In a way may have even been taken up a notch as the East German regime as portrayed in the story bears a hell lot of similarities to the Nazi one.
- Although may be considered Truth in Television, at least to some degree. The East German communist regime was notorious for its ideological devotion to the socialist cause (for instance most of the communist terrorist organizations in the world during the Cold War were funded by East Germany) and it did engage in various experiments tampering with human mind and body. In fact, evidence indicate that right before the fall of communism in Eastern Europe Premier Erich Honecker considered slaughtering the East German protesters, following the example set by the Chinese in Tiananmen Square.
- Dirty Cop: The two detectives hired by Johan to kill Nina's adopted parents, Inspector Zemen, Commissioner Hamrlik, Chief Detective Batella, and Detective Janacek.
- Disproportionate Retribution: So, you disobeyed the director because you wouldn't walk out on your patient? He'll ruin your career over it.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: In the first two episodes, the phrase "just following orders" is repeatedly used by German doctors as a defense for their actions.
- Dogged Nice Guy: Lotte is a gender-flipped example. Unfortunately for her, Karl is pretty damn oblivious and she suffers quite a bit over her relationship woes (or the lack of). Jan Suk plays the trope straight, though it's brutually subverted in the fact that the sweet girl that he's been crushing on turns out to be Johan in disguise. There's also Lipsky, who seems to have a thing for Nina, but he ends up in a happy relationship with someone else in Another Monster.
- Dramatic Wind: Happens very often, especially in the anime. Empathetic environment generally tends to apply.
- The Dragon: Roberto on behalf of Johann.
- Dramatic Irony:
- Karl and Lotte meet a new friend. It's Johan. We know he's a terrible murderer, but they don't.
- Jan confesses to Nina that she's the only person he can trust. Meanwhile, Jan's superiors are all dead, poisoned by candies that were a gift from "Nina" - actually Johan in disguise!
- The Dreaded: Everyone who knows and works with Johan , with the possible exception of Roberto, fears him to an extreme degree.
- There are even occasions where people figure out that Johan is nearby because of the overwhelming fear that suddenly overtakes them.
- Driven to Suicide: Roughly half of Johan's victims end up killing themselves thanks to his Mind Rape abilities. He's even driven little kids (or at least tempted them) to kill themselves.
- Driving Question: What is Johan planning? And does he even know himself?
- Drowning My Sorrows: Tenma's alibi against charges of Klingon Promotion, complete with public staggering and ranting. Generally a source of trouble elsewhere (Eva, Richard, Martin, and Wim), though not anviliciously so - best beer ever is all part of Grimmer's and Reichwein's positive outlooks. Just be careful with who you drink with.
- Dying Moment of Awesome: Muller, who has a pretty epic gunfight to save Nina's life. Considering he killed her foster parents, that was quite the redemption.
- Dysfunction Junction: The entire plot is driven by this trope.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Despite almost setting itself up for a Downer Ending, most of the surviving characters definitely end up with this. Lunge gets back in touch with his daughter, Eva kicks her problems and gets her life back in order, Dieter is living happily with Dr. Reichwein, Nina is well on her way to becoming a successful lawyer, and Tenma is cleared of any criminal accusations then joins Doctors Without Borders. Even Johan, depending on what you consider a "happy ending", gets one.
- Enfant Terrible: While there are various Freudian Excuses given as to why Johan is so incredibly vile and wretched, the most plausible theory out of all of them is that Johan was simply born evil.
- Evasive Fight-Thread Episode: Lunge vs. Roberto.
- Evil Is Not a Toy: So many people try to take advantage and use Johan's evilness for their own means. They all find out, far too late, just how evil Johan is.
- Evil Is Petty: Heinemann is all over this. He sabotages Tenma's career purely out of spite, and orders him to be discharged from caring for Johan because he doesn't want Tenma getting the media attention it would bring.
- Evolving Credits: The end credits gradually progress through the story, "The Nameless Monster", until the final episode where there's simply a static shot of the empty bed where the supposedly comatose Johan was previously.
- A few characters are based on members of Osamu Tezuka's "Star System". The most obvious is Dr. Reichwein, who is a clear homage to beloved Tezuka character Shansaku Ban, right down to his trademark moustache. Johan also has too many similarities to Yuki Michio from Tezuka's suspense-thriller MW to be coincidence. Dr. Tenma shares his name with Astro Boy's creator, although he's actually closer to Black Jack. Urasawa would later go on to create Pluto, a remake of a story arc from the Astro Boy series.
- The three main characters resemble the trio from Halloween. Tenma is Loomis (a doctor with a history with a young killer who takes it upon himself to hunt and stop said killer), Johan is Michael (an emotionally dead, ambiguously supernatural killer obsessed with his sister), and Nina is Laurie (said killer's sister who's goodhearted and becomes an ally of the doctor).
- Fair-Weather Friend: Two of Tenma's "friends" at the hospital, Dr. Eisen and Dr. Boyer, are introduced effusively praising Tenma at the start of the first episode. Once Tenma goes against the director, they both turn against him, blaming him for the mayor's death, and Boyer is promoted to Tenma's old position. Boyer also dismisses Tenma as Johan's doctor, and really relishes telling him that.
- Fairy Tale Motifs: See list on the trivia page.
- Fan Disservice: There are several instances, like when a kid searching for his mom ends up in a red light district, sees a prostitute bent over a trashcan servicing a patron, and is paid to watch. Also, Roberto, a very ugly character, who can be seen shirtless. Another being Nina in first half of the Prague arc being revealed to actually be Johan in drag.
- The Farmer and the Viper: Johan is probably the quintessential viper, with anyone who does a kindness to him suffering horribly for it. Tenma, the one who saved his life in the first place, gets the very worst of it through the horrible things that Johan does to others in order to repay him.
- Fictional Document: The various nihilistic children's books.
- Film Noir: It borrows a few elements every once in a while.
- Fingore: Grimmer is tortured by Corrupt Cops in this manner.
- For the Evulz: Johan is a deconstruction of this. His utter lack of humanity is such that it's hard to tell if he even has any amusement out of being evil, no matter how extensive his plan, and at one point he even says he could stop if he wants but doesn't wants to in a way that makes him sound like even being evil is boring for him (but he's already spent so much of his life being a "monster", so what the hell?). So while men like The Joker are evil because they "just want to watch the world burn", Johan is so far beyond giving a damn for even that.
- Foil: Milan Koláš to Tenma. They both did a kind deed that caused great suffering, namely Tenma saving Johan's life and Koláš bringing his friend Peter Capek to Germany, and are now resolved to kill the "monster" they created. While Koláš goes through with his attempt and dies in the process, Tenma ultimately doesn't kill Johan and saves him in a very different way.
- Foreshadowing: Johan continues to refer to his sister as Anna, while she still uses her adopted name Nina Fortner. In Prague, Nina introduces herself to Jan Suk as "Anna Liebert," foreshadowing that she's actually Johan in disguise.
- Four Is Death: The Nameless Monster goes through four hosts.
- Freudian Excuse: Both twins suffered through many traumatic experiences, though in Johan's case it's somewhat convoluted. Played straight with many of the other Kinderheim 511 alumni - and in a frighteningly effective way, to boot.
- Friend-or-Idol Decision: Otto uses the commotion of an arson in the Turkish district to steal a valuable Ottoman rug. Then he ends up having to use it to smother another fire in a chemical plant, that would cause even worse destruction.
- Gone Horribly Right: Played with. Kinderheim 511 was trying to create emotionless, vicious, Super Soldiers who would kill without qualms. They succeeded, without a doubt. Everyone became a murderer after killing one another (including the teachers). However, Kinderheim produced the single most ruthless killer in history through discovery, not concoction after Johan's arrival - he being the one that turned the other occupants (students and teachers) against one another.
- Gone Horribly Wrong: Petr Capek's attempts to cultivate Johan into the next Hitler end up destroying himself and his organization.
- Good Doc, Bad Doc: Preludingly, "Good Doc" Tenma has a moral, blunt face-off over the phone with his "Bad Doc" boss about operating on patients in the order of their arrival; Tenma, after hanging up and against his boss's wishes, follows his conscience and operates on the first patient to arrive, rather than the city mayor. The mayor dies and the first patient lives. Consequentially, his boss demotes him with the guarantee of a plateaued career. Tenma, furious (after having lost his fiance simultaneously), names his "Bad Doc" boss as the worst kind of doctor and declares that "a man like that isn't fit to live". His patient, the one whom he preferred because of order of entry, overhears his saviour's honest confession, and kills his boss on his behalf.
- Good Is Not Dumb: Dr. Tenma, Nina, and Dr. Reichwein.
- Good-Times Montage: Nina, Dieter, and Lipsky "making happy memories" in Prague.
- Gratuitous English: The Japanese books have the subtitle of "HORRIBLE STORY". You can probably guess why Viz didn't carry that part over.
- Gratuitous German: Well, it's set in Germany, but this trope still applies because they switch off between using Japanese and German honorifics all the time.
- Guilt Complex: Two-fold. From the start, Tenma utilizes unprecedented skill as a neurosurgeon nonchalantly; then, the wife of a construction worker - a man who had been brought into the hospital with a serious head injury - accuses him of consequentially killing her husband by operating on a patient who came to the hospital shortly after her husband instead of him (Tenma did so because of orders from his superiors). Tenma receives her words seriously. When he prepares to operate on his next patient, his boss orders him to operate on another patient of higher import than the initial one; Tenma refuses, taking the widow's words as his gospel, and operates on the first patient who - unknown to him - will kill everyone he can. Tenma saves his patient, his boss demotes him for his disobedience, and Tenma (accidentally) allows his psychopathic patient to overhear his complaints about the man who preferred that Tenma save someone else for greed's sake. So, his patient kills his boss. Nine years later, after Tenma receives a promotion because of his former boss's absence, he discovers the patient he saved is responsible for his boss's murder and many more. This double-stroke of guilt is the force that propels Tenma forward for the entire ensuing plot.
- Half-Identical Twins : Johan and Nina. Their mother even used to dress Johan up to resemble Anna while the children and she were in Prague. As young adults, Johan masquerades as Nina while he's in Prague, and when Nina gets there, she's confused by his female identity and how everyone seems to know "her."
- A major plot point is whether Anna (the twins' mother) dressed up Johan for his sake or for his sister's sake; Tenma ponders on the conclusion that she wanted to get rid of one of them, but who?
- Harmful to Minors: Sprouting from his vicious childhood, Johan will subject any minor he can to as-near-to-the-same childhood that he suffered.
- Hate Plague: One of Johan's talents is creating the perfect conditions for his intended targets to murder each other. It worked frighteningly well in Kinderheim 511 and he attempts to repeat it on the small city of Ruhenheim. In the latter case, it's Subverted however, since Johan's attempts to turn the townsfolk against each other mostly don't stick and he has to resort to flooding the town with hired killers.
- Hate Sink: The series has a lot of villains who are more mundane and self-serving than Johan, but far easier to hate on a personal level. Standouts include Director Heinemann, Dr. Oppenheim, Dr. Boyer, Mr. Hartmann, Blue Sophie, Inspector Zemen, and Wim's bullies.
- Have You Told Anyone Else?: When Jan Suk tells his boss about the corrupt officers on the force, his boss, who is in league with them, responds by telling him not to tell anyone about it. He doesn't pick up on the hint, even though the other corrupt officers told him the same thing.
- He Will Not Cry, so I Cry for Him: Grimmer hugs Milos and starts to cry when he sees that Milos is so traumatised that he has lost all empathy and emotion. It works, because Milos's eyes flicker and lose their Thousand-Yard Stare and he returns Grimmer's hug.
- The Heart: Monster arguably has several, even if Tenma is the obvious one.
- It's almost impossible not to love Nina, even when she's frightening enough to make a Neo-Nazi piss himself.
- Heartwarming Orphan: Nina, Dieter, Karl, and Grimmer. Averted with various other Kinderheim 511 alumni, and for Johan. This being Monster, though, everyone, gets an ordeal.
- Heel–Face Door-Slam: Poor Adolf Junkers. Johan finds him just when he's about to confess to his crimes, and right after Tenma bought him that clock...
- He Knows Too Much: With rare exceptions, knowing anything about Johan's existence is enough for him to kill you.
- When Suk finds out about the corrupt officers on the police force, they decide to murder him to keep the truth from getting out. Johan kills them before they can get around to it.
- Heroic Sacrifice: A lot.
- Heroic Self-Deprecation: This is what makes Lunge suspicious when he first meets Tenma. When he praises Tenma's surgical skill, Tenma modestly says he still has a long way to go. Lunge interprets this as Tenma deceptively downplaying his abilities. To make it worse, Tenma repeats the same line when he meets Lunge again nine years later.
- Heroic BSoD: Several, particularly after Nina's memory returns. Tenma even has to talk her out of suicide.
- Tenma has one right at the start when he learns of the corrupt politics of the hospital. Then another one when his career gets screwed over, complete with Drowning My Sorrows. Then another one during Johan's Establishing Character Moment... You probably shouldn't play a drinking game with this.
- Hero Killer: Roberto: if there is a named character in the same space as he, two-times-out-of-three he will kill them. Also, Johan (of course), who guarantees that Anyone Can Die.
- He Who Fights Monsters: What Johan hopes Tenma will turn into. He comes close, but it doesn't work out.
- Hollywood Psych: Mostly averted, but some questionable approaches to both theory and security are left in place even when officially rejected, e.g. on the issues of dissociative identity disorder, recovered memories, hypnosis, Epiphany Therapy and inferring psychology from physiognomy. Also, "Transcendental Criminal Psychology", Dr. Gillen?
- HULK MASH!-Up: A double example, as there's an in-universe expy of The Hulk named "The Magnificent Steiner" who had a TV series starring an ordinary man who would be overtaken by rage and turn into a super strong beast. The second example is Wolfgang Grimmer who had a second personality based upon the fictional Magnificent Steiner where he would become extraordinarily violent in a mundane version of Hulking Out.
- Humans Are Flawed: Tenma and Johan draw polar opposite conclusions from this, testing each other's convictions to the limit.
- Idiot Ball: Richard Braun shows himself over several episodes to be a very sharp and competent detective. He then makes the notable mistake of going out alone with someone he suspects to be a serial killer, and doesn't bother to tell Dr. Reichwein, who's working on the case with him, of this critical development.
- I Have You Now, My Pretty: This works remarkably poorly on both female leads.
- Ironic Name: Ruhenheim translated from German literally means "home of peace/calmness".
- I Never Said It Was Poison: Tenma catches on that a couple of police officers work for Johan when one of them calls him "Dr. Tenma", despite the fact that he only introduced himself by name and didn't mention his profession.
- Inspector Javert: Lunge, to the point where he takes a vacation to search for Tenma, at least while he thinks that Tenma is guilty, only to finally come to the realization that Johan was the mastermind behind all the murders.
- Intergenerational Friendship: Dieter (a kid) and Tenma (an adult).
- Irony: Just read the summary. For starters.
- I Owe You My Life: One reason Johan spared Tenma's life. However, the other reason Johan is keeping Tenma alive is to kill everyone from his memories so Tenma can suffer alone.
- It's for a Book: He just wants to interview you, Detective Braun! Richard really should have known better than to fall for that line too, considering that he already suspected Johan of being a murderer and Johan introduced himself by name. Someone with that kind of critical information shouldn't allow the person they suspect of being a killer anywhere near them, no matter what story the person uses.
- It's Personal: Dr. Tenma views his pursuit of Johan this way, evidenced by his constant refusal of the help of his friends and subsequent declaration that he must be the one to kill him.
- It's arguably even more personal for Nina, what with Johan being her twin brother and having killed her foster parents. Repeatedly.
- I Wished You Were Dead: Tenma wishes the hospital director and his underlings would die, while venting to a supposedly unconscious patient. Aforementioned patient gladly obliges.
- Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: Mostly in terms of Johan's backstory.a
- The Killer in Me: Lunge thinks Tenma has a Split Personality and is committing murders without realizing it since Johan does such a good job of staying invisible that the only clues he is able to find point to Tenma.
- Kill Him Already!: When it's the villain who says it, you're in for a treat.
- Lampshade Hanging: The basic premise of the story is a stretch to believe (though Urasawa pulls it off), and every so often, someone in-story will helpfully point this out, usually at the expense of Tenma (or anyone who has come around to his view). See also Scully Syndrome.
- Laughing Mad: Petr Capek descends into this after he kills his bodyguard in a fit of paranoia, with the belief that the guard was reaching for his gun to betray and kill him. Turns out, he was just reaching for his lighter.
- Let Them Die Happy: Defied. At the brink of death, Roberto asks Johan to "show him the landscape of the doomsday." Johan stares gloomily at his shoes and replies, "You can't see it."
- Locard's Theory: Played with. Inspector Lunge believes it. Unfortunately, it's not true.
- Loss of Identity: Analyzed and played with.
- The Man Behind the Man: Franz Bonaparta, the one in charge of the experiments at Kinderheim 511 and the readings at the Red Rose Mansion. Except he isn't the main villain.
- Maybe Ever After: Do Lotte and Karl get together after all? How about Tenma and Nina? Sure seems like there's interest on both parts near the end, but there's no clear answer aside from the subtext.
- Mexican Standoff: Gratuitous with a capital G. The whole series is made of this trope.
- Mighty Whitey: Japanese Dr. Tenma is the youngest and most skilled surgeon in a German hospital, goes about inspiring and being generally morally infallible as he travels around Eastern Europe.
- Mind Rape: Happens quite often, usually thanks to Johan. Bonaparta has a whole pedagogy founded on this.
- Mirror Character:
- Played with a bit regarding Tenma and Johan. Inspector Lunge analyzes Johan's crimes from the perspective that Tenma is the killer and that "Johan" is simply an alternate personality who doesn't really exist. This may seem like a stretch, but his logic isn't as far-fetched as one would think. Lunge reasons that Tenma would have to have a calm, clinical mindset to perform his surgeries — and that is exactly what he reads from Johan's crime scenes. Complicating things is something both characters do have in common: their disconnect from others and society in general. Upon researching Tenma's background and concluding that he doesn't fit into Japanese society, Lunge simply reinforces his view that Tenma's detachment is what allows him to kill without a second thought. In reality, Tenma isn't as much like the real killer as Lunge thinks he is.
- Johan and Nina, despite being Polar Opposite Twins, have some key similarities. The most obvious similarities are that both of them have had their sense of identity disturbed at one point or another and have lost much of the childhood memories. Furthermore, while Johan is clearly the most dangerous twin, neither one of them is someone you should mess with. But what's most disturbing is that Nina exhibits a violent inner "monster" of her own when placed under hypnosis. This repressed dark side was created by the very same events that made Johan who he is. The only difference is that those events actually happened to Nina, whereas Johan simply convinced himself that everything happened to him.
- Missing Mom: Helenka and the twins' mother, Anna.
- Monstrous Cannibalism: The in-universe Czech children's story that gives the series its name revolves around a nameless monster that split itself in two, then travelled in different directions to find a name. After the monster of the east travels to an unsuspecting kingdom and completes its Assimilation Plot, he runs into the monster of the west. The monster from the west doesn't see the point in hiding their true nature by becoming people, so the monster from the east eats the monster from the west.
- Morality Pet: Karl and Lotte to Johan. Even after learning the truth, they still sympathize with him and say that they don't hate him for his actions.
- More than Mind Control: Johan's modus operandi. Roberto even seemed in love with him. ("You have such nice eyes. Just like Johan.") He also reminded Roberto of his only memory: how much he loved the hot cocoa served weekly.
- Mugging the Monster:
- Blue Sophie tries blackmailing Johan. It doesn't end well.
- The same goes for Detective Patera, when he tries hitting on "Anna" at the bar...
- Murder Is the Best Solution: This is deconstructed throughout the story, but played straight at the very beginning when Johan saves Tenma's career by killing those who were keeping him down.
- My God, What Have I Done?:
- Bonaparta, after Grimmer's death.
- Tenma, after he realized what he brought back into the world when he saved Johan and when he thinks he killed Roberto.
- Milch, when the guards carrying him and Tenma to prison run over his brother, who was supposed to pretend collapsing on the road in front of the car like Milch had taught him in order to aid their escape.
- Myth Arc: It is the re-acquisition and destruction of Johan and the premature cessation of all of his schemes.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Inspector Lunge's name translates to Mr. Stake. Also, Roberto's real name is Adolf.
- Near-Villain Victory: Johan almost completes his plan in getting Dr. Tenma to shoot and kill him and thus corrupting him.
- Never My Fault: Tenma's superiors blame him for the death of the mayor because he wouldn't walk out of his own operation when doing so would likely have killed his patient.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed:
- Dr. Julius Reichwein looks like Wilford Brimley.
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Tenma ultimately becomes a fugitive because the young boy whose life he saved murders those with whom he's connected.
- No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: Pulled twice with Nina, and then with a lampshaded aversion for Grimmer and Tenma in Prague.
- No Name Given: So many characters that a major theme in the series is how it is not to have a name. Others live with multiple aliases. A character who goes by a nickname for the entire series dies before his real name is revealed. Johan and Nina's true names were never given; Tenma learns their real names in the end, but the audience doesn't.
- Not Quite the Right Thing: The linchpin of the story. Everything could have been avoided if Tenma had ignored his professional ethics and operated on the mayor instead of on Johan.
- Not So Stoic:
- Out of all people, thanks in part to his Character Development, Lunge gets angry when Roberto starts talking about his failed marriage and how his grandchild doesn't even know his biological grandfather. . Also, Lunge gets very giddy when he learns that Tenma saved his life. A third one by Lunge bringing a beer to Grimmer's grave as they promised each other in a heartfelt moment, and informing his fellow mourners that he was able to gain contact with his estranged daughter and grandson by email, even recognizing that they barely knew each other at all to begin with.
- Grimmer has great difficulty properly expressing emotion, always asking himself what is the appropriate response for this situation. But after watching one of his boys turning towards the dark side, he breaks down and cries, in genuine sorrow and worry.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Barkeeping: A bartender Tenma talks to does this.
- Off the Wagon: Subverted with Richard Braun. Averted with Eva.
- Oh, Crap!: Everyone every time something happens.
- Oktoberfest: Notable for being completely avoided. Monster is one of the most realistic portrayals of post-reunification Germany found in non-German fiction.
- Older Hero vs. Younger Villain: Tenma vs. Johan. Tenma is not old, but is much older than Johan.
- Ominous Latin Chanting: The series' opening theme, "Grain."
- One-Steve Limit: Averted. The series gives us three Martins and two Ottos. And two Adolfs.
- One-Word Title
- Only a Flesh Wound: Mostly averted. A few people escape shots to the shoulder, but gut and thigh wounds kill several people. Averted when a character's shoulder's shot which cripples his arm for the rest of the series.
- Johan gets shot in the head TWICE and gets away with little neurological damage the first time; not known the second time, though.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Mafia boss "The Baby."
- Roberto is only known as such for the majority of the series; the audience eventually learns his name when it is revealed to some characters, but no one bothers to tell him.
- The twins' real names are revealed to Tenma, but never to the audience; it's not known whether they learn their own names themselves, given that at that point it doesn't matter anymore.
- Orphanage of Fear: Kinderheim 511.
- Orphanage of Love: Anna/Nina's orphanage.
- Papa Wolf: Near the end of the series, Win's drunk, alcoholic father, shoots Johan in the head when Johan threatens Tenma with Win's life.
- Parental Abandonment: There is a mystery behind what happened to the Liebert twins' biological parents. It's implied that their father was killed, but it's later revealed that the mother turns out to still be alive.
- Parental Marriage Veto: According to Another Monster, this was a major reason why Eva broke off her engagement with Tenma.
- The Patient Has Left the Building: Johan is supposed to be in bed after brain surgery for a while, but Johan sneaks out and takes his sister with him. This however gets on a later stage with the locksmith, which becomes the first victim we see Johan execute in the series (the doctors he murdered are on another issue, that is indirect and as a "favor" to Tenma).
- Pet the Dog: Eva has a straight moment, while Johan loves to subvert this for all it's worth. Roberto has a retroactive one.
- Photo Op with the Dog: Played straight as far as Heinemann's motivations are concerned. Otherwise, not so much.
- Please Kill Me if It Satisfies You: Johan: his every action is an incitement for the right man to end his life.
- Point That Somewhere Else
- Polar Opposite Twins: Johan and Nina.
- The Power of Friendship: Both played straight and mind-bendingly subverted, depending on who's in the scene.
- The Professor: All the psychologists we find.
- The Profiler: Dr. Rudy and Lunge. Several other characters show elements of this as well.
- Public Secret Message: A former college classmate needs to get in touch with Tenma, so he puts an ad in the paper that simply says "Let's discuss our memories of cheating" (on tests).
- Lunge figures it out pretty easily.
- Red Herring: The elderly couple that win the lottery and subsequently arm themselves to protect their new-found wealth are largely uninvolved in Johann's plot to destabilise Ruhenheim. Rather, they buy their own guns and behave peacefully - albeit somewhat irrationally - until they're rescued by Grimmer and Lunge. Similarly, Wim's father doesn't actually get the chance to participate in the Ruhenheim massacre as Johann intended - that is until he runs into Johann threatening his son with a gun.
- Rescue Romance: This trope gets a pretty rough time of it, subversion-wise.
- Not counting that Tenma rescues a mountain of people, who end up loving Tenma in one way or the other and their main drive is to prevent him from killing Johan or anyone for that matter.
- Redemption Equals Death: Muller, one of the cops who killed Nina's foster parents.
- Redemption in the Rain: Deconstructed into tiny little pieces and scattered all over Ruhenheim.
- A tamer subversion is when Eva begins crumbling apart at the moment she gazes at Tenma's apartment while standing in the rain.
- Re-Release Soundtrack: The English dub of Monster replaces The Ronettes' "Be My Baby" with a generic instrumental in The Baby's introduction, removing the subtle joke that the neo-Nazi is a fan of a multi-racial group. The source of this is the Japanese company over music distribution, so VIZ had to compensate for the missing tracks.
- The Reveal: A lot. One has trouble just counting how many people died.
- Nina wants to kill Johan primarily for killing her foster parents, though he's also killed almost every adult who has been kind to them since they were children. She later wants to kill Johan so she can prevent Tenma from doing so; this is mutual.
- Eva wants Tenma to rot in prison for life out of spitefulness due to the latter dumping her and later attempts to get revenge on Johan after Martin's death. She gets over both.
- The twins' mother Anna warns Franz Bonaparta that she will get her revenge on him through her children. Cue almost twenty years and hundreds of corpses; gallons upon gallons of blood on the hands of a man that almost stopped everything because he fell in love with her. Way to stick it up to him, girl!
- Reverse Whodunnit: It is clear that Johan Liebert is the murderer. The challenge is to stop him.
- Rhetorical Request Blunder: Dr. Tenma says in front of the apparently unconscious Johan that his corrupt superiors at the hospital "would be better off dead!" So Johan kills them.
- Room Full of Crazy: Johan likes to leave messages on walls. And bits of derelict industrial sites. He also goes to some trouble to set up a Room Full of Crazy based on someone else's childhood trauma, all for More than Mind Control.
- Rousseau Was Right: Tenma's conclusion, and ultimately that of the series itself.
- Rotating Arcs:
- The series often switches back and forth between character perspectives, with the main threads being Tenma and Nina’s simultaneous hunts for Johan and Lunge’s hunt for Tenma.
- The Munich arc initially focuses on several newly introduced characters (Karl, Lottie, Schuwald, Richard, and Dr. Reichwein) before the main cast re-enters the story.
- The Prague arc repeats this, switching focus to Grimmer then Jan Suk before returning to Tenma.
- Rule of Symbolism: The two nameless monsters in Bonaparte's storybook represent not only the Liebert twins but also a divided Germany (hammered in by one going West, and one going East.)
- Sadistic Choice: Johan presents Tenma with one right at the end, when he holds a gun to Wim's head to force Tenma to choose whether he will shoot Johan against his principles or allow Wim to die. Thankfully, Wim's father's intervention alleviates the necessity for Tenma to take either option.
- Scare Chord: Happens when a supposedly comatose Johan opens his eyes in episode 2.
- Scully Syndrome: Virtually epidemic, if understandable. Lunge is the most standout case, but nearly everyone tends to come down with a dose of this when they first hear the main story. Check out the late-arriving cops in Ruhenheim's reaction to Gillen's explanations.
- Self-Made Orphan: Martin, who left his drunken mother in the street like she asked - on a snowy night so cold she froze to death before morning. Also Johan, many, many times over, with a succession of very unlucky foster parents.
- Serial Escalation: Just how bad does a person have to be before you, the viewer, stop sympathizing with them?
- Serial Killer: You have three seconds to make a guess who. Though he's far from the only one.
- Sexy Discretion Shot: Five minutes into the first episode, Eva lies on top of Tenma and suggests they have sex before the camera pans to the window of their apartment. It's the first and last one in the series.
- "Shaggy Dog" Story: A rare non-negative example. Tenma's outlook on humanity by the end is more important than whether or not he kills Johan. When he went all that way to let him live again, one can say it made the buildup pointless, but it showed that Tenma felt that he wasn't necessarily wrong in the first place.
- Ship Tease: The subtext between Tenma and Nina.
- The central premise, a doctor wrongly accused of murder chasing after the real killer while being pursued himself by a lawman, is modeled on The Fugitive TV series.
- By extension, there's also influence from The Incredible Hulk (1977) (combined with a dash of German Nick Knatterton aesthetics) via the in-universe show "The Magnificent Steiner" (about a man with a super-strong alternate self which influenced Grimmmer's dual personality).
- Dr. Tenma shares his surname and profession with the creator of Astro Boy.
- Mr. Rosso mentions that one of his favorite films is Summertime from 1955.
- The professor in Nina's introductory scene is a shout out to John Houseman's character in The Great Paper Chase.
- The backstory of the escape artist who helps Tenma features a shoutout to The Shawshank Redemption.
- Johan's character also had similarity with another Johann who was involved with Nazi.
- Grimmer and Suk get data of tests conducted at 511 Kinderheim and a tape of an interview with Johan from a safe box numbered 2501.
- Grimmer mentions buying a Gundam toy for his son while visiting Japan.
- The twins' mother Anna being forced to give up one of her children to Bonaparta's experiment at the Red Rose Mansion is very clearly modeled on Sophie's Choice.
- Shown Their Work: The operation scenes are largely accurate, and the renderings of Germany and the Czech Republic are extremely faithful.
- Slasher Smile: While he rarely ever shows emotion, right before he asks Richard if he would like a drink, Johan makes one of the most sadistic slasher smiles imaginable once he realizes that he's broken Richard.
- Heinemann smiles in that way many times.
- Roberto, in turn, rarely stops smiling.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The very plot essentially revolves around the question of whether Tenma's idealism and determination to cause good by doing good can survive against Johan's horrifyingly convincing attempts to demonstrate that they're the same and that it's all a Crapsack World in which an act of human kindness is objectively futile. The series ultimately comes down on the idealistic side.
- Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. Seriousness: Very much on the serious side. Some welcome touches of silliness, albeit often as a foil to the horror aspects.
- Small Role, Big Impact: The Turkish man's wife in Episode 1. She's in one scene, but without her we wouldn't have a story.
- Smug Snake: Many, many people. Dr. Heinemann, Blue Sophie, and Christof are probably the worst examples.
- Social Services Does Not Exist: Justified (sort of) in the Eastern Bloc sections since Bonaparta has connections in high places, but apart from the Lieberts, none of the twins' (or Johan's) foster parents appear to have gone through any formal process, or been caught, even when registering kids in school or reporting them missing to the police.
- Dieter chooses to stay with Tenma while on the run; Nina even suggests that he shouldn't be involved, but the damn runt is tremendously stubborn. For a while, Dieter hangs with Tenma to keep him from carrying out his assassination plot against Johan, though later, no adult that he comes across with even considers trying to do something about him.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: The second ending, when used after a particularly Tear Jerker-y or dramatic scene.
- Spanner in the Works: The only thing Johan couldn't plan for? The fact that Wim's father would be there to shoot him in the head instead of Tenma.
- Spell My Name with an S:
- Johan/Johann, Kenzo/Kenzou, and Runge/Lunge, among others.
- In case you were wondering, it's Johan, Runge, Braun, and Schubert (as opposed to Shuwald). It's all in the series, they show it on business cards, posters, and such. Tenma's first name, seeing as everything takes place in Germany, is more accurately transliterated without the 'u'. Despite Johan being perhaps less accurate than Johann, it is still the official name used by Urasawa.
- Split Personality: Tenma and Nina draw to the conclusion that Johan has two personalities: his normal self and the "monster" inside him. Later, it is revealed that Johan was merely toying with them. Lunge incorrectly deduces that Tenma has a split personality named "Johan" who is committing all the murders.
- Split-Personality Takeover: A frequent outcome of applied Bonaparta-style pedagogical experiments, though some of the claims to it are put in question.
- Also The Magnificent Steiner, until the 3rd-to-last episode.
- Stern Chase
- Strike Me Down with All of Your Hatred!: Johan knows that neither Tenma nor Nina have it in them to actually kill him. In the final arc, however, his hostage's father is a completely different story.
- Suicide by Cop: What Johan hopes to accomplish.
- Suicide Dare: Johan does this to several characters, most notably when he teaches kids to balance themselves on guardrails as a "game."
- Surprisingly Good English: The German and Czech words and names are mostly accurate.
- Sycophantic Servant: Johan's human tools run the gamut of competence, according to his needs, but some, like Hartmann and various incarcerated killers are this, and at most serve to help him spread havoc and misery.
- Taking Over the Town: A variation occurs in the finale; Johan plans to give himself the "perfect suicide" where he and some of his accomplices move to a rural town right before it gets isolated by seasonal bad weather, cut off communications with the outside world, provide guns to some of the civilians and then just watch them go crazy with paranoia and kill each other. He is stopped before casualties get too high, but there were still plenty of deaths from it. While this is a case of rather than trying to take control, the tactics he uses are quite normal for this trope, and in a way, he is taking over the town by infecting them with his own nihilism and hopelessness.
- Talking to the Dead: Quite a few times, though sometimes, the person addressed is just hiding. Sometimes accompanied by Libation for the Dead, or (guess who?) setting something on fire.
- Tastes Like Friendship: Repeatedly, almost to the point of Food Porn, fortunately at a reasonable distance from the horror, and with an eclectic range of cuisines. Also used as a connection with others, rejection of nihilism, or undergoing a Heel–Face Turn. Bad guys are rarely shown enjoying food, and if they do, they tend to be weird about it.
- Tenma's favorite meal is a sandwich, and is so because of Nina; even Dieter learns to prepare them and tells Nina that the sandwiches are Tenma's favorite.
- Tempting Apple: Johan gives Schubert an apple to convince him that the woodland of his younger days is still there. In the short run, this ingratiates himself with him; in the long run, if he ever finds out otherwise it's likely to contribute into Johan's favourite trick of driving people to suicide.
- Tempting Fate: "I'm surprised I lived through that." Cue the fatal bullet wound.
- Blue Sophie to Johan: "How big is the body count again?" It's about to get one bigger.
- This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself
- This Is Unforgivable!: Anna to Franz Bonaparta.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: Tenma plans on keeping his hands clean until he gets his chance with Johan. And once he does, he changes his mind.
- Title Drop
- Token Evil Teammate: Otto Heckel, among Tenma's allies, is a thief and helps Tenma out of greed. Also, he unsuccessfully tries to corrupt Dieter.
- Tomato in the Mirror: Some of Johan's traumatic memories that were supposed to be his Freudian Excuse were actually based off what Anna told him after she returned from the Red Rose Mansion. Not him.
- Too Dumb to Live: The patient in episodes 3 and 4. The former has him run straight into traffic without hesitation, while the latter has him run into an unlit area at night. After seeing a security guard fall down dead. While there's someone really nasty trying to kill him. Surprise surprise, this patient is promptly found and horribly killed. Not to mention Tenma and Johan are having an extended conversation for about five minutes, while the patient just sits there the whole time waiting to be gunned down. Granted, running might not have done him much good, but anything's better than just sitting there.
- Richard Braun decides it's a good idea to go out drinking with his lead suspect (who introduced himself by name) without telling anyone. He follows this up by following said suspect up to an abandoned rooftop in the middle of the night, while shouting, "I know what you're up to, kid!" Needless to say, it ends badly.
- In the last chapters, Tenma tells a lady to stay where she is, a safe place during a shooting, but she abandons that area and gets shot.
- Training Montage: Episode 9 of the anime, in which Tenma learns to use firearms.
- Translation Convention:
- Japanese stands in for mostly German; on other occasions it stands in for English, Czech, maybe French, and Latin.
- Averted with in-universe writing (such as Johan’s “the monster inside me is growing” letter), which is rendered in correct German.
- This is particularly weird in a scene where Dieter, who only speaks German, needs Tenma to translate what a British couple is saying, even though we hear them all speaking the same language.
- You'd also notice that there's an awful lot of locals in Prague, Czech Republic, who apparently speak fluent German (if not all of them).
- Trauma Conga Line: Tenma and Johan both went through this.
- Tenma's father wanted him to take over the family clinic at his brother's expense, which Tenma didn't want. He came across one of Dr. Heinemann's papers and seized the chance to come to Germany, which fractured his relationship with his family. Tenma ends up writing many of his boss's papers for him, while recieving no credit. He ends up in a relationship with Eva, who didn't treat him very well. Then he finds out his boss is corrupt and got one of his patients killed. His boss shows no remorse and cancels important research Tenma was working on so that he can write a speech for him. Then Johan comes along, and after a Sadistic Choice from hell over whom to save, Tenma's career gets wrecked seemingly beyond repair. To top it off, that paper that originally inspired him wasn't even written by the director.
- Johan is born from a eugenics experiment, with his father implied to have been killed soon after his birth. He and his sister grow up rather isolated, before Bonaparta makes his mother choose who to give up, with her reaction seriously messing him up. His mother is taken away as well, leaving him alone in the house with only Bonaparta's books for company. When his sister comes back and tells him what happened, Johan internalizes her experiences and thinks they happened to him. They run away together, with Johan killing anyone who tries to help them out of paranoia. They end up passing out from exhauston and starvation. Then Johan is separated from his sister again and sent to 511 Kinderheim. Aside from experiencing everything the others did there, he was drugged and feared that he would lose his memories of his sister. He ended up inducing everyone else into a riot to escape. He gets reunited with his sister, and they're sent to live with the Lieberts, only for Bonaparta to show up one night. Johan is convinced that he is there to harm them, and ends up shooting the Lieberts dead. When his sister discovers this, he asks her to shoot him. She does, and it's later implied that he may have turned out different had she not done so.
- Truth in Television: A Japanese neurosurgeon living in Germany is actually not as strange as you might think. Japan has roughly the same number of neurosurgeons as the United States, a country with more than twice its population. For that reason, many of them end up going abroad in search of work. The two most common places they go are Germany and the US.
- Turn the Other Cheek: Tenma for the most part and Anna/Nina eventually. Completely averted with the twins' mother.
- Twin Desynch: Played straight, subverted, and twisted.
- Tyke-Bomb: Aiming to build Super Soldiers can backfire on everyone involved not just the subjects, though they tend to get off least lightly.
- Übermensch: Johan, Tenma, and arguably Nina/Anna as well.
- Underdressed for the Occasion: Eva won't let Martin accompany her into the hotel because he doesn't meet the dress code.
- Unmoving Plaid: In the manga.
- The Unreveal: Johan's and Anna/Nina's real names.
- Viewers Are Goldfish: The first episode of the anime.
- Villain Episode: The Baby gets one of these just before he gets killed.
- Villainous Breakdown: Despite assuring himself that everything is going according to plan, Petr Capek starts to grow increasingly paranoid after The Baby is killed, eventually killing his own bodyguard in a fit of paranoia. An action which is later avenged by the bodyguard's comrades, who shoot down Capek.
- We Can Rule Together: You'll never guess who uses this for Unwitting Pawn bait on lesser bads.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Lawyer and his friend.
- Wham Shot: Quite a few, but a particularly infamous one comes in chapter 87/episode 44. After her date with Detective Suk, Nina goes back to the apartment she's staying at... then takes off a wig, washes her face, and looks into the mirror with a Slasher Smile, revealing she's actually Johan in disguise.
- What Beautiful Eyes!: Roberto telling Nina, "You have beautiful eyes. Just like Johan's..."
- What Happened to the Mouse?:
- To Karl Schuwald's foster parents, the Neumanns. Though it can be assumed that after Hans Georg Schubert officially accepted Karl as his biological son, Karl's foster parents probably accepted it.
- The couple Johan stayed with in Munich. Reichwein warns them that they'll likely end up being killed like all of the others. Whether it happened or not is never mentioned, but it can be assumed that it did.
- There's also Gustof, who is never mentioned again after he's taken to the hospital, as is Christof.
- The woman pretending to be Roberto's wife is never scene again after she helped to torch the library.
- Muller's new family after his death: he kills Roberto's henchmen while rescuing Nina, but there's no knowledge of whether there were any repercussions against them for his actions, as Roberto DID threaten Muller by using his family against him just hours before; Nina might have told them to flee, but it's not known.
- What the Hell, Hero?:
- The Turkish man's wife rebukes Tenma because he could have saved his husband, who arrived earlier and should have priority because of that.
- Lunge disapproves that Gillen and Tenma had cheated on an exam and scolds mildly the former.
- Who Would Want to Watch Us?: "Go write a book about it. Won't sell, though."
- Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Roberto favors this approach when it comes to Nina, Tenma, or anyone in Johan's way, but apparently gets overruled.
- Wicked Cultured: Johan, Kristof, and various doctors dabbling in eugenics and brain-washing.
- Will They or Won't They?: Karl and Lotte.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Johan for Karl, Lotte, and Nina. In Another Monster, Karl reveals that despite everything Johan put him through, Karl could never bring himself to hate Johan as he believed Johan's tears for him were real. Lotte, similarly, says that she doesn't hate him and that she believes Johan couldn't bring himself to kill Karl because Karl wanted things — family and a home — that Johan could never have nor understand. Nina, for her part, believes that had she not shot Johan, had she been able to forgive him, he would not have continued killing.
- World Half Full: The world of Monster is filled with some very nasty things, but there's a lot of hope if you know where to look.
- Worthy Opponent: Johan seems to see Tenma and Nina this way, since they're pretty much the only two people he doesn't want dead. It sure doesn't stop him from trying to destroy their lives, though.
- Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Yeah, right.
- Wrong Genre Savvy:
- Nina thinks the romantic emails she's been receiving are from her "Prince Charming." They're actually from Johan.
- Suk ends up in the same situation, believing that his story is a romance where he wins over the beautiful girl in the bar. Turns out this was Johan too.
- The Wrong Right Thing: How Tenma got into this.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: It's almost a guarantee that once someone's luck turns around, they are going to be killed. Almost.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Johan likes to clean up loose ends. And by "clean up," we mean "murder."
- You Meddling Kids: Pedrov/Biermann tells Grimmer the 511 Kinderheim project would have worked out just great, if his successors hadn't let the anomalous Enfant Terrible get out of hand. Also played straighter with Dieter's and the orphanage boys' interventions.
- You Monster!: Quite a few characters to Johan. It's right there in the title.
- Young Conqueror: Johan has all the qualifications, but rather than changing the world, he wants to destroy it, just because he can.
- Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: "But you're special, Doctor Tenma. You saved my life. You're like a father to me... I'm really glad I was able to pay you back... All I did was grant your wish." Cue Tenma's Heroic BSoD.
- Zen Survivor: There's a nod to this trope in Rosso, Wolf, and other minor characters, though it's never fully played straight.