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Puella Magi Madoka Magica / Tropes T to Z

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This page covers tropes in Puella Magi Madoka Magica.

Tropes A to F | Tropes G to M | Tropes N to S | Tropes T to Z

  • Taking You with Me: Kyoko, for Sayaka. Although it's debatable whether she thought she couldn't beat Sayaka without a suicide attack, or was just following her into the dark, but her dialogue suggests it was the latter.
  • Technology Porn: (Almost.) Everyone uses the very latest pieces of technology, like interactive whiteboards in Madoka's school and a projection keyboard for her home PC.
  • Tempting Fate: Among other things, Kyouko tries to hold Homura in place with her chain-spear in Episode 8.
    Homura: Let me go.
    Kyouko: Oh I get it. If I keep holding onto you like this, you can't use that funky technique of yours, can ya?
    Homura pulls out a flashbang grenade from Hammerspace
    • Episode 5's title: "THERE'S NO WAY I'LL EVER REGRET IT". It happens to be a line of dialogue spoken by Sayaka. Come Episode 8...
    • Kyubey notes at several points that Madoka could wish to become a god, her power is so great. She does.
  • Thanking the Viewer: The final still in the final episode.
  • Theme Naming: Each of the main protagonists has a surname (Kaname, Miki, Akemi, Tomoe, Sakura) that can also be used as a given name. Doubly so in Homura's case: both of her names can be used in first names, and in fact her particular kanji spelling of Akemi is usually only used as a first name.
  • Theme Song Reveal: In the movie version of Kirsten's fight, the orchestral background music changes key when Sayaka appears as a magical girl, making the music sound similar to Symposium Magarum, Oktavia von Seckendorff (a.k.a. Witch!Sayaka)'s theme.
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  • Theme Tune Cameo: Madoka listens to "Connect", the opening theme, at the record store in the mall in Episode 1. Episode 6 also features Kyoko dancing to a techno version of the song on a DDR stand-in.
  • There Are No Therapists: There are, but when witches are involved...
  • Third Party Stops Attack: When Homura is about to kill Sayaka to prevent her from turning into a witch, Kyoko pins Homura with her spear, and orders Sayaka to run away.
  • Throw-Away Guns: Part of Mami's modus operandi. Justified in that her guns are crafted to only fire one bullet, though Word of God says that she can change the type of bullet.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: In Episode 4 this worked for Sayaka. She tried in Episode 5 but it's hard to tell if it would be really successful because the fight was interrupted.
    • If you look closely, the last two swords are right on target before they are deflected. The Familiar had nowhere left to run.
  • Time Loop Fatigue: Homura definitely has this going on, going through who knows how many self-inflicted time loops trying and failing to save Madoka, and watching the same people die over and over again. She becomes a far cry from the sweet, innocent schoolgirl she was in the beginning.
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  • Time Stands Still: Homura's power. Mami treats it as Heart Is an Awesome Power because, while useful, it takes a creative mind to do damage with time freeze.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: Homura's time travel is creating alternate quantum universes, divergent upon if/when Madoka becomes a magical girl, and just how powerful she is when she does. Then she surpasses and destroys the entire system.
  • (Episode) Title Drop: Each episode's title is a line spoken in that episode. The person who speaks it is the same person to speak the final line of the preview in the previous episode.
  • Toast of Tardiness: In the first episode, Madoka runs to school with a piece of toast in her mouth in classic anime fashion. However, she does eat the toast onscreen before meeting up with Sayaka and Hitomi along the way.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Sayaka and Madoka fit this respectively; Sayaka looks boyish and is more headstrong while Madoka wears pink and is gentler.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: A weird version of it. A common theme among despairing magical girls is how they cease to believe that their duty - protecting the world - is worth doing.
    • Sayaka, after viewing herself as having failed her mentor, being rubbish at her job, physically and spiritually tainted, and having attacked her best friend, at least tries to stick around for protecting the world...until a run-in with two obnoxious misogynists drives her over the edge and makes her question what she was even trying to protect in the first place.
    • Homura, as she lays dying with Madoka, talks almost fondly of both of them becoming witches together, and destroying the ugly, cruel, and awful world that gave them such fates.
    • Kyouko, after discovering the deaths of her family, gives up on protecting the world and adopts a philosophy of survivalism for this reason.
  • Too Happy to Live: The creators did this with Mami Tomoe who died while deliriously happy at the thought of a Lovely Angels partnership with Madoka. Don't go thinking they won't have the guts to do it again.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Homura Akemi started as a frail and nervous student in her original timeline, but has steadily become tougher and more confident with each timeline, thus resulting in the Homura that we know.
  • Took A Level In Cynicism: Flashbacks reveal that Homura started the series as cheerful, klutzy, and a Wide-Eyed Idealist. Repeated failures to save Madoka in timeline after timeline caused her to slowly withdraw her faith in the world, turning into The Stoic character she is today.
  • Tragedy: It's a complicated case. In the classical sense, a tragedy is when the protagonist dies. Madoka Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence and so she's technically dead but still around because there are no more witches. In a broader sense, everyone is better off at the ending then they were at the beginning; even permanently dead Sayaka is keeping Madoka company in magical girl heaven.
  • Tragic Hero: Sayaka does everything in her power to be a force of good, but collapses when she couldn't forgive wrong doings of others as well as her own.
  • Transformation Sequence: While this is a Magical Girl show, these sequences are done in very sparse quantities, very quickly, and for each girl the sequence appears once or twice in the series (most "transformations" are simply a more realistic rendition of the girl briefly glowing and reappearing in new clothes). They are also not done consistently, averting Stock Footage, and are very rare; for a while, only Mami's, Sayaka's, and Kyoko's could be found. We finally see Homura's in Episode 11. Madoka never gets one, unless you count the one from the intro for Episode 1.
  • Transformation Trinket: The girls use their soul gems to transform into magical girls. Inverted. It's not so much that they use the soul gem to transform their bodies than they use their bodies as vessels into which they project their souls, as it is the soul gem, not the body, which contains the magical girl.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Almost every single main character suffers through this:
    • Madoka goes through this largely by watching people she cares about either die or turn into a witch, with her being unable to anything about it, largely due to Homura keeping her from making a contract. And the fun doesn't end with that timeline! First, her friend dies. Then, one of her friends kills another one of her friends! Then, Madoka is forced to kill a friend! And then, Madoka turns into a monster!
    • Sayaka swears to become a Magical Girl to be like Mami, prevent Madoka from being forced to fight, to protect and earn the love of her crush, and to be a hero. She first fights against Kyoko, who berates her for using her wish for someone else rather than herself, and gets trounced, before Kyuebey informs her of how weak she is compared to Madoka. Then, finding out what happened to her body/soul when she became a magical girl, she views herself and physically and spiritually tainted. Then she suffers through a few witch battles, knowing fully well that she's not exactly a great fighter. Then her friend Hitomi mentions that she's interested in Kyosuke as well, and will ask him out after giving Sayaka one day to confess her feelings, which Sayaka doesn't do because of her body/soul situation, which is made worse when Kyosuke apparently ignores Sayaka after being discharged from the hospital. Then she berates Madoka in a fit of anger, making her cry, and turning her into a hypocrite. Finally, she hears of two guys who are making fun of a woman one is dating, and thinking she's a moron for devoting herself to him, which Sayaka doesn't enjoy hearing, and finally gives up all hope and turns into a witch. She's basically the Butt-Monkey of the show, only with more horrific detail.
    • Kyoko first witnesses her father preach heresy which causes people to stop attending their church, and then their family starts to suffer lots of hardships, including starvation. When she makes her wish to have people attend the church, at first it seems good, until her father finds out what she did, and he kills himself and the family as a result. She finally sacrifices herself to stop Sayaka who just turned into a witch.
    • Homura is repeatedly forced to watch Madoka die, or turn into a witch, and whenever she tries to warn them of something bad happening if they become a magical girl, they either ignore her warnings, or take it a with a grain of salt. Most of the time the main characters view her in a very negative light, and it isn't until Episode 10 where we see why Homura acts the way she does, due to her inability to change the fate of people around her, including the person she cares about the most, Madoka herself.
  • Troper Critical Mass: The main entry first became scroll-worthy back when Episode 3 aired.
  • Troperiffic: Welcome to page four of the tropes; take note of the lovely scroll bar to your right.
  • Trope Overdosed: Likewise. This show takes all Magical Girl tropes, combines them with Cosmic Horror and covers the glorious mess with action that wouldn't look out of place in a Halo game.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future:
    • There isn't anything in terms of technology that isn't possible in this day and age, but things like motion-activated lamps, the architecture, and an extremely stylized (and somewhat unsafe) CD player lend things a futuristic vibe.
    • While identifiable technology is fairly rare in the series, what does appear suggests the very near-future. In the battle with Walpurgisnacht, Homura used an M249 and some type-88 surface-to-ship missiles, and a car that looks similar to a 2010-2015 model year Prius (a more widespread car in Japan than in most countries where it's an import) appears on the highway before Sayaka and Kyouko's fight revealing the true nature of Soul Gems. Without more details, it's hard to know when exactly the series is set, but its futuristic appearance may reflect the impact of the Incubators more than the passage of time.
  • Two-Part Trilogy: Inverted. The first two films are a joint Compilation Movie released back to back, while the third is a distinct sequel.
  • Two-Teacher School: A second teacher aside of Kazuko didn't show up until Episode 9.
  • Undead Children: Magical Girls are liches and the Witches are their corrupted ghosts.
  • Unflinching Walk: Due to a combination of her weapon of choice and her ability, Homura is a master of this and demonstrates exactly how it's done in Episode 10.
  • Unmoving Plaid: It's not very noticeable, and they're polka dots instead of plaid, but when Madoka goes to wake up her mother, her mother's bedsheets have this trait.
  • Unstable Powered Woman: Exploited. Kyubey's species makes contracts with teenage girls and turns them into powerful witchhunting Magical Girls, knowing that teenage girls will eventually dramatically fall into despair and become powerful witches themselves. All this to prevent the inevitable heat death of the universe!
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Amy, the small black cat from the opening that doesn't appear in the series, but is explained in the first drama CD. Madoka has contracted because of her in the first timeline, to save her. Not only that, the cat has also led Homura to dead Madoka after her fight with Walpurgisnacht, kickstarting the whole plot.
  • Vagueness Is Coming: The event known as Walpurgisnacht is a downplayed instance. The magical girls know what it is but the viewer does not until it happens.
  • Vicious Cycle:
    • Kyubey needs Magical Girls to fight Witches; he also needs Magical Girls to become Witches.
    • Homura goes back in time whenever Madoka dies. Not only that, but Homura goes back every time to make things better. Every time she goes back in time it gets worse so she needs to keep repeating the cycle, or become a Witch.
  • Villainous Breakdown: A very minor one from the resident stoic, but still, Kyubey's reaction to Madoka finding exactly what to wish for in Episode 12 was satisfying.
  • Visual Pun: Minor, possibly unintentional example: in the first episode, Sayaka uses a fire extinguisher on Homura. "Homura", written a certain way, can mean "flame" or "blaze" (also called out by Madoka in Episode 10)
  • Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World: Initially, it seems like a possibility, but witches are so dangerous and Grief Seeds so vital that "normal life" takes a distant backseat for most magical girls in the quest to stay alive. There is even a line in which Kyouko questions how Madoka could be going to school, after the events of the previous night.
  • Walking the Earth: Homura in the ending; fighting wraiths who are the new manifestation of despair to feed Kyubey and protect the world that Madoka left.
  • War Is Hell: One of the harsh realities about being a Magical Girl that hits the heroines hard, especially poor Sayaka. Battles are painful and traumatizing and if/when a magical girl dies, no one will ever know because of the witch's barrier.
  • We Have Reserves: Why Kyubey doesn't feel guilty about all the Magical Girl blood on his paws.
    Kyubey: With a current population of 6.9 billion, which increases by a rate of 10 every 4 seconds, it's a mystery why you would care so much about the loss of a tiny handful.
  • Weird Moon: The moon phases consist of either dramatic crescent or completely full moons.
  • Wham Episode: Has its own page.
  • Wham Line:
    • Episode 6:
      Kyubey: Oh Madoka, that was really bad.
      Madoka: Huh?
      Kyubey: What's wrong with you, are you out of your mind? How could you throw your friend away like that?
    • Episode 8:
      Kyubey: I've analyzed how you fight. That's time magic, isn't it? You're not from this timeline, are you?
      Homura: I'm gonna do whatever it takes to stop you, Kyubey, or should I say, Incubator!
      Kyubey: On this planet, you call females who have yet to become adults "girls". It makes sense, then, that since you'll eventually become witches, you should be called "magical girls". (This is an even better twist in the Japanese dub, where the word for Magical girl is 'Mahō shōjo' and the word for witch is 'Majo'.)
    • Episode 11:
      Kyubey: Excellent work, Homura. You've made Madoka the most powerful witch ever.
    • Episode 12:
      Madoka: I wish I had the power to erase witches before they're born. Every single witch from the past, present, and future everywhere.
      Kyubey: That wish! Once it's granted, it will unravel the fabric of time itself! It violates the laws of karmic destiny. Are you trying to become a god!?
  • What Have I Become?: Kyoko's reaction after learning the Awful Truth. Her previous arrogant nature is dropped, and she's openly horrified.
    Kyoko: You bastard! What have you done!? You scumbag! You've turned us into zombies! Is that what happened!?
    • It makes much more sense when you consider that Kyoko's father was a priest; her revulsion stems (at least partially) from her religious upbringing.
  • What Is One Man's Life in Comparison?: Kyubey's rationalization of the events. Witch energy is used to prevent, or slow down, the universe's entropy. Those that meet the requirement to provide a good amount of energy in exchange for a wish should not really object to it as they would be helping all the other lifeforms in the universe. Kyubey even insinuates all of human history has revolved around magical girls and their wishes, and later falling.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Mitakihara has a German shopping mall, the school building is an Austrian prison(!), and the tallest man-made structure is the Burj Khalifa; there is even an oil refinery. Yeah.
  • White-and-Grey Morality: Madoka is the only 100% good character. Everyone else in this series has a little good and bad in them. Even Kyubey has an understandable reason for what he does, and the witches are fallen heroines.
  • White Void Room:
    • Homura's room; she puts holograms of her memories over the walls.
    • In the manga, this is where Ultimate Madoka and Homura talk, instead of the starry cosmos.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: Episode 10. Doubles as an Origins Episode.
  • Whole Plot Reference:
    • While it isn't obvious at first, the plot is essentially that of Goethe's Faust: Eine Tragödie, with Homura as Faust, Madoka as Gretchen (her witch form's name references this) with elements of Helen-of-Troy & Euphorion, and Kyubey as Mephistopheles. We don't see it in full until late in the series because most of the plot is told from the point of view of our "Gretchen".
    • The plot is a reference to Episode 10, said Whole Episode Flashback. Since Episode 10 is considered the beginning of the Alternate Timelines, this plotline shows how some of the timelines Homura performed in is similar to the last. Cue Ironic Echo.
    • Sayaka's story arc is essentially The Little Mermaid bad ending and all, with Sayaka (the Mermaid) giving up her original body (in a sense) for Kyosuke (the Prince), only for him to go after Hitomi (the Princess) instead. This is all-but confirmed by the fact that Sayaka's witch-form has a mermaid tail.
      • The fact that Sayaka later ascends (or something, it's vague) with Madoka is reflective of Andersen rewriting the ending of the tale so that the Mermaid eventually earned a soul and was able to go to heaven.
  • Wishplosion: Madoka's wish rewrites the laws of the universe so that magical girls don't turn into witches when their soul gem expires; they vanish instead. By doing this, she even safeguards herself by erasing her own witch form.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: If Sayaka's insane laughter and Ax-Crazy behaviour is anything to go by then this is a problem for magical girls on the edge of despair.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Perks:
    • This is Kyoko's attitude after becoming a Magical Girl. While she initially was an idealist like Madoka and Sayaka, after her life was ruined she decided to only use her powers for her own benefit. Yet another reference to Faust...
    • Insofar as Kyubey is concerned, the "become a magical girl" process involves a lot of this. He's very quick to point out later on that the "detached soul" thing makes their human bodies virtually painless and nigh-invincible (Mami only dies in Timeline 5 because her soul gem is crushed in the same act that ruins her body. The only other time we see non-witch magical girls die are when their soul gems are violently destroyed) and gives them superpowers. He doesn't understand why they freak out about the soul separation, because as far as he's concerned, even with the whole "fight witches" thing, this "painless immortal superbeing" gig is a pretty sweet deal.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility: Discussed Trope. Sayaka wholeheartedly believes that her magical girl powers should only be used to keep everyone safe. Kyoko has the opposite opinion; no responsibility at all, and instead, use magical girl powers for selfish reasons.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: After The Reveal, it becomes clear that Witches fall into this category. They're former Magical Girls who fell so far into despair that they lost their sanity and underwent a violent Face–Heel Turn. Special mention goes to Kriemhild Gretchen, the end result of the All Loving Heroine going so far downhill that she will literally destroy the world to create her own version of Heaven.
  • Worf Effect: Two examples in Episode 3:
    • Mami, who had been played up as being powerful if not experienced goes up against the witch against Homura's express warnings, and gets her ass kicked in the most horrific manner possible. It wasn't that she was suddenly and inexplicably weak but too distracted by the happy thought of not having to fight alone anymore and started fighting recklessly.
    • The second example is Homura, showing up seconds later (Mami had used magic to subdue her) and beating the witch effortlessly. Justified in a later episode when it's revealed that Homura's time stopping ability is useless if she's restrained before she activates it, which is logical considering she would still be restrained with time stopped.
  • Worf Barrage:
  • The World Tree:
    • An enormous tree appears post-Walpurgisnacht in the Niconico stream of Episode 10.
    • Walpurgisnacht in general seems to be associated with a giant tree.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Kyubey pulls this off in the while being chased by Homura. This way the former looks like the victim and the latter as the antagonist.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: A lot of this goes around. For example, in most other Magical Girl series, trying to reason with the remaining human part of Sayaka's witch form, Oktavia, would have worked.
  • Yakuza: Homura raids a Yakuza group's locker for small arms after the other magical girls became uncomfortable with things blowing up around them.
  • You Are Not Alone: The Stinger after Episode 12: "Don't forget. Always, somewhere, someone is fighting for you. As long as you remember her, you are not alone."
  • You Can't Fight Fate:
    • Homura intends to defy this trope but every time she tries to do so she makes it worse. Every magical girl and witch's power is tied to their relevance to karma and destiny. Every time Homura travels back in time, she connects more timelines together through Madoka; while Homura gains more knowledge and experience, Madoka's increasing karmic potential means Kyuubey tries harder to contract with her and that Madoka's eventual witch form becomes even more powerful. Madoka finally breaks this cycle with her wish.
    • If any of the manga side-stories, movies or video games are read/watched/played before reading/watching the main story, the negative effects of Homura's efforts are largely lost on the audience simply because they're written based on the assumption that the audience HAS read/watched the main story and chooses not to reiterate or explain it. (ie. The video game outright has multiple endings, which makes sense from a story perspective for someone who knows the main story. But for someone who doesn't, it may seem like a typical visual novel approach of extending the game by having multiple endings.)
  • You Didn't Ask: Kyubey will not lie to the girls. He just withholds information unless specifically asked. He affected this defense of his actions in later episodes, but in actuality his words in earlier episodes were a case of False Reassurance. The girls asked several of the right questions early on and he gave replies that were arguably true but misleading until the girls thought they understood.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: The colors span the rainbow.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: During Episode 11, Kyubey congratulates Homura for inadvertently making Madoka the most powerful witch of all time by going through all of those time-loops and thereby amplifying her karmic destiny (and therefore her magical potential) every time.
  • Your Size May Vary:
    • In the broadcast versions, soul gems vary in size from egg to pear. They're more consistent in the Blu-Ray versions. Kyubey mentions that the size of a soul gem can depend on the Magical Girl's potential power. In the last episode, Madoka's soul gem is the size of a comet.
    • Kyoko's spear seems to randomly change length between shots. In a zoomed out shot, the spear is twice her height. When the shot changes immediately afterward, the spear is a more manageable length for her to spin around. There's nothing to suggest that she can change the number of segments in the spear.


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