American Proto-Superhero franchise in several forms of media. Originally a radio show, adapted into two movie serials, a number of comic books, a 1960s TV adaptation (probably the most famous version of the property, responsible for launching the Western acting career of martial arts legend Bruce Lee), and a 2011 movie adaptation.
Furthermore, a new film remake for the property was announced to be in development in April 2020 with the current title of Green Hornet and Kato.
This page concentrates on the radio series, comic books, and TV adaptation.
Radio SeriesThe Green Hornet radio series was created by George W. Trendle and Fran Striker of Detroit radio station WXYZ, and premiered on January 31, 1936. It was a very long running series, ending on December 5, 1952, having run nationwide on the Mutual Broadcasting System, the NBC Blue Network, and its successors "The Blue Network" and the American Broadcasting Company (ABC).
Trendle and Striker, who had earlier created the character of The Lone Ranger for a western themed radio series on WXYZ, connected the two shows by making the protagonist of The Green Hornet, newspaper publisher Britt Reid, the grand nephew of John Reid, the lone survivor of an outlaw ambush of a squad of Texas Rangers, who became The Lone Ranger. While hinted at in earlier episodes, the blood relationship between the Hornet and the Ranger was explicitly stated in the Green Hornet episode "Too Hot to Handle" (first airdate, November 11, 1947), but never significantly used after that. Trendle's sale of the rights to the Lone Ranger property to Jack Wrather in 1954 made it impossible for later adaptations of The Green Hornet to make explicit reference to the relationship (although the 1990s NOW Comics comic book adaptation featured a veiled reference to the relationship, in the form of a painting, apparently of the Lone Ranger, which appeared in Britt Reid's living room); more recently, Dynamite Comics created a crossover comics series involving both characters.
The radio series introduced the most prominent characters, equipment, and plot devices featured in later adaptations:
- Britt Reid, debonair publisher of The Daily Sentinel by day, crime fighting vigilante The Green Hornet by night. The Green Hornet, possibly owing to the vigilante character of his crime fighting, fell on the wrong side of the police, and was publicly viewed not as a hero, but as a wanted criminal. The Green Hornet actually used his criminal reputation to his advantage, often breaking up a criminal gang or racket by appearing to the ringleader and attempting to "muscle in" on the racket, luring the criminals to attack him and Kato, while in fact developing his plan to turn them over to the authorities once dealt with. Unfortunately, the general public never caught on to what side the Hornet was really on; even when his activities obviously resulted in the capture of criminals, the newspapers and the public inevitably jumped to the conclusion that the Hornet was merely disposing of his rivals, and that his real intent was to become the city's supreme crime boss.
- Kato, Reid's faithful Asian valet and chauffeur. In the earliest shows Kato was very explicitly Japanese; as US-Japanese relations soured during the late 1930s and early 1940s Kato's nationality changed from Japanese to generic Asian, and was eventually settled on as Filipino. (The often repeated story that Kato's ethnicity was changed immediately after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor is an urban legend; the change took place some time prior to the attack.)
- Lenore "Casey" Case, Britt Reid's devoted secretary. She started out unaware of her boss's double life but early on became a "fan" of the Green Hornet, often voicing the opinion that the Hornet wasn't the criminal that the public believed him to be. Later in the series, Case learned that Reid was the Hornet. In that period, she explicitly transitioned from being Reid's secretary to becoming a reporter.
- Mike Axford, bombastic former policeman, Daily Sentinel reporter, and self-proclaimed nemesis of the Green Hornet. Britt Reid's father, Dan Reid (owner and publisher of the Sentinel before retiring and handing control of the paper to Britt), originally hired Axford as Britt's bodyguard, but Axford eventually became the reporter handling the Sentinel's crime beat, owing to his contacts within the police department. His radio persona was distinctive for his heavy Irish accent and his use of several catch phrases, especially his favorites "Holy Crow!" (pronounced, in Axford's brogue, more like "Holy Craw!"), "spalpeen" (Gaelic for "good-for-nothing"; his favorite term for the Green Hornet or other criminals), "Sufferin' Snakes!", and his usual valedictory, "See ya later. So long!"
- The Black Beauty, the Green Hornet's sleek and powerful vehicle. Powered by a Pierce-Arrow engine which was said to be absolutely silent, the car was given a "Hornet buzz" sound effect when it was running. If the Green Hornet told Kato to "rig for silent running", the Hornet buzz sound effect would be silenced.
- The Hornet's "gas gun", which he used to subdue criminals and the occasional policeman who threatened to capture him.
Characters specific to the radio series and rarely used in other adaptations include:
- Police Commissioner James Higgins, a friend of Dan Reid (Britt's father) who was rescued from a blackmail plot by the Hornet. Shortly after that, he came to learn Britt Reid's Secret Identity and served to funnel information to and grant covert assistance to the Green Hornet.
- Gunnigan, The Daily Sentinel's irascible city editor. Throughout the series, Axford is the main thorn in Gunnigan's side.
- Ed Lowery, crack reporter for the Sentinel.
- "Clicker" Binney, Daily Sentinel photographer. She was written out of the series during World War II (it was later explained within the series that she'd joined the US Women's Army Corps) and replaced by Gale Manning.
Film SerialsThe radio series was popular enough to spawn two film serials, The Green Hornet (1940) and The Green Hornet Strikes Again (1941). The serials are noteworthy in that Kato's nationality was changed once again (this time to Korean), and Kato was played by Keye Luke ("Number 1 Son" in the Charlie Chan film series, and much later, "Master Po" in the Kung Fu TV series). The serials have had two home video releases; on VHS in the 1990s and recently on DVD.
Television SeriesIn 1966 producer William Dozier, wielding some clout owing to his smash hit series Batman, brought an adaption of The Green Hornet to the small screen as a Dramatic Half-Hour series. Van Williams starred as Britt Reid/The Green Hornet (who, in a modernization of the radio property, is not only publisher of the Daily Sentinel, but is also owner/general manager of an associated television station; Gary Owens, the iconic "Announcer" on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, occasionally appeared as a news anchorman on Reid's station). The show is best known for introducing martial arts legend Bruce Lee, playing Kato, to Western audiences. Lee's portrayal became so popular in Hong Kong (his Chinese home town) that the show was retitled The Kato Show when broadcast there. Because Lee himself was a martial artist, his Kato demonstrated those skills in the show (although the radio series made isolated references to Kato's ju-jitsu expertise, martial arts skills had never been an important part of Kato's characterization in either the radio series or film serials), and this development has had a huge influence on later Green Hornet adaptations: rumors of various proposed film adaptations have universally had a martial arts star being cast in the role of Kato, and it is now probably unthinkable for Kato not to be a martial arts master in any subsequent Green Hornet adaptation in any medium.
As for the supporting cast, Lenore "Casey" Case and Mike Axford were brought over from the radio series to comprise the regularly appearing Daily Sentinel staff. In the TV series Case knew Reid's secret identity (as in later years of the radio serial), while Axford lost his former policeman/bodyguard back story, and simply functioned as the Sentinel's regular police reporter. Because Dozier's Batman series already featured a police commissioner as a supporting character, District Attorney Frank P. Scanlon replaced the radio series's Police Commissioner Higgins as the Hornet's confidante within the law enforcement community.
The TV series also changed some of the Hornet's equipment. The most extensive changes were made to the Black Beauty, which had many more features and gimmicks than the vehicle did in the radio series. Some of the features of the television Black Beauty were "infra-green" headlights for stealthy night driving (supposedly, the headlights used "polarized light" which, in conjunction with polarized vision filters would provide as much illumination as conventional headlights while remaining very dim to anyone viewing without such filters), a sleep gas sprayer, rockets, mortars, and an aerial surveillance device called "the scanner". In the TV series the Green Hornet carried a gas gun (as in the radio series), while television added an electronic weapon referred to as "the Hornet sting", which the Green Hornet used to open locked doors and containers and to disarm assailants (typically, it caused an explosion in a lock, allowing the door or container to be opened, or in the breech of a firearm, which caused the person holding it to throw it down violently). Also, in this version Kato was armed with green colored, abstractly "hornet shaped" throwing darts which he used against armed assailants too far for him to engage directly with his martial arts skills (usually, the pain inflicted by the dart distracted the assailant long enough for Kato to reach him and render him harmless). In one episode ("Seek, Stalk, and Destroy") Kato uses a "tear gas dart", which he throws into the open viewport of a stolen tank in order to force the tank thieves out of the tank and into the open.
The terms under which executive producer William Dozier acquired the rights to The Green Hornet gave radio series creator George W. Trendle (hired by Dozier's Greenway Productions as a consultant) quite a bit of control over the series, up to and including approval of series scripts. Trendle was wedded to the idea of doing the series as a straight adaptation of the radio series, whereas Dozier wanted to modernize the setting of the series while introducing camp elements similar to those used in Dozier's then-current hit series Batman. Trendle agreed to modernizing the series but held firm on playing the adaptation straight, resisting the incorporation of camp elements. Dozier chafed under Trendle's contractual rights to approve or disapprove, and the conflict between the two added to the normal difficulties of producing and broadcasting a television series.
The Green Hornet premiered on ABC on September 9, 1966. The series garnered respectable ratings when it premiered, winning its time slot against competition from The Wild Wild West (CBS) and Tarzan (NBC), but after several weeks ratings began to slip. The failure of the series to maintain its initial high ratings exacerbated the conflicts between Trendle and Dozier which first became manifest during initial production. As ratings slipped, it became clear that ABC had little interest in giving the series a second season (in fact, Dozier was concerned that the network wouldn't even run the series during the summer re-run period). In a valiant attempt to save the series, Dozier presented network executives with a proposal to convert the series from a Dramatic Half-Hour to a Dramatic Hour Long, and featured the Hornet and Kato in an Intercontinuity Crossover in two episodes of his still popular Batman series hoping to generate interest in The Green Hornet among Batman fans. While ABC did eventually order summer re-runs of the series, it did not order a second season, and the series ended its run.
The continuing conflict between Trendle and Dozier (a true case of "Creative Differences") added to the normal difficulties in making the series, and after it was clear that the series would not be renewed Dozier blamed Trendle's veto power over series scripts and his right to approve or disapprove Dozier's plans for the series for its ultimate failure. Owing to the popularity of Bruce Lee, however, the series has become a Cult Classic, and has managed showings in syndication, notably on the FX and AmericanLife networks. A 13-hour marathon of the series aired on Syfy on January 11, 2011 to promote the Movie adaption opening that month.
Comic BooksThe radio series spawned several comic books by several publishers between 1940 and 1949, and a one-shot Green Hornet comic was published several months after the radio series ceased production. During the one season run of the TV adaptation, US comic book publisher Gold Key Comics, which specialized in adaptations of film and television properties, produced a three issue comic book adaptation of the television program.
By far the most extensive and ambitious Green Hornet comic book adaptation was the 1989-93 series of several Green Hornet "unlimited" and limited-run series published by NOW Comics. NOW's project was especially ambitious in that it attempted to reconcile the various radio, film serial, and TV series versions of the Green Hornet character, creating what is in effect a multi-generational epic which spins the Green Hornet as being effectively the Reid family business. NOW's "Hornetverse" posited that the Green Hornet of the radio series was the original Britt Reid, grand-nephew of John "The Lone Ranger" Reid (however, legal considerations prevented NOW from making that relationship explicit), in partnership with "his" Kato, who was given the full name of "Ikano Kato". According to the series this Kato was Japanese, however during the war the Reid family publicly held Kato out as being Filipino in order to prevent his being sent to an internment camp.
The Green Hornet of the TV series was posited to be the namesake nephew of the original Hornet (usually referred to as "Britt Reid II" whenever the genealogical question was raised), who took up the mantle of the Green Hornet in partnership with "his" Kato, Hayashi Kato, who was the son of Ikano. This Britt Reid retired after suffering a heart attack, but he encouraged his nephews Alan (killed by a bomb on his first "mission" as the new Green Hornet) and Paul (a concert pianist by training) to take up the family business.
Alan Reid was killed in his first mission as the Green Hornet (causing Hayashi Kato to go into a tailspin of guilt and to begin hitting the bottle hard); shortly thereafter his brother Paul took up the role, joined by Hayashi Kato's half-sister Mishi, an automobile designer by profession and a martial artist (of course!) by avocation. Unfortunately, the company controlling the rights to the Green Hornet property did not approve of this, and demanded that Mishi Kato be removed and that the Paul Reid Hornet be paired with Hayashi Kato. Fearing the loss of their license to use the characters, NOW Comics acceded to that demand. Apparently, the rightsholders relented in their objection to the Mishi Kato character, as she made an appearance in a later series of comics, and served as a Love Interest to Paul Reid in later comics. Rounding out the Reid family saga is Diana Reid, daughter of the original Britt Reid and cousin to Britt II and Paul. Diana, a lawyer, ran for and won election to the office of District Attorney upon the retirement of Frank Scanlon, and maintains the Hornet's covert connection with the law enforcement community. She developed a romantic relationship with Hayashi Kato, and they had become engaged by the comic's end.
2010 saw the start of a number of Green Hornet comics under the aegis of Dynamite Entertainment. A couple series are noteworthy: Green Hornet: Year One by Matt Wagner (writer) and Aaron Campbell (art), and several series by Kevin Smith (especially Kevin Smith's Green Hornet, reputed to be based on Smith's aborted script for the Green Hornet film eventually produced by Seth Rogen, and separate series on Kato and Kato's origins).
These series provide examples of:
- Animal-Themed Superbeing
- Awesome, but Impractical: Reid Jr. in the Dynamite series is shown the lair; where the mechanic shows off the floor panel that flips the Black Beauty and replaces it with a normal car, Britt asks what the point of it is because no one is supposed to be down there aside from the Katos, the Reids, and the mechanic.
- Badass Bookworm: The Hornet has obviously studied up on his crime-fighting techniques, and Kato can be one depending on the version depicted, but the one from the TV show was not at Hornet's level.
- Badass Longcoat: Britt Reid as the Green Hornet. Kato in spirit, though he rarely affects a longcoat.
- Battle Butler/Badass Driver: Kato is both of these in any modern incarnation.
- Berserk Button: In "The Preying Mantis" Kato does not like getting surprise attacked. This was the first time we ever bore witness to Bruce Lee's classic Tranquil Fury in any medium. In this case he really wanted to get Lo Sing and when he did, brought him down to nothing.Kato: If we ever meet that masked Gung-Fu man again. I want him.Britt: You got him.
- Can't Live With Them, Can't Live Without Them: Averted. Despite the jokes of Kato's skill level directed towards him the Hornet has proven that he is more than capable of running his show without Kato and take him out in a fight.
- The Cast Show Off: Bruce Lee as Kato in the TV series. In prior versions of the property, Kato was merely Reid's valet and the Hornet's sidekick, and he did not demonstrate any notable fighting skills, much less martial arts mastery. Owing to Lee's status as a martial arts master, his Kato was given every chance to show that mastery on the air. This has influenced subsequent adaptations of the property; it is now probably unthinkable for Kato not to be a martial arts master in any new adaptation of The Green Hornet in any medium.
- Celibate Hero: Britt Reid/the Green Hornet and Kato in the radio series and film serials, where neither had any Love Interests. Semi-averted in the TV series, where Britt Reid (in keeping with his rich playboy publisher persona) was seen regularly attending a local club featuring noontime lingerie shows, is seen explicitly dating in at least one episode ("The Frog is a Deadly Weapon"), and is given at least one Girl of the Week; played straight for Kato, however, who was given no in-show Love Interest. Totally averted in the NOW Comics adaptations, where Britt Reid I, Ikano Kato, and Britt Reid II all married in retirement, and Hayashi Kato, Mishi Kato, and Paul Reid were all given romantic entanglements. Subverted in the movie in that Britt Reid and Kato both like Lenore, but neither get any.
- The Chess Master: The Hornet constantly plays criminals and mob bosses and the yakuza like a violin.
- A good example would be the TV episode "The Preying Mantis". At the end the Hornet calls out the villain in front of his people and makes him look weak, forcing him to accept a fight with Kato that he promptly loses, and then calls in the police to take him in while he and Kato leave.
- Pretty much any episode from the TV show has him bribing, threatening, blackmailing, or working with a criminal to lead to their capture.
- In fact, he is so good at it that it's one of the reasons that he nearly quits being the Hornet, because he feels like he has too much power over people and it's easy to lose yourself doing it.
- Civvie Spandex: The Green Hornet's "costume" is pretty much an overcoat, suit, fedora, and mask. Kato wears a chauffeur's uniform and mask.
- Coat, Hat, Mask: see above.
- Color Animal Codename: One of the most iconic uses of this trope outside of superhero comics.
- The Commissioner Gordon: Police Commissioner Higgins in the radio series, DA Frank P. Scanlon in the TV series, and Higgins, Scanlon and Diana Reid in the NOW comics adaptations.
- Compilation Movie: In 1974 four episodes of the series—"The Hunter and the Hunted", "Invasion from Outer Space" (Parts 1 and 2), and "The Preying Mantis"—were stitched together for overseas theatrical release. DVDs of this movie are noteworthy for its spotlight stealing billing: "Bruce Lee as Kato in The Green Hornet". Followed by a 1976 release, Fury of the Dragon, which compiled the episodes "Trouble for Prince Charming", "Secret of the Sally Bell", "The Ray Is for Killing", and "Bad Bet on a 459-Silent".
- Cool Car: The Black Beauty was this from the earliest adaptations. It was even more tricked out in the 60s TV adaptation: a customized 1966 Chrysler Crown Imperial with green headlamps, a mobile telephone (in 1966!), a sleep gas sprayer, rockets, mortars, and a flying video scanner. If photographs from Comic-Con 2009◊ are to be believed, the movie's Black Beauty has all of those things, plus blades on the wheels, an Ejector Seat, and front-wheel drive.
- Crazy-Prepared: Seriously, who prepares their car for being cut in half?
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Lo Sing from "The Preying Mantis" suffers two brutal ones at the end of the episode. The first one is a verbal one by the Hornet, who calls him out as weak, when the guy Lo Sing is working for tells him he's nothing without him the Hornet bluntly tells him he's nothing with him, and tries to set up a fight between him and Kato to settle things "the traditional way." Britt's position makes it clear that he was sure Kato would win with Lo losing control of the gang for being weak. When he tries to weasel out of it Britt directly calls him out as a weak-willed coward in front of his gang and the more he talks the more nervous Lo gets. He gets him to accept, playing him like a cheap fiddle. Lo Sing clearly doesn't want to fight Kato but he accepts the fight and he lands one blow on Kato, that somehow makes his forehead bleed, as he's going down. He was no match for either of them.
- It's rare to be curb stomped twice in a row. Especially since the latter was at the hands of the same guy he had curb stomped earlier.
- Death by Origin Story: Alan Reid (Paul Reid's older brother) is this in the NOW Comics version.
- Defector from Decadence: Kato in the "Year One" series left the Japanese army after witnessing his squad leader allow a number of his troops to rape a young woman in Nanjing. Ultimately he executes him and departs.
- Depending on the Writer: So where is Kato from? In the Kevin Smith comic book and the "Kato" series (focusing on the second Kato, his daughter Mulan), his origins hail from China and he was a child during The Great Famine. To the contrary, the "Kato Origins" and "Green Hornet Year One" series posit that he is Japanese and even served in the Japanese army during WWII.
- Distaff Counterpart: The Crimson Wasp in the NOW Comics version.
- Distant Sequel: Britt Reid is typically depicted as the grand-nephew of John Reid, The Lone Ranger. As such, The Green Hornet is typically set two generations or so after the events of the earlier series, enough time for the Green Hornet's parents to be dead from natural causes.
- Drowning My Sorrows: In the NOW comics, Kato does this when Alan is killed, and later struggles with it when Paul appears to have died.
- Evil Counterpart: The Dynamite Series has introduced The Black Hornet who is all for crime and killed Reid Sr.
- Expy: The original Golden Age Blue Beetle wore a three-piece suit and a mask similar to Green Hornet's in his first appearance. Presumably, someone complained, because he switched to the more iconic chainmail armor in the next issue.
- Other possible Green Hornet Expys include the first Sandman in the DC Universe (costumed in fedora, overcoat and gas mask, and armed with a gas gun), and the Crimson Avenger (who had a valet assistant named Wing).
- Darkwing Duck could also pass as a Green Hornet parody quite easily.
- Inversion, the Green Hornet has been accused of being an expy of Batman despite having been published a few years earlier than the first Batman.
- Extra! Extra! Read All About It!: Averted in the series when Mike Axford's calls in a hot story and wants an extra printed. Reid immediately shoots that down, reminding Axford that his radio and TV businesses handle breaking news.
- Fedora of Asskicking: The Hornet wears one as part of his outfit.
- Fundoshi: When conducting research for Kato's origin for Green Hornet: Year One, writer Matt Wagner was surprised to discover that Japanese underwear of the period essentially consisted of - as he put it - 'banana hammocks'. A scene involving Japanese soldiers in fundoshi ended up in the comic.
- Harmless Electrocution. Averted. When Kato is about to be executed Britt notices that the soldiers are standing on a large puddle in the rain and throws a loose electrical wire to take out the soldiers and then takes out the commander with a stick. It's never implied that they survived.
- Hero with Bad Publicity: Even the real criminals think the Green Hornet is one of them. Which works just fine for him.
- Hollywood Science: In the TV series, the Black Beauty was given green filtered headlamps; this was explained in a Spin-Off comic book adaptation as being "infra-green" headlights, which used polarized light in conjunction with a green tinted polarized filter screen to allow Kato and the Green Hornet near perfect illumination while rendering the headlights nearly invisible to anyone not using such a filter. Also, in the episode "The Ray is for Killing", criminals use a laser as a death ray, capable of causing far more damage than a real laser could do.
- As an interesting note, "infra-green" would be yellow light.
- I Owe You My Life: Kato swore to serve Britt when he saved him from Japanese soldiers before they executed him.
- Improvised Weapon: In Year One Britt is on the run from some soldiers in Africa who just killed his friend and he stumbles across a nest of Hornets, they are green , and throws a rock through their nest. The hornets attack in a frenzy and kill the soldiers.
- Insert Grenade Here: In "Seek, Stalk, and Destroy", Kato uses a "tear gas dart", which he throws into the open viewport of a stolen tank in order to force the tank thieves out of the tank and into the open.
- Interchangeable Asian Cultures: In the Dark Horse comics, the Japanese Kato infiltrates a mobsters stronghold by posing as a courier from a Chinatown gangboss, complete with Chinese cap and exaggerated Engrish accent. When Britt asks "They really thought you were Chinese?", he replies "All the same to Americans".
- Also, of course,the most famous portrayal of Kato was by Hong Kong native Bruce Lee.
- Intercontinuity Crossover: Because both series were produced by William Dozier, it was practically foreordained that The Green Hornet and Kato would make an appearance in Batman, which they did in the episodes "A Piece of the Action"/"Batman's Satisfaction", which aired on March 1 and 2, 1967, as well as an appearance in a brief "window gag" in another episode. The styles of the two shows didn't really mesh, however.
- As for the styles of the shows not meshing, it's interesting to note that in the Hornet's "window gag" appearance (the earlier of the two appearances), Batman and Robin acknowledge his and Kato's status as heroes. In the later guest appearance, the episodes run with the standard "on police records a wanted criminal" plot device, and entangle the Hornet/Kato and Batman/Robin in a Let's You and Him Fight standoff.
- A scene of Batman and Robin walking up a wall appears briefly on a television set in the Green Hornet episode "Ace in the Hole".
- In the second season episode "The Impractical Joker", Bruce and Dick are watching the news to which Bruce Wayne checks his watch and says "It's about time for The Green Hornet" followed by a hornet sound and theme tune.
- It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": Kato's name is pronounced "Kay-toh" (or "Kay-doh"). The actual Japanese name Kato would be pronounced "Kah-toh".
- Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: In the Dynamite comics, Mulan Kato makes her first appearance kicking nine kinds of ass in a long red party dress with matching heels.
- Kneel, Push, Trip: In The Lone Ranger/Green Hornet #5, the Lone Ranger and Elliot Ness do this to defeat Black Bart (Ness does the kneeling, the Ranger does the pushing).
- Knockout Gas: The Green Hornet's gas gun; in the TV series the Black Beauty was also equipped with a sleep gas sprayer.
- Legacy Character: In the original radio series, The Green Hornet was the nephew of The Lone Ranger. The 1990s NOW comic, which did not have the rights to the Ranger, could only allude to this, but established that the Hornet identity was itself a legacy, having been adopted by two nephews of the TV Hornet, who in turn was himself the nephew of the original radio character.
- Let's You and Him Fight: In the The Green Hornet/Batman crossover episodes ("A Piece of the Action"/"Batman's Satisfaction"), The Hornet and Kato wind up fighting Batman and Robin. Justified, in that The Green Hornet was, after all, a wanted criminal...
- Lightning Gun: Vama's belt in "Invasion from Outer Space".
- Lipstick Lesbian: Kato in the Dynamite Entertainment comic book claims to be at one point, but later on it turns out that she was just messing with Britt.
- Lost in Imitation: A positive example. The development of Kato, from mere valet and companion, with no particular fighting skills (the radio series and movie serials) to martial arts master (the TV series and every subsequent adaptation).
- Metallicar Syndrome: Of course, we have The Green Hornet and his car Black Beauty. Not just a Cool Car, but one specifically modified to be distinctive. The 2011 movie even gives the Hornet multiple identical cars in case one is destroyed. Near the end of the film it demonstrates color-shifting paint (from black to red), but it's still not the kind of car you see every day.
- Mirrors Reflect Everything: A mirror reflects electricity in "Invasion from Outer Space" part 2.
- Mythology Gag: Arguably, the original blood relationship (given by creators George W. Trendle and Fran Striker) between The Green Hornet and The Lone Ranger. Also, the late 80s-early 90s NOW Comics adaptation had a number of Mythology Gags referencing various actors who played The Lone Ranger, The Green Hornet, and Kato in the radio series and 1940s film serials
- A Nuclear Error: Episode "Invasion from Outer Space". An unarmed H bomb in a truck can be set off by a detonator attached to the outside of the truck.
- Oil Slick: One the Black Beauty's gadgets.
- Older Sidekick: Kato to Alan and Paul in the NOW comics.
- Outside-Context Problem: In most versions of the character, publicly the Hornet is, at least initially, the only costumed supervillian in a world of regular criminals.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: Kato.
- Public Domain Soundtrack: In the radio series; Rimsky-Korsakov's "The Flight of the Bumblebee" was the opening theme, while a number of classical pieces were regularly used in the soundtrack. Series creator George W. Trendle was well known in the radio broadcast business for being a penny-pincher.
- The version for the TV show was performed by jazz legend Al Hirt and it's awesome!
- Reality Ensues: In the Year One comic series, Britt and Kato bust a shipment of a truck full of machine guns, a gangster pulls out one of them and fires at Reid, but nothing happens, he looks at the trucker, who shouts "We don't transport 'em loaded!". They all get taken down very quickly.
- Recycled INSPACE!: The Green Hornet and Kato were basically The Lone Ranger and Tonto IN MODERN TIMES! IN THE CITY! AND IN A COOL CAR!
- Literally since in the original version Reid was the great grandnephew of The Lone Ranger.
- Refusal of the Call: In the NOW comics, both Britt Reid II and Paul Reid went through this.
- Ret-Canon: Kato's martial arts ability.
- Rich Idiot With No Day Job: Aversion, in that Britt Reid has a day job: publisher of The Daily Sentinel and (in the TV series) general manager of its associated television station. In the radio series and film serials, however, it was hinted that Reid tended to ignore that job more than his family liked.
- Played more or less straight in The Movie: Reid is literally rich, idiotic, and has no job (or job skills). His duties as owner of the Sentinel and its properties are taken care of by his father's employees, and he only takes an interest in what the paper actually does when he realizes its potential for popularizing the Green Hornet mythos.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: NOW Comics series: Mishi Kato goes on one of these as the Crimson Wasp.
- Secret Identity: Britt Reid by day; The Green Hornet by night
- Secret Keeper: Obviously, Britt Reid and Kato for each other, but also Casey Case and DA Frank Scanlon in the TV series. In the later years of the radio series Police Commissioner Higgins was the Hornet's Secret Keeper. In the NOW Comics series, just about the entire Reid family, much of the Kato family, and a few trusted Reid employees/assistants (e.g., pilot and mechanics for the Hornet's vehicles and aircraft) are also in on the masquerade.
- Sidekick Ex Machina: This is a very common stereotype of the show but it's not at all accurate. Kato helped but he was not the "real" hero of the show in any sense of the word; people were just overwhelmed by Bruce Lee's amazing kung fu skills and exaggerated his importance despite the fact that Kato at times could do some very stupid things. Check What an Idiot!.
- Spin-Offspring: The blood relationship between The Lone Ranger and The Green Hornet.
- Spotlight-Stealing Title: The show being renamed The Kato Show when shown in Hong Kong (where Bruce Lee was a much bigger star than Van Williams).
- It's also reflective of the fact that, as noted by multiple fans, particularly Asian Americans, that Kato is more of a hero than Britt Reid.
- Because Kato got a few more fight scenes that made him a better hero despite that The Hornet was much smarter than Kato and saved him just as often as vice versa and beat up murderous gangsters just as easily as Kato did.
- The Stoic: Mulan, Kato's daughter in the Dynamite series, doesn't say a word until some four issues after her intro.
- Stun Guns: Paul Reid uses one instead of a gas gun in the NOW series. Also the Hornet's weapon of choice in the Year One series.
- Superhero Origin: The whole point of Green Hornet Year One.
- Sure, Let's Go with That: In the first issue of the Year One series, Kato and the Green Hornet are mistaken for a new gang rival and his muscle and decide to play into it.
- Take Up My Sword: Averted in the Dynamite Entertainment series; Britt Jr. becomes the Green Hornet after being discouraged by the elder Kato and his daughter Mulan. This may also be the case with the Katos.
- To the Batpole!: Semi-averted in the radio series; while Reid and Kato changed into their costumes in Reid's apartment, they left on their adventures via a secret panel in Reid's bedroom which led to a hidden passage built into the apartment complex wall, that wound about to an abandoned building the next block over where the Black Beauty was stored. Similarly on television; while Reid's and Kato's costume changes were not implied to be anything other than normal changes of clothes, the problem of parking both Reid's day-to-day car and the Black Beauty in a one-car garage was given a very cool solution.
- Torture Technician: The Green Hornet falls into the hands of one in Dynamite's Green Hornet: Year One. And boy howdy is he Nightmare Fuel.
- The Triads and the Tongs: "The Preying Mantis."
- 20 Minutes into the Future: NOW Comics' Green Hornet: Dark Tomorrow and Dynamite's The Green Hornet Strikes both feature future generations of the Reid and Kato families taking on the mantles.
- Two-Faced: Mob boss Vin Caruso in Green Hornet: Year One.
- Unbuilt Trope: Nowadays we identify the Hornet as a superhero/costumed vigilante and his public persona as a supervillain, but he predates most iconic Golden Age characters such as The Spirit, Superman and Batman. If a comic series came out today starring a superhero who posed as a supervillain full-time to infiltrate criminal gangs, people would praise it for having a new and original twist on the concept, but the Hornet came first.
- Villains Out Shopping: One scene in the TV show has some Mooks watching Batman on tv.
- Which is weird because Batman and Robin are real in the show's universe, Britt and Kato even teamed up with them once.
- Could be explained as a TV show based on "the true life adventures" of Batman (without revealing his true identity of course :)).
- Walking the Earth: Britt in the Year One series wants to see the world before he works for his dad.
- Weaponized Car: The Black Beauty.
- Zero-Approval Gambit: Trying to look like bad guys is at the very heart of what the Hornet and Kato do.
- Zorro Mark: The Green Hornet carried seals which he used to mark his presence when it suited his purposes, such as on documents at crime scenes, on the bodies of criminals he captured and left for the police to find, etc. Occasionally facsimiles of the Hornet's seal were used by criminals in attempts to pin the blame for their malfeasance on the Green Hornet. It never worked.
- The Green Hornet's calling card in the Year One series is a hornet etched into a green lens.
- And in the movie, it's an actual card with an e-mail address in case the villains want to contact him.
- The Green Hornet's calling card in the Year One series is a hornet etched into a green lens.