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Samurai Jack / Tropes - Season 1 to Season 4

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"They call me... Jack."

A general list of tropes for Samurai Jack, especially from the first four seasons of the series.

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  • 0% Approval Rating: In a notable subversion, "Aku's Fairy Tales" shows Aku as aware of how his subjects view him, which leads to a clumsy attempt to persuade children to like him. Outside of that instance, Aku seems not to care (since nothing his subjects could do can hurt him). The only reason his approval rating hits zero percent, however, was Jack — he showed people that a world without Aku could possibly exist.
  • 2D Visuals, 3D Effects:
    • There's some very clear use of this when Jack ascends a shrine tower with Shaolin monks.
    • A very brief appearance occurs in the Four Seasons episode, to show movement in a wheat field.
  • Abnormal Ammo: The snake arrow in "Jack and the Hunters"
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Most of the swords and other bladed weapons are capable of cutting through robots made of metal easily. Of course Jack's blade is supernatural in origin, immune to damage and able to cut through anything. Only a handful of items in the series are able to counter it, the Scotsman's sword had magic runes that prevented Jack's sword from breaking it. In one episode, a series of Elite Mooks made of Unobtainium were too dense for Jack to damage, but only for lack of physical strength. A Powered Armor arm made up for that and, when the gauntlet ran out of power, called upon the spirits of his ancestors for a Finishing Move.
  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: All over the place, it would probably be more effective to list scenes where Jack isn't brooding and staring down his enemies for long stretches of time. Phil Lamarr once joked that Jack was the easiest role he ever had.
  • Action Girl: The Scotsman's wife; she single-handedly beats an army both her husband and Jack — two of the greatest warriors ever — had trouble fighting, and starts off said fight by punching a god in the gut. Just because said god called her fat. Did we mention that she was entirely unarmed?
    • She is also one of few people Jack, without question, ran away from a fight with. And this was after the Scotsman gave him some friendly advice, warning him it was a battle he would never win.
  • Actual Pacifist: True to his training, Jack will only do battle when it's "honorable," usually in self-defense or the defense of others, otherwise wanting to avoid violence at all cost. He also has no tolerance for people who use violence to solve their problems and even less for those who use it for entertainment.
  • Affably Evil: Subverted with Aku. He's easily the show's most comical character, but only because his immense power gives him the freedom to shrug off his enemies.
  • Affectionate Parody: The Duck Dodgers episode Samurai Quack. Not only did Genndy himself have a hand in writing it, he actually shows up for a brief cameo!
  • Alien Blood: Along with fighting robots who bleed oil and electricity, Jack also fights aliens and demons who bleed slime or goo.
  • All for Nothing:
    • The winter segment of "Four Seasons of Death". An extended Forging Scene for a tribe of orc/yeti creatures to make a sword, then the sword is rammed into a pillar while the orcs fight for who gets to wield it. The winner takes that sword, which now can apparently throw lightningbolts, then goes to wait in the raging blizzard outside. Jack comes by, they fight... and the sword is instantly cut in half.
    • A similar thing happens in "The Princess and the Bounty Hunters". The titular princess and bounty hunters are hunting for Jack (each for their own reasons, mostly money) and they form a complex plan on how to take him down. Each one is also given a brief intro of how badass they are and their prior contracts. Like the above, when they actually meet Jack, the Samurai defeats each one without breaking a sweat, and all before a single drop of water fell from a melting icicle.
  • All Myths Are True: Jack's sword was forged by the gods Odin, Ra, and Vishnu; from Norse, Egyptian, and Hindu mythology, respectively; and another episode, "Jack and the Swamp Monster", mentions the existence of Cronus and Zeus, both from Greek mythology. Also see Fantasy Kitchen Sink and Science Fantasy below.
  • All There in the Script: Many of the characters other than Aku and Jack are only named in the end credits.
  • Alternate History: In this show's universe, Earth has been ruled by a shapeshifting demonic alien god since ancient times, up to the far future. Also see Anachronism Stew and Days of Future Past below.
  • Ambiguous Ending: The ending of the comic book by IDW Publishing, much to many fans' dismay. We only know one thing for certain: Jack never found a way back home, and is now concentrating on the future and defeating Aku.
  • Ambiguous Robots: Any time Jack slices someone/something up, it's usually mechanical. Word of God is that it was intentional so he could get a lot of gore in a children's cartoon just like in old samurai movies that inspired it without falling foul of censors. Where things aren't mechanical but bad, it's likely to be something Made of Evil like Aku himself or his demon minions. Though many of his enemies are just clear-cut robots, others don't show any signs of being mechanical until we see the stumps of their dismembered limbs crackling and spewing oil.
  • Ambiguously Human: Due to the setting, Jack will meet characters who appear human, but have odd features that would make one question what they are. Such as the three men he first meets in the future, due to their physique and purple, blue and pale skin.
  • Anachronic Order: The backstories of Jack and Aku are shown out of order.
  • Anachronism Stew:
    • Jack's own time period; the equivalent of Feudal Japan seems to co-exist with cultures based on the Vikings, Classical Greece and Rome, Medieval England, Kievan Rus' (with a building resembling St. Basil's Cathedral in the background) and even Ancient Egypt, for a range that spans thousands of years in the real world.
    • Aku's Bad Future is a stew as well; much of the Earth is primitive to various degrees, so that stories involving gangsters, cowboys, cavemen, or robots can coexist. The occasional piece of Schizo Tech also appears. This can be easily Handwaved by the fact that when Aku took power, history and technological events got messed up big time.
  • An Aesop: Throughout the series, the show exemplifies a subtle theme that true heroes aren't necessarily big and strong, or make a big show of their deeds. Rather, real heroes help the innocent without asking for a reward in turn.
  • Ancestral Weapon: Jack's sword, forged from the pure spirit of his father by mystic monks and first wielded by him to stop Aku the first time.
  • Ancient Grome: Jack learns Greek wrestling in the Collisseum.
  • And I Must Scream: In "Jack and the Lava Monster", the titular monster is in fact a millennia-old Viking warrior who long ago fought Aku and lost. Knowing that Vikings want to die in battle and consider it a good thing, Aku instead imprisoned him in a magic crystal and forced him to watch as he destroyed what was left of everything he knew. Over the years the Viking warrior was able to learn to Earthbend, and built a new body out of the molten rock around him. He also turned his mountain prison into a Death Course to ensure only the very greatest warriors could reach him. Sympathizing with the warrior's story, Jack opts to give the warrior the fight of his life, and of course he wins, freeing the warrior from his cursed existence and allowing him to happily join his friends and brothers-in-arms in Valhalla.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: After a part of Aku's body ends up inside Jack, he very nearly turns into an extension of Aku himself, before snapping out of it when he remembers how many people he's helped.
  • Animation Bump: The jump from Seasons 1 & 2 to Season 3 is staggering. In the first season the fight sequences were choreographed in a fashion that saved money while also being appealing. Season 2 followed suit with even more fight sequences in general. Said sequences showed more of Jack than prior. By the third season, the budget was high enough to show Jack and the assailant(s) up close and personal. Also worth noting is that season three added smoother animations (noteworthy are the close-ups of the cowboy boots in the western episode). To top it all off, Aku was given much more expression and liveliness, like having a mouth that droops, or even properly smiles. And let's not even discuss the lip-synching on him...
  • Animesque: While this show's art style is unmistakably Western, there are obvious aesthetic influences from Japanese cartoons and movies. The most obvious being that the main character is a badass samurai from feudal Japan.
  • Appropriated Appellation: "Jack" is not his name, but rather a slang term much like "Guy" or "Dude" that he chooses to identify himself by.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: There are lots of them. Da Samurai is the only one who gets some Character Development.
  • Artifact Title: Jack starts as a samurai, and mostly acts according to the ethics and ideals of a samurai, but since being flung into the future has no master, making him a ronin.
  • Artificial Gill: Jack is given a device before swimming underwater to the Humongous Mecha.
  • Art Shift:
    • Used to great effect to make the visions Jack experiences (and the episode as a whole) in "Jack and the Haunted House" more terrifying.
    • In "The Princess and the Bounty Hunters", when each bounty hunter tells his or her plans for defeating Jack, the animation is rendered to closely represent the art styles of each bounty hunter's homeworld: traditional Oriental brushstrokes for the Hive Mind cat hunters, a sepia filter to give the effect of an old-timey black and white western film for the gentleman hunter, childish animation for the rather simple Russian bounty hunter, traditional Aborigine art for the Aborigine hunter, and blue with white outlines for Princess Mira, giving it a science-fiction feel.
    • In "Jack and the Baby", Jack tells the baby the story of Momotaro to help him sleep. The art style is much different, with full outlines on the characters, among other things.
    • Not to mention the 4th season episode "Samurai Vs Ninja" where the entire scene changes to purely silhouettes of black and white for both the fighters and the environment.
  • Backstory: Quite a bit for Jack and Aku which is slowly presented over the course of the series in Anachronic Order.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses:
    • Jack and the spartan king vs the machine leader.
    • Jack and the Scotsman fighting through hordes of countless demon robots and coming out (exhausted, but) pretty much unscathed?
  • Badass Boast: Many. Jack only does so occasionally, but almost everybody he fights has one.
    Jack: "Do not worry... I have only begun to fight."
    Aku: "Who dares to summon the Master of Masters, the Deliverer of Darkness, the Shogun of Sorrow... AKUUUUU!!!"
    The Scotsman: I'm the most wanted man on the planet!
    Demongo: "I am the Dealer of Destruction, the Merchant of Doom... and I seek you, Samurai Jack."
  • Badass Family: No doubt Jack is as badass as his own father, as they are a samurai family. Another one is the Scotsman's clan. Himself, his wife, and the other Scotsmen are all strong warriors.
  • Badass Normal:
    • Jack's father was a samurai warrior who through great skill and valour managed to subdue Aku, without the magical weapons needed to properly harm him.
    • The Scotsman's Wife isn't even a trained fighter and she punched out a Celtic demon god and easily destroyed all his minions because he made the mistake of calling her fat.
    • Josephine Clench was just a Southern Belle Femme Fatale trained in firearms and a multifunctional Parasol of Pain. She was also one of the very few opponents of Jack to come out on top of him.
    • The Shaolin Monks, who make a good account of themselves fighting Aku's robots and are willing to lay down their lives to help Jack get home.
  • Bad Future: The setting of the series; one where Aku has ruled the world for thousands of years.
  • Bad-Guy Bar: Jack frequently drinks water or tea at these places, and they're always filled with bounty hunters wanting to collect on his bounty.
  • Baleful Polymorph: One episode saw Jack transformed into a chicken after accidentally bumping into a foul-tempered wizard on the street. He was then swept up and placed into a cockfighting match, but proceeded to kick all kinds of (chicken-sized) robot butt nonetheless.
  • Battle in the Rain: The episode Samurai vs. Samurai features Jack facing off against Da Samurai in a comical fashion, then the former duels against an army of assassin droids.
  • Beastly Bloodsports: In "Chicken Jack" the eponymous samurai is polymorphed into a chicken, and then forced to fight robot animals.
  • Berserk Button: Several characters have fallen into this:
    • The Scotsman's wife: Do not, under any circumstances, insult her weight.
    • The wizard from "Chicken Jack" does not like being jostled in a crowd, and will respond with a Baleful Polymorph.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Aku. As mentioned above, he's the show's biggest comic relief, but he can literally blow you up just by looking at you.
  • Big "NO!":
    • In episode 23 Demongo uses one after Jack defeats him.
    • Jack does this in the Pyramid Heist episode when it looks like The Suit has abandoned him to be killed by the pyramids guards in a sealed room.
    • Jack's father in "Birth of Evil", when Aku restrains and forces him to watch as he lays siege to his village.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: Aku has a network of surveillance systems and spies/informants that let him track Jack's movements almost constantly, no matter where he is, though this mostly adds up to him complaining about his minions failing to kill him.
  • Big Good: A few times we are shown actual deities from mythology like Odin, Ra and Vishnu in the show, who are incredibly powerful and aid Jack at specific times. The Prequel episodes reveal that Aku was a fragment of a Cosmic Horror creature that was destroyed by them millions of years ago. It's strongly implied Aku is so below their own power that they don't see a need to get personally involved, but provide Jack's father the sword to handle the situation himself.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The Scotsman works some Scots into his insulting tirades.
    Scotsman: "Whaddaya think of that, Mr. Pyjama-wearing, basket face, slipper wieldin', clype-dreep-bachle (bad-mannered, dissapointing old shoe), gether uping blate maw (little mommy's boy), bleathering gomreil (idle-chatting idiot), jessie oaf-looking scooner (effeminate, stupid nuisance), nyaff plookie shan (bad-looking pimple-faced coward), milk drinkin', soy-faced shilpit (weakling), mim-moothed (pretentious) snivelin', worm-eyed, hotten-blaugh (sickly-looking), vile-stoochie (small, poor fighter), cally-breek-tattie (fool, lit. "trousered potato")?"
  • Black-and-White Morality: A prevalent theme of the series. Jack is a selfless, kindhearted Ideal Hero who is always trying to protect the innocent from the forces of evil. Aku is an Obvious Card-Carrying Villain who openly revels in committing evil deeds for the hell of it. Most of Aku's minions are either just as cruel and wicked as he is, are amoral and greedy mercenaries, or mindless killer robots.
  • Black Cloak: Aku worshippers in the Bad Future, such as the alien girl in the pilot episode and the Daughters of Aku, usually don black cloaks to emulate his appearance. Aku himself doesn't "wear" a cloak—he is the cloak.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • In "Jack and the Gangsters", the gangsters give Jack a job to deliver a package with a bomb in it, but Jack seeing the sorry state of the victim, helps him escape, which is imposed over him telling gangsters that he did everything as planned. And later in the episode, they tell him that they're eager to reform and ask for the Jewel of Neptune so they can 'restore it to its proper place'. Jack, unexpectedly, finds this quite plausible.
    • In the episode where Jack and Aku agree to a duel, Aku agrees to several conditions which he will honor for the duel. He's a terrible liar. (See I Know You Know I Know.)
  • Blood Sport: Jack is forced to fight for other people's entertainment not once, but twice:
    • In "Jack and the Smackback", Jack is kidnapped and enslaved, and coerced to participate in the Dome of Doom, facing off against a series of other combatants.
    • In "Chicken Jack", not long after he was turned into a chicken by an evil wizard, Jack is again abducted and taken away to join the Creature Combat Club, facing off against various monstrous animals.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: The Scotsman. Da Samurai to a lesser extent, though he isnt nearly as skilled as he thinks.
    • Villainous example with Gordo The Cruel, the first gladiator champion Jack fights in the Dome of Doom.
  • Boring Insult: At the end of episode 8.
    Jack: I know you're watching. These tricks are starting to annoy me.
  • Bounty Hunter: Aku relies on a large variety of hired bounty hunters, contract killers, mercenaries, etc. to try and assassinate Jack or at least capture him alive. They rarely ever last long in a fight with the samurai.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: In the 16th issue of the comic book by IDW Publishing, there is a sign forbidding pets, robots, and robot pets.
  • Breather Episode: "Jack and the Labyrinth" is a fun, silly heist that comes after a long string of dead serious episodes.
  • Brawn Hilda: The Scotsman's wife.
  • Bullying the Dragon: One would think that Jack's annihilation of entire armies would be enough for every bounty hunter in the world to understand that going after him is a death sentence, but there is still no shortage of them ready to try.
    • Da Samurai from "Samurai Vs Samurai" is worthy of special mention. He knows Jack's story and watches him easily dispatch three robotic assassins sent by Aku in a matter of moments, and still decides to antagonize Jack into giving him a fight.
  • The Cameo:
    • In "The Good, The Bad, and the Beautiful" Quick Draw McGraw and Baba Looey make a brief appearance.
    • In "Jack vs Mad Jack" Huntor shows up as one of the bounty hunters hired by Aku.
  • Canon Discontinuity: If IDW's comic book continuation was ever canon, Season 5 essentially replaces it, since Word of God confirmed they're not following the comics.
  • Captain Ersatz: The wolf in Aku's version of Little Red Riding Hood is basically Yogi Bear, but as a wolf.
  • Carnival of Killers: A lot of episodes feature bounty hunters contracted to take out Jack.
  • Cat Folk: The Imakandi are Proud Warrior Race Guys from a distant world. Aku seeks them out to capture Jack. And they do. Until they let him go.
  • Cats Are Mean: The Imikandi definitely count before they decide to let Jack go. So do the tiger-like monsters representing the Daughters of Aku in Season 5, which are defeated in an epic battle with a wolf representing Jack. The otherwise friendly titular Creature from "Jack and the Creature" also has shades of this, as it takes on a more feline appearance when it gets angry.
  • Cerebus Rollercoaster: The show constantly alternates between episodes that are played completely seriously with nary a joke in sight (like Jack and the Spartans), episodes that are nothing but randomness and humor (like Jack Is Naked), and episodes that have a bit of both. Also see Dramedy and Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. Seriousness below.
  • Chained Heat: Jack and the Scotsman end up chained together by some bounty hunters, and have to escape by cutting through the wooden bridge.
  • Character Name and the Noun Phrase: Out of the 52 episodes, 20 are titled: "Jack and the X." Another 5 are titled: "Jack, the X, and the Y."
  • Cheated Angle: Aku, until Season 3, is almost always seen from his front; the few times he isn't is from the back. This even applies to his transformed forms. The very first scene of the series features Aku rotating 180 degrees, and it's easy to see why they went with Cheated Angles until the Animation Bump of Season 3.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder:
    • Aku, any time anyone ever trusts Aku: the fish people, the scientist who makes the assassin robots, and Jack himself when they duel.
    • Zeke and Josephine Clench (from the Western-themed Episode XXIX). It is implied they love each other, but are so obsessed with money that they regularly betray each other, especially Josephine. Zeke even has a restraining order on his wife, but he forgets it when she sweet talks him. They actually manage to capture Jack, but Josephine is unable to resist trying to cut Zeke out of the profits by shoving him off the moving train - unaware that Jack has just tied her to Zeke. They're left dangling comically in their own chains as the train disappears up the track, with Jack still aboard. Josephine then says that she didn't mean to betray Zeke...
    Zeke: "Court says a hunnerd an' fifty feet, woman! A hunnerd an' fifty feet!"
  • Cliffhanger Copout: Episode XIV begins with Jack about to enter a Time Portal, when Aku shows up and puts it out of Jack's reach. During the episode Jack learns how to "Jump Good", and the episode ends with Jack leaping up to attack Aku and reach the Portal. The next episode begins like any other, and doesn't even mention the events of the previous episode. Strangely, Jack's ability to "Jump Good" is mentioned in a later episode, so clearly something happened, we're just not shown what.
  • The Comically Serious: Jack. He has yet to crack a joke, although (funny) insults are frequent. This is what makes certain bizarre episodes like an Alice in Wonderland homage where Jack ends up crossdressing.
    • Except for the episode where he fights the stone viking.
      Jack: Surely he takes me for a fool to follow deeper into his trap.
      [Spiked ceiling starts to lower]
      Jack: A fool I be!
    • Or in "The Scotsman Saves Jack, Part 2." After Jack's memories are restored following his Surfer Dude amnesia:
      Jack: I am forever in your debt.
      Scotsman: Ah, don't mention it. So, how ya been?
      Jack: (in surfer voice) Like totally cool.
      Scotsman: What?!
      (they laugh)
    • Or in "Jack vs Mad Jack", Jack delivers a deadpan line after being attacked by a cross between Chewbacca and Domo-Kun in such a manner, it's almost impossible to think how he could have said it with such a straight face.
      Alien: Googolplex... (he falls unconscious)
      Jack: (he stands over him) Looks like there will be no money for you, crazy round man.
    • In "Samurai vs. Samurai", Jack completely ignores Da Samurai's bragging.
      Da Samurai: Didn't you hear who I am?
      Jack: I believe everyone heard who you are.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: DC Comics published a one-shot adapting the show's three-part premiere episode in addition to featuring stories based on the series in Cartoon Network Action Pack. IDW Publishing subsequently published a comic continuation of the original show that lasted 20 issues.
  • Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: The Scotsman's wife is quite... abrasive... when Jack and her husband come to rescue her. She spends nearly the whole time yelling at them, forcing them to carry her and calling them sissies, and then ends the whole thing by knocking them out of the way and beating up the entire evil army that kidnapped her single-handedly.
    • Granted she calms down considerably after being insulted and defeating the army with her bare hands so she probably just had a lot of pent-up annoyance which turned into anger.
  • Continuity Cavalcade:
    • The scene in the episode "The Aku Infection" where Jack's parents remind him of his good deeds and the strength they give him features brief appearances by many of the allies Jack made and the people he helped out by that point, such as the Scotsman, the Woolies from "Jack, the Woolies and the Chritchellites", the canine archaeologists from the Pilot Movie, the wish-granting fairy from "Jack Tales", and the Monkey Man and the Tribe he lived with from "Jack Learns to Jump Good".
    • In the 20th and final issue of the comic book by IDW Publishing, many of Jack's allies and the people he helped out appear among the resistance group he's formed against Aku.
  • Continuity Nod: Pretty rare, in this show.
    • The blue Thing that was briefly Jack's sidekick shows up as a child's doll in a later episode.
    • There is a sudden barrage of them in the episode where Jack fights off an infestation of Aku's evil - almost everybody that Jack has helped in prior episode is shown.
    • During Scotsman Saves Jack, when Jack and the Scotsman are competing to see who will row the other back to shore, they engage in a high-jump contest. One that Jack wins handily.
    Jack: (smug smile) Jump good.
    The Scotsman: Yeah, yeah...
    • Similarly the episode also references the Scotsman's wife (a one-off character) wherein he, a Dreadful Musician in his own right, praises her singing as grander than the Enthralling Sirens. Presumably the pair's terrible taste in music was a factor in bringing them together.
  • The Corruption: "The Aku Infection". Allowing even a sliver of Aku's evil mass into your body will rapidly destroy both your body and your spirit, turning you into an evil and monstrous creature just like Aku. Even Jack was almost helpless in the face of the infection, stealing precious gems from a group of miners, demanding cash payment in exchange for rescuing a stranded mountaineer, and killing an innocent robot in cold blood just for bumping into him on the street. And this was before the infection really set in.
  • Cowboy Episode: "The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful" is set on a train driving through the Wild West, where Jack is pursued by a (married couple) of bounty hunters.
  • Crapsack World: The Bad Future Villain World that Samurai Jack gets thrown into. It's ruled by Aku, infested with all kinds of scum and villainy, and there's little to no hope for the few good inhabitants of this world.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Jack in "Jack vs. Aku."
  • Criss-Cross Attack: Jack sometimes suffers this from particularly adept opponents, such as the Minions of Seth.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The series alternates between this, One-Man Army, and Worthy Opponent.
  • Damsel out of Distress: The Scotsman's wife. Presumably they managed to catch her without enraging her enough to set her off on one of her destructive rampages. She does not even need a sword to take down an army of robots right after being rescued by Jack and The Scotsman.
  • Dance Battler: DJ Salvatore from "Jack and the Rave".
  • Dark Action Girl:
    • Ikra in "Jack and the Warrior Woman" (who is actually Aku in disguise). They get along remarkably well until "she" manages to pry the Idiot Ball out of Jack's hands.
    • Josephine Clench, a Southern Belle turned bounty hunter whose weapons included a very dangerous parasol and two guns hidden under her poofy dress.
    • Also Mira, a princess who led a group of bounty hunters against Jack, and was so skilled with a sword she could slice a single drop of water in half.
    • Ashi and the Daughters of Aku in Season 5, a team of ninja girls raised by a crazy mother who wants them to kill Jack. Their mom, the High Priestess, is also an example.
  • Darker and Edgier: Than most Cartoon Network series, perhaps one of the darkest shows of its era in Cartoon Network. Some episodes were entirely built around Nightmare Fuel; then we have dark themes which are rarely played in an animated series for children such as apocalypse, genocide, mass murder, slavery and torture. Surprisingly, it was Cartoon Network's first original program not to be a part of the Cartoon Cartoons brand, presumably for this reason.
  • Dating Catwoman: All of Jack's love interests are actually Aku.
  • A Day in the Limelight:
    • The Scotsman gets some focus in "Scotsman Saves Jack" (Parts 1 and 2).
    • Jack's father (the Emperor) is the hero in "The Birth of Evil" (especially in Part 2, though he shares some focus with Aku in Part 1).
    • Also see the examples under Villain Episode.
  • Days of Future Past: Aku's world is one where robot Vikings exist side-by-side with cyber-bayous, hidden Spartan villages, futuristic versions of 1930s Chicago and a lot of other distorted fragments from our history.
  • Deadpan Snarker: This is Jack's usual coping mechanism for the absurdities of the world.
  • Death Seeker: The Norse warrior cursed with immortality by Aku. As a follower of the Norse religion, he needs to die in glorious battle to join his people in the afterlife, something forever denied to him. Being placed in a nigh-unbreakable crystal prison, from which he cannot attack or be harmed, really makes it hard to die in combat.
  • Disaster Dominoes: The horde of knights from "Jack versus Aku", the first one tripping on a rock and his lost sword starting a chain reaction of flying swords destroying the entire squadron with nearly no input at all from Jack himself.
  • Divine Conflict: Aku's backstory is that he is a tiny surviving fragment of an Eldritch Abomination that was fought against by the combined might of Horus, Odin, and Indra.
  • Divine Intervention: Happened literally in "Birth of Evil", the origin of Aku. The sword that Jack would later use was forged by the gods Odin, Ra, and Rama, using part of the Emperor's (Jack's father's) soul, to grant him a weapon that could defeat Aku.
    • A very direct example in "Jack In Egypt", Jack gathers three pieces to build a tiny scarab which flies off... and summons the Egyptian god Ra, who eradicates the Minions of Set that were pursuing Jack.
  • Dramedy: The series as a whole pivots wildly between comedy and drama; it has much of the same goofy humor you can expect from other Cartoon Network shows, though Jack's long and struggle-filled Hero's Journey to defeat his vile archenemy and return home to his family are treated quite seriously for the most part.
  • Downer Ending: Well, any "Jack finds a possible way to the past" episode is going to end in failure, but "Jack and the Gangsters" ends on an even bleaker note than the norm. Not only does Aku get away again, but the gangsters (who, for all their silliness, are hardened criminals) get no comeuppance whatsoever. In fact, the episode ends with them controlling the city's chief (if not only) source of water, which they charge through the nose for. And it's played for laughs!
  • The Drifter: Jack. He once came across the lands he called home as a child; he was nostalgic for awhile... then moved on.
  • Dystopia Justifies the Means: Aku is Made of Evil, so he just can't help himself. He rules all of Earth and beyond with an iron first in the Bad Future, but he has to make life under his regime as horrible as possible by giving any manner of evil free reign. With the occasional Hope Spot for those poor mortal fools, otherwise it's no fun.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Mainly, early episodes refer to Aku as a "shape-shifting wizard" and say Jack's sword was forged by his ancestors. These were retroactively escalated by "Birth of Evil."
  • Ear Worm: In the comics, as long as the leprechauns' song remains stuck in the Scotsman's (and later, Jack's) head, he's affected by their spell and cannot think straight.
  • Eternal English: Well, probably Japanese and the other languages he learned training across the world, all of which should have changed dramatically, especially given all the aliens in the future. From the moment Jack's deposited into the future, he may be puzzled by slang but he can understand basically anything people say aside from it.
    • Then again, when the Sirens wipe out his memories, normal personality, and all combat-related muscle memory and reflexes, Jack can still understand what fish-people are saying, though the native-to-the-time Scotsman doesn't even understand that they're talking. Perhaps going through the time portal made him an Omniglot as well as immortal.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Aku chalks down all of Jack's good actions to being a "FOOOOOLISH SAMURAI!!!" and is almost always completely flabbergasted when Jack defeats his plans.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Aku. See Large Ham below.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Oddly subverted in "Jack and the Minions of Set". Aku releases the titular monsters, an evil at least as powerful as himself if not greater , and while they slaughter the robots he brought with him, they don't lay a finger on him. Possibly prohibited by some sort of Literal Genie rule.
  • Evil Knockoff: Mad Jack.
  • Evil Overlord: Aku again.
  • Expy: The "crazy round man" in "VIII" greatly resembles Domo-Kun with Chewbacca's shoulder-belt and shagginess.
  • Eye Beams: Aku seems to have a whole range of abilities stemming from those awesome peepers; thus far, abilities include force blasts, incendiary force blasts, alchemy, summoning, teleportation, transformation, necromancy, and general spellcasting. Basically, whenever Aku's feeling lazy, he'll just use his eyes.
    • There's also the giant sun guardian dude (presumably the Egyptian god Ra or Horus), who zaps away the three minions of Set with no trouble.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Jack's attempts to return to the past. They always fail for whatever reason, the means to return gets destroyed, or he blows his chance due to his Chronic Hero Syndrome. Likewise, his and Aku's attempts at killing each other never work, which Aku even lampshaded in "Jack versus Aku".
  • Fairy in a Bottle: In one episode we hear a legend of a fairy can grant any wish, but only one in her entire life. When Jack tries to acquire her so he can go back to the past, his hand ends up trapped in the magic sphere where she was captured and the key to open it was destroyed in the fight with the fairy's captor. Jack uses the wish to set them both free.
  • Fairy Sexy: The fairy Jack rescues in "Jack Tales." The Spring Maiden from "Four Seasons of Death" is a significantly more sinister version.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Since it's set in the distant future, there's the expected sci-fi fare of aliens and robots (lots and lots of robots), but the world is also filled to the brim with demons, sorcerers, zombies, elemental spirits, mystical guardians, and at least four pantheons of deities. Hell, half the episodes revolve around trying to reach some magical artifact to achieve the Series Goal.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Jack and the Scotsman initially mock and fight each other, but after beating down some bounty hunters together, they become fast friends.
  • Fish People: The Triceraquins from "Jack Under the Sea".
  • Foregone Conclusion: At least until the series finally reaches its intended conclusion, it's inevitable that every episode where Jack has a chance to return to the past will either end with the method of time travel having a catch that makes Jack decide against using it, Jack sacrificing his chance to go home to save someone in need, unexpected circumstances preventing the way back to his proper time from being used, or the whole thing turning out to be a sham.
  • Forged by the Gods: Jack's sword was forged by the chief deities of multiple religions using the pure spirit of his father, making it the only weapon able to kill Aku.
    • Jack gets an upgrade in "Jack vs The Ultra-Robots" when his sword doesn't prove powerful enough to defeat the last bot. He actually prays to the gods to help him out and they respond with a brief power upgrade to the sword.
  • For Science!: X9 gives this as the reason to why his Mad Scientist creator installed an experimental emotion chip in his hardware.
    X9: He was.... funny like that.
  • The Future Is Shocking: Jack is transported into a big city in the future and the first place he goes in is a nightclub with a rave going on inside. However, Jack is more disturbed by the fact there are aliens there than anything else, so it might not count.
  • Future Badass: While Jack is already quite the badass, see below on Gate Guardian.

  • Gate Guardian: One episode has Jack discovering a working time portal, and a guardian who is sworn to not allow anyone other than the one prophesied to defeat him to use it. Jack's repeated pleas that he needs to use the time portal to defeat Aku are met with indifference. Jack finally decides to take the portal by force, and battles it out with the guardian. Jack is completely outclassed in every way, and after being given several chances to leave unharmed, the guardian loses his patience and Jack is brutally beaten unconscious and almost killed before the portal sends a vision to the guardian. The guardian looks into the portal and sees an older Jack leading an army against Aku. He then loads Jack onto a bird creature to be carried off, muttering: "Not yet, Samurai Jack... Just not yet..."
  • Gender Bender: In the comics, a band of leprechauns turns Jack and the Scotsman into "Samurai Jacqueline and the Scotswoman".
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • When Jack first meets the Scotsman in "Jack and the Scotsman", Jack offers to climb under the bridge to get past him. In English the Scotsman replies with "So you can look up under me kilt!?". The Swedish version is a bit racier in that he replies with "Så du kan kika upp under min kuk!?", Kuk being a crude slang for the male genitalia (just like Dick or Cock are in the English language). How that got past is anyone's guess.
    • The wish-granting fairy in the third story of "Jack Tales" is essentially naked. In some shots, you can even see her rear.
    • In "Jack and the Rave," Jack pulls a Mugged for Disguise on one of the ravers. The outfit he takes on includes a pacifier. In rave culture, pacifiers are used to prevent common side effects of ecstasy use, like drying mouth and gritting teeth.
    • The word "damn" apparently slips by the censors in "Robo-Samurai vs. Mondo-Bot", according to the DVD captions. It's muttered in a robotic voice and hard to catch, which is probably why.
    • Characters are more prone to swearing in the comic continuation by IDW Publishing. The thief from "Jack and the Labyrinth" even says "crap" a few times in the 17th issue.
    • In "The Scotsman Saves Jack", the sirens combine to form a creature with a chest containing two circular areas with smaller circular parts resembling breasts, areola, and nipple.
    • "Jack, The Monks, And The Old Master's Son" has one character attempt the martial arts move 'monkey steals the peach' (ripping off the opponent's testicles).
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: The comic by IDW Publishing ends with an older Jack leading an attack on Aku's fortress. Among those joining in the fight are many of the allies he's made and the people he's helped out throughout the run of the show, including Exdor from "Jack and the Ultra-Robots", the Woolies from "Jack, the Woolies, and the Chritchellites", the Thief from "Jack and the Labyrinth", and the Baby from "Jack and the Baby" as a grownup.
  • Gone to the Future: This is how time travel works in this universe: Jack is sent thousands of years into the future and thanks to his absence, Aku was able to rule the world uncontested.
  • Good vs. Good: Jack and the Scotsman fight in their first encounter due to the latter being a short-tempered egotist who constantly berated Jack. However, the Scotsman is a full-fledged Hero of Another Story with Aku putting a bounty on him second only to Jack.
  • G-Rated Sex: In one episode, Jack wanders into an enchanted forest where he's greeted by a beautiful plant nymph who offers him "nourishment" and invites him to rest with her, all the while rubbing his legs with her feet. Jack does exactly that, laying down to sleep with his head in her lap, while the camera pans upon a lush green meadow and a sparkling brook nearby.
  • High-Five Left Hanging: In one episode, in order to spare his hometown, a scientist creates a group of robotic assassins for Aku that Jack should be unable to kill or fight off. When Aku destroys the scientist's hometown anyway, the scientist instead joins Jack and they try to destroy the assassins together. At various points throughout the episode the scientist tries to get Jack to do a high five, but Jack doesn't know the gesture and doesn't respond. At the very end of the episode he finally does the high five.
  • High-Pressure Blood: Not only do the robots Jack regularly obliterates have oil come out of them, they have oil come out of them very profusely.
  • Heroic Lineage: Jack's father was no slouch himself, as proven in "Birth of Evil", being the one to defeat and imprison Aku in the first place.
  • Honor Before Reason: One of the more prominent examples of this is in "Jack, the Monks, and the Ancient Master's Son" where he chooses to save the lives of two monks instead of entering the portal to the past and preventing thousands of years of Aku's rule.
  • I Know You Know I Know: Turns out that Jack is too smart to trust Aku when it comes to honoring the conditions of a duel.
    Jack: You see, I am smart. And you are pure evil.
  • I Know You're Watching Me: At the end of episode 8.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: All episodes of the show are named after a roman numeral. Seasons 1-4 comprise I - LII (1-52), while Season 5 starts with XCII (92). Though all of the episodes in the first four seasons have also been given titles, only "The Birth of Evil" has its title acknowledged within the episode itself.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Played with. Aku and his minions have no problem with razing entire cities and towns to the ground, which would obviously result in massacres of both adults and children alike, although of course we never see the carnage directly (unless the victims were robots). But if an onscreen child is threatened by the villains, you can bet that Jack will save them just in time.
  • In a Single Bound: In "Jack Learns To Jump Good" Jack learns, and does, this with the help of the blue apes, in exchange for teaching them to defend themselves. Complete with a training montage.
  • Inertial Impalement: Several enemies are defeated this way, notably in "Jack and the Spartans" and one where a charging elephant robot keeps going after running over Jack holding his sword in the air and its guts spill out from its belly.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One!: In "Jack and the Farting Dragon", the villager Jack encounters at the start takes offense to being called poor. Jack makes sure not to use that descriptor again.
    Villager: Hey! I'm not poor! This necklace is genuine fox tooth!
    Jack: Those poor- Those unfortunate villagers!
  • Jackass Genie: The spirit of the magic well in "Jack and the Blind Archers". The three archers told Jack that when they wished to be the "greatest of warriors", it did fulfill that part, but also blinded and enslaved them. Jack promptly destroy it in response rather than use it return to the past.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: The Scotsman is hilariously unpleasant, but a steadfast friend, and is also extremly nice and helpful to Jack. Da Samurai, who is largely a Jerkass, shows at least a trace of a better nature.
  • Jerkass: Lots of characters, most notably Aku himself. It actually cost him victory at least twice (most notably when he pulled the standard "Agree not to harm someone/thing if you do X for me, then do it anyway" with the scientist who made his assassin robots, who then gave Jack the means to destroy them.)
  • Jive Turkey: 'Da Samurai' is an unabashed parody of this trope. There's also the three bystanders in the pilot who gave "Jack" his name, and are Jack's first taste of the future's culture.
  • The Juggernaut: The Minions of Set. They're fast and strong enough that Jack struggles to land even a single blow on them... and when he did manage to hit one it recovered from the damage almost instantly. He spends the rest of the episode running from while desperately trying to find a way to stop them.
  • Jump Scare: "Jack and the Zombies" has a few of these: The bird-like creature at the beginning suddenly let's out a very disturbing shriek before flying away. There's also the part where Jack silently awaits more enemies to appear, only for it to suddenly show a close-up of Aku's face, eyes glowing and summoning more zombies. Unsurprisingly, it is certainly one of the scariest episodes of the series.
  • Just One Man: "Jack and the Three Blind Archers"
    General: There are only three archers, yet they decimated my whole army. You are just one man. Do the math.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Played straight with the Mobsters from "Jack and the Gangsters". They lie to Jack about going straight and having the Neptune Jewel returned to its proper place, and are last seen using the Neptune Jewel for their own ends.
    • Horrifyingly enough, the series' abrupt cancellation left Aku completely undefeated. But this is eventually subverted in "Episode CI", when Aku finally gets killed off by Jack, making his situation a case of Karma Houdini Warranty.
  • Large Ham:
    • Aku (just listen to the opening monologue). The late voice actor Mako makes this a crowning example of Large Ham done right. Said monologue is actually what an opening to a traditional Japanese Kabuki piece would be like if it were translated into English.
    • The Scotsman, the other character Jack plays off of regularly, is also hammy.
    • Some one-shot characters are hams as well, such as the SAH-MUH-RHAI and Gordo the Gruesome.
  • Laughably Evil: Aku, also Faux Affably Evil. He's one of the few genuinely, irredeemably evil villains who can come across as funny while simultaneously being threatening.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: "Jack Remembers The Past" has a scene where Ogami Itto, the protagonist of Lone Wolf and Cub and his son appear, and in fact inspire Jack to take up swordplay. They're never named, but it's apparent who they are.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Aku does it once in a while.
    Aku: ...I'll fly off saying something like "We'll meet again, samurai!"... and then we won't see each other for about a week. And then we'll go through the whole thing all over again.
  • Leitmotif: Less music cue and more a sound, but Aku is often accompanied by two long, droning synthesizer notes.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Jack and the Scotsman fight in their initial encounter.
  • Light Is Good: Almost entirely played straight. Jack, the biggest paragon of virtue in the desolate future is almost always dressed in white, and can also use the light like a ninja would use the shadow.. There's also the peaceful white-furred ape tribe from Jack Learns to 'Jump Good'.
    • In commentaries Genndy has said that the art theme of Samurai Jack is simple: 'white against black over red [background].'
  • Little "No": Jack favors a quiet 'no' over the hammy Big "NO!". Usually a sign that Heroic Resolve or Unstoppable Rage is imminent.
  • Little Red Fighting Hood: Aku in one of his Self Insert Fics.
  • Loophole Abuse:
    The Scotsman: "Okay! This is gonna be fair! So don't you cheat!"
    Jack: (offended) "I don't cheat!"
    The Scotsman: "Well... okay, you don't. But you don't play by the rules either!"
    • The Scotsman himself uses this when his wife is abducted. He can't rescue her on his own and he's custom-bound not to ask for help from warriors from his own clan. Samurai Jack is a "stranger".
  • Lovecraft Lite: The world (and, slowly, the universe) is under the totalitarian dictatorship of an Eldritch Abomination with nearly Complete Immortality. That said, a lone warrior wields the only weapon able to kill it, and is slowly winning a one man war against said Eldritch Abomination.

  • Machine Blood: Jack's usual mechanical or demonic foes spray oil or black very fiercely.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: Mondo Bot attempts one on Jack's giant robot samurai after his machine guns fail to harm his opponent. The missiles have no affect either.
  • Made of Good: Jack's katana was Forged by the Gods from his father's goodness and righteousness.
  • Made of Iron: Jack.
  • Made of Plasticine: The robots are made of a material which can be easily cut, kicked, punched, or headbutted through. In one episode Jack uses a bamboo pole against an army of them and it works every bit as well as the magic sword, until their weapons evaporate it.
    • Averted with the Ultra-bots, which are invincible until their creator upgrades Jack.
  • Magitek: The robots in "Jack and the Ultra-Bots", which Aku used his own power to bring to life.
  • The Magnificent Seven Samurai: Jack does this one solo in a jungle-set episode. Jack meets a friendly bunch of high-jumping simians who share food with him, and are then attacked by a rival group of apes. Jack drives them off, and teaches the friendly apes to defend themselves with bamboo staves, in exchange for lessons on how to "jump good."
  • Martial Pacifist: Jack will only attack to defend himself or other people, and will avoid fighting anyone just because they annoyed him.
  • Meaningful Name: "Aku" is the Japanese word for "evil".
  • Mecha-Mooks: To get past censoring, most enemies Jack encounters are machines, allowing them to be graphically mutilated. Quite bizarrely, some baddies he fights don't even look like robots until he slashes them open. Otherwise, they're magical beings (such as demons or monsters) that are not made of flesh and blood.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: The series begins with a young Jack witnessing Aku's return, his father being kidnapped by the villain, and spending the rest of his childhood training in order to one day fight and defeat Aku.
  • The Mirror Shows Your True Self: Happens when Aku takes the form of a hermit to travel with jack to retrieve gems of power that make the wielder omnipotent. When they are on a raft travelling down river, Aku sees his true self is reflected by the water so he makes the excuse that Jack is moving to slow and fly's them to their destination.
  • Mooks: Aku is usually served by robotic minions, demonic henchmen, or alien/human mercenaries.
  • Morality Pet: Lulu...sweet thing.
  • More Hero Than Thou: A variation demonstrating heroic courtesy. The last ten minutes of "Scotsman Saves Jack Part II" is devoted to Jack and the Scotsman going through a bunch of contests to see who rows off the island in a two-man rowboat. But it isn't the loser who rows. Probably not a big surprise, but Jack wins.
  • Morphic Resonance: No matter what form you take, Aku, you cannot change your original colour motif!
  • Moses in the Bulrushes
  • Mr. Fanservice:
    • Jack frequently gets his clothes ripped off in battle (though this happened more in later seasons than it did in season one). If his clothes get a single cut or tear on them, off they go!
    • There are also all the times when his hair comes undone or he gets Covered in Gunge.
    • Jack wears a fundoshi under his robe. We know this because he's been seen sans robe more than once.
    • And in the aptly-named 'Jack is Naked,' Jack is. That scene with Jack under the waterfall... He spends much of the rest of the episode either naked or nearly so.
  • Mugging the Monster: In the episode "Jack's Sandals", the shoe store owner does this to the bikers. He verbally berates them for riding their bikes recklessly, and destroying property in the process. When he sees the bikers transform into cyborgs a-la "Transformers" style, you can see the store owner obviously feeling scared.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Jack and the Scotman's thumb-wrestling match at the end of "Scotsman Saves Jack Part II".
  • Myth Arc: The whole point of Jack's journey throughout the series is to find a way back to his proper time period so he can go home and defeat Aku in order to prevent him from conquering the universe in the future.
  • Nameless Narrative: For the most part. Very few characters in the show actually have names or even address each other. Most characters are only known by their nickname instead of their real name, if they're even given a name at all.
  • Necromancer: Demongo the Soul Stealer, supposedly Aku's most powerful minion.
    • Although thanks to Never Say "Die", the words "soul" is only used once, at the very beginning, and afterwards replaced with the slightly less sinister word "essence".
  • Never Found the Body: Jack himself at the end of "Jack and the Spartans", seemingly sacrificing himself to save the Spartan King from a factory destroying explosion. All the Spartans found was the shield he had used to absorb the blast. The audience sees that Jack survived, but the Spartan King speculates he made it out as well, since a warrior of Jack's caliber wouldn't be killed by something as simple as a building exploding.
  • Never Tell Me the Odds!: An odd example where instead of the heroes having low odds of winning, it's the villains. When told a unit of Aku's robots have a 1 in 325 chance of hitting their target with their only shot, Jack immediately bails out to destroy the robots.
    • Justified from his perspective: the exact same statistician told him the odds of "defeating three Mantoids using only a sword" — a feat he pulled off perfectly — was 1 in 6923. So Jack probably wasn't inclined to trust the "math" during that episode. Notably, they did seem fairly close to hitting the rocket; and of course, the robots were threatening them regardless, which Jack would never abide.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Jack is respectful toward all. (In the episode with Da Samurai, he's literally nice to the waiter.)
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: The Time Portal Guardian in "Jack and the Traveling Creatures." Jack manages to hit him with two of his own missiles, and it only manages to piss him off because the explosion ruined his favorite suit.
    • The Minions of Set, even Jack's sword doesn't hurt them.
  • Ninja: Jack fought a robotic ninja assassin called Shinobi in one episode. Jack himself also reveals that he's been trained as one.
  • Noir Episode: Two - "Jack and the Gangsters" and "The Tale of X9".
  • No Ending: Aveted when the series was Un-Cancelled, but there are a few episodes that end just before one more flurry of action.
    • "Jack Learns To Jump Good" abruptly ends when Jack jumps for the time portal that Aku is holding, even though it hadn't been destroyed.
  • No Immortal Inertia: In the comics, the queen of a small mountain community has a magical thread woven into her hair that prevents her from aging. When taken away, her years rather quickly catch up with her.
  • No Name Given: Jack's real name is never revealed.
  • Not Himself:
    • In "The Aku Infection", Jack gets infected by Aku's evil. One of the first signs that something's going horribly wrong is that Jack acts completely out of character. He steals priceless gems from two miners. Then he expects a reward in return for saving a stranded climber. Worse yet, Jack kills an innocent robot over a small offense.
    • "Aku's Fairy Tales" parodies this: To win the children's' approval, Aku tells them fairy tales that center him and twist Jack into the villain. In Aku's twisted tales, Jack acts nothing like his actual self.
  • Obviously Evil: Aku. Huge black figure with spikes for shoulders, chevron-like horns, a quite unusual set of teeth and GREAT FLAMING EYEBROWS!
  • Oh, Crap!: Several, including a few from Jack. Aku's particularly prone to these moments. No better way to describe Aku's face after Jack learns how to 'jump good'.
  • One-Man Army: Jack again.
  • Only Good People May Pass: In "Jack and the Warrior Woman", the reality warping gem—powerful enough to send Jack back to his own time—is protected by a magical guardian who bars the way for all but the pure of heart. The guardian attacks Jack's companion for the episode, Ikra, revealing she was evil all along.
  • Opening Shout-Out: In "Jack and the Baby", while looking for the baby's parents, Jack arrives in the city with the blue creatures wearing fez from the intro.
  • Origins Episode: "Birth of Evil" explains the origins of Aku, gives a more detailed account of Jack's father battling Aku, and also shows Jack's birth.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: "Jack and the Farting Dragon".
  • Outfit Decoy: In ''Jack and the Three Blind Archers", Jack figures out the eponymous archers' blindness by waving his hat in front of them without it getting shot, and then dropping it on the ground to see it immediately hit with arrows when the archers heard it hit the snow.
  • Outlaw Couple: Josephine and Ezekiel Clench of "The Good, The Bad and the Beautiful."
  • Parrying Bullets: Jack is virtually invincible with his magic katana, occasionally deflecting all the bullets from several machine guns fired at him at once.
  • Personality Chip: Poor X9...
  • Phlebotinum Killed the Dinosaurs: The fragment of primordial evil that would eventually become Aku killed the dinosaurs.
  • Plot Hole: In episode Jack Learns to Jump Good, he learns to jump really high after lifting heavy rocks. The later episode, Jack's Sandals, literally has Jack incapable of jumping high while wearing heavy shoes.
  • Pre-Explosion Glow: In episode 23 this happens to Demongo after Jack releases the spirits trapped inside him, leaving him a burned out husk.
  • Proud Warrior Race: A recurring theme. Aside from those in the past (most of whom contributed to Jack's training), the future includes the Highlanders and the Imakandi.
  • Rapid-Fire Descriptors: Jack meets a Scotsman on a bridge too narrow for them both to pass each other. It quickly devolves into name calling, and then into fighting. In particular, there's this string of Scottish insults:
    The Scotsman: Whaddaya think of that, Mr. Pajama-wearing, basket face, slipper wieldin', clype-dreep-bachle, gether-uping-blate-maw, bleathering gomreil, jessie oaf-looking scooner, nyaff plookie shan, milk drinkin', soy-faced shilpit, mim-moothed snivelin', worm-eyed, hotten-blaugh, vile-stoochie, cally-breek-tattie" note 
  • Really 700 Years Old: Jack and Aku have been going at it since the days of medieval Japan, after all. Meanwhile, Aku is a tiny piece of a larger Eldritch Abomination killed by the gods Odin, Ra, and Vishnu before human history began.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Scotsman and Jack, respectively.
  • Rewatch Bonus: In case Ikra's appearance somehow doesn't clue you in on the fact that she's really Aku, there are some hints early on in "Jack and the Warrior Woman" as to her true nature, such as the shopkeeper claiming that Jack doesn't understand what he meant when he detected an evil presence, the robot assassins apparently being okay with Jack and Ikra getting away, and a small rodent-like creature recoiling in fear when Ikra tries to offer it food.
  • Ridiculous Future Inflation: In "Jack vs. Mad Jack," a bounty hunter says that Jack's head is worth two googolplex (go ahead, look it up), which would certainly require this. However, "Jack's New Shoes" shows a bounty of 40 million of whatever currency is in use in the future, suggesting that "googolplex" is just a slang term or an exaggeration. Either way, Aku is not the sort to actually honour his commitments.
  • Robotic Reveal: A common occurrence on the show is for a seemingly organic opponent of Jack's turning out to be a robotic being after Jack slices at them with his sword. One particular example is in the second story of the episode "Jack Tales", where the family trying to take Jack's sword are revealed to be metal-eating robots.
  • Rock of Limitless Water: A MacGuffin of an episode. Created by a water deity and guarded by deities of wind, earth and fire, Aku would try and fail repeatedly to get his hands on it. Jack has to steal it for The Mafia for a chance to kill Aku. The Mafia end up with it, and are selling water it produces at the end of the episode.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something:
    • Jack and his Father definitely count as this. Jack of course, being the Prince to his kingdom who's constantly trying to return to the past to save his Kingdom (and the world) from Aku's enslavement. And Jack's Father, the King, being the one who originally tried to defeat Aku, and after failing, gained a Divine Sword and did seal away Aku for a time, even making a contingency plan should he return that would eventually succeed.
    • The titular royals from "Jack and the Flying Prince and Princess". Whilst they originally sent on a mission to fetch their fleet, they are eager to join a battle and lead from the front where possible. In the episode's climax, they get their chance. They are also skilled diplomatic envoys, it's just a shame they were dealing with Aku...
  • Rule of Cool: Why are there demonic Celtic robots, high-tech pyramid vaults, cowboys riding jet-propelled horsebots, volcanoes possessed by Viking princes, boisterous highlanders with machine-gun legs, 'unlimited' class cockfights, bayou cyborgs, immortal monks, carelessly scattered time portals, etc.? Because awesome. It was all but outright stated in a featurette that Rule of Cool dictated the writing sessions for Tartakovsky and his creative team. They would sit down and ask: What cool thing can we invoke this episode that we saw on TV when we were kids?
  • Running Gag: Jack is always hungry, and his meals are constantly interrupted by the plot, bounty hunters, or people stealing his food.
  • Samurai: Obviously, but also a very specific example. In the third episode, Jack takes on the full samurai mantle against an oncoming horde: longbow, spears, katana, and full "splint" armor, riding atop the closest thing to a warsteed available. As the episode's battle progresses, he slowly gets pared down to the essentials: a katana, some skills for wielding it, and lots and lots of oil.
    Jack: "No. There is no escape."
  • Samus Is a Girl:
    • Princess Mira. Her true gender is not revealed until she takes her helmet off.
    • In "Jack and Farting Dragon", the dragon seems male at first, talking to Jack in a masculine voice. When Jack decides to help it by crawling inside its stomach to find out what's making it sick, he eventually learns otherwise: the reason is a baby dragon that is partially hatched, lodged in the obviously female dragon's womb.
    • The Baby from the final episode of Season 4, despite being referred to as "he" by Jack, was revealed via Word of God to be a girl years later, in 2016.
  • Say My Name: The most dramatic delivery of Aku's name occurs when Jack first visits his Evil Tower of Ominousness in the past to challenge the demon tyrant to a duel.
  • Scaling the Summit: One episode has Jack climbing up the mountain to the top in order to search for the truth that the three monks offer to help him with.
  • Science Fantasy: The main character is a samurai with a magic katana who is trying to defeat an all-powerful demon lord after being sent into the far future, where the Earth has been turned into an anachronistic dystopia that has attracted the attention of the greater universe. As a result, he commonly faces off against numerous stock fantasy and sci-fi creatures in the process, such as aliens, demons, dragons, rock monsters, elementals, talking animals, cyborgs, faeries, and lots and lots of robots. He may occasionally also face off against some combination of the above.
  • Scotireland: In the comics, leprechauns are living in the Scottish Highlands.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!:
    • After Ra easily obliterates two of Set's minions, the last one attempts to escape. He doesn't get very far.
    • A bounty hunter looking a lot like a humanoid lion does the same in "Jack versus Mad Jack" after Jack easily cuts through his large robotic elephant that he sicced onto Jack.
  • Self-Poisoning Gambit: In the fall segment of "Seasons of Death", a scientist poisons a well that Jack will be traveling past. Jack realizes something is wrong at the last moment, and pretends to take the poison and succumb to its effect. This lures out the scientist, who goes to check Jack's body, at which point Jack springs up and forces the scientist to take his own poison.
  • Series Goal: Return to the past and undo the future that is Aku. Dealing with Aku in the future as well seems to be entirely optional to Jack, although, taking him out would let Jack be able to use a Time Portal unhindered. Indeed, Jack ultimately just leaves Aku behind in the future to contemplate his temporal fate.
  • Shockwave Stomp: The Scotsman's wife can do this.
  • Shout-Out: Lots of them. The episode referencing Star Wars gets the most.
  • Shown Their Work: Both Jack himself and the samurai in flashbacks (including Jack's father) are shown riding on horseback (or a similar equivalent) and showcasing their skill in archery. This is accurate to history, as samurai in warfare were more well known for their horse archery prior to the Sengoku Jidai than their skill in the katana (which is a product of the romanticisation of the samurai through the Bushido).
  • Sliding Scale of Continuity:
    • Level 2. Jack's never going to get that time-portal. After the premiere three-parter, the show had very little serialization with most characters being one off and the episodes never having all that much continuity so things would simply return to normal by the end, or if they weren't normal - Jack finally having his hands on the MacGuffin of the week - they were promptly ignored. A few things like befriending the Scotsman managed to be permanent on the show, while knowing how to "Jump Good" came and went depending on if the writer wanted a fifty-foot gap to be a problem or not.
    • Season 5 focuses on a more serialized narrative, which now bumps up the series to Level 4.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: The series is ultimately more idealistic than cynical. As horrible as the show's setting is, it doesn't need to be this way, as this is mostly the result of centuries of Aku's cruel tyranny. Jack fights and works very hard to undo the evil of the future world, and as extremely difficult as that task is, he gradually inspires hope that a better world is indeed possible. And Jack ultimately succeeds.
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. Seriousness: All over the place, some episodes don't have a single joke to them while others have almost everything Played for Laughs. Sometimes they'll meet in the middle by adding the occasional Hanna-Barbera stock sound effect to an intense action sequence. This is often reflected in whoever has written the episode: episodes boarded by Bryan and Mark Andrews are usually the most more serious and action-based, whereas episodes by Aaron Springer or Chris Reccardi tend to be the most comedic. The other artists tend to fall squarely down the middle.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Da Samurai. His brief encounter with Jack sets him down the right path though.
  • Space Jews
    • In one episode Jack encounters an alien race with large noses who wear what look suspiciously like yarmulkes, and are being mistreated in horrible conditions by cold, uncaring oppressors who believe they are naturally superior to other races. Remind you of anything?
    • The two miners Jack meets in "The Aku Infection" are an almost literal example, speaking in broad Yiddish accents and using the occasional Yiddish word ("Get off yer tuckus...!"). One of them is even played by Billy West doing his Zoidberg voice.
  • The Stoic: Jack, though he does slip into being Not So Stoic every so often. Also, Jack's father, a.k.a. the emperor of Jack's home village.
  • Strictly Formula: Most episodes are either about Jack attempting to find a way home, Aku sending a new assassin to kill Jack or finding a way to do it himself, or Jack finding some group of people oppressed by Aku's regime and helping to free them. It works in this case since the show really is more about fight sequences and strategy than storyline. And toward the end of the show, episode plots started to branch out more, with some new twists on ones that were already established.
    Aku: Oh, put that thing away, Samurai. We all know what's going to happen. You'll swing your sword, I'll fly away, and probably say something like, "I'll be back, Samurai!" And then I'll flutter over the horizon and we probably won't see each for... about a week. And then we'll do the same thing again.
    Jack: Your word play will not trick me, villain! (Charges)
    Aku: (Transforms into a bat, floating away) I'll be back again, Samurai! You'll see! MWAHAHAHAHA! (Reappears) See what I mean?
    • This is finally subverted with Season 5, which involves a season-long story arc to finish off Jack's long quest.
  • Sword Sparks: Taken to its logical conclusion in "Jack versus Mad Jack" - the ferocity of their Sword Fight leads to the forest they're in going on fire from the sparks flying out. Which is actually all in Jack's head, as the forest is perfectly quiet and tranquil after he calms his anger and causes Mad Jack to disappear.

  • This Cannot Be!: When Jack takes on a series of Ultra-Robots that can only be defeated by a specialized cybernetic arm, he manages to destroy the last one, despite said arm being disabled, with the power of the gods.
    Ultra-Robot: "Unbelievable!" (soon bisected)
  • Time Skip:
    • Jack, a native of the ancient past, gets displaced thousands of years into the far future within the pilot episode.
    • Season 5 takes place approximately 50 years after Seasons 1-4. Jack hasn't aged physically, but all those years have clearly changed his personality.
  • Time Travel: The show's entire premise is about a samurai from ancient Japan who gets forcibly teleported by Aku into the far future with a magic spell. Jack travels around the world in search of time portals (and other magical objects) that he wishes to use to return to the past and defeat Aku.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: When The Scotsman first appeared, he was a violent, barbaric and egotistical destroyer who wanted to start a fight with Jack because of an argument over crossing a bridge. After becoming friends with Jack, he showed a more humble side and became one of the friendliest characters on the show.
  • Trademark Favorite Food
    • Jack loves sushi and hot water.
    • The Scottsman and his fellow men all love haggis.
  • Training Montage:
    • The pilot features a lengthy, dialogue-less montage in which Jack is trained by different martial artists and warriors across the globe, from childhood into adulthood.
    • Jack learning to "jump good".
  • Translation Convention: Considering how Aku has ruled the world since ancient Japan (with Japan being the first place under his dominion), it can be assumed that the reason why Jack is able to talk with everyone is that everyone canonically speaks Japanese.
    • Although given Jack's travels through his youth (to places like Africa, the Middle East, Greece, England, Russia, etc.) it's entirely possible that he just speaks many languages. Though it doesn't really explain how he would get past the past/present slang barriers.
    • In Episode XLVII, Chitron 6 is heard speaking English while in close-up. When the camera changes shots to show Jack surveilling the party Chitron 6 is speaking to from overhead, Chitron 6 can clearly be heard speaking an entirely alien language.
  • Tranquil Fury: Jack, in most episodes.
  • Un-Cancelled: After being cancelled in 2004 with No Ending, the show returned for a fifth (and final) season in 2017.
  • Underequipped Charge: In one issue of the IDW comics, Jack's sword gets broken, and all of its power goes away. Naturally, Aku swoops down on him as soon as he finds him—whereupon Jack, who up until this point was constantly on the run, accepts his fate and attacks Aku with his bare hands.
  • Unexpectedly Dark Episode: The episode "Jack and the Haunted House" is without doubt the most unsettling episode of the series. Much in contrast to the rest of the episodes, this one contains some really dark and frightening imagery, and the main villain is a sadistic, humorless demon with a disturbingly detailed design, almost resembling a certain creature. Of couse, this sounds a hell of a lot like a Lovecraftian horror story.
  • The Unintelligible: Seems to be a staple of Genndy's, but specifically in "Jack and the Scotsman", we have the redneck boss pig, "BLA-BABADUGORBLUBURDEERBLAGOLBADU!!!" Brilliantly performed by the VA, Kevin Michael Richardson, with a few actual phrases like "IKEELYU!", "GOFASTER!", and most obviously "BANGBANGBANGITYBANGBANGBANG!" thrown in to make it sound like it's all dialect and not just gibberish.
  • Unusual Eyebrows: Aku's GREAT FLAMING EYEBROWS!!!
  • Valley Girl: More of a "Valley Guy" variant as Jack adopts the accent and mannerisms due to amnesia in "The Scotsman Rescues Jack, Parts 1 & 2."
  • Villain Episode:
    • "Aku's Fairy Tales" and "The Birth of Evil (Part 1)", both of which focus on Aku (though the latter later switches focus to the Emperor). Jack appears indirectly and is referenced, but the episodes are all about Aku.
    • "The Princess and the Bounty Hunters" and "The Tale of X9" are rare examples focused entirely from the point-of-view of minor one-shot villains, with Jack eventually appearing as a Hero Antagonist.
  • Villain of the Week: Until this was averted in Season 5, every episode has its own story, with Jack facing off numerous foes.
  • Villain Opening Scene: The pilot episode opens with Aku escaping from his imprisonment to terrorize the land once more. He even narrates the opening credits every week.
  • Villain World: Ruled by you-know-who. This show now provides the page image for this trope.
  • Violent Glaswegian: This is essentially the Scotsman's most notable characteristic (although he's got Hidden Depths), and his wife as well.
  • Vision Quest: In the IDW comics, when Jack's sword breaks, the three gods send him on a spiritual journey to prove he's worthy of wielding it in the first place.
  • Vocal Evolution: In the first episode, Jack sounds less like a warrior from ancient Japan and more like... well, like a black actor trying to do a Japanese accent. By the second episode, it sounds more authentic, but of course the character hardly speaks much to begin with.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Aku's main power.
  • Weak, but Skilled: Jack himself is not very large and can't offer the same physical strength as many other characters in the show, but compensates by being exceptionally well trained. One example comes from meeting the Scotsman's clan and being forced to compete in throwing a large stone. Unfamiliar with the sport, he did poorly on his first attempt. But after noting his opponent is much heavier than the stone, he used a martial arts move of redirecting weight and energy to fling him an equal distance.
  • Western Samurai: Invoked with the eponymous protagonist. A Japanese born boy that escaped from Aku's destruction of his homeland thanks to the help of his mother, that trained under the Bushido Code around the world and came back as an adult to fight Aku, but renamed himself with the foreign name of "Jack."
    • There's also Da Samurai, a black dude who dresses the part just to look cool, but behaves obnoxiously. Jack, finding his act disgraceful, engages him in battle and takes him down a peg or two, while at the same time teaching him about true samurai values.
  • Wham Line: After The Guardian completely demolishes Jack in combat, he tells Jack that he will never defeat him and use the portal. Just before The Guardian can finish Jack off, the time portal communicates with The Guardian. Afterwards he sends Jack away on a giant bird then looks at the time portal, viewing the vision it showed him. The episode finishes with this haunting line:
    The Guardian: You can't use this portal yet Samurai Jack. (Epic music begins, the vision showing a much-older Jack as a leader in the fight against Aku) Not yet... not yet.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?:
    • Violence against Mechanical Lifeforms is shown in full detail, violence against organic enemies is always obscured in some way. This is due to Cartoon Network's censorship rules, which don't allow any blood to be shown. Tartakovsky still got away with a lot of Machine Blood with the robots, though.
    • Deconstructed, along with What Measure Is a Mook?, in the episode "Tales of X9;" A Day in the Limelight for one of the assassin robots that Jack routinely confronts.
    • Jack himself averts this trope in "Jack and the Ultra-Robots:" He's appalled just as much by the violence perpetrated on robot villages as on human and alien ones.
  • Whole Plot Reference: The episode "Jack and the Spartans" to The 300 Spartans.
    The King of the Spartans: They will forever be remembered... The 300... plus one.
  • Womb Level: The inside of the dragon in "Jack and the Farting Dragon." It's also much, much Bigger on the Inside.
  • World of Badass: Given the number of super-villains and monsters that roam the planet, you have to be rough and tough to avoid just ending up as a victim. Still won't always save you though.
  • Worthy Opponent: In one episode, Aku sends a tribe of hunters to capture Jack. When they triumph, they describe Jack as the hardest-to-catch prey they ever hunted and respect him for this to the point of allowing him to go free.
  • Wretched Hive:
    • In "The Samurai Called Jack", Jack finds himself in one that's a futuristic cross between this and Coolest Club Ever.
    • Many episodes later, the Scotsman brings his amnesiac buddy to the seaport of Heck's Bucket and uses those exact words (yet another Shout-Out).
    The Scotsman: Ye will never find a more wretched hive of scum an' villainy! An' the crab cakes aren't too bad either!
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Every time Jack follows a lead on a way to get back to his own time, something goes awry. Either the "lead" was a trick/trap, the way home has a cost that Jack can't (or won't) pay, or Jack's Chronic Hero Syndrome causes him to give up the way home for someone else's benefit.
  • You Monster!: "Jack and the Flying Prince and Princess" has Prince Astor call Aku a devil, a fiend, and a villain in reaction to the evil being destroying the robot Chitron 6.

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