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Series / Cowboy Bebop (2021)

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"In this solar system, if the cops and the bounty hunters don't get you, the Syndicate will. There's no happy ending here."
Spike Spiegel

Cowboy Bebop is a Netflix Space Western series and the first Live-Action Adaptation of the anime of the same name. Christopher Yost (The Mandalorian) served as the showrunner, with Michael Katleman and Alex Garcia Lopez directing. The ten-episode series premiered on November 19, 2021.

Like the anime, the show is set in a Used Future where humanity has colonized different parts of the solar system, and follows the adventures of a ragtag group of bounty hunters: Spike Spiegel (John Cho), a gifted fighter with a dark past, his friend and companion Jet Black (Mustafa Shakir), and enigmatic new addition Faye Valentine (Daniella Pineda). Together, they chase criminals looking for a nice payout, but struggle dealing with the police, the mafia and each other.

A number of big names associated with the original show were involved in the production of this series — Sunrise (the animation studio that created the original) was one of the production companies that developed this series, Shinichiro Watanabe (who directed the original) returned as a consultant, and Yoko Kanno (who served as the original's main composer) returned to do the score.

In addition to the show, a prequel novel titled Cowboy Bebop: A Syndicate Story: Red Planet Requiem was released on December 7, while the first issue of a tie-in comic line by Titans Comics was released on January 26, 2022.

Another season was initially planned, but Netflix announced the series' cancellation on December 9, 2021, less than three weeks after its premiere.

Previews: "Tank" Opening Credits,"Lost Session" Teaser, Trailer.

3, 2, 1, let's trope:

  • Actor Allusion:
    • When Spike says how much he loves "mommies", Jet is disgusted by what he interprets as a fetish. John Cho's character in American Pie is the one who popularized the term MILF.
    • Vicious learns some Russian to help romance Julia, knowing it's her native tongue. Elena Satine was born in the former Soviet Union.
    • Gren works as a cabaret emcee at Ana's, and at one point says "Wilkommen" when introducing Julia. Mason Alexander Park had previously played the Emcee in the Kander and Ebb musical, Cabaret (which opens with the song "Wilkommen").
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Arguments between Spike and Jet usually end when one of Spike's snarky comments makes Jet laugh.
  • Adaptation Expansion:
    • In the original show, we're only given tiny glimpses of the backstory between Spike, Vicious, and Julia during the end credits sequence, as well as a few brief flashbacks within the show itself. Here, an entire episode is dedicated to expanding upon their complicated history. Likewise, both Jet and Faye have more of a running commentary on their backstories before notable episodes explore it in more detail.
    • Most of the episodes run between 40 to 60 minutes, and the entire adaptation focuses strongly around the Syndicate's near omni-presence. The longer run times ensures that Vicious and Julia are given more time to flesh out their own plans just as much as the series focuses on the Bebop crew.
    • In the anime, it's not explicitly stated where Red Eye comes from, but this series ties it to the Syndicate, even having a scene where Vicious, Lin, and Shin are overlooking enslaved refugees who are making it. Pierrot LeFou's mental instability is partially chalked up to prolonged addiction to Red Eye on top of the depraved experiments performed on him.
  • Adaptational Gender Identity: Gren is reimagined as nonbinary, and they're portrayed by nonbinary actor Mason Alexander Park. The character's pronouns are he/him in the original anime.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole:
    • The Syndicate in the anime was a fairly standard Yakuza criminal ring, they participated in the drug trade but otherwise were largely situated on Mars. Only a handful of the episodes take place on Mars and the general implication was that while Spike was presumed dead by old acquaintances others, like Vicious, knew he was alive. The Syndicate itself was ambivalent to his survival until the last episode when The Coup pushes for a complete cleaning house of all prior associates that ends up targeting Spike too. The Syndicate in the show is more of an N.G.O. Superpower, overtly dominating criminal groups across the Solar system. Spike overtly was Faking the Dead and had changed his name from his "Fearless" moniker, under the belief the instant anyone knew he was alive he would be killed. The show had to triple down on Syndicate politics to explain WHY Spike wasn't killed immediately, but he still moved around town with the same impunity that the original Spike did.
    • Jet was originally the one good cop who lost his arm recklessly chasing after a criminal, after which he lost his passion for the job and quit. The show has a Dirty Cop set him up as a fall guy and he was sent to prison for several years, after getting out he is looking to clear his name. This brings up several questions about how he was able to get started bounty hunting with the Bebop, and why an ex-con and alleged Dirty Cop could get a bounty hunting license.
  • Adaptation Relationship Overhaul:
    • While they were romantically involved, Jet and Alisa were simply boyfriend and girlfriend in the original anime until the latter abandoned the former feeling that she will never be allowed to make her own decisions. Here, they're divorced and have a daughter.
    • Gren is now an employee and loyal right-hand to Ana; the two characters never actually met in the anime.
    • Whitney in the anime was a young man who fell in love with Faye, then broke her trust by Faking the Dead and passing all his debts to her. In this show, the character is an older woman who posed as Faye's mother to reap all her benefits.
    • The exact nature of the relationship between Spike, Vicious and Julia was never made known, but both Spike and Julia escaped and went underground. In this series, there was a Love Triangle between the three and after Spike disappeared she and Vicious got married, with her implying the only reason was to stay safe from the Syndicate.
  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: The main characters in the original show all had a storied past, but was always treated as something they all sort of knew about but none of them wanted to talk about and would just let each other move on. In this show the characters talk a lot more openly about their problems and turns their past into extended story arcs. Spike kept his history as a Syndicate member hidden from Jet knowing as an ex-cop that would be a major dealbreaker. Jet was framed for being a Dirty Cop and falsely imprisoned, hoping to unravel who betrayed him. Faye is looking for the person who unfroze her and posed as her mother before running off with her assets.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness:
    • Annie in the anime was relatively plain-looking, heavyset and slightly unkempt. Her Netflix counterpart, Ana, is much more stylish, slim and well-groomed in comparison.
    • The original Maria Murdock was gaunt and pale-skinned, while Adrienne Barbeau's version looks perfectly presentable.
  • Adaptational Dumbass:
    • In the anime Jet was a skilled mechanic who kept the Bebop, Swordfish, Hammerhead, and Red Tail working and was an excellent cook despite a minimal budget, and had interests ranging from his bonsai tress, philosophy and telling stories of historical and mythical events. The show pares away most of that (focusing on his relationship with his ex-wife and daughter) to where it's a Running Gag that his improvised repairs are barely working and he needs outside help to fix the mess he made. He still listens to jazz but has some blinders for more cultured things.
    • Spike will display the occasional unusual skill such as reading lips, but the emphasis is on his combat skills. He doesn't display the Hyper-Awareness that the anime version possessed, and generally seems easier to deceive or misdirect.
    • Faye's gambling addiction and Con Artist traits are largely removed, which also leaves her coming across more naive and not actively manipulating everyone around her. This also makes her more vulnerable to be manipulated herself.
  • Adaptational Dye-Job:
    • Gren is a blonde in this series while the original version had black hair.
    • Alisa is portrayed by the blonde Simone McAullay. In the anime, she was black-haired.
  • Adaptational Early Appearance: Faye, Vicious and Julia are all introduced in the first episode while in the anime they made their debut later.
  • Adaptational Intelligence: Mad Pierrot in this adaptation is capable of holding a normal conversation and isn't quite as psychotic as his anime counterpart, even if he is defeated the same way.
  • Adaptational Job Change: Annie in the original show was a relatively humble shopkeeper, but in the live action series, she's the owner of a swanky underground jazz club.
  • Adaptational Late Appearance: Edward doesn't show up until the very end of the last episode. As a result, the Dr. Londes storyline, in which she played an especially prominent part, sidelines her to more distant role as an unseen tipster who involves the crew.
  • Adaptational Modesty:
    • Faye's original outfit involved a loose-fitting yellow crop top, yellow shorts and sometimes a red sweater jacket worn loosely around her arms. The show's version of this outfit keeps the yellow crop top but gives her black shorts with tights and a maroon leather jacket.note  She doesn't appear to be averse to wearing more revealing outfits, though, just not as her main look, since she's seen in a slinky red dress in "Callisto Soul".
    • Judy from the "Big Shot" bounty show technically keeps the Navel-Deep Neckline of the original, but is tailored in a way to not look so close to a Wardrobe Malfunction.
  • Adaptational Name Change:
    • Downplayed. In the anime Spike Spiegel is the character's real name; in this continuity, it's a pseudonym he took following his faked death. During his time in the Syndicate, he went by the name "Fearless". Having grown up on the street an orphan, it's implied he has no idea what his real name is.
    • Downplayed with Annie as well, who goes by Ana here. Both names can be short for "Anastasia", so they aren't mutually exclusive.
    • Ted Bower, the Teddy Bomber, is given the surname "Clark" here.
    • The three elders, Wang Long, Sou Long, and Ping Long, are now Caliban, Prospero, and Miranda, named after characters from The Tempest. The Red Dragon Syndicate is only referred to as The Syndicate, likely because it's multi-ethnic rather than a purely Asian crime organisation.
    • Tongpu, the Mad Pierrot, now refers to himself as "Pierrot LeFou", which was the title of his debut episode in the original show. "Tongpu" is instead the name of a clown character that he takes his signature costume from.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy:
    • Spike famously hates dogs in the anime, even suggesting that they eat Ein and only accepting him on the ship with great reluctance. In this adaptation, he goes into full-blown Cuteness Proximity over how great dogs are the first time he sees Ein and is thrilled to keep him. He's also noticeably more empathetic to other people, especially some of the bounties that he goes after.
    • Faye's more abrasive personality traits have been largely smoothed out, leaving her with a more laid back goofball personality for most of the show. Her main vices—pathological lying and gambling addiction—are also gone.
  • Adaptational Origin Connection:
    • Many of the disparate, episodic bounties are explicitly connected with The Syndicate. The drug "Red Eye" stolen in the first episode in fact had connections tying all the way back to Vicious, when there was no such implication in the original.
    • Ein, among other data dogs, was involved with the experiments on the Mad Pierrot. It's through this connection that Pierrot is able to temporarily control Ein and confront the crew via hologram.
  • Adaptational Personality Change: In the anime, Vicious has a quiet, stoic demeanor that stands in stark contrast to his violent and sadistic personality. His live-action counterpart is much more volatile and prone to emotional outbursts, often acting like a Psychopathic Manchild.
  • Adaptational Sexuality:
    • This version of Faye is attracted to women, and even develops a romance with a female mechanic who's hired to repair the Bebop.
    • Spike in the anime was only ever interested in Julia, but here he shows interest in other women. In Episode 3 he's implied to be a regular at a low-rent brothel and is visibly aroused by the dominatrix there, to Jet's disgust.
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • The anime's Mao Yenrai was a noble Father to His Men who died at Vicious's hands for wanting to make peace with rival syndicates. Here, she's a treacherous snake who goes along with Vicious in his plan to overthrow the Elders, then tries to betray him instead.
    • The show's version of the Teddy Bomber is much more unhinged and eager to kill than the original character, who only bombed empty buildings as an act of protest against capitalism and prided himself on never hurting innocent bystanders.
    • Julia, of all people, becomes a major antagonist by the end, having turned on both Spike and Vicious to take over the Syndicate herself.
    • Fad, Jet's old partner, was always a Corrupt Cop but in the anime he felt nothing but regret about being on the Syndicate's payroll and betraying Jet. When he and Jet had their final showdown, he loads his gun with blanks so that Jet will kill him. In this series, he actually tries to kill Jet, who only survives by reflexively blocking the bullet with his metal arm.
    • The ISSP (Inter Solar System Police) in the original show was largely heroic, even if there were issues with corruption, but a core part of the premise is that they were outnumbered by the sheer volume of crimes and needed the Bounty System to keep on top of things. In this series Jet has more antagonistic feelings towards members of the force and at multiple times they act explicitly to screw them over to prevent having to pay out on the bounty.
    • The main characters, though not to the point of villany. Whereas the original avoided lingering on any unecessary violence Spike, Jet, or Faye committed and made sure to give them ample Pet the Dog moments, here they are somewhat colder and crueler. Spike gets it the worst, laughing about killing no-name extras and only bonding with Faye over violence.
  • Adaptational Wimp:
    • Gren's portrayal. In the anime, he was a hardened ex-soldier who was working on a long term plan to finally get his revenge on Vicious. In the adaptation, Gren is a host at Annie's bar — making sure patrons are enjoying themselves and playing by the rules — and doesn't demonstrate any fighting skills aside from a willingness to draw against armed intruders.
    • Vicious in the anime worked his way to the top levels of the Syndicate through his own merit and ruthless efficiency; he was rightfully feared within the Syndicate and was among the first to take charge in a violent situation. In the adaptation, Vicious only occupies his position in the Syndicate due to his family connections and stealing credit for Spike's accomplishments. He's not particularly competent, seems more concerned with keeping appearances up, and is easily outsmarted and defeated by Julia.
  • Adapted Out:
    • Vicious doesn't have a pet cormorant in this adaptation, though a painting of one can be spotted in his lair.
    • Rosny Spanggen, the true identity of Dr. Londes, is completely absent as Londes is now a rogue AI.
    • Alisa's boyfriend Rhint is written out and replaced with a new character, her husband Chalmers.
    • Downplayed with Cowboy Andy; while he does exist in this universe, he's no longer involved with the Teddy Bomber storyline.
  • Amicable Exes: Jet and Alisa seem to be making progress toward this in "Galileo Hustle", but the events of "Supernova Symphony" wipe out all the goodwill Jet's built up with his ex.
  • Arbitrary Gun Power: The main characters often take bullets to their torso, only to react with little more than annoyance and keep functioning with minimal difficulty for the rest of the scene. Mooks, on the other hand, drop like flies from similar shots.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Vicious and Julia have much larger roles in this series compared to the original anime. In the anime, they only appeared sporadically throughout the series (Vicious was in 5 sessions, Julia in 2 not counting abstract flashbacks) as they largely showed up as a reminder to Spike of what he left behind. Here they are in nearly every episode, and have their own subplot dealing with the Syndicate.
    • Annie, renamed Ana in this show, now acts as a major supporting character. In the anime, she only appeared in two sessions and died in her second appearance. Gren, who only appeared in a two-parter in the anime, also makes a recurring appearance in the show as Ana's right hand.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Everyone's opinion of Faye's new railgun Hand Cannon. It's universally referred to as a scam, evidently because other than extreme armor-piercing and theoretically able to use any steel item small enough as a projectile it's cumbersome to use, only single shot and way too much power for a bounty hunter looking to take their target alive. Even Faye herself agrees by the end of the episode, despite using it to destroy a heavily armored server cage. She gives it to Mel as a gift.
    • When Faye thinks that using poison gas on Mad Pierrot might be overkill, Jet goes on a rant over how he's had the cannister sitting on a shelf for years, and this is the first opportunity he's had to use it for something.
  • Big "NO!": Vicious yells this as Julia leaves him imprisoned in the finale.
  • Body Horror: Maria Murdock uses a bioweapon that transforms anyone unfortunate enough to inhale it into trees (or causes a tree to sprout inside their body and rip them apart in the process, it's kind of ambiguous). It is every bit as gnarly, and as painful, as it sounds.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Deconstructed in the "Lost Session" teaser. Spike, Jet and Faye are shooting at their (off-screen) bounty when Faye recoils in horror and turns to Spike and Jet, telling them "Hey, nutbuckets! There's no payout if you shoot him in the face!" The trailer ends with Spike and Jet arguing with each other, blaming the other for shooting the poor schmuck in the face.
  • Breaking the Fellowship: In the final episode, Spike, Jet, and Faye each end up going their separate ways - Faye has found a lead to rediscovering the life she had before being put into cryo, and Spike and Jet have fallen out due to Spike's previous life as a Syndicate enforcer coming to light in the worst way possible.
  • Canon Foreigner: Several supporting characters were created solely for this version of Cowboy Bebop. The most notable additions include Woodcock, Officer Chalmers, Syndicate capo Santiago, the Iron Mink, and Jet's daughter Kimmie.
  • Central Theme: As in the original anime, the theme of the past is explored greatly. Each of the Bebop's crew members are struggling with their pasts and are trying to outrun it (Spike), learn about it (Faye), or come to terms with it (Jet).
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • ...or rather, Chekhov's Railgun, as Faye's railgun pistol, which everyone else writes off as a ripoff, comes in very handy at the climax of "Binary Two-Step".
    • In "Dog Star Swing", a criminal uses a Face-Changer, a holographic device that can be used as a disguise. The technology is later used by Vicious to switch places with Santiago, causing Santiago to be executed in his place.
  • Continuous Decompression: When the station hull is breached in the first episode, the decompression persists until Jet manages to activate the blast doors and seal the breach.
  • Curse Cut Short: In the "Lost Session" teaser Faye gets a "what the f—" before the camera cuts to Jet.
  • Darker and Edgier: The original anime series was no stranger to going down some dark and edgy roads, but this series cranks up the darkness and edge with more violence, more nudity, and more profanity.
  • Death by Adaptation:
    • Abdul Hakim gets shot in the head by the ISSP here. In the anime, he's merely arrested.
    • In the anime, Maria Murdock gets exposed to her own virus and presumably turns into a monkey offscreen. Here, she gets infected by a gas that grows an entire tree from her body, killing her in a horrifically gruesome (but still offscreen) manner, maintaining the symmetry of her meeting the fate of her victims.
  • Decapitation Presentation: Vicious does this with Mao's head to make a point to Julia that he knows about the deal the two made.
  • Deflector Shield: Various colonies on planets or moons not completely terraformed will have a passive force field keeping the atmosphere in place, but allows solid matter to pass through like a ship.note 
  • Delicious Distraction: In the "Lost Session" teaser, Spike seemingly bails on the bounty to grab some food.
    Jet: We're on a job.
    Faye: Seriously?
    Spike: Noodles first.
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • Udai Taxim's presence is toned down significantly in his episode, and he has very little dialogue.
    • Shin and Lin are relegated to Vicious's mostly silent, interchangeable henchmen and are killed by Spike in the finale. In the anime Spike regards both with close familiarity and they display considerably more independent personalities and motivations.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation:
    • In the anime, Katerina kills Asimov in their ship knowing that their lives are already over, then allows the ISSP to finish her off. In this version, Asimov is shot by Faye, and dies of his wounds moments after they take off. Katerina's death remains unchanged, however.
    • Vicious still kills Mao like in the original, but under different circumstances: in the anime, he kills Mao to stop him from making peace with another organization. Here, Mao attempts to sabotage Vicious's plan but fails, and loses her head in the process.
    • Lin sacrifices himself by taking a bullet meant for Vicious while Shin pulls a Heel–Face Turn and gets shot while helping Spike storm the Red Dragon Syndicate headquarters in the original anime. Here, they both get gunned down by Spike in the cathedral shootout.
  • Dirty Cop: The Inter-Solar System Police will sabotage any bounty, usually by taking the chance to murder them and then claim that the bounty hunters were very clearly in danger if they hadn't intervened right away, if they find it in their own best interests. Abdul Hakeem gets shot in the head before Jet and Spike can convince him to turn himself in and let them have his 15 million woolong reward. The boys call the cops out on this.
  • Downer Ending: The series ends this way. Jet's daughter appears to reject him after her kidnapping ordeal, which leads to him kicking Spike off the Bebop and threatening to kill him if they see each other again. Faye also decides to leave so she can search for more information about her past. Spike is last seen passing out in an alley behind a bar where he's found by Ed and Ein which may cross this over to a Bittersweet Ending.
  • Earth That Was: There are allusions to a disaster that destroyed Earth and created a massive refugee crisis throughout the series. The one time we see it, the moon has been shattered and the remains are slowly settling into orbit around Earth.
  • Easter Egg: In "Darkside Tango", a QR code can be spotted in the port that Jet and Fad go to. Scanning it leads to a behind-the-scenes video that reveals Eden Perkins as Radical Edward, ahead of her debut at the end of the series.
  • Eco-Terrorist: Maria Murdock's gang, who threaten to unleash a deadly bioweapon that invoke some harrowing Body Horror in response to corporations terraforming planets.
  • Everybody Smokes: Notably averted, considering that the original played this straight. Spike is the only major character seen smoking.
  • Evil Brit: English actor Alex Hassell plays Big Bad Vicious with his natural accent, evoking this trope. Likewise for his father, played by John Noble.
  • Family Theme Naming: Adoptive brothers Vicious and Fearless both have adjectives for names.
  • Fantastic Drug: "Red Eye", a Syndicate-made psychoactive performance enhancer that is absorbed through the eyes. Asimov likens the high he gets off of it to "mainlining God".
  • Foreshadowing: Julia's move to take over the Syndicate at the end of the series is foreshadowed by the fact that she is the one to come up with a plan for a coup against the Elders with actual chances of success, showing her to be the one with actual brains in the marriage.
  • Friendship Moment:
    • Spike and Faye don't exactly hit it off when they first meet, but in "Darkside Tango", they find common ground in comparing their accomplishments as bounty hunters, with Spike especially impressed with how Faye managed to take down a particularly dangerous criminal.
    • Faye is presented with a surprise birthday cake by Spike and Jet. No-one (including Faye) has any idea when her real birthday is, but they decide to celebrate the event just to make her happy.
  • Funny Background Event: In "Galileo Hustle" as Jet watches his daughter's dance recital via hologram link, Spike can be seen through the window behind him, single-handedly fighting off The Mink's goons.
    Spike (to his ex-wife): I'd fight the world to make sure I showed up.
  • Gender Flip:
    • Both Shin and Mao Yenrai are portrayed as women here, while they were both men in the original anime.
    • While all three of the elders were male in the original, one of them is a woman in this version.
    • Whitney Hagas Matsumoto was a male in "My Funny Valentine" but a woman in this version.
    • The incompetent Harrison of the Space Warriors was male in "Gateway Shuffle". She is still incompetent in "Callisto Soul", but at least she survives to the end of the episode before she turns herself and Maria Murdock into trees.
  • Good Parents: Jet and Alisa are this for Kimmie. Chalmers is also a good stepfather for her as well.
  • Groin Attack:
    • Capo "The Eunuch" Santiago is infamous for an incident where he cut off an enemy's testicles and ate them.
    • Faye gets kicked in the groin during a scuffle with a Space Warrior. She had given someone a Freudian Threat at the start of the episode...
  • Lady Macbeth: Julia ends up being the driving factor to get Vicious to plan a coup against the Syndicate Elders, and while she initially appears to be acting in her own self-interest against the Elders, she is also plotting against Vicious too because she doesn't trust him with that kind of power either.
  • Last Episode, New Character: At the end of "Supernova Symphony", a seriously injured Spike encounters Ed in a back alley.
  • Leave No Witnesses: In the flashback Episode 9, Spike Spiegel does this reluctantly to an innocent young lady during his time as a Syndicate hitman. After his fellow Syndicate hitman and childhood friend Vicious brutally killed a leader of the Neptune cartel directly against orders, the rest of the cartel are anxious for revenge and Spike is himself ordered to carry it out since Spike would be expected to make it quick. Instead, Spike chooses to go to the bar hangout of the Neptune cartel and kill them all by himself to protect his friend. Spike successfully wipes them out, but a young lady outside the bar witnesses him leaving, and Spike at first decides to let her live and run away but orders her not to a whisper a word about anything she saw. However, as she is running away Spike ultimately decides to shoot her down, as his hitman-mindset kicked in and he felt he could not risk Vicious's life by letting a witness live. Spike's face afterwards shows he is not pleased with his actions at all.
    • Spike Spiegel did have a strict no-killing-kids code that overrides his policy of leaving no witnesses. Earlier in the episode, he and Vicious brutally killed a prosecutor in his own office while posing as janitors, but when a fellow prosecutor and her daughter walked in, Spike decided to spare her and her daughter.
  • Left Hanging: With the show's cancellation, the lingering plotlines of Julia taking over the Syndicate, Vicious' fate and if Spike will ever reconcile with Jet, along with whatever job Ed had for Spike and her involvement in things will never be concluded.
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Spike and Jet, through and through. Spike even plays this for laughs when a fellow passenger on a bus mistakes them for a couple while wearing Whitney's tracker-ring.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Julia becomes one over the course of the series, hatching Vicious's plan for a takeover of the Syndicate while playing the other Capos against him (a plan that backfires as Vicious thinks a step ahead of her scheme) before ultimately grabbing power for herself.
  • Meaningful Name: As explained in "Blue Crow Waltz", Fearless got his moniker because, keeping everyone at arm's length, he felt he had nothing to lose, and thus, nothing to fear. That is, until he fell in love with Julia...
  • Medium Awareness: In the "Lost Session" teaser characters are aware of the black bars used for Split Screen, pulling on them to widen the screen and interact with each other, teleport, and even fight with.
  • Mickey Mousing: Subverted in the trailer. Jet puts down the Bebop's window screens in time with the beats of "3, 2, 1, let's jam", but the last one gets stuck and he has to manually fix it.
  • Mood Whiplash: The series ends on a very bleak note, with the Bebop crew splitting up and Julia taking control of the Syndicate after betraying Vicious and Spike. We seemingly end with a lone, injured Spike passing out in an alleyway... until the loud, playful voice of a child urges him awake. Enter: Radical Edward.
  • Musical Theme Naming: In the same vein as the anime, each episode title references a form of music.
  • My Beloved Smother: Maria Murdock, the leader of a family of ecoterrorists who use spore grenades to turn people into trees. Her daughter uses one of these to commit a murder-suicide rather than be stuck in a prison cell with her mother for the rest of her life.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The entire first sequence of the first episode is a big one for the opening sequence of the movie. A heist involving someone robbing a place they used to be involved with, someone taking a dump in the middle of the whole debacle, Spike nonchalantly walking in, Jet dropping in through the ceiling, it's all there. It even ends with an old woman asking who Spike and Jet are, with Spike responding, "Just a humble bounty hunter, ma'am."
    • One menu item at a local diner is called "Mushroom Samba", named after Edward's Day in the Limelight episode from the anime.
    • An episode of Big Shot displays the names of some of the best bounty hunters in the galaxy. Among the list of names is Cowboy Andy, a literal cowboy who butted heads with Spike in the anime; another was Ural Terpsichore, the famous bounty hunter who married VT in "Heavy Metal Queen".
    • A hookah lounge employee in "Darkside Tango" is shown reading a magazine called "Jamming with Edward", a nod to Ed's debut episode (which in turn was named after The Rolling Stones album). It also foreshadows the character's appearance at the end of the series.
    • Vicious does not have his pet cormorant in this continuity, but establishing shots of his penthouse show a large ink painting of one.
    • In the anime, Blue Crow was the city on Callisto where Gren lived and played saxophone at a bar. In this series, it is the bar at the climax of the episode "Blue Crow Waltz" where Fearless killed everyone, including a child, in a turf war against the Neptunians.
    • The pursuit for "Dr. Londes" in this version differs from how he was captured in the anime, but still refers to part of the anime: it's instead more like how MPU was captured and turned in, with the same result since the police won't pay out a bounty for a computer.
  • Ninja Prop: In the teaser trailer, black bars are used to indicate Split Screen; at one point Spike grabs one of the bars and uses it to fight some mooks.
  • No One Sees the Boss: No one except the Capos are allowed to see the Elders. With the Capos dead and Vicious the only Elder, this allows Julia to imprison Vicious and run the Syndicate while pretending to serve as his Mouth of Sauron.
  • No OSHA Compliance: The casino in the first episode has a mechanism that drops a blast door over a hull breach, but it has to be manually activated, there's only one switch, and getting to it can be a problem if the station is decompressing.
  • Ominous Visual Glitch: When Spike becomes trapped in the LONDES Lotus-Eater Machine, the surrounding graphics become distorted as the crapshoot AI compensates for his unconsciously resisting its brainwashing. Once it becomes clear to the viewer that Spike is in a virtual reality, the visuals maintain subtle, yet noticeable, imperfections in addition to the glitches.
  • Origins Episode: "Blue Crow Waltz" dives deep into the origins of Spike/"Fearless", Vicious, and Julia.
  • Parental Substitute: A dark version. Faye was restored from cryosleep with amnesia (a common side effect), and a con artist pretended to be her mother. Even after Faye discovered the truth, the con artist still acts like an overbearing mother expecting to be showered with favors from an ungrateful daughter.
    Whitney: You know what the difference between reality and fantasy is? Your perception. Fantasies can be as real as you want them to be.
  • Perpetual Poverty: Like the original series. In the first episode it shows that a 2 million bounty ended up whittled down to 100,000 due to the collateral damage inflicted while apprehending him. Most bounties they are unable to collect on in full, usually taking in small-fry henchmen on the side.
  • Police Procedural: While they are bounty hunters and not the police, a lot of the same elements apply. It is exaggerated from the original show, which usually just gave enough information on what a target is wanted for and the approximate place they may be located.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation:
    • While the Elders were small, ancient-looking men in the anime, the live action show makes them Malevolent Masked People, with their masks bearing the likenesses of their animated counterparts.
    • The anime's Abdul Hakim was a dark-skinned blonde who underwent plastic surgery to take on the appearance of a black man. The show modifies this by having him use a Holographic Disguise instead.
    • Mad Pierrot was basically a human balloon in the anime, with a spherical body and the ability to fly. This adaptation's Pierrot has no balloon body, and is able to fly using a pair of hover boots.
  • Product Placement:
    • Spike takes notice of a still freshly warm Cup Noodles when him and Jet go searching around the Teddy Bomber's ship in "Venus Pop." The framing of the camera shot makes sure the label is front and center as Spike slowly walks up to it and inhales the smell.
    • Playboy Magazine still exists in 2072. Faye is seen reading one at the start of "Galileo Hustle."
  • Race Lift:
    • Spike's ethnicity was seen as ambiguous, with signs indicating either Asian (Japanese actor Yusaku Matsuda was a partial inspiration, and a character in the manga spinoff describes him as looking "oriental"), Jewish (the frizzy hair and last name Spiegel) or German (Spiegel is also a German name)note . Here the character is played by John Cho, who is of Korean descent.
    • Though notably voiced in America by black actor Beau Billingslea, Jet had light skin (general appearance could suggest Slavic ancestry and his homeworld Ganymede was said in behind the scenes material to be inhabited almost exclusively by ethnic Europeans) but was cast with black actor Mustafa Shakir.
    • Faye was heavily implied to be from Singapore in the anime, and thus likely of Chinese and/or Malay ancestry, but is played by Hispanic actress Daniella Pineda.
    • Annie had light skin as well, her full name implying East European descent but is played in the show by black actress Tamara Tunie.
    • Jobim, one of the Three Old Men, is Ambiguously Brown in the anime, and is black in this adaptation.
    • The dark skinned Ed (implied to possibly be a mix of German and Turkish descent in the anime) is now played by a white actor (Eden Perkins).
    • Katerina Solensan was originally a Latina woman, mainly inspired by Mexican half Lebanese/half Spanish actress Salma Hayek's character from Desperado. In this adaptation, she's played by white New Zealand actress Lydia Peckham.
    • Similarly Asimov Solensan is based off Spanish actor Antonio Banderas' character from the same film. Here Asimov is portrayed by British Bangladeshi Jan Uddin.
    • Mao Yenrai was of Chinese descent in the anime, but is played by New Zealand Māori actress Rachel House here.
  • A Rare Sentence: Spike takes absolute joy in hearing Jet say that he was right in "Dog Star Swing."
    Jet: Jesus, you're right!
    Spike: Wow. Say it again.
    Jet: What?
    Spike: Say what you just said.
    Jet: That you're right?
    Spike: Yes. [Leans back on the sofa] Woah, was that, I just needed to hear it one more time, to ceremonialize it.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: The Syndicate goons wear black suits with red highlights and neckties for uniform.
  • Related in the Adaptation: One of the Elders, Caliban, is later revealed to be Vicious's father. The two have no such relation in the anime.
  • Rock–Paper–Scissors: Spike and Faye agree to throw to decide which bounty they're going after in "Darkside Tango". Faye suggests they do "Ninja-Bear-Hunter" instead (Hunter kills bear, Bear eats Ninja, Ninja kills Hunter) and when Spike doesn't recognise it suggests "Foot-Cockroach-Atomic Bomb" (Atomic Bomb kills the human foot, the foot steps on cockroach, cockroach outlives the bomb). Spike then insists they do the old fashioned Rock-Paper-Scissors and correctly works out that Faye always goes for the third option.
  • Russian Roulette: In the finale, Julia has Vicious chained in a basement. She loads a single bullet into her revolver, then shoots at him. When it hits an empty chamber, she promises to come back tomorrow for another roll.
  • Ruder and Cruder: There are far more profanities than in the anime, and much cruder humor to boot.
  • Rhyming List: In "Sad Clown A Go Go", Jet makes Spike and Faye recite the plan he concocted so they can take out Pierrot LeFou. When Faye asks why they're rhyming, Jet mentions it helps you remember the plan better. He got the idea from an old Lee Marvin film.
  • Same Language Dub: Two Latin Spanish dubs were produced for this series. One was produced in Mexico for the neutral and Mexican Spanish releases, while the other was dubbed in Argentina for the Rioplatanese release.
  • Sequel Hook: Spike collapses in an alleyway and is found by Edward, who tells him that their next bounty is to be Vincent Volaju, the Butterfly Man.
  • Schizo Tech: Technology runs the gamut in this setting.
    • Spaceships capable of interplanetary travel exist alongside run-down ICE vehicles.
    • Holographic displays are commonplace as are CRT monitors, Macintosh Classics, and 90's-style tower PCs. Typewriters are also seen and heard.
    • Most characters use gunpowder weapons (ranging from single-action revolvers to modern carbines) but sci-fi disruptors and railguns don't raise any eyebrows.
    • VHS is considered dated but still recent enough for Jet to have a video player and old TV aboard the Bebop.
  • Shoot the Dog: In the flashback Episode 9, Spike Spiegel does this reluctantly to an innocent young lady. After his fellow Syndicate hitman and childhood friend Vicious brutally killed a leader of the Neptune cartel directly against orders, the rest of the cartel are anxious for revenge and Spike is himself ordered to carry it out since Spike would be expected to make it quick. Instead, Spike chooses to go to the bar hangout of the Neptune cartel and kill them all by himself to protect his friend. Spike successfully wipes them out, but a young lady outside the bar witnesses him leaving, and Spike at first decides to let her live and run away but orders her not to a whisper a word about anything she saw. However, as she is running away Spike ultimately decides to shoot her down, as his hitman-mindset kicked in and he felt he could not risk Vicious's life by letting a witness live. Spike's face afterwards shows he is not pleased with his actions at all.
  • Shoot Your Mate:
    • In "Venus Pop" the Elders of the Syndicate order Vicious to shoot Julia after his latest screw-up. He pulls the trigger and it clicks empty, revealing that they just wanted to see if he'd do it. Vicious later assures her he knew the gun wasn't loaded when he fired because the weight was off but this doesn't make Julia feel any better about the whole thing.
    • Spike (then Fearless) is ordered to kill Vicious to avert a Mob War with the Neptune Cartel. His boss tells him it's not compulsory but he feels Fearless will at least kill his friend quickly. Even though Fearless has every opportunity and reason to do so, he can't kill his friend and decides to Take a Third Option by wiping out the Neptune Cartel single-handed!
  • Shot-for-Shot Remake: Certain parts are done this way to help capture the scenes as they were in the anime.
    • The opening credits are a nearly beat-for-beat recreation of the original, give or take a couple of characters and different scenes.
    • The climactic duel between Spike and Vicious from "Ballad of Fallen Angels" is recreated incredibly faithfully to the anime, with the characters' dialogue being word-for-word exactly the same, the choreography being very similar, and the iconic shot of Spike on the ground, pistol aimed at Vicious with the latter's sword against his shoulder is essentially a one-to-one replica of the anime.
    • While the circumstances leading up to it are somewhat different, Spike's fall from the window is played very similarly, close-up shots on his defeated, worn-out eyes aplenty.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The diner menu in "Callisto Soul" lists a Royale With Cheese among its offerings. Spike and Jet's conversation about the diner's food and the quality of its bathrooms is very similar to the Seinfeldian Conversations between Jules and Vincent.
    • The serial number on Faye's lockbox from "Galileo Hustle" is NCC-1701-B, which was the registry number for the past Enterprise in Star Trek: Generations. Faye's situation in "Callisto Soul", the episode where she joins the crew, has broad similarities to Captain Kirk's situation in Generations. This shout out is itself a shout out to the anime itself, as Faye's serial number on her cryostasis pod in "My Funny Valentine" is "NCC-1701-C.
    • In "Sad Clown A-Go-Go," Mad Pierrot recites (in French, with some minor alterations) the famous "tears in rain" line from Blade Runner. A short while later, Jet speculates about Spike's past, suggesting that Spike may have been in special forces and served at the Shoulder of Orion or Tannhauser's Gate.
    • In "Dog Star Swing" the code to open one of the dog carriers (presumably Ein's) is the same code the WOPR needed to drag the major nations into Global Thermonuclear War.
    • In "Binary Two-Step", a mechanic working on the Bebop says, "Please tell me you didn't plug the g-line straight into the pin port." Kaylee, in Firefly, does exactly that to get Serenity running. (For bonus points, it's another female mechanic speaking.)
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: Eden Perkins' Radical Edward appeared in zero promotional material for the series, likely to keep the character's surprise cameo at the end a secret.
  • Stylistic Suck: The show "Big Shots" is aimed towards bounty hunters looking for a new target, stylized as a Theme Park Version of the Old West. In the original anime it was intentionally kitschy but the hosts Punch and Judy never broke characternote . In this show "Big Shots" is portrayed as a lot more low budget and thrown together, with the hosts rushing on screen with their make-up incomplete or breaking character after reading something grisly off the teleprompter.
  • The Syndicate: Which is referred to by that name rather than the Red Dragon Syndicate as in the anime, probably because it's more ethnically diverse. While the Elders have a clear Yakuza influence, Caliban is a Caucasian. Strax is referred to as a capo implying they absorbed The Mafia, while Syndicate goons include both men and women of various ethnicities.
  • Swiss-Cheese Security:
    • Faye gets locked up in the toilet on the BeBop but is able to pick the lock, steal one of Jet's rifles and go prowling around the ship. The BeBop's Master Computer is security-locked...with the password written down on a piece of paper right out in the open.
    • Averted when Faye steals the Swordfish on their next encounter. She disables the Tracking Device, but Spike has more than one on his own personal ship.
  • Team Pet: As in the show, Ein is a corgi who accompanies the human team during their adventures.
  • The Alleged Car: The Bebop is beat-up, rusty, dirty, and needs Percussive Maintenance just to get the cockpit window shutters to close all the way.
  • The Chanteuse: Julia, when she was the headliner at Ana's club.
  • The Easy Way or the Hard Way: Spike's variation (in Ep. 3); "We can do this the easy way, or the fun way."
  • Themed Aliases: The three Elders are named Caliban, Prospero, and Miranda. Adoptive brothers Vicious and Fearless.
  • Three Lines, Some Waiting: Most episodes follow a pattern of an episodic bounty for the main plot, one of the main trio dealing with one of their personal issues and then the Syndicate Myth Arc moving forward just a little. The disconnect between the first two stories and the Vicious/Julia subplot is quite notable.
  • Too Dumb to Live: In "Cowboy Gospel", a criminal uses a Disruptor while inside a space station, which ends up rupturing the hull. Even the leader is appalled he brought such a weapon on a space station and tries to talk him down to no avail—the disruptor blast tears a hole through a station's hull, sucking the criminal wielding it and a few other hapless people out into the cold vacuum of space.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Noodles and peppers for Spike.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Jet gets hit hard with this in the finale: Vicious kidnaps his daughter and outs Spike as a former Syndicate hitman, which poisons his relationship with the man he saw as his partner and best friend; he gets kidnapped along with Spike and held at the mercy of the Syndicate, along with his daughter whom Vicious intends to murder; his leg gets busted in the process; and after he and Kimmy are finally safe, she seems to reject him as she runs to her stepfather, Chalmers, and calls him "Daddy".
  • Tuckerization: The casino floor for the first action scene of the first episode has a large neon sign reading "Watanabe." Shinichiro Watanabe was the director for the original series, and a consultant for this one.
  • Uncertain Doom: While the Mad Pierrot was unquestionably killed off in the anime, here he's subjected to a more ambiguous fate, with Spike activating his hover boots while he's distracted and sending him up into the sky. It's never confirmed whether he flew into deep space or if he eventually got down, but either way, he's out of the picture.
  • Villain Has a Point: In "Cowboy Gospel", the terrorist leader rants about how corporations control everything. When he explains how he got fired for stabbing his boss in the eye, he adds that they got him fired too for having only one eye.
  • Visual Pun: In "Supernova Symphony", Spike walks out of a building with lighting depicting a woman diving down to a sign reading "BAR". Meaning, he just walked out of a dive bar.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: "Blue Crow Waltz" is entirely flashbacks to Spike, Vicious and Julia's past with the Syndicate. As a result Jet and Faye do not appear in the episode.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Vicious doesn't approve when Fearless lets a witness walk because she has her child with her. In the finale Vicious kidnaps Kimmie along with Jet and orders his mooks to kill them both.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: The Syndicate has a code against killing children. A code Vicious tosses away when he takes over.
  • Wretched Hive: Examples abound.
    Spike: You know what I got in TJ (New Tijuana) last time I was there?... Stabbed. Know what I was doing? Buying a churro.
    • Subverted with Tharsis City which has seventy toy stores but only two low-rent brothels. Of course most of the episode takes place in the Red Light District, so it doesn't matter anyway.
  • You Need to Get Laid: In "Galileo Hustle", Faye tells Spike he'd be less tense and frustrated if he had "the Big O" like she did in the previous episode.

Woodcock: Are you good guys or bad guys?
Spike: Depends on who you ask.

Alternative Title(s): Cowboy Bebop


Netflix's Cowboy Bebop

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