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"There is no God in the Badlands."
Baron Quinn
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Into the Badlands is an American television series that premiered on AMC on November 15, 2015.

The series features a story about a warrior named Sunny, the top enforcer of a ruthless baron who together with his peers rules the Badlands with an iron fist. One day he meets a young boy with a mysterious connection to his own past, and together they will embark in a journey through a dangerous feudal land, seeking enlightenment.

A third and final season is currently airing. The character page could do with some troper love if possible.


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This show features the following tropes:

  • Action Girl:
    • Full of them. At least one of the founding barons was a woman, as are the Widow and Baron Chau. So far, The Widow has an all-female personal guard called the Butterflies and a large portion of her Clipper force is also female. The regent of Baron Jacobee, Zephyr, is yet another example.
    • Season Two brings in the Master of the temple M.K. is currently training in.
  • Actual Pacifist: The Totemists will not use violence under any circumstance, even to defend their own lives or those of others, driving them into Suicidal Pacifism territory.
  • Adult Fear:
    • Both Sunny and Veil feel this for their unborn child, who would be killed if Quinn ever found out about its connection to him.
    • Veil's situation in season 2. She's held prisoner by Quinn, a psychopath who grows increasingly obsessed with her and her son. When she manages to escape, the Widow sends her right back to Quinn, who then forces her to marry him.
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  • Aerith and Bob: Names range from Lydia and Ryder to Veil and Zephyr.
  • After the End: The time and place in which story's set is left intentionally ambiguous, but it's stated to be many years after a great war. Also, many remnants of our current culture can be seen everywhere.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: A deeply twisted — and reciprocal — version when Quinn finally kills Ryder in Season 2. Quinn wants Ryder to inherit his title as Baron, and gives Ryder multiple opportunities to deliver a killing stroke, but in the end, Ryder is unable to overcome his love for his father and Quinn is unable to overcome his instincts to destroy his enemies; Quinn is left cradling his son's body, both cursing that Ryder wasn't strong enough to be his father's heir.
  • All There in the Manual: The show's website provides a lot of detailed information about the history, society and characters of the show.
  • Almighty Janitor: Veil is a doctor, not a warrior or politician. However, she is one of the few doctors left in the Badlands after the deaths of her adoptive parents and even barons can get sick or injured, which gives her a lot of power.
  • And Now You Must Marry Me: In order to make Henry his rightful heir, Quinn forces Veil to marry him. Of course, that's not his only motive.
  • Animal Motifs: All the Barons use animals on their banners
    • Quinn's and later Ryder: an armadillo
    • The Widow has butterflies not just on her banners but all over the place.
    • Broadmore: Two narwhals facing each other with their horns crossed
    • Hassan: A peacock
    • Rojas: A grasshopper or locust
    • Chau: A fox
    • Lydia: As of becoming the Widow's viceroy in Season 3, a Horse
  • Animesque: The world is set After the End, filled with Samurai Cowboys, including katanas everywhere, every fight is fast-paced & bloody as hell, and the main character is a stoic Asian man in a Badass Longcoat. There's a reason this show was being called "A live-action Anime" when it was first previewed.
  • Anti-Hero: Sunny is this, hovering somewhere between a Type III and IV. He may be a brutal Clipper, but he also has certain actions that he won't do if he can help it — like murdering someone who isn't a threat to his baron or anyone else.
  • Amazon Brigade: In addition to her regular Clippers, The Widow has an all-female corps of lethal warriors called Butterflies.
  • Artistic License – Geography: The map on the show's website indicate that the territories controlled by the Barons strech from the Mississippi River all the way to the Rocky Mountains, a situation which would make the traveling times in the show quite absurd.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking:
    • The Barons themselves have to be formidable fighters to achieve and maintain their position. Quinn rose through the ranks of the Clippers from the bottom, and the Widow is a One-Man Army all unto herself. Baron Chau is shown to be the Widow's equal in a fight and the other Barons are just as formidable. Ryder is presented as the weakest fighter among the leaders but he is still trained well enough to take on most Clippers.
    • This applies to the Nomads as well. Among the Nomads who Sunny fight in the first episode, the only one who lands a hit is their leader, and in the second episode, the leader of the Nomad group ambushing Sunny and Ryder nearly killed Sunny with a surprise attack.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Quinn and Ryder are a sad example. After Quinn tries to goad Ryder into killing him, Ryder can't bring himself to do it. Quinn stabs him instead, but is left dazed and horrified realizing he actually killed his own son.
  • Back-Alley Doctor: Veil is a "cog doctor", meaning she mostly treats peasants, and Lydia thinks she's unqualified to treat Ryder. However, she doesn't have much of a choice.
  • Badass Longcoat: Sunny sports a pretty neat coat, and is by far the best fighter in the series thus far.
    • The Widow herself wears one in the opening of the second episode where she is shown to match Sunny's skills.
  • Badass Crew: The Barons' Clipper forces are this. Quinn has an entire army of male Clippers while The Widow has a gender-neutral combination of both and a personal corps of all-female guards.
  • Balance of Power: Quinn is already a very powerful Baron, and the other Barons fear that his war with the Widow will make him too powerful. Quinn knows that he only has a short window of time to negotiate a compromise before they all unite against him and attack.
  • Big-Bad Ensemble: Both Quinn and The Widow share the position of Big Bad in Season 1, spending the majority of it fighting each other.
  • Black and Grey Morality: As the opening narration states, nobody is innocent in the Badlands.
  • Blatant Lies: When asked if he had anything to do with the nomads who attacked The Widow, Ryder denies any involvement and says that he only follows Quinn's orders.
  • Body-Count Competition: All Clippers get a tattoo for each person they kill.
  • Book-Ends: Season 1 began with M.K. being held captive in a trunk. As of "Hand of Five Poisons," he's being hauled away in a disturbingly similar trunk.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": The setting uses a number of peculiar terms to refer to certain categories of people:
    • "Clippers" are soldiers and by extension "clipping" means to kill someone.
    • "Colts" are recruits in training.
    • "Cogs" are peasants.
    • "Dolls" are prostitutes.
    • "Pickers" are miners.
    • "Stalkers" are bounty hunters.
    • "Abbots" is used to refer to all the monks from a particular order, instead of just the head of the monastery.
  • Cannon Fodder: The nomads' main role in the show is to be easily slaughtered in large numbers by the named characters.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: In season two, Bajie sells Sunny out to the prison warden only to end up chained with him in a fight with other inmates. When Sunny demands to know why he shouldn't just kill Bajie right now, Bajie points out "it'll be pretty hard to fight your best when you're chained to a corpse."
  • Chekhov's Gun: Or rather, Chekhov's Narwhal in Dragonfly's Last Dance, which Sunny uses to kill the River King at the end of the episode
  • Child Soldier: Colts start their training as children. Quinn will sometime use colts as scouts and the Widow's Butterflies are mostly teenage girls.
  • Childhood Friends: Veil and Jade are informed to have been this. Their relationship is brought up as a means to bring Veil into the fold of the political turmoil when Jade comes to her pleading to save Ryder's life (see below), and afterwards, they aren't seen together or even talk of one another again.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: After being exiled from the Badlands and sold into slavery during Season 2, Sunny's journey home hits frequent roadbumps because he keeps trying to help people in need, including a sick slave in the mines and a mother and daughter forced into prostitution.
  • Closest Thing We Got: When Ryder is injured, Jade goes to Veil for help. Keep in mind that Veil's specialty is in general medicine and prosthetic limbs; not internal medicine, and definitely not head trauma. Lydia doesn't want to let her anywhere near her son, but Jade points out that Veil is the only chance Ryder has.
  • Cold Sniper: Chau's crossbow marksman from Leopard Snares Rabbit definitely seems to fit the archetype, as he stays in complete silence throughout the entirity of his and Sunny's duel, resolutely remained at his post even after his whole squad was wiped out as he was "Just following orders", and when he has a kill shot lined up on Wren, instead drops his aim, kneecaps her with no less than three bolts, and leaves her in the open as bait to draw the rest of her squad.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Each of the barons seems to have a color associated with them.
    • Everything associated with Quinn tends to be red, from the poppies in his plantations, to his banners and the uniforms of his Clippers. In Season 2, after his return, he and his forces are now clad in black with fur lining on their clothes while his son Ryder, who has taken both he and Jacobee's places in light of their absence, has now taken the red Armadillo and The Fort
    • The Widow's forces all wear turquoise and blue, but this is more notable in her female warriors
    • Most things associated with Jacobee are blue and green plaid
    • Chau and her forces wear pure white
    • Baron Hassan and his Clippers are clad in orange and purple
    • Baron Broadmore wears turquoise and white
    • Baron Rojas wears green-black
  • Cool Guns: Well, cool crossbows. Chau's sniper in Leopard Snares Rabbit carries a custom self-loading crossbow which can chamber up to three bolts at once, and has several scope options including night vision. We get several shots of the side-mounted revolving reload mechanism in action as he tries to pin down the Widow's forces.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: The entire plot of Sunny's "dream" in which Henry is convinced by his "friend" Artemis to kill his mother, Veil.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: In both Sunny fights of the pilot, the last remaining opponent is the most dangerous.
  • Crapsack World: The Badlands are a rough place. Territories and industrial resources are controlled by feudal overlords that just barely manage to maintain a balance of power with each other, a balance that is in the early stages of crumbling when the narrative begins. Peace and order are kept through force and propaganda. The majority of the population are serfs and/or slaves, owned by their Barons, and the only ticket to a better life is to join the ranks of the Clippers, becoming merciless killing machines. Roving tribes of bandits prey on the hinterlands, robbing and killing at will, and Barons only take action against them when it suits them. There are rumors and legends of a better world beyond the Badlands, but so far they're just that: rumors and legends. Escape from the Badlands means danger and uncertainty, and almost everyone has been ground down by the system too much to even want to try to escape.
  • Culture Chop Suey: The Badlands are mainly a mix of the American West and antebellum South with elements of samurai Japan. Clippers are a cross between samurai and, being slave-soldiers, Ottoman Janissaries.
  • Curbstomp Battle:
    • In the first fight in the pilot, Sunny takes on a gang of nomads by himself and utterly destroys most of them without taking a single hit himself. He left his sword by his motorcycle and kills the nomads by breaking bones, snapping necks, and using their own weapons against them. The apparent leader of the nomads actually does connect once or twice (and once with a solid dropkick), but even then it's never in doubt that Sunny totally outclasses him.
    • When a group of nomads attack the Widow she demolishes them in an extremely brutal an efficient manner using a pair of knives as her weapons.
  • Distinction Without a Difference: What lies at the heart of the other Barons' animosity towards The Widow. Killing your own Baron and usurping his place is a perfectly acceptable (and even customary) way for a new Baron to take power. But killing your own Baron and usurping his place while you are married to him is apparently cheating somehow. It's made clear in Season 2 that Quinn openly challenged his Baron and presumably this is the usual method, The Widow assassinated her husband.
  • Downer Ending: Each season ends on one. Let's see...
    • Season One Finale: We have a depressing monologue given by M.K. as he's hauled away inside a trunk to god-knows-where for gods-know-why, Sunny being held prisoner by the River King as revenge for lying about killing M.K., and a cliffhanger with Tilda in regards to whether or not she poisons the Widow. And apparently... the journey has only just begun. Damn.
    • Season Two Finale: Veil sacrifices her life to kill Quinn once and for all, leaving Sunny heartbroken and guilt-ridden. He buries her, then leaves with Henry to Walk the Earth. The Widow reveals herself to be no better than the other Barons, planning to use M.K. as a weapon and making Waldo a Deal with the Devil that we're not sure he's going to turn down. Disillusioned, Tilda leaves with Odessa to an unknown fate. And Bajie gets to a communication tower and sends some kind of mysterious message before possibly bleeding out.
  • Enemy Mine: Pretty common considering that alliances in this series tend not to last very long. Of particular note:
    • In Season One, Quinn's attempt to ally with another Baron, Jacobee, whom he looks down upon in a rather mutual dislike, in order to take down the Widow are cut rather short during their first parley when the Widow's forces rather efficiently ambush them
    • Still in Season One, Sunny is offered Quinn's Barony by The Widow and Zephyr (Jacobee's Regent) if he kills and usurps him as they will back him as the new Baron. When he fails to do it, the two of them ally with Ryder (who had previously tried to kill the Widow and vice-versa) in order to get it done
    • In Season Two, Ryder proves himself pretty efficient at being a Baron when he rather quickly manages to get all of the other Barons on his side and agree to try and lock out the Widow during the Conclave. Though it's undone not long after when the lie he used to build it on is revealed
    • In Season Two, upon his return, Quinn and The Widow ally in order to attack the other Barons and wage their war since they're both out for vengeance for different reasons and are basically the only Barons left that either has not trying to kill them...at the moment. They even succeed in working together to kill two other Barons a couple episodes later
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The other barons may be brutal despots who have no problems with killing to gain and maintain their own positions, but it's said more than once that almost all of them don't think highly of Quinn, and he's an asshole.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil:
    • The Badlands have a mountain of issues that make it a Crapsack World, but racism doesn't seem to be one of them. All the Barons' Clipper forces are racially diverse, and out of the seven barons, Jacobee is black, Rojas is Latino and Chau and Hassan are Chinese.
    • Sexism, on the other hand, seems to be a problem Inherent in the System. Despite there being women as Barons and Clippers without much issue, for the most part they're treated like property. Quinn is allowed to take multiple wives without condemnation, and The Widow's husband is implied to have been even worse. The Widow's crusade is for a more egalitarian Badlands, where young girls aren't dragged into dark rooms by their Barons to be used and tossed aside.
    • Quinn's Clipper Edgar was openly gay and his fellow Clippers didn't have a problem with it.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep":
    • The Badlands' newest Baron is only ever referred to as "The Widow". She actually prefers it that way, and corrects an old acquaintance who calls her Minerva.
    • Lydia's father is only known as The Preacher. Though on the show's website his name is Penrith.
    • The River King is only ever referred to by his title.
  • Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting: Par of the course for the genre, given that firearms are non-existent and the characters are living in an extremely violent place, but the skill levels vary greatly.
  • Evil Redhead: The Widow is the main antagonist of the first series, and she has bright red hair. (Though whether she actually qualifies as "evil" in comparison to the other barons is highly questionable.)
  • Exotic Extended Marriage: Barons are allowed to take multiple wives, but it's implied they're the only ones allowed to do so.Justified since they have a crapton of social/physical power, so it's not like the women would have a choice in saying no.
  • Expy : Since this series is loosely based on Journey to the West, several of the characters from both works parallel each other:
    • Sunny is Sun Wu Kong, the Monkey King, a parallel that becomes even more apparent in season three, when Sunny expertly uses a quarterstaff to kick some ass on a few occasions.
    • M.K. is the monk Xuanzhang, aka Tripitaka.
    • Season 2 newcomer Baji is Zhu Bajie, aka Pigsy.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Explicitly invoked by the barons, who haven't just outlawed the possession of firearms, but their very manufacture. Even their own enforcers are armed with nothing more than swords and spears. And the occasional crossbow, as seen when Quinn's men storm the Widow's compound.
  • A Father to His Men: The Widow is this in a very literal fashion when it comes to her female Clippers. They all call her Mother and relate to her as if they were her actual children.
  • Fantastic Caste System: The Badlands are very much a feudal setup, with several different levels of society:
    • The Barons are the overlords, who run their own fiefdoms,
    • Clippers are the Barons' enforcers and assassins, entitled to whatever they want with the exception of starting their own families.
    • Cogs are essentially serfs/slaves, providing the workforce for their respective baron,
    • Makers are engineers and inventors, repurposing ancient technology and building new machines,
    • Dolls are people trafficked and sold into prostitution,
    • Nomads are roving bandits who prey on anyone they find. Barons only move against them when they become a threat
    • There are also other classes that we haven't yet seen; Lydia, for example, is the daughter of a Preacher.
    • In Season 2 we see more: Pickers are miners and outside of the Badlands are all sorts of people from the mysterious Abbots to Smugglers and Nomads
  • Feudal Future: How far into the future the story takes place is never mentioned, but at least in the Badlands things are set up in an explicitly feudal manner: seven barons rule the land through their elite armies of enforcers.
  • Feudal Overlord: The series features seven of them, known as the barons, who rule the Badlands with an iron fist.
  • Fighting Fingerprint: Each of the Barons and major characters we've seen fight have styles that complement their personalities:
    • Quinn is not subtle or elegant: his style is direct and power-driven. Averted in the season 2 finale. Once Sunny manages to disarm Quinn's long sword he responds by using two sais, effectively disarming Sunny despite being at a reach disadvantage. It's during this time that Quinn uses a more elegant weapon, a more complex fighting style and different tactics than anything up to that point. This suggests that Sonny was the ultimate opponent: Quinn could be brutal and simple with everybody else but it took Sonny to force him to change things up.
    • The Widow is the The Chessmaster: her style is all about speed, precision, and misdirection.
    • Jacobee is the Only Sane Man among the Barons: his style is controlled, pragmatic, and defense-oriented.
    • Pilgrim's fighting style is graceful and fluid like water, nodding to his religious idealogy (baptism): he alternates between flowing like a river to deflect opponents and hitting like a tsunami if he puts his weight behind his blows.
  • Flynning: Seen in the show's many sword fights. Even more egregious, though, is the obvious mistimed choreography that has actors moving off the mark, hesitating, and/or ending up a move ahead of their opponents.
  • Four Is Death: In Season 2, episode 3, Sunny says he has 404 kill-marks.
    • Quinn also said this of Sunny in the Series premiere.
  • Gang of Hats: Each baron appears to have an associated color and industry. So far we have Quinn (red and opium), The Widow (turquoise and oil), and Jacobee (green plaid and gold). Also, The Widow's Clippers fight using butterfly-shaped shuriken while Jacobee's Clippers wield pickaxes. In Season 2 we add Baron Chau (pure white and Cogs) who fights with knives and daggers, Baron Hassan (orange and textiles) who fights with spaded blades and swords, Baron Broadmore (turquoise and weapons manufacture), Baron Rojas is seen to wear green and black and control agriculture but his fighting style is not seen.
  • Genre Shift: The first half of the pilot makes the story seem fairly mundane, aside from the stylish martial arts fights. Then, M.K. is cut, and his eyes turn black...
    • The first few episodes of Season 2 sort of feel this way compared to the first since Sunny and M.K. have been separated, are no longer in the Badlands and as such have none of whatever power they may have held in the previous season. They also mostly spend the first half of the season traveling around multiple locations outside of the Badlands in their quest to get back in, encountering numerous one-shot villains they fight for one episode until finally getting back in. It feels for the first few episodes like Sunny and MK's scenes and the scenes back in the Badlands are wildly divorced from each other. There's also the fact that Sunny's scenes are really less interesting overall this time around as Quinn's resurgence in the Badlands and the associated shock value takes spotlight away when Sunny's scenes were the most interesting in the first season. This changes once he finally gets back into the Badlands towards the end.
  • The Great Wall: The southern border of the Badlands is one of these. Sunny is bewildered upon seeing it; given the Barons can barely keep oil refineries running, he can't believe they built a metal wall dozens of stories high and over five hundred miles long. Bajie says that it was there long before they came to power, and no-one knows who actually built it.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Ryder is jealous of Sunny and the trust Quinn places in him. This leads to him making several stupid decisions that could lead to open war with the other barons.
  • Hand Wave: Where did all the guns go? The barons banned them. How did this affect areas outside the Badlands where the barons have no power? Don't worry about it - just watch the cool martial arts.
  • He Knows Too Much: Quinn will kill anyone who knows that he is dying of a brain tumor.
  • Heir Club for Men: Subverted; while Ryder and Jacobee inherited their Baronies, they're clearly the exception to the rule. Even Baron Chau was demoted to Cog by her Baron (her father) and had to work her way up and surpass her sisters in order to take her Barony. She also points out to the Widow that all the Barons are Cogs or Clippers who made good and usurped their previous Barons. At least Ryder tries to pretend that he seized power by killing Quinn.
  • History Repeats: The series mixes and mashes feudal societies from all over the world and throughout history — feudal Japan, Imperial China, medieval Europe, antebellum South — and shows that they are Not So Different in any ways save name; an ideology of glorifying endless war, monopolization of resources by a small elite, the domination and exploitation of the weak by the strong.
  • Honey Trap: The Widow's butterflies aren't just good in a fight, they also come in handy for serving this function. As Ryder found out the hard way.
  • Hufflepuff House: There are seven Barons in the Badlands, but only Quinn, The Widow and Jacobee get any screentime or are actively involved with the plot during the first season. Averted in Season Two with the other barons introduced, most prominently Baron Chau. Chau and the Widow are the only ones left by Season Three.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each episode's title is a (real or fictitious) kung fu move.
  • Inadequate Inheritor:
    • Quinn is not very discreet about the fact that he doesn't think his son Ryder is tough or smart enough to take up the barony once he is gone. Ryder's case isn't helped by the fact that the baronies aren't necessarily hereditary; anyone can usurp and take the place of a baron if they're strong and ruthless enough.
    • The previous Baron Chau avoided this problem by having all his daughters start out as Colts and working their way up.
    Baron Chau:I started at the bottom, as a Colt for my father. And believe me, I trained ten times as hard as my sisters. But I earned my title fairly by being tougher and hungrier than anybody else.
  • Intrepid Merchant: The River King, whose wealth and power derive from commerce, as opposed to the barons who focus in the production of commodities. The importance of this trade is such that the barons dare not interfere with his affairs.
  • Invincible Hero: Sunny never loses a fight, even when he's drastically outnumbered. Other established Badasses like the Widow somehow become less badass just by facing off with him. Ironically the only non-superpowered person to land a cut on him without any help was some random assassin-prostitute who was easily dispatched shortly afterwards.
    • Then again, she worked for the Widow and was willing to and did die for her, so its stands to reason that she might have been actually one of Widow's clippers gone undercover.
  • Karma Houdini: So far in Season 2, The River King has yet to appear again let alone get his comeuppance for selling Sunny off into slavery earlier in ending of the first season.
    • He finally shows up again near the end of the first half of the third season, and even though it looks like he's going to pull off another [1], he isn't so lucky.
  • Kick the Dog: When his son is lying on what could well be his deathbed and Lydia is laying into him for killing the only surgeons in their territory, Quinn pointedly takes Jade into the room next door and proceeds to have sex with her. Leaving the door open, and kicking three dogs for the price of one.
  • Kidnapped Doctor: After the Widow sustains life-threatening injuries from her battle with Sunny, she orders her Butterflies to kidnap Veil.
  • Kiss of Distraction: When an increasingly deteriorating and paranoid Quinn holds a knife to baby Henry's throat while interrogating Veil about whether she's loyal to him, Veil kisses him in order to delude him into thinking she's on his side and get the blade the hell away from her son.
  • Klingon Promotion:
    • This appears to be the standard way a new baron seizes power.
    • Baron Quinn seems to subscribe to this view since he claims that power should be taken, not just inherited. However, he is quite dismissive of The Widow for doing just that by murdering her husband. It is unclear if he has an issue with the fact that she is a woman, or if he thinks that the rule should not apply to spouses. He himself killed his old baron and took his land.
      • It is implied that the Widow assassinated her husband, as opposed to openly challenging him to a duel, and Quinn mentions doing to his Baron.
    • Sunny is offered this by the other barons. If he kills Quinn, they will back him to become the new baron of Quinn's territory.
    • However, it is not the only way a new baron ascend to power, since Baron Jacobee inherited the position from his father. Quinn seems to look down on him in the same way he does the Widow. Baron Chau in Season 2 also inherited from her father after being put through Clipper training as a Colt and surpassing her sisters.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: The Widow tries to start a war between Quinn and Jacobee. Quinn easily sees through her first attempt but her next False Flag Operation is more successful. Sunny is eventually able to expose the assassin as one of The Widow's Butterflies and stops the conflict.
  • Man in White: The Preacher is dressed in white head to toe. Given that he is the only character who wears that much white, he stands out a lot.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: Given that the vast majority of clippers are male, it's only normal for them to be fodder. Only the Widow employs a lot of women as fighters, and their deaths are treated much more dramatically. Come season 2, male clippers start being seen on the Widow's side, but mainly only serve as red shirts (ironic, given they wear blue).
  • Metaphorically True: In season 1, Quinn tells Veil that Sunny's sword killed her parents in order to screw with their relationship (presumably to keep Sunny's loyalties firmly focused on him). He neglects to mention that he, not Sunny, was wielding it at the time.
  • Mook Chivalry: In the pilot, the nomads surround Sunny and attack him one at a time since they aren't trained to coordinate their attacks. This is contrasted with the fight against The Widow's highly trained men, who strike from four sides at the same time and give Sunny a real challenge.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Ryder heavily implies that Lydia poisoned Baron Quinn's second wife.
  • Never Learned to Read: It's implied through his scene with Veil that neither Sunny nor the other Clippers know how to read and write. This may apply to the greater population too, since it would be a perfect way for barons to control how much knowledge their people have of the outside world.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Despite being called "the Badlands," the Barons' territories are lush and green with plenty of wildlife — what makes them "bad" is that they're full of ruthless killers, many of whom are badass One-Man Army martial artists who can kill other experienced killers by the dozen. The "Outlying Territories" are even worseThirsty Deserts that no-one's successfully traversed... and filled with just as many killers — though luckily they seem to lack the super-martial artists of the Badlands.
  • Not Hyperbole: Bajie ended up in the mines when the opium for a deal he was brokering turned out to be shit. Which he means literally as in actual human feces, compressed into bricks and stamped with Quinn's trademark coiled armadillo.
  • No Woman's Land: Whether within the Badlands or outside of it, women are treated as little more than property to powerful men unless they're hypercompetent fighters like Zephyr or Chau.
  • Offing the Offspring: In season 2 Quinn kills Ryder for betraying and usurping him.
  • Old Man Marrying a Child: As the series starts, Baron Quinn is about to get an additional wife, a girl named Jade who is young enough to be his daughter. And in fact happens to be sleeping with his son Ryder.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions:
    • Christianity is a thing of the past in the Badlands, to the point that most people don't even know what it was. Quinn makes it clear to his Clippers that he is the only God they worship.
    • Lydia's father is known as The Preacher and is a priest of the Totemists, a polytheistic faith that teaches acceptance of one's position in the world, and employs totems in its rituals. But even he is dismissive of the supernatural... in public at least.
  • The Promised Land: The City of Azra, a fabled land free of inequality and violence... and the Barons' control. It is said to lay beyond the Badlands. MK claims to be from there and know the way back.
  • Ragnarök Proofing: At least 500 years have passed since the fall of civilization, but machines and artifacts from that period are still being salvaged and being put to use, when by rights most of them should have rusted into nothingness by that point.
  • Rasputinian Death: In contrast to his being an Anticlimax Boss in first season, Quinn's final battle with Sunny involved two fakeout deaths from being stabbed through the torso until he finally goes down. Not bad for a man supposedly dying from a massive brain tumor.
  • Reality Ensues: Baron Quinn attacks the Lodge and conquers the Widow's lands with such ease that one wonders why he didn't do it in the first place... until it becomes apparent that doing so has left his forces spread too thin, and additionally made all the other barons angry at his upsetting the balance of power.
    • He also gets killed pretty easily by Sunny despite his famed battle skills and heaps of proven cunning, seeing as he's past his prime with a secret brain tumor.
  • Redshirt Army: A literal example with Quinn's red-coloured Clippers, who especially in the second season suffer continuous heavy casualties by constant attacks from rivals.
  • Recycled In Space: The entire premise of this series is essentially Journey to the West with elements of Westerns, the Antebellum South, and dystopia.
  • Roaring Rampage of Rescue: Since the very start of season two, Sunny's sole mission was to be reunited with Veil and their newborn child. Once he learned that the Widow had solded Veil out and she was forced to marry Quinn, it only fueled Sunny more, even knowing how dangerously outnumbered he'd be.
  • Rule of Cool: Presumably why the Widow's able to fight in those incredibly high heels.
  • Sadly Mythtaken: Right before he kills Ryder, Quinn mistakenly identifies a statue as Cronus, the Titan who devoured his children to prevent them from rebelling. Ryder points out that the statue is actually Laocoön, a priest who, along with his sons, was killed by the gods.
  • Scenery Porn: There's a lot of gorgeous shots of the Western-style deserts, Quinn's poppy fields are full of red blooms, and the Barons' massive Antebellum-styled mansions are pretty damn luxurious.
  • Schizo Tech: Technology in the Badlands incorporates a mishmash of different eras and levels of advancement. for example, there are still working cars, but firearms are banned, leaving the Clippers and Nomads to fight with swords and knives.
  • Secretly Dying: Baron Quinn is diagnosed with a brain tumor and will be dead before the next winter solstice, but will brutally kill anyone who finds out.In the second season though it's subverted as he's still alive but ironically still has the tumor
  • Seldom-Seen Species: An albino armadillo is the symbol on Quinn's flag.
  • Self-Made Man: Quinn sees himself as this, being quick to remind people that nobody handed him anything when he rose from the bottom of the food chain.
  • She Is the King: Even though she is a woman, The Widow is only ever referred to as a baron, not a baroness, the latter title being reserved for a baron's wife.
  • Shmuck Bait: Despite having seen the result of M.K.'s episodes, Sunny still wanted to personally see it happen, so he deliberately cut M.K. To nobody's surprise, this resulted in Sunny being hit so hard that he was downright lucky not to have ended with a broken back.
  • Shot at Dawn: Happens twice in Dragonfly's Last Dance; firstly when Lydia fails to return in time and Wren and Othur execute the hostages and again at the end of the episode when The Widow has Wren and the other mutinous soldiers shot for treason.
  • Social Darwinist: Baron Chau is a firm believer that the strong will rise to the top, no matter what.
    The Widow: Five-eight-four-three. That was my number in your Cog pens. I was 13 years old, we were herded like animals, jammed in until we could barely breathe. Torture and rape were a way of life. So please don't lecture me on the virtues of the system. Because I've experienced it firsthand.
    Baron Chau: And yet, here you are, a Baron. You know, Quinn was a Cog too. The strong always rise to the top. That's always been the case with any species.
  • Sole Survivor: MK twice, although the second time wasn't his fault.
  • The Starscream: Zephyr is plotting to usurp Baron Jacobee's place with the aid of The Widow.
  • Spanner in the Works: The Widow lures Ryder into a trap but did not count on Sunny coming as well. The plan might have still succeeded, but M.K. was also there and was able to save Sunny's life.
  • Storming the Castle: Quinn storms the Widow's stronghold with a frontal assault halfway through the first season.
  • Stop, or I Shoot Myself!: In the season 2 finale, MK is being sheltered/imprisoned by The Widow, who is trying to persuade/force him to get his gift back so she can use it as a weapon. MK doesn't want to do this, so he holds pruning shears up to his neck to force the Widow to let him talk to Bajie.
  • Supernatural Martial Arts: The monks who beat up Sunny and kidnap M. K use this
  • Take a Third Option: When he finds out Veil is pregnant with their illicit child, Sunny’s options are either to force her to have an abortion, or make a run for it. Both options are so bad that he eventually decides to train MK to fight so that he can take Veil and her unborn child safely out of the Badlands to Azra.
  • Time Skip: Six months pass In-Universe between the ending of the first season and the beginning of the second.
  • Training from Hell: All Clippers are put through this in their younger years as recruits and then colts, continuing to practice equally brutal training in their adult years as well. As Waldo states to Sunny in the first episode, they're called "Colts" because they need to be broken first.
  • Tyke Bomb: Clippers start their training as children.
  • Underestimating Badassery: The nomads in the pilot don't think that a single Clipper will pose much of a challenge, and end up on the receiving end of a Curbstomp Battle.
    • A bully thinks that M.K. will be an easy target and ambushes him at night. Then M.K. gets cut, his eyes turn black, and the bully is sent flying across the room with supernatural strength.
    • Sunny at first thinks that M.K. will be safer as the baron's slave rather than trying to survive on his own in the Badlands. However, after witnessing what M.K. is capable of, Sunny quickly revises his opinion of the boy.
    • Ryder pays a gang of nomads to kill the Widow. She singlehandedly turns them into mincemeat.
    • At first, the nomads the Widow tries to ally with thinks her Butterflies are just a bunch of weak girls. Boy, are they surprised when Tilda curb-stomps their man.
    • M.K. is told that Waldo is a former regent and the man who trained Sunny, but since Waldo is in a wheelchair, M.K. still underestimates just how capable a fighter Waldo is.
    • Sunny briefly underestimates one of the Widow's Butterflies, and as a result receives his first wound of the series.
  • Unspecified Apocalypse: The specifics of the catastrophe that destroyed civilization are not elaborated upon, although according to the AMC website, approximately 500 years have elapsed since it occurred. Since it's unclear how long ago the original Seven Barons took over, it is entirely possible that few people in the Badlands even remember what happened. Waldo and Quinn seem to genuinely believe there is nothing better outside the Badlands.
  • Vow of Celibacy: Clippers, at least in Quinn's service, are not supposed to get into relationships but sex is clearly allowed. Quinn explicitly promises his Clipper recruits that if they succeed they can have their choice of women and he's aware of Sunny's past relationship with Zephyr, while Waldo scoffs at Sunny's concern that Veil is pregnant with Sunny's child. Waldo states that most Clippers (at least the male ones) have offspring all over the Badlands. Sunny's problem is that he fell in love.
  • Weapon of Choice: So far, each Baron's Clippers prefer different weapons.
    • Quinn's favor swords.
    • The Widow's butterflies like their knives, but her men use swords like Quinn's Clippers.
    • Jacobee's use Pickaxes.
    • The Black Lotus introduced midway through season 3 seem to favour miniature Meteor Hammer/Mace combos, with heads stylized to look like a spiked lotus flower.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Ryder desperately craves his father's affection and approval, even as it becomes increasingly clear that he's not going to get it.
  • Wham Episode: In the season one finale, Sunny apparently kills Quinn, M.K. gets taken away by a mysterious group who have the same powers as him and they beat Sunny in a fight, and the River King kidnaps a badly beaten Sunny for double crossing him and plans to sell him.
  • World of Badass: Nobody in the Badlands is a slouch with a blade or a fist.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Averted totally as women fight (and are in some cases killed by) men in equal measure to the males.
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