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Jinx: Are we... still sisters?
Vi: Nothing is ever going to change that.
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Arcane is a 2021 animated action-adventure series from Riot Games, and the first animated series set in the League of Legends universe. The show attempts to both be welcoming to newcomers who have no prior knowledge about the League of Legends universe, while also satisfying longtime fans.

Set in the technologically-advanced, aristocratic city of Piltover, Arcane follows orphaned sisters Vi and Powder as they grow up in the Undercity, Piltover's impoverished and polluted lower levels. While the people of the Undercity struggle to survive and resist against Piltover's violent law enforcement, Silco, a ruthless crime lord with ambitions to raise the Undercity up into its own self-sufficient nation, begins to make himself known. Meanwhile, Jayce and Viktor, two gifted inventors, seek to revolutionize the city and the world itself by harnessing magic as a powerful new energy source. As tensions in Piltover and the Undercity escalate and war seems like an inevitability, Vi and Powder each find themselves at the center of the conflict as the city hurtles towards a breaking point.

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The series was released on November 6, 2021 on Netflix, divided into three weekly acts of three episodes for nine in total. On November 20th, the same day as the third act release, a second season was confirmed to be in production. It's planned for a post-2022 release.

Previews: 2019 Announcement, "A Score To Settle", Official Trailer, Final Trailer, "Enemy" music video

Not to be confused with the similarly titled video game Arcane: The Armor Collector.


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Welcome to the Tropes:

  • 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: Inverted. The show is primarily animated in 3D, with 2D animation used for specific effects such as smoke, explosions, and Jinx's hallucinations.
  • 21-Gun Salute: Evidently Enforcer funerals are like real world police funerals, complete with volleys.
  • Adaptational Heroism: In the old lore, Stanwick Pididly was a thieving cheat who stole the credit for creating Blitzcrank from Viktor. In Arcane's lore, he's a Posthumous Character remembered as an honorable and persevering (if explosion prone) scientist and good friend of Heimerdinger's.
  • Adaptation Deviation: While Arcane implicitly frames itself as canon prequel to the League of Legends universe, it significantly deviates from — if not outright contradicts — previously established backstories in favor of telling its own insular story that roughly sets itself up to the "present" shown in League. Christian Linke and Alex Yee have stated in an interview that while Arcane is "internally consistent and canon", it should not "be considered a source truth over the game".
    • Yordles are fully acknowledged and accepted throughout Piltover and Zaun, which collides significantly with how they're usually depicted in League of Legends. Following the game's 2013-14 Continuity Reboot, it was established that while yordles do interact with human civilization, usually it was incognito using magical glamour to conceal their naturenote . The comic "Paint the Town" (chronologically taking place way after Arcane) shows Heimerdinger himself operating under glamour, specifically because "Yordles are often feared, hunted, and eliminated across Runeterra", which contradicts his status in this series where he's a publicly-known councilman of Piltover, whose yordle nature does cause some problems, but not to a degree that he'd need to disguise himself.
    • While several character backstories shown here stay true to League canon in the Broad Strokes, a few are almost completely overhauled. Vi was originally depicted as having amnesia from her past before a foggy Time Skip where she reappeared paired up with Caitlyn, but neither this nor the original story of where she got her Power Fists are represented. Ekko is also implied to be an orphan based on how his parents are never seen, which contrasts to how they're written as still being alive by the present day in League.
    • In League, while hextech is still described as a "modern" technology, it's been implied to have existed in Piltover for centuries, developed by countless engineers and craftsmen across generations, and it was even described that Zaun's very existence and modern over-industrialized look was a direct result of having to cover the manufacturing for synthesizing hextech crystals. Jayce and Viktor were seen as big names in the field, but their broader rivalries had to do with the handling of the "purest" hextech crystals rather than the slightly less potent synthetic crystals most of Piltover already ran on. This is all completely revamped in Arcane, which depicts hextech as being an invention of Jayce and Viktor in the present day. Notably, there are champions in LoL who this simply cannot be reconciled with, most notably Camille, a cyborg with a hextech heart who's significantly older than most of the cast of Arcane.
  • Aerith and Bob: Quite a wide spectrum of names. Alongside common English names (Violet, Caitlyn, Marcus) are non-English cognates, (Viktor, Mylo), international names (Sevika, Ambessa), and complete inventions (Silco, Claggor).
  • The Aesthetics of Technology: Shimmer and Hextech, the two technologies explicitly held as each cities new technological edge, also follow the aesthetics and act as metaphors for the respective cities.
    • Shimmer is a neon purple Fantastic Drug that can be slurped down, breathed or injected. The effects on the user can be hideous, with bulging purple veins and grotesque muscle growth. It's addictive, with some addicts suffering permanent deformities. Its effects are entirely physical and individual, granting enormous strength and speed temporarily. It's creation was built on unethical testing by Singed. The technology is ugly, powerful in a crude way, and purposefully built on human suffering, making it a lot like Zaun. However, several characters use it to heal themselves from severe injuries and conditions and this benefit is never brought up by other characters, showing that Piltover only sees the negative sides of Shimmer, just like how it only sees the negative sides of Zaun.
    • Hextech is built around tapping into the power of blue crystals. It's treated as an energy source and without any known side effects on users. There is no waste product or runoff to deal with, making it neat and tidy. It's flexible, capable of providing power to either transportation or weapons. Jayce and Viktor created it with earnest intentions. Though only implied in the show (by Sky's disintegration), the Hextech crystals canonically contain the souls of the Brackern and were stolen from their people and the technology is eventually used to create weapons to suppress the Undercity. The technology is clean, inherently innovative, but only possible from the suffering of innocents that the creators don't know or care about, much like Piltover as a whole.
  • All-CGI Cartoon: Studio Fortiche reprise their animation production efforts, from the game's music videos and cinematics, for this full-length series. The French studio renders the series in their familiar stylized take on cel-shaded 3DCG animation, with a mixture of 2D effects work.
  • Alternate Continuity: Given the massive amounts of changes to backstories and even personalities, it should be no surprise that the show does not sync up well with the canon lore of the games, often outright contradicting it. When asked, the creators themselves have stated that Arcane does not affect game lore. It's basically like how the MCU affects Marvel Comics; there might be changes due to popularity but ultimately the movies are not canon to the comics. The only time the show may be considered canon is when it depicts events not covered in the lore, such as the dramatic event in her past that shaped Jinx, which is only alluded to in the lore but fully shown in the show.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: "Lone Warrior" by Eason Chan is the theme song in the Chinese version.
  • Art Deco: In contrast to the Art Nouveau-inspired Undercity, Piltover, a Steampunk-esque Shining City with tech levels around the early 20th century prior to the discovery of Hextech, uses a lot of Art Deco: clean, defined lines, cubist geometry, and a more unified color palette. Fittingly, Art Deco grew out of Art Nouveau, and this in part emphasizes how Piltover has left its undercity further and further behind.
  • Art Nouveau: The show contrasts Shining City Piltover with its Under City through architectural styles. The poorer, grittier Undercity (later Zaun) takes a lot from Art Nouveau, with an emphasis on modern materials like metal, prominent arches and spirals, brighter colors, some natural aspects (where it isn't too polluted) and gothic elements like stained glass. However, elements of Art Nouveau still pop up in Piltover; for example, Jayce sits down in front of an Alphonse Mucha-inspired artwork at one point.
  • Asimov's Three Kinds of Science Fiction: Much of the show's plot is driven by Hextech. The social conflict wedged by the life quality (the idyllic, wealthy Piltover versus the impoverished, polluted Zaun) and technology gap (clean steampunk vs. dangerous chemicals) predates the invention of Hextech, however, the latter's apparition is used to explore the former. For one, the Hexgates turn Piltover into a trading hub of a hitherto inconceivable scale, which showers the city with money and goodies that they don't even think to share with Zaun. Then, when Jayce and Viktor build Hextech-based tools that can frighteningly easily become weapons, the militaristic potential of Piltover suddenly rockets therefore making oppressing Zaun all the easier. All of that despite the two inventors wanting to use their technology to benefit as much people as possible. Eventually, this bites everyone in the ass, as the suffering provoked by Piltover and only festered by Zaun's more ruthless individuals ends up triggering the civil war nearly everyone spends the first season trying to prevent.
  • Bad-Guy Bar: Subverted, then played straight. The Last Drop is viewed as this by the Enforcers, seeing it as a den of criminals, but Vander uses it to keep the peace. When Silco takes it over, it genuinely does fit the description, becoming more like a nightclub with bouncers outside.
    Caitlyn: Well that place does look like it has bodies buried in the basement.
  • Battle Bolas: Enforcers operating in topside Piltover throw orbs that break open to reveal three ropes that entangle around the target. Enforcers going down to the Undercity don't bother with such non-lethal tools.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Zig-zagged.
    • Vi and Sevika are the two female characters who end up in hand-to-hand combat most often, and their fights commonly lead to them being bruised and bloody by the end. However, such bruises seem to be consistently limited to their cheekbones and don't swell, as opposed to a few male characters who exhibit actual black eyes and swelling.
    • Caitlyn doesn't look too bad after getting engulfed in an explosion in episode 4.
    • Vi gets generally banged up during her second fight with Sevika, but takes no specific damage from a square punch to the face from the spiked knuckledusters on Sevika's mechanical arm.
  • Became Their Own Antithesis: In the intervening years between Acts I and II, several of the characters have found themselves becoming the very people they struggled against.
    • After Silco has replaced Vander as the head of Zaun's underground, he's forced to keep the peace between Zaun and Piltover, if through shadier methods than Vander used. He rages at Jinx over the indiscriminate killing of Enforcers and the mess it will bring, a stark contrast to his brutal murder of Grayson and her squad in Act I, though he at least had a man on the inside for that.
    • Jayce is becoming the very sort of politicking, backroom-dealing councilor that nearly got him banished for his experiments in the first place.
    • Marcus, whose overzealous approach to cleaning up the Undercity ultimately helped get Grayson killed, has become the new Grayson: a chief of police who looks the other way, keeps his troops in check when it comes to the underworld, and has an understanding with Zaunite leadership. The only difference is that his is not an arrangement of choice.
    • Vi was a leader figure to her little gang and the adoptive daughter of the man who basically ran the Lanes, making her as close to an insider in Zaun's slums as one can get. And of course, she despised and wanted to fight the Enforcers. She returns to Zaun helping an Enforcer and is hunted by the new Don of Zaun.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: During the final arc, Silco has to deal with a hotshot chem-baron named Finn who is trying to muscle him out of his position. Finn presents himself as a badass gangster; covered in tattoos, has a clearly prosthetic jaw that may or may not be replacing his real one, dresses very stylishly, and is clearly trying to give himself some sort of mystique with how he uses his cigarette lighter (holding it bizarrely by the lid while it's open). However despite the image he puts up (and despite the promos for the third arc displaying him as though he could be a threat), he is clearly out of his league. The first time he makes a push, Silco humiliates him. And even though his second attempt seems to be more on track to success by recruiting Sevika, it turns out Sevika is firmly loyal to Silco and slashes Finn's throat, leaving him to die pathetically.
  • Big Fancy House: House Kiramman has a gated mansion in the middle of a city, showing just how wealthy and powerful they are.
    Vi: Do yourself a favor, cupcake. Go back to the big, shiny, house of yours and just forget me.
  • Bio Punk: The Undercity of Zaun is a mixture of this and Steampunk, with body augmentations and replacements being rather common and sometimes powered by the organically-derived serum Shimmer.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Compared to League of Legends's stylized cartoon violence, getting hurt is depicted much more realistically here. Characters are visibly injured on-screen, spit blood when hurt, and generally react realistically to being punched, stabbed, knocked, and thrown around violently.
  • Book Ends:
    • Act 1 ends with Powder setting off an explosion that accidentally kills off most of her adopted family sans Vi. In Act 3 after being responsible for the death of yet another adoptive father, she sets off a very much deliberate explosion targeted at the entire Piltover council. Also, both times the situation is on the cusp of turning out alright (her family is about to escape in episode 3, and the council votes for peace in episode 9), and then she quite literally blows that chance.
    • In their first episode, Jayce almost kills himself by throwing himself off the ledge from his destroyed apartment after being kicked out of the Piltover academy (essentially ending any hope of being a scientist for him) but is stopped by Viktor. In the final episode, Viktor is about to kill himself by throwing himself off a high ledge out of guilt for having caused the death of his assistant Sky during his attempt to further augment his body using the hextech core despite not having any shimmer to power it the effect. This time Jayce stops him (though perhaps unwittingly, as Jayce doesn't know what Viktor had done). They both even start with the same line, "Am I interrupting something?"
    • The very first scene of the season involves Vander choosing love over revolution, abandoning his cause to become the father of Vi and Powder. The final scene of the season sees a dying Silco affirm his love for Jinx, admitting that he could never choose independence over his daughter.
    • Episode 1 has Ekko brag about how the Piltover guy "didn't even haggle!" for the equipment he'd bought, while episode 9 has Silco lament to Vander's statue that "The boy didn't even haggle!" over his demands for the Nation of Zaun.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: All the time. If main characters are having a disagreement, they'll have good reasons to back it up.
    • Mylo firmly believes that Powder should not be accompanying the group on their excursions, being too young, clumsy, and prone to accidents—a belief not at all helped when Powder loses the group's greatest haul yet when fleeing a thug. Vi agrees that Powder causes them problems, but also fires back that Mylo does too, from picking fights to complaining about everything. She also points out that the encounter with the thugs only happened because Mylo loudly announced that the group was carrying valuables.
    • Jayce's storyline in act 2 is dominated by his conflict with Heimerdinger over when For Science! has gone too far. On Heimerdinger's side, he's right that Jayce and Viktor are toying with forces beyond their comprehension (Viktor openly admits that their research into runes is mostly random experimentation), and there are still plenty of quirks that they have to iron out, especially for potential applications as weapons. On Jayce and Viktor's side, the faster they can develop the tech the faster it can be used to save people's lives, and with Viktor's condition getting worse and tensions between Zaun and Piltover escalating, there's really no time for decades of testing.
    • Silco and Vander fell out over Vander choosing peace over revolution. Silco's not wrong that Vander has accepted the deeply unequal status quo in the name of peace. Vander is correct that the price of violent resistance would be very high in human cost for an uncertain success. Silco is proven correct that Shimmer is able to intimidate Piltover's council into granting freedom. But Vander's prophecy that he'd sacrifice Zaun's soul doing so comes true, with the flooding of the streets of Zaun with Shimmer and the rise of wealthy Chembarons critically undermining the sense of solidarity the impoverished undercity once had.
    • Mel and her mother Ambessa support weaponizing Hextech while Viktor strongly opposes it. Viktor insists their Hextech dream was for peace and helping people, not making weapons which will permanently change the nature of their discovery. But Shimmer is such a powerful weapon that without Hextech weapons, Piltover really doesn't stand a chance in a fight.
    • Jayce and Vi want direct action against Silco while the council wants to negotiate first. Vi is astonished they'd try diplomacy with a man who so deeply despises them. Allowing him to continue to pump the streets of both Piltover and Zaun with Shimmer is obviously a bad idea. And it's deeply unjust to allow his evil acts go unpunished. But as Jayce finds out painfully in person, going after Silco would mean war with Zaun. Innocent people, including children will die if they want to root him out. Jayce ultimately flips on the issue, deciding that the price in bodies is just too high. And ironically it turns out that Vi was technically wrong as, despite his hatred for Piltover, Silco was willing to negotiate a peace with Jayce — if only Jayce hadn't demanded he turn over Jinx...
  • Brutal Brawl: There are several fights where technique and strategy aren't the focus but just the aggressive violence. Throwing sand into people's eyes, smashing someone against the wall, hitting them with a piece of wood — fights in Zaun are down and dirty.
  • But Not Too Gay: A case where, based on the context of the narrative, it makes sense to a degree. Caitlyn and Vi become deeply emotionally attached to each other, and various creators behind the show have made it clear on social media that the two are interested in each other, but given by the first season's end, they've only known each other for a few days, it's left ambiguous whether either of them is interested in pushing for a deeper relationship.
  • Butt-Monkey: One of Silco's goons is a huge, heavily tattooed, muscular man. In the space of three episodes, he gets one-hit-KO'd by a teenaged Vi, gets gut-shot by Jinx during a botched smuggling operation years later, and then gets his jaw broken by a now-adult Vi in prison.
  • Central Theme:
    • "Corruption". The main cast all face it, whether in society or in themselves. The show hammers down the truth that nothing is ever pure, and that can often be for the best. However, for those willing and able to take a good look at themselves and admit their mistakes, redemption is within reach.
    • "Parenthood". The difficulties, personal sacrifices and imperfect decisions that come along with being a parent casts a long shadow over the show. The very first scene shows Vander choosing the path of peace and fatherhood over his own dreams of revolution. Caitlyn, Jayce and Mel's mothers choose to prioritize their own children's safety even if it costs their childrens' affections. It's used metaphorically with Jayce condemning Heimerdinger as a negligent "Father of the City". Hell, Singed of all people reveals he was once a father and mourns his daughter. Even Silco, the man set up as the Big Bad of the show, spends most of Act 3 running around trying to find his daughter Jinx or dealing with the consequences of her actions. When forced to choose between sacrificing his daughter and dream of an independent Zaun he'd spent his life sacrificing everything for, he'd rather let the world burn than give her up. Everyone wants to do right by their kids no matter who they are but the consequences of their actions, intentional or not, haunt the next generation.
    • "Duality": How opposite forces (whether it's "Good Vs Bad", "Rich Vs Poor", "Science Vs Magic", etc.) interact and clash with each other and how it influences the events.
  • The Chains of Commanding: One of the reoccurring themes of the show is the messiness and difficulty of being a leader, oftentimes being forced to make moral compromises. Mel convinces Jayce that corruption and schmoozing with the elites is a necessary part of keeping his seat on the council, which he comes to accept as the price to pay so he can ensure the safety and future technological advancement of Piltover. Vander lectures Vi early on about how being a leader means that you can't afford to be selfish, and he also has a secret working relationship with the Enforcers who brutally put down the revolution he personally led because it keeps the peace. Even Silco, while more exploitative in his relationship with Marcus and planning to revolt, still has to maintain a level of peace, so his anger at Jinx killing Enforcers sounds eerily similar to Vander's anger at Vi after she and her gang inadvertently blew up Jayce's apartment in Piltover.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Everyone in Zaun does what it takes to win, regardless of fairness.
  • Coming of Age Story: While many of the characters are already of age, the series shows us that they still had a hard dose of reality to experience, to wit:
    • Jayce realizes that compromises have to be made to ensure the greater good.
    • Viktor realizes that scientific progress is not all it's cracked up to be.
    • Caitlyn realizes that the authorities aren't always concerned with serving the public good.
    • Most tragically, Jinx realizes that she and her sister have changed so much from the time they parted ways and things can never really go back to the way they used to be. Played straight since she is coming of age.
  • Color-Coded Wizardry: Technology powered by Hextech, billed in-universe as the tech of the future, is lit a bright blue. Things associated with the Fantastic Drug Shimmer are associated with an unseemly purple. The Firelights' hoverboards are associated with a bright green.
  • Cop Hater: Everyone in Zaun hates the Enforcers, police who take orders from Piltover, not any of the locals. They would rather stand together and stick it to the cops rather than sell out one of their own.
  • Corrupt Politician: The entire council, besides Heimerdinger who seems blissfully ignorant, is guilty of skirting the laws and backroom deals. Even Jayce is convinced to go along with it as the price of power by Mel.
  • Creator Cameo: The founders of Studio Fortiche are shown as cheery drunks celebrating Progress Day.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Played for Drama when Viktor is examining one of Jinx's grenades as a part of Jayce's ongoing investigations; Viktor notes that while the materials are rather crude the design itself is incredibly meticulous and ingenious, to the point that he has a tough time trying to dissect it and even has a minor Wire Dilemma when he accidentally triggers it with an errant movement of a piece of metal. If Jinx weren't... well, Jinx, she could've easily made a killing as an engineer in Piltover, even if she is a Zaunite as Viktor himself proved.
  • Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: While Vi did storm off to cool down after hitting Powder, she didn't mean to abandon her. Marcus arrested her to save her from being killed by Silco, who had already reached Powder by the time Vi tried to go back. Powder doesn't know this, however, and it's a major factor behind her becoming Jinx. Vi is only able to explain this years later after she gets out of jail, indirectly because of Jinx's violent ways, and Jinx isn't entirely convinced because Caitlyn is with her.
  • Darker and Edgier: League of Legends is a T-rated game with its fair share of darkness and maturity, but Arcane takes itself even more seriously — not only does it extensively explore the troubled backstories of many major characters with the gravity they would probably possess in real life, Fortiche and Riot aren't pulling any punches with the broader themes and the visuals.
    • The video game version of Jinx is generally portrayed pretty comically, with her generally just being interested in blowing stuff up but not really being much of a killer (with a comic she appears in showing her to actually feel guilty when she initially thinks she blew up a building full of peoplenote ). However, her portrayal in Arcane has her killing multiple people during her first appearance as a teenager and she is heavily implied to be schizophrenic which is most definitely not played for comedy.
    • Right off the bat in episode 1, we get a brutal, realistic street fight involving kids. You have blood, swearing, children being traumatized, the explicit depiction of prostitution. And then it progressively gets turned up to eleven as the first act progresses.
    • Episode 2 features Jayce about to commit suicide, complete with a note.
    • Episode 3 gives us actual child (well, teenage) death. In brutal, graphic detail.
    • In Episode 8, the raid on the Shimmer factory features a stylized battle involving Vi and Jayce using their new Hextech weapons against mooks. It takes a sudden and dark turn when the stylized action gives way to very real consequences — Jayce accidentally shoots and kills a child worker in the chaos.
  • Death of a Child: This show seriously does not hold back on killing children. Whether being crushed by debris, beheaded, or falling to their death, being a kid is no guarantee of safety.
  • Deconstructor Fleet: Arcane seems to delight in taking many elements that are core aspects of the characters, lore, and even gameplay of League of Legends and show them with gritty realism:
    • A key point in Jinx's popularity is her Mad Bomber personality. She's a funny and exciting character who merely annoys everyone around her. Except here, her violence is more realistic, and it suddenly becomes horrifying. She's dangerous, unpredictable, can't be trusted by her own associates, and her enemies are absolutely terrified of her. And her funny madness? Not so funny when we see it from her perspective.
    • Vi's "punch first and ask questions while punching" attitude is a key aspect of her character, but the show isn't kind to her methods. While not totally ineffective, her impulsive and reckless personality is depicted as a Fatal Flaw that constantly creates problems for her and leads to many things she could have avoided if she had just kept her cool.
    • Combining these two aspects is the relationship between both sisters. Before Arcane straight up said it, it was only vaguely implied that Vi and Jinx were sisters, but then...Where does that leave their relationship? Jinx causing trouble and Vi punching her into submission is the basis of said relationship. It was fine in the beginning because they were rivals and didn't really know each other, but since the show works with the idea that they are sisters, it paints their interactions in a far more tragic light. Indeed it is this very aspect of how they interact rearing its ugly head in the worst possible moment that tears the sisters apart and creates Jinx.
    • Piltover and Zaun's relationship has always been at the center of the lore for characters in both cities, but Arcane is allowed to show the horrible way Piltover treats the soon-to-be Zaun in far more graphic detail, showing exactly the kind of Grey-and-Gray Morality that lies at the center of their conflict. This also means that noble characters from Piltover (such as Jayce or Caitlyn) are left reeling when they see the atrocious conditions that the Undercity has to live with and dealing with such inequality become one of the main focuses of their stories.
    • Sadly this also leads to one of the more realistic, and heartbreaking, cases of Status Quo Is God. Just because some of the protagonists suddenly want to deal with a centuries-old problem doesn't mean that they can do much. At the end of the series the city council decides to vote for peace with the Undercity and Silco is dead... but it's too little too late, thanks in large part to Jinx, and in part to the fact that their abuse has made Zaun eager for war.
    • Finally, there's the violence itself. Violence is at the core of League of Legends; it is, after all, a game about killing your competition, but the fights there are both comical and awesome. Not so in Arcane. Nearly every fight here is played relatively realistically, and people get seriously hurt. Whenever the series starts getting too into the fights, something will inevitably make it stop to show the bloody consequences of their actions. Just ask Jayce, Ekko, Jinx, and Vi.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Vi convinces Jayce to fight back against Silco by hitting hard and fast before he can react. Sounds awfully a lot like a gank, especially since Vi is a jungler who would participate in such tactics.
  • Doomed by Canon:
    • Throughout the first season, most of the Piltover plotline is centered around the decision whether or not to weaponize hextech, with Viktor being strongly against it and Jayce considering it, but ultimately backing off once he realizes how devastating it can be. Since many of the Piltovan heroes in the game have hextech weapons, we know this will inevitably fail. By season's end, Jayce has created the Mercury Cannon/Hammer, and Jinx has created Fishbones, a hextech-powered rocket launcher. While Jayce vows to destroy the hammer after he accidentally kills a child with it, we know he ultimately keeps it, and Jinx's attack on the Council with a hextech weapon has destroyed their last chance for peace.
    • Powder is doomed to become the mentally unstable Jinx no matter how happy she seems in the moment.
  • Downer Ending: The single good thing that happens in the end of season 1 is that some characters live. Other than that, it's all downhill. Powder embraces her identity as Jinx and cuts ties with her sister for good. Caitlyn neither retrieves the lost hextech core nor brings Silco to justice. And despite Jayce, Mel, and Viktor managing to agree to a peaceful solution, Jinx fires a missile powered by the stolen hextech core on the Council's chambers, shattering any potential for peace there may have been. Singed is also shown briefly experimenting in his lab with a hanged muscular man who somehow resembles Vander. The only characters with a positive ending are Heimerdinger and Ekko, the former taking Jayce's words to heart about how ineffectual he'd been, visiting the lower streets to see the conditions for himself, and finding a kindred spirit in the jaded but still idealistic Ekko, with their meeting being framed in a master-student relationship as Ekko shows Heimerdinger the firelights' hideout and Heimerdinger finds hope after his previous relationship with his students soured. Of course the ending above overshadows that, but it's still the best outcome shown.
  • Dramatic Irony: The show as an Origin Story delights in juxtaposing characters origins with their eventual state as Champions in League of Legends.
    • Vi who is introduced despising Piltover Enforcers for killing her parents literally has the title of the Piltover Enforcer as a Champion.
    • Powder is a comparatively timid child, who has an emotional need to tag along and can't get her grenades to work when Jinx is infamous as the Loose Canon, utterly wild and free with a habit of blowing up entire buildings.
    • Caitlyn is shown to be a young rookie whose an outsider amongst the Enforcers when as a Champion she's the Sheriff of Piltover.
    • Ekko is introduced asking for a few more seconds to fix a clock when as a Champion he's the Boy who Shattered Time.
    • Jayce is introduced as a humble researcher who happily works with Viktor when as a Champion he's known as an arrogant hero with a rivalry against Viktor.
  • Due to the Dead:
    • One of the signs that Marcus isn't a complete Jerkass is him visiting the grave of Grayson and telling his daughter she was a good person. He's visibly still guilty about being partly responsible for her death.
    • Amazingly, Silco allowed a statue of Vander to be built in Zaun. He pours out part of his drink while commiserating about the difficulties of being a father.
  • Early Personality Signs: Viktor, Jinx, and Ekko are all seen tinkering as children, and all grow up to become formidable mechanics/engineers.
  • Eternally Pearly-White Teeth: Though the show is generally willing to show the grungy, dingy and dirty side of Zaun, most of its residents still have perfectly white teeth.
  • The Extremist Was Right: Silco's ruthless ways, especially the unethical creation and mass manufacture of Shimmer, successfully convince the Piltover Council that a violent crackdown would be too costly and negotiation is the best solution. Silco's absolute willingness to resort to violence ultimately convinces the Council to accept a deal that would see the people of the underground get their own nation of Zaun. If anything, he ultimately can't take the deal that would free the people of Zaun of Piltover's boot on their backs because he's not extreme enough to throw away his most normal, sympathetic trait: love for his daughter. Of course it's also not so clear cut, since as Vander warned he sacrificed Zaun's soul by flooding the streets with Shimmer as a recreational drug meaning Zaun would be independent but ruled by a ruthless drug king pin whose raising of the Chembarons to power also undermined the ethos of loyalty Silco himself harped on.
  • Every Man Has His Price: Standard procedure for Silco's gang is to mix the implied threat of violence with a nice little bag of coins. Laws melt away easily.
  • False Camera Effects: Common in every episode of season one. To the point where one can forget it's animated.
  • Fantastic Drug: The Undercity of Zaun introduces a chemical called Shimmer, a powerful Psycho Serum, that is eventually refined into a party drug capable of being taken by patrons at a night club without the same Body Horror.
  • Fashionable Asymmetry: Characters from Zaun wear more eclectic outfits, clearly cobbled together in sharp contrast to the neat symmetry of Piltover.
  • Fictional Holiday: Piltover's Progress Day which celebrates the city's scientific spirit with a festival showcasing the newest innovations and traditionally finished with a keynote speech by Heimerdinger.
  • Fish People: Some of the characters in background shots or very minor characters are unremarked upon fish people. Jericho the food vendor is the most prominent and one of the thugs Vi beats up for their outfit is another.
  • Foil: A majority of the show's characters contrast to one another.
    • Vi and Jinx/Powder. In Act 1, they are a pair of sisters: Vi is the street-smart, competent older one, Powder is the more sensitive and sheltered younger one. Fast forward a few years and a couple of traumatic experiences, Vi is a hardened fighter who wants to stop Silco at all costs, while Jinx is the mentally unstable Daddy's Little Villain who opposes her.
    • Jayce and Viktor. Both are promising inventors and partners who pioneer Hextech for Piltover. Jayce gets caught up in Piltover's politics and considers using Hextech for war, but Viktor stays true to their original goal of wanting Hextech to improve the lives of regular citizens. In addition, Jayce is a fit and conventionally handsome man, while Viktor is sickly and disabled, which drives their attitudes — Jayce is hailed as the city's golden boy, while Viktor tinkers with the Hexcore to find a way to heal himself.
    • Vander and Silco. Both were previously very close friends who wanted more for the undercity, but their differing attitudes led Vander to try and kill Silco. Vander's failed rebellion in the backstory led him to maintain a fragile peace with Piltover instead, which Silco — who wants to use Shimmer to fight Piltover — derides as weak. It's telling that after Silco is offered everything he wanted for Zaun at the price of Jinx, who was formerly Vander's foster daughter, who does he have a symbolic conversation with but Vander's statue?
    • Caitlyn and Marcus. Both are enforcers who clash over how to handle the threat of the undercity, but Marcus is a Dirty Cop on Silco's payroll, while Caitlyn is a Cowboy Cop who is determined to find out who is behind the attacks and, when she learns it's Silco, tries to stop him.
    • Vi and Caitlyn. Vi is a rough-and-tumble woman from the undercity who fights with her fists, Caitlyn is a refined noblewoman who fights with a gun.
    • Jinx and Ekko. They're a pair of Childhood Friends traumatized by the losses of their respective father figures, but while Ekko leads a rebellion against Silco, Jinx is his top enforcer. Ekko insists to Vi that Jinx is irredeemable, but appears to change his mind at the last minute.
  • Foreign Queasine: A fantasy spin on it. Jericho the giant fish man serves up various seafood dishes at his street food stall and doesn't speak English. The denizens of the Undercity enjoy it but for people from Piltover like Caitlyn, tentacles in orange slop is rather unappealing.
  • Foreshadowing: One of the first hints that Vi sees things in Powder that aren't there is in the first episode where Vi says she can make the jump over the rooftops. Powder actually messes up and Vi has to save her from falling, an apt metaphor for their story.
  • Look closely at what Jinx is working on when Silco confronts her about her Hextech heist in episode four. It is one of the mechanical lightning bugs she uses to bomb the Enforcers on the bridge to Piltover in episode seven.
  • Formerly Friendly Family: Vi and Powder were incredibly close as kids growing up in the slums of the Under City, with Powder idolizing her older sister who treated her more leniently as The Baby of the Bunch of their adopted family. Powder's reckless bomb killing the rest of their family causes Vi to lash out physically and verbally at her. When Vi storms off to cool down, it seems like she's abandoning Powder when Vi's arrested before she can return. Post-time-skip, their relationship is fraught and messy. Both are torn between a desire to return to their old relationship and how much they've changed as people.
  • For Want of a Nail: The creation of Hextech started with Vi and the others stealing from Jayce's workshop. That led to its destruction and Jayce being expelled for his research into magic, after which he partnered with Viktor to utilize the runes and succeeds in creating Hextech.
  • Frame-Up: Silco has Marcus frame the Firelights as being responsible for Jinx's attack on Jayce's workshop both to take heat off himself and to give the Enforcers an excuse to go after the Firelights.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: The series has several of these.
    • Episode 3: When Powder's monkey bomb detonates, you can see the exact moment Sevika loses her left arm.
    • Episode 3: As Vi yells "Mylo was right!" about Powder being a jinx, her eyes dart to her right, where Claggor's blood-spattered goggles are lying. After this, Powder desperately glomping onto Silco sends his knife skittering behind him, showing that her action both figuratively and literally disarmed him.
    • Episode 6: After Caitlyn gives Vi a potion, Vi panics from system shock, and Caitlyn calms her down with their faces really close to one another, Caitlyn's eyes quickly glance down at Vi's lips before she pulls her head back.
    • Episode 7: When Jinx fires at Caitlyn and Vi, you can briefly see Caitlyn trying to shield Vi with her arm while Vi is the one pushing Caitlyn away to save her.
    • The tie-in music video for "Enemy" has Powder aiming a finger-gun at the Enforcers, with a blip of Jinx being the one to pull the trigger.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Jayce, Viktor, Jinx, and Ekko are all skilled engineers.
  • Gaslamp Fantasy: The series, set in a Steampunk world, becomes this after the induction of Hextech.
  • Gender Is No Object: Whether in Piltover or Zaun, men and women seem to serve in equal capacity, if not necessarily in equal numbers. The city council, the Enforcers, Vi and Silco's groups... all contain a mix of male and female members, often with women in high positions. Some details of the setting further imply this, such as that Stillwater Hold seems to be gender-integrated or that Vi's boxing skill goes unremarked-on as unusual, suggesting organized boxing is common among women as well as men.
    • Additionally, the creators have said they went out of their way to imagine a society where gender and sexuality are just non-issues. A relationship between Caitlin and Vi, for example - an implication they also confirmed was deliberate - would have many issues, but their both being women wouldn't be one of them.
  • Generation Xerox: As of Episode 3, this seems to be forming with Vi and Powder, and Vander and Silco: a pair of siblings, with the younger one idolizing the older until they experience what they perceive as a betrayal and abandonment by their sibling, with the incident dividing them onto opposite sides of a conflict. In addition, the older sibling is a physically-powerful hand-to-hand fighter, with the younger being weaker and requiring weapons and pragmatism to be an effective fighter.
  • Genre Shift: The show masterfully adopts and sheds genres starting as a Goonies style kid adventure story only to brutally swerve into political crime drama while dabbling into Horror Tropes for some scenes with Jinx and sticks the landing with Magitek Gaslamp Fantasy action. All kept together and in service of telling the story of how one cute little girl named Powder becomes the infamous Bomb Throwing Anarchist Jinx.
  • Glowing Gem: The Hextech crystal glows bright blue.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: The heroic Vi has little nicks on her lip and eyebrow, while beloved inventor and councilor Jayce has a small scar on his eyebrow. In contrast, crime lord Silco and his Mad Scientist Singed have extensive facial scarring.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Vander smokes from a rustic-looking pipe, lighting it with matches. It only adds to his fatherly look and him growing to love the "vile" taste neatly summarizes him becoming comfortable with his new role as peacekeeping bartender. Silco on the other hand hand smokes cigars, complementing his well put together outfits to show his expensive tastes and fundamental desire to live like the wealthy in Piltover.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: While there is a clear Black-and-White Morality revenge story of Vi against Silco, the larger political struggle is all grey. An utterly ruthless drug dealer crime lord with revolutionary goals to have the oppressed people of Zaun achieve independence arrayed against the highly corrupt Council of Piltover interested in innovation only when it profits them. Silco would murder a child for the cause without flinching while the members of the Council would be horrified at the idea, but they condemn countless children every day to starvation, poverty and violence with their current status quo. Yet Silco and some members of the council are also shown sympathetically caring for their loved ones. It can be hard to see A Lighter Shade of Grey between the leaders.
  • Gun Twirling: While the mentally unstable Jinx doing this is par for course, even Caitlyn, a trained Enforcer, twirls her pistol while thinking.
  • Happily Adopted: Vi and Powder are adopted by Vander at the very beginning of the show, as he sees them crying at the sight of their dead parents, with him opting to take them to safety over continuing the uprising he led that had gotten their parents killed in the first place. Mylo and Claggor are also adopted by Vander off-screen. All of Vander's adopted children would risk their lives to save him, and he returns the favor. Vi is astonished that Silco adopted Powder and helped mold her into Jinx. Silco's treatment of Jinx is of an understanding father-figure and Jinx acts like his wild-child daughter.
  • Harmful to Minors: The show starts out with two children seeing their dead parents and goes from there. Powder in particular as the younger sibling gets it bad. Powder watching and flinching from a Brutal Brawl is the least messed up thing she has to deal with. Being blamed for her bombing (correctly even) which killed both her adoptive brothers and her adoptive father by her biological sister who then walks away from her and vanishes breaks her mentally.
  • Hates Rich People: Everyone in Zaun despises the inhabitants of the advanced and shining city of Piltover above, understandable, considering it is run by a Council of greedy merchants and aristocrats who see Zaunites as dirt and send brutal Enforcers down to bully them whenever they do something that harms them rather than anything that would improve things. While Silco works to separate Zaun from Piltover, and Jinx performs acts of terrorism, even the heroic Zaunites like Vi distrust Pilties. Though in Vi's case, she does meet one who she grows to like.
  • Hellhole Prison: Stillwater Hold is a place one can be dumped into without any criminal charges and locked away for years without anybody caring. Vi is implied to have been beaten by the warden himself countless times, such that she treats it as normal, along with the disgusting food.
  • Hide Your Gays: Downplayed example. In China, Jinx calling Caitlyn Vi's girlfriend was instead censored to Jinx calling Caitlyn Vi's "dear sister", making Caitlyn and Vi's relationship sound more sisterly than in English. However, "dear sister" is sometimes used as slang for a lesbian relationship in China regardless, keeping the intent even if not outwardly.
  • Hotter and Sexier: Compared to the game it's based on, Arcane is definitely this. There's explicit mention of prostitution, an on-screen depiction of a brothel, and in episode 5, an actual animated sex scene.
  • Hooked Up Afterwards: Implied with Caitlyn and Vi. They're close partners in the game, and while they're a bit too busy during the course of the story to become an Official Couple, their relationship during it is clearly framed as a burgeoning romance (making it pretty obvious just what kind of 'close partners' they'll actually end up as).
  • Iconic Attribute Adoption Moment: Quite a few, fitting for the series being an Origin Story.
    • Vi gets her signature red jacket in episode 5.
    • For most of the series Vi and Jayce deal with their business without their iconic weapons. In episode 8 they take up their signature arms to raid a Shimmer factory, we even see Vi put on the Hextech Gauntlet for the first time. While Jinx has all the rest of her equipment, she finally completes her rocket launcher Fishbones and her ult in the last episode.
    • Singed is burned badly in the explosion in Episode 3, giving him his scars. Victor uses the Hextech core to begin his bodily upgrades and see his first steps on his artificial leg. A procedure from Singed changes the look in Jinx's eyes to her game counterparts purple.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Both young Powder and Caitlyn are excellent shots, nailing targets with almost contemptuous ease. Once Powder becomes Jinx, her wild usage of a minigun means accuracy goes out the window in favor of firepower. Her increased craziness doesn't help.
  • Incest Subtext: Jinx's fixation on Caitlyn, and her relationship to Vi, occasionally comes off as closer to a scorned lover than an upset sibling. Notably, her rationalising their hug as a "goodbye hug" that she doesn't need to worry about, and the entire fact of Jinx involving Caitlyn in their family dinner scene in the finale at all; where she refers to Caitlyn as Vi's "girlfriend" before attempting to force Vi to choose between both girls.
  • Just Think of the Potential!: The young, idealistic Jayce (and his cohort Viktor) have begun developing "hextech" that could potentially revolutionize the future, fix many societal problems of today, and save countless lives (including the deathly-ill Viktor), but old, wisened Heimerdinger is extremely wary of magic's potential to also destroy everything, and that once hextech falls into the wrong hands, society will have even bigger problems to worry about.
  • Kubrick Stare: Arguably the Signature Scene of the series is Jinx giving one of these to the camera. To the point that pretty much all marketing and YouTube reviews of the show use it.
  • Le Parkour: All the street rat kids in Zaun are shown to be able to make it across the urban jungle by leaping roof to roof from as young as seven. Caitlyn, less so.
  • Liberty Over Prosperity: Some members of the Zaun underclass, including Vi feel Vander has gotten too comfortable with choosing to keep the peace over fighting back against their Piltover oppressors. Vander is unwilling to pay the price war with topside would bring, especially as a father of four.
  • Love Ruins the Realm: This is Silco's darkly cynical take. He scorned Vander for betraying their shared revolutionary ideals and putting peace first. Yet when offered everything he wanted, independence for the oppressed people of Zaun, in return for giving up Jinx, someone who he himself admits causes nothing but problems for him, Silco can't take the deal because he loves her as his daughter, the exact same motivations (for one of the same girls even) that drove Vander's actions. Silco's wry expression as he commiserates to Vander's statue shows that despite being frustrated with himself, thinking the rational decision for a man who believes in doing anything for power would be to prioritize the greater good, he's accepted that he could never take it.
    Silco Is there anything so undoing as a daughter?
  • Love Triangle: Powder/Jinx is in a platonic love triangle between her sister Vi and her adoptive father Silco, and by extension her two identities. In the finale she fatally shoots Silco during a psychotic break, but he assures her in his final moments that he loves and accepts her unconditionally, cementing her identity as Jinx.
    • Vi herself is in a Friend Versus Lover conflict between her sister and her new friend (and possible crush) Caitlyn. Jinx hands Vi a gun and tells her to "make [Caitlyn] go away" as a condition for getting Powder back. This Sadistic Choice is part of what makes Vi realize that Powder is gone for good.
  • Lower-Class Lout: This is the default view of people from Piltover on the people of the Undercity. The assumption is that everyone down there is a criminal.
  • Magic Versus Science: Piltover is firmly on the side of science, believing that magic is too dangerous to be controlled safely. This makes Jayce an outlier, since he believes the arcane can be harnessed through scientific means. Once Jayce proves he can safely harness magic via Hextech science, they quickly change their tune once the monetary implications become obvious.
  • Magitek: Or Hextech, as Jayce calls it, which involves drawing specific magic from crystals through technology instead of through innate skill.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Crows keep appearing during climactic arcs involving Jinx/Powder, but whether they're actually magical in nature or just pure coincidence is not made clear by the end of the series.
  • Memento MacGuffin:
    • Jayce keeps the magical crystal that an unknown mage used to save him and his mother when he was a child. He keeps it as part of his drive to harness magic via science. Viktor handing it to him completes the Talking Down the Suicidal and convinces Jayce to work with him.
    • Vi once had a toy bunny she loved and was thrown into the power lines by bullies. When she retrieves it and gives it to Powder, it makes Vander realize she planned to give herself up to protect the rest of the group if she was going to give such a meaningful gift to Powder. Years later, after Powder has become Jinx, she crucifies the toy bunny to show her distancing herself from the trauma of feeling abandoned by Vi.
  • Merchant City: Piltover, even more so once the Hexgate is created. Airships from all over flock to take advantage of the reduction in transit time, massively boosting trade to the city.
  • Mineral MacGuffin: The Hextech Gem, a stabilized version of the highly explosive hextech crystals, takes on this role throughout the second and third arcs. Jinx steals it from the Progress Day presentation, causing the Council to cut off Zaun and inflaming tensions. The theft also motivates Caitlyn to go into Zaun, bringing Vi as her guide. In the final arc, Ekko, Vi and Caitlyn try to bring it to Piltover to stop a potential war, but Jinx steals it back. It is finally used for its intended purpose as a power source in the final episode... to power Jinx' rocket that destroys the city council.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: A double whammy. The first scene features a very young Vi and Powder. One Time Skip later, the rest of Act 1 follows a teenage Vi and Caitlyn while Powder and Ekko are still kids, and Act 2 and Act 3 follow Vi and Caitlyn as adults while Powder and Ekko are teenagers.
  • Mook Chivalry: A Downplayed and Justified example. The terrain of a narrow catwalk over a factory forces the Mooks to come one by one. They're also not taking the threat of a teenage girl too seriously at first. When Vi is attacked by two mooks at the same time, whether from behind or squeezing together in front, she noticeably struggles more.
  • Motherly Side Plait: As is tradition, Vi and Powder's dead mother has one.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • At one point, Jinx is shown listening to her own Image Song, "Get Jinxed!" and answers someone right after the song ends with "That's me!"
    • Shimmer shares a name with a drug from very early, 2009-2010-ish lore about Zaun, well before the Continuity Reboot that led to the current form of the League IP.
    • While Vi and Caitlyn are visiting the Brothel, Caitlyn notices two patrons wearing Lamb and Wolf's masks.
  • Neon City: The streets of Zaun are almost entirely bathed in neon light, mostly green or purple.
  • Never Trust a Trailer:
    • The trailers present Vander's "don't threaten the guy who pours the drinks" line as being said to the Enforcers, along with the followup Death Glare from the bar patrons. He actually says it to a pair of shady traders who are trying to stiff another patron out of what they owe him; the same Death Glare is directed at those two, as well. The way the trailer presents the line makes Vander seem more at odds with the Enforcers than he actually is.
    • One of the trailers makes the story out to be about the bond of two sisters who will always be there for each other no matter what. A passing knowledge of their characters lets you know the story is about how they became bitter enemies.
    • The "Enemy" music video implies that Vi's crew is larger than it really is. In the brief shots of her shadowboxing, Deckard and one of his gang members are watching her along with Powder, Mylo and Claggor, and doing nothing antagonistic. Three unknown people are watching as well (two women and a man), and at least two of them are actually part of the group Sevika leads to join Silco. Ekko is also there; while he's friendly with Vi's group, he's not technically a part of it.
    • The Sneak Peek for Act II misrepresents how Jinx and Vi meet again. It implies it occurs during a fight where Vi is disguised and Jinx doesn't know who it is beforehand, but in the actual scene "Vi" is actually a similar-looking Firelighter whom Jinx hallucinates is her sister. The actual meeting is the result of Jinx summoning Vi, not a happenstance encounter, and isn't initially violent.
    • Trailers tended to overlay Mel's line about it being time for "more radical measures" with images of the blockade, implying that Mel would suggest harder police crackdowns on the undercity which would increase tensions. In fact, Mel's line refers to elevating Jayce to the position of counselor, with him eventually putting the blockade in place without prompting from Mel at all.
  • Non-Heteronormative Society: Runeterra has been confirmed to have no stigmitization towards sexuality and gender expression, as evidenced by Vi nonchalantly asking Caitlyn if she prefers men or women in Episode 5. This is also why no one comments on Vi's body type.
  • Not Quite the Right Thing: Silco's relationship with Jinx in general. While he's always patient and supportive of her, even past the point of his own detriment, what he's ultimately doing is enabling her descent into psychopathy. When she shoots him in a panic at the end of the series, his last words to her are "Don't cry. You're perfect.", which while supportive, means that she continues to never accept responsibility for everything she destroys.
  • Origin Story: For several characters.
    • For Vi and Jinx, revealing how the two went from sisters to mortal enemies on opposite sides of the law.
    • For Vi and Caitlyn, revealing how the two came to work together (and how Caitlyn rose up through the Enforcers).
    • For Jayce and Viktor, showing how they went from partners unlocking the mysteries of Hextech, to rivals on different sides of science.
    • A notable one for the enigmatic Singed, showing his life during his early years of being outcast by Piltover and deeply tying him to Viktor's eventual downward spiral.
  • Parents as People: In line with parenthood as one of the show's central themes, each of the parental figures in the show is presented as ultimately well-meaning towards their children, but flawed & fallible in their approaches. Vander has given up on the idea of life getting better for the people of the underground, his adopted children included, & focuses on trying to stop things from getting any worse. Jayce's mother nearly sabotages his dream & reputation to prevent his banishment. Caitlyn's parents initially forbid her friendship with Jayce after his disgrace, & later try and stifle her career as an enforcer out of concern for her safety & status. Hiemerdinger, as father of the city, urges focus on caution and high ideals but is blind to the corruption under his nose & offers no real solutions for the city's problems due to his long view approach. Mel's mother exiled her from Noxus to spare herself the guilt of having to make the hard decisions to protect the family in the cut-throat, war-like empire. And Silco encourages Jinx's worst instincts & behaviors, but does so due to his own twisted morals viewing them as good qualities that make her strong.
  • Portal Crossroad World: With the creation of the Hexgate, Piltover essentially becomes this, with it being "merely" the rest of the continent rather than other worlds. The Hexgate can accelerate an airship across massive distances, meaning its fastest for every airship to travel first to Piltover to be sent to their destination. This has been a major economic boon for the city.
  • Power Fist:
    • Vander wielded two home-made looking cast-iron fists in his rebellion against Piltover, but hung them up when he adopted Vi and Powder. Vi wields Vander's gloves to defend him against a small army of Mooks, only being driven back by a Shimmer-boosted Deckard.
    • Jayce also shows off a prototype mining glove capable of crushing a boulder with ease. No points for guessing who will end up wielding them.
  • Prisons Are Gymnasiums: Downplayed to a degree since Vi was already fairly muscular as a teenager and capable of beating up a small army of goons by herself. But in a Hellhole Prison she becomes even more muscular, capable of punching holes into concrete walls.
  • Psycho Serum: Shimmer, a drug developed by Silco and Singed. It enhances the user's strength and durability at the cost of turning them into monstrous and violent hulking giants. Notably, those affected by the drug gain pinkish-purple irises under its influence, with the exception of Deckard, who gains blue irises instead. After the Time Skip, further experimentation has allowed them to moderate the dosage and limit the mutations, only producing monsters when they want to.
  • "Psycho" Strings:
    • Frenetic string accompaniment tends to underscore pivotal moments for the unstable Powder/Jinx.
    • Those affected by Shimmer usually have their grunts and yells underscored by a set of these, emphasizing the dehumanizing and unsettling effects the serum.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni:
    • As kids, red-pink haired Vi was mostly the Red to her blue haired younger sister Powder's Blue: her color scheme is reddish, her personality is more aggressive, and she fights with her fists rather than invented gadgets. But, as the older of the two, she's also more mature and not quite as reckless. When they reunite after Powder has metamorphosed into Jinx, Vi is comparatively much more stable than Jinx who undergoes mood swings and violent tempers.
    • As an adult, Vi is also the Red yet another blue haired character, Caitlyn who recruits her for a criminal investigation. Caitlyn's reasons to working together are professional (even if she's a bit of a Cowboy Cop), analyzes evidence methodically, shows appropriate caution entering the Undercity, and fights from a distance with a rifle. Vi's reasons for working together are strongly fueled by emotions reuniting with Powder, uses personal connections to get information, recklessly attacks her enemies the moment she sees them, and brawls up close.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Heimerdinger's pet poro. Imagine a furry sphere slightly smaller than a basketball with tiny eyes, ram's horns, stubby legs, and a fur mustache. It appears to be blind in its left eye, and also makes high-pitched squeaks and barks like a lap dog.
  • Riddle for the Ages: It's easy to assume Vander and Silco's falling out was over Vander choosing peace as a result of becoming a father. But Vander doesn't have the facial hair he has when leading the rebellion on the bridge in Silco's flashback to Vander trying to drown him. So why did these two men close enough to call each other brother become so murderous to each other? With both men dead, we'll never know.
  • Running Gag: Mel Medarda is introduced shopping for a kids' toy (a steampunky version of a Rubik's Cube from the looks of it), which she then presents to one of her fellow councilors for his birthday, claiming it is only "for the sharpest of minds". Every single scene he has in this episode and the next ones shows him trying to solve it, and he's still at it even after the multi-year Time Skip between episodes 3 and 4.
  • Shining City: Piltover, the "City of Progress", by reputation. It's a beautiful city that was founded in the wake of some magical conflicts, has a very elegant color palette (white and gold), and especially post-timeskip has become especially prosperous due to its technological advancement. But there's definitely an element of Bread and Circuses with the Piltover Enforcers acting as oppressors to the lower-class of Zaun and having to pacify the upper-class with a fall guy after Jayce's apartment accidentally gets blown up by Vi and her gang.
  • Ship Tease: Vi and Caitlyn's budding relationship drips with Homoerotic Subtext with all of their interactions having increasingly romantic undertones as the show progresses.
    • Caitlyn and Vi's early dynamic is very Slap-Slap-Kiss, especially during the scene where they head to the brothel in Episode 5. At one point Vi even tells Caitlyn "You're hot, Cupcake" before doing a Wall Pin of Love on her and asking if she's interested in men or women; Caitlyn is clearly flustered, but she doesn't look for an exit and her eyes are fixed right on Vi's face. Later, as Vi is leaving the brothel, she notices Caitlyn flirting with a female patron and smiles to herself as though she's happy to know that Caitlyn is interested in women.
    • After Caitlyn saves Vi from Sevika we get more intimate scenes such as Vi saying she calls Caitlyn "Cupcake" because she's so sweet. Later when it becomes obvious that Vi's injuries are life threatening Caitlyn goes to find a doctor, when the "doctor" demands a trade for her cure Caitlyn doesn't hesitate to trade her rifle (her only weapon) for the cure. Once back with Vi Caitlyn helps her calm down after the cure hits her system, with the the two staring into each others eyes their lips not even an inch apart.
    • When the two are captured by the firelights and despite being angry with each other, Caitlyn demands they let Vi go and that she is the one they want. When Vi reveals she's fine, Caitlyn is flustered and says she was worried about her. Later in the episode when Vi decides to return to the Undercity, she and Caitlyn share a hug, and as they part Vi strokes Caitlyn's cheek. When things go bad and a shot rings out, Vi immediately turns around yelling for Caitlyn (even though her Childhood Friend Ekko was also there).
    • When they have a very intimate talk on Caitlyn's bed with a soul-splitting Held Gaze and tender face caress (seriously, the sexual tension is insane).
    • When they part ways in the rain after failing to get the help they need from the council, both of them are obviously feeling anguish, especially after Caitlyn asks if their relationship is really impossible, followed by Caitlyn feeling tormented about it in the shower.
    • In the final episode of Season 1, for the first time in the entire season we see Vi absolutely terrified, all by the idea that Caitlyn might have become one of Jinx's victims, and just before The Reveal Vi's mind flashes to that intimate moment they had on Cait's bed.
  • Shout-Out:
    • One of the Firelights's masks is very similar to that of Corvo Attano from Dishonored.
    • The top half of Mel's cleavage in her flashback is reminiscent of the Orzhov Syndicate sigil.
    • Violet is at one point threatened by some hoodlums in the slums. She compliments one of them on how nice his coat is before beating him up and taking it as her own, and she proceeds to wear this coat for the entire rest of the story.
    • Vander in the opening scene looks identical to Jim Raynor. Further cemented after the first Time Skip as he's revealed to be a disillusioned Rebel Leader seen mostly in a retro styled bar (though as The Bartender rather than The Alcoholic). For extra hilarity, his nemesis and one-time friend and partner in rebellion has clothing tastes very similar to those of Arcturus Mengsk (and is responsible for turning an innocent young woman into a psychotic monster who later kills him). This may have something to do with Charles Lee, the artist who designed Vander, previously working at Blizzard on StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void cinematics.
    • At the end of the third episode, Silco is embracing and comforting Powder, who has just been slapped and abandoned by her older sister. The final shot frames Powder's right eye between Silco's arms — she's wearing the same expression as Alexandre Cabanel's Lucifer and the lightning makes her eye color appear purplish pink (the same she will later get as Jinx). The context of this situation is that Powder has just accidentally killed all of her adoptive family and that the overwhelming guilt is going to drive her into insanity. Furthermore, this frame parallels one of the promotional posters, where Powder is being protectively hugged by her older sister and has a more innocent expression. In a sense, this represents how Powder went from a difficult childhood with a loving family to being adopted by a well-intentioned but toxic man who uses her as an assassin.
  • Solar Punk: The Firelight's base is built around an enormous tree thriving in the depths of the city. A symbol of resilience in the dark of the underground. Building joyful, technological communities intertwined with nature is at the heart of the aesthetics of Solarpunk. The fact that their communities focus on art, mutual aid, and community defense against Silco and the encroaching shimmer epidemic speaks to the somewhat anarchistic social side of solar punk sensibilities.
  • Spoiler Cover: Though it lacks meaningful context, the poster for the Secret Cinema live event spoils the season 1 finale regarding which chair Jinx ends up choosing to determine who the "real" her is from then on.
  • Stacked Characters Poster: The main poster of the show arranges the main characters (Vi, Jinx, Jayce, Viktor, Caitlyn, Mel, Silco, and Ekko) in a stack.
  • Steampunk: The general aesthetics and technology level of the series, with Hextech as the setting's take on Magitek. Fashions are reminiscent of those from the late 19th to early 20th centuries. Airships are a common mode of transport, cars are primitive, and personal weapons are usually knives or fairly standard (if cool-looking) firearms. Most tech is purely mechanical and analog, with electronics existing as a rarity at best.
  • Symbolic Blood: Of the sweat and spit go flying on every hit variety. Blood is mostly for showing serious injuries so a lot of hits have clear liquid go flying on taking a hard hit that isn't fully debilitating.
  • Tainted Veins: People who take the Shimmer prototypes in the first act get bulging purple veins. Later, the drug is refined so that this no longer happens.
  • Take It to the Bridge: Piltover and Zaun are connected by a large bridge, where the opening scene as well as the showdown between Jinx and Ekko take place.
  • Take Me Instead:
    • A serious example where first Vi and then Vander offer themselves as scapegoats so Piltover will withdraw its Enforcers from Zaun to prevent violence from breaking out by the increasingly frustrated people of Zaun.
    • A comedic example where Caitlyn begs Ekko to let Vi go and punish her instead. Vi is actually fine and listening in pure amusement.
    • A more subtle but serious example is when Jayce reads Silco's terms and agrees to them, on one condition; Jinx needs to be handed over. Without hesitation, Silco tries to put the blame for her actions on himself, lying that she was doing it under his orders. Jayce knows better than to take away the man he's making the deal with, and stands firm on his counter-request.
  • Tattooed Crook: Something that Vi and Jinx share after the time skip are their prominent tattoos; Vi's signature VI tattoo on her right cheek as well as her arms, back, and neck, while Jinx's are in her right arm and the right side of her abdomen. Then there's Silco's unnamed Giant Mook and chemlord Finn, who are also covered in tattoos.
  • The Teaser: Before every episode, with 7 out of 9 of them showing flashbacks of the main characters in a formative moment, usually as kids.
  • Technicolor Science: The Shimmer serum is glowing violet.
  • Three-Act Structure: Squared. Arcane is divided into three acts, and each act consists of three episodes.
  • Time Skip: After the very first scene shows Vi and Powder as young children, the rest of Act 1 skips forward to Vi as a teenager and Powder still a kid. Act 2 jumps forward again, with Vi as a young adult and Jinx as a teenager.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: Whenever a scene switches to Jinx's perspective in Act 2 onwards, her hallucinations begin to affect the show itself, there are constant quick cuts, flashbacks have crude and distorted faces drawn over them, inaudible whispers can be occasionally heard in the background, and Mylo and Claggor's ghosts appear to haunt Jinx.
  • Tragedy: The whole show could just as well be titled "The Tragedy of Jinx". To wit: By the final scene in the final episode, Jinx has burned all her bridges, more or less permanently prevented peace between Piltover and Zaun, and made clear that she will never return to the innocent child she once was. It's a similar tragedy to that of Anakin Skywalker becoming Darth Vader, where a major character does not die physically but undergoes a spiritual death instead.
    • The tragedy isn't confined to Jinx, either. Just about every character in season 1 is doing what they think is their best in a bad situation, but their best simply isn't enough as Piltover and Zaun edge ever closer to war. As the final scene roles, the viewer can only watch as the last, best chance for peace is a split second from literally going up in flames.
  • Transformation Horror: The effects of early Shimmer on the body are not pretty with grotesquely bulging muscles and purple veins all over the body. It's also incredibly painful.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: Over the course of Season 1 we have basically two storylines, the story of Vi and Powder/Jinx, two young girls from the slums dealing with their lot in life, and the story of Jayce and Viktor, two young scientists out to prove themselves and change the world. The two stories have barely any on-screen interaction, but in the end, are heavily tied to one another.
  • Undercity: The Undercity of Piltover is a classic inhabited example. It's horribly polluted with fissures poisoning the air and rife with crime and poverty.
  • Urban Segregation: Though by the time of the game's canon, the undercity of Piltover has seceded to become the nation of Zaun, during the show, it plays this to a T. The upper city of Piltover is shining bright, very clean, and very upper class while the undercity at first looks like the worst Dickensian depiction of London. After Silco takes over, it upgrades more to a very neon-tinged slum of crime and poverty.
  • Vague Age: While Heimerdinger and Jayce outright state their ages (Jayce says he's 24 in Act 1 and Heimerdinger is 307), every other character's age is left vague. Word of God states that Caitlyn and Vi are around 14-16 and Powder is 11-12ish in Act 1. The Timeskip to Act 2 is stated to have aged them 6-7 years.
  • Vagueness Is Coming: Starting toward the latter half of Act 3, there begins to be hints and implications that Piltover has more then just Zaun to worry about, the rest of the world is seeing the city's growth and prosperity as well as its inner turmoil, with some, like Ambessa, openly showing that they want to exploit the unrest in the city for their own agendas.
  • Villain Has a Point: Silco may resort to some horrifically extreme methods wanting to start war with Piltover, but he does have a point on how Piltover needlessly antagonizes and oppresses the people living underside. There is also the genuine question of whether violent resistance is justified over accepting being the underclass.
  • Wardens Are Evil: The Warden of the Stillwater Prison is a loathsome man who is indifferent to the fact that some of his prisoners haven't even been sentenced for any crime and has them beaten regularly as a matter of course.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Childhood friends, even. Flashbacks to Ekko and Powder happily playing as children with wooden sword and paintball gun play right before Ekko attacks Jinx with a metal pipe while she's trying to nail him with bullets. He ultimately can't finish the beating because of his memories.
  • Wretched Hive: In contrast to the shining beacon on the hill that is Piltover, Zaun is depicted as this, with rampant crime, exploitation of the lower class, prostitution, and oppression of the masses. It becomes even worse after Silco takes over.
  • Wrong Side of the Tracks: Or wrong side of the strait. On one end of the bridge lies gleaming buildings, technology and innovation. On the other side is poverty, pollution, and crime.
  • Zeppelins from Another World: Piltover's steampunk aesthetic means it's crowded with airships especially once the Hexgate is built, making the city a hub of airship transportation. Powder dreams of riding one someday while Mylo boasts he'll shoot one down one day. Mylo never gets to accomplish his dream but at least Jinx got to have a shootout in an airship.

"We can't change what fate has in store for us, but we don't have to face it alone."
 
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Alternative Title(s): Arcane League Of Legends

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Airships over Piltover

The city of Piltover has become a hub for airship transportation in the fantasy world of Arcane.

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