- Accidental Innuendo:Batou: If it looks like you've gone in too deep I'm pulling the plug and taking you home!
- Adaptation Displacement: The first film is far better known than the manga it's based on, particularly in the West where it really took off. Today's generation of anime fans, however, seem to be more familiar with Stand Alone Complex than either the films or the manga.
- Animation Age Ghetto: Innocence somehow carries a TV-PG rating despite its violence which includes peoples' heads getting smacked off and focus on the sexual trafficking of minors.
- Awesome Music: Kenji Kawai's breathtaking score for both films. The climax of Innocence is practically a ballet.
- Big-Lipped Alligator Moment:
- The lesbian sex scene in the original manga. Comes out of nowhere, is never brought up again in that book.
- Man/Machine Interface had a sex scene involving a female African soldier getting gang-banged by 3 other soldiers. Shirow admitted to removing it from the North American release because it really added nothing to the story.
- Contested Sequel: The film Innocence. Some fans consider it an Even Better Sequel or a worthy successor, others a pretentious bore.
- Designated Hero: In the original manga, while she's on the job, the Major is not a nice lady; at times, she seems to approach being a Sociopathic Hero. For example, in Section 9's first mission to determine if they would even be approved as an organization, Motoko ends up saving the lives of boys who were working in hellish totalitarian conditions and barely being fed. When they ask if she was here to help them, she told them that they have to make their own lives and not rely on hand-outs. Ouch.
- Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: The first movie can be interpreted as the Major leaving behind her attachments to her human existence and becoming a being of pure thought. The second movie's plot is more straightforward, but still contains lots of mind screwing.
- Fandom Rivalry: With the Scarlett Johansson film.
- Fetish Retardant: A sizable faction of the fans maintains that Man/Machine Interface is unreadable because of this. The other faction maintains it is only readable because of that.
- Germans Love David Hasselhoff: In America, it's a bona fide classic, one of the earlier examples of serious, artistic animation. In Japan it was nothing unheard of and was, well, slow-paced and artistic, rarely a recipe for a box office hit.
- Hilarious in Hindsight: The Puppet Master turns out to be a project developed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Section 9's rival, Section 6, an AI developed for political reasons, such as manipulating information. When the program becomes sentient, it then tries to defect, with Section 6 desperate to recover it for fear that the revelation of its existence would cause massive political fallout. Twenty years later, and the scandal revolving around the NSA's warrantless surveillance and Edward Snowden's leaks almost takes it out of the realm of fiction.
- Ho Yay: The Puppet Master is referred to as "he," but is eventually seen in a female body and with (in the 2.0 remake) a female voice. And with all that talk with Kusanagi about "merging"...
- Most Wonderful Sound: The ringing bells of the Japanese wedding music that's used as the main theme of the first film. Bennett the Sage used them as a hint to how Manga Entertainment were able to recover after the release of Mad Bull 34.
- Narm: The overabundance of philosophical quotes in Innocence could be seen as one. It's as if one of the writers brought home a book of famous quotes and was determined to have the characters recite every last one.
- Paranoia Fuel: The possibility of having your brain hacked. In the second film, we get to see what the result of such hacking looks like from the victim's point of view. It's rather unnerving.
- This is also a psychological symptom of full-body prosthesis, due to the disconnection between a person's identity as their ghost and their artificial body. The Major in the first film in particular is quite paranoid about her origins, commenting that she sometimes worries that her ghost is that of a dead person put into a cyborg body, or that she isn't human at all, and has no way to really tell in any event, other than thinking that she is. With the aforementioned brain hacking, even that isn't a sure thing.
- Signature Scene: The Major jumping through a skyscraper window and camouflaging as she falls to the ground in her first story. The 1995 movie used it, Stand Alone Complex used variations of it, even the Scarlett Johansson movie used it.
- Another is the climactic scene where the Major fights the spider tank. This scene has been referenced in almost every adaptation in one form or another since then, usually with Motoko fighting some large mech and trying to tear a hatch off, getting one or both arms taken off, then having a robotic manipulator of some sort attempt to crush her head. Sometimes individually, sometimes all at once, but all make reference to the scene in some manner. The scene appears in the original manga, but in a different context and without the weight given to it in the adaptations. It lasts for about a page, and is treated as just one more day on the job.
- Superlative Dubbing: The original film's English dub (courtesy of Manga Entertainment) was one of the very first anime dubs to aim directly at an adult audience, contain excellent acting across the board, and have a script that was extremely faithful to the original Japanese with minimal use of extraneous profanity, a practice that was all too common back in the early-to-mid 90s, often used to supposedly make the product seem "edgier". The dub still holds up extraordinarily well today despite the many advances in dubbing courtesy of such shows like Cowboy Bebop, Fullmetal Alchemist and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. It is so good that, in fact, when the remake Ghost in the Shell 2.0 was localized for English release, rather than create a new dub from scratch, the original 1995 English dub was reused wholesale with no changes. Now that is impressive.
- Woolseyism: The English title is the subtitle of the original work. The actual Japanese title, Kokaku Kidoutai, translates to "Mobile Armored Tank Police". (Shirow Masamune mentions in the preface to Man/Machine Interface that the Japanese title is a huge misnomer for M/MI, because the story is no longer about the police, nor does the protagonist ride in an armored tank. He considered changing it, but...nah.)
YMMV / Ghost in the Shell