- Complete Monster: The title character is a ruthless, coldhearted assassin, but he's practically a saint compared to the following miscreants:
- Queen Bee: Thomas Waltham, the political adviser to prospective President Robert Hardy, is a sleazy and corrupt political operator who plots to be Vice President and the endless voice in Hardy's head. Having dealt with Hardy's mistress and illegitimate daughter, Waltham had the former murdered, then raped the young girl and sold her into white slavery for profit before lying to Hardy about it. Seeking to have the girl, now Sonia the Queen Bee, killed, Waltham hires Golgo 13 and allies with a corrupt general to annihilate an entire village full of civilians before attempting to exert his influence to crush Hardy even further.
- Top Secret Episode: Adolf Hitler himself (aka "Smirk" in the US version) is the true ruler of the so-called Drek Empire and mastermind behind the theft of The Virus and vaccine. Framing Golgo 13 for the theft and steadily killing his contacts and anyone who knows of it, Hitler plots to unleash the virus on the world before attempting to set off a nuclear bomb when Golgo confronts him.
- The Gun at Am Shara: Saddam Hussein is the dictator of Iraq. Recruiting the weapons inventor Murai, Saddam funds the design of the "Supergun", capable of reaching even the United States. Provoking an attack from the US by bombing and destroying Kurdish villages, Saddam intends on firing a shell to annihilate Washington DC, including a nerve agent with a 45 percent mortality rate to completely erase the city.
- 2008 anime:
- "The Glass Fortress": Vargas Walton is a seemingly philanthropic millionaire who lives in an untouchable island fortress. Funding terrorist groups to kill tens of thousands of innocents, Walton gets the money by playing a charitable man who takes in lost women, giving them hope, only to have them harvested for their organs in titanic numbers, proving himself to be, as one victim's father calls him: a heartless monster who deals in hearts.
- "The Brutes' Banquet": Gabriel Rosmacdonald and Ignmar Petensen are a pair of sadistic millionaires who derive pleasure from the pain of others. Having filmed numerous atrocities, the two have seen numerous villages massacred and ethnically cleansed to be filmed by them, and many others tortured with some even fed to swarms of piranha. The two now bet on blood sports to pit others to the death in arenas where some will inevitably be killed, including the skilled assassin Spartacus whom they send against Golgo 13 on guise of protecting them. Their behavior so revolts Spartacus that he uses his final moments to pay Golgo 13 to make sure they do not outlive him long.
- Escapist Character: Just like Duke's inspiration James Bond, Duke is a consummate assassin who is very, very successful with the ladies.
- Ho Yay: Robert Hardy and Thomas Waltham are quite... close to each other, to say the least. The fact that Waltham had Hardy's mistress taken away enforces this even further.
- Magnificent Bastard: "Golgo 13" himself, real name Duke Togo, spends most of his stories coming up with a complex gambit to fool his target and get him in a position to take his shot. A master sniper, Golgo has been active decades with incredibly few failures and a sterling reputation as a professional. In one instance, he tricks a CIA traitor into leading him to her boss while wearing a red coat against the snowy background to snipe them both in one shot. In another, knowing a mobster was faster on the draw than him, Golgo fools the mobster into being occupied with his dominant arm holding on to a woman so Golgo could outdraw him. Throughout every story, Golgo is characterized by his cold charisma and unreadable expression, always having a plan to take out his target, no matter who it is.
- Memetic Mutation: Duke's face has gone memetic much like the Yaranaika face among Japanese artists, and gets slapped on just about any character's face as a source of quick comedy due to its out-of-place 'coolness'.
- Moral Event Horizon:
- In the first anime movie The Professional, Corrupt Corporate Executive Leonard Dawson, seeking revenge for the assassination of his son Robert, crosses the horizon when he becomes desperate enough to concede to a Psycho for Hire's demand to be allowed to rape Robert's wife. And things get worse from there.
- In the series, Togo passes a potential MEH of his own when he sleeps with and later kills an innocent who makes the mistake of following him to a job. This is played around due to Togo's Pragmatic Villainy: He won't betray a client even under torture and one of the few times he failed ("Telepath") he tried to return the money (he later made good on it). However, he doesn't care who his client is, who his target is, or the reasons behind the hit. As long as he's paid and not double-crossed, eh, anything goes.
- Some of the dialogue in the movies can invoke this, such as Rita's come on line to Duke:I don't want your money. I just want you to pull my trigger lovingly and softly.
- Most of the voice acting in the 2008 series, while not great, usually served its purpose well enough and was an overall adequate experience. Some of the voices, however, were decidedly off the mark. Case in point, a group of Italian gangsters in one of the earlier episodes.
- Some of the dialogue in the movies can invoke this, such as Rita's come on line to Duke:
- Serial Numbers Filed Off: Takao Sakai originally wrote Golgo 13 as a way to continue making James Bond-style stories while bypassing any copyright issues with Ian Fleming.
- Special Effect Failure: The infamous CG helicopter scene in The Professional. It was the very first use of computer animation ever (beating The Adventures of André & Wally B. by one year), and it shows.
- Superlative Dubbing: Even Bennett the Sage, in a review that was largely critical of the film, was blown away by Dwight Schultz's performance as Robert Hardy, specifically singling out a scene where the character screams in anguish over his lost mistress and daughter.
- What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?: The codename "Golgo 13" is apparently a reference to Golgotha, the hill where Jesus Christ was crucified, and Judas Iscariot, considered the 13th person at the last supper Passover meal, (though, in reality, there were AT LEAST 14 people there, it's a common association). For bonus points, the Japanese logo for the series prominently features a skeleton wearing a crown of thorns...
YMMV / Golgo 13