Corporate Samurai

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"A person in a conflict-oriented profession (i.e. assassin, negotiator, advertising personnel, etc) who follows a samurai-like code of ethics. This generally means limiting collateral damage (whatever that might be, depending on the profession), treating their job as 'just business (not bringing personal animosity into competition),' and respecting competitors in their profession. Coined as a part of the cyberpunk movement in science fiction, and exemplified by Case in Neuromancer by William Gibson, and Hiroaki Protagonist in Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson."
—Urban Dictionary

A Corporate Samurai has talents that are in high demand by one or more of the following: Mega Corps, The Syndicate, The Cartel, Law Enforcement, Inc., warlords, other power brokers or royalty. The Corporate Samurai will associate and interact at the executive level and works for or possibly as a Corrupt Corporate Executive.

Often, the Corporate Samurai will be The Dragon or The Brute if part of the Five-Bad Band.

Corporate Samurai are similar to Street Samurai. The biggest difference is that the Corporate Samurai are not Ronin, due to the fact that they are retained by or work for a corporation, or on contract in the Private Sector. The Corporate Samurai are often highly trained as Professional Killers, Ninja, Assassins, special ops, Hired Guns, Private Military Contractors, or former intelligence operatives. In Westerns this person may work as a Pinkerton Detective or for the Railroad.

Similar to a bag man but at a higher level and with more responsibility, the Corporate Samurai is often responsible for whole operations or campaigns, rather than simple mook wet work. The Corporate Samurai has, through merit and ability, risen above Red Shirt status. He may also be more cerebral and less kinetic with his approach to conflict resolution. He will often be a Man of Wealth and Taste and a Badass Normal, and will usually be a Badass in a Nice Suit. Often the Corporate Samurai is sent to deal with situations and to engineer or arrange outcomes that a simple mook couldn't handle.

Taken from the Richard K. Morgan Takeshi Kovacs novels, and "Market Forces". This trope is found throughout Cyberpunk and hard boiled noir, among many other genres.

Examples of Corporate Samurai include:

Anime and Manga

  • Mifune, Soul Eater's character, Infinite One-Sword Style practitioner, bodyguard and Black*Star's Rival was this in the past, working for a crime family. However, he quit when he was sent to capture or kill a witch that turned out to be a little girl; he released her and devoted his life to protect her.
    • He still is this as he works for Arachnaphobia now.

Comic Books

  • The Specialist from Spider-Man 2099 is a quite literal example, a literal samurai mercenary working for various Mega Corp organizations in the future.
  • Jack Pierce from The Exec by Doug Miers and Carlos Paul.
  • During the years before Iron Man discarded his Secret Identity, he claimed that he was one, working for Tony Stark.



  • John Nike in Jennifer Government.
  • The Envoy Corps and many powerplayers in the Takeshi Kovacs novels.
  • In Discworld, Scholarship Student members of the Assassins' Guild often seem to be these. The Fifth Elephant has Vetinari's clerk Inigo Skinner who turns out to be a badass assassin, and Making Money indicates that a whole bunch of "dark clerks" work for Vetinari. On the antagonist side, the villain of Making Money has an assassin on staff, who when not doing his job is a calm guy who likes to read for pleasure.
  • Case from Neuromancer.
  • Hiro Protagonist from Snow Crash.
  • Technic History‎‎: Dominick Flandry is an intelligence agent for the Terran Empire. While he is unscrupulous, he has a code of honor and a respect for his opponents and a cause(delaying the downfall of civilization).
    • Poul Anderson's Polesotechnic League (which is a loose trade confederation) has apparently a few of these around or knows where to find them. In any event if Van Rjn and his fellow tycoons need someone's head cracked they can certainly arrange the headcracking.
  • Vorkosigan Saga: Miles Vorkosigan is an agent of Barrayaran Imperial Security disguised as commander of a mercenary band and using it to carry out Barrayaran interests under the table.

Live Action TV

  • Francis Wolcott, the agent of tycoon George Hearst in Deadwood.
  • Marcus Hamilton, The Dragon of the Senior Partners in Angel.
  • Michael Weston in Burn Notice was a Street Samurai who was formerly a Corporate Samurai; he previously did grey and black ops for the CIA that they did not want done by an official employee, but he was fired for supposedly embarrassing them (someone else actually framed him). A local, and mysterious, criminal organization in Miami does lean on him for work by threatening him and his family. On one episode he pretends to be a rich people's mercenary hostage negotiator without the family's consent and gets away with it by getting the captive back without having to pay ransom. He also has several contacts who are more unambiguous versions of this character type.

Tabletop Games

  • Traveller: Several Megacorporations, Noble families and the Imperium maintain a number of these. Their nature is up to the taste of the GM and PCs and not much is told about them. It is told that on occasion Megacorporations will have an interchange of sabotage. One notable example of this is the feud between the Oberlindes and the Tukera Family Business'
  • Shadowrun has a literal example of this with the Renraku Corporation's Red Samurai, who are employed as an elite security force. They even wear classic samurai-looking armor and carry katanas.

Video Games

  • Final Fantasy VII has the Turks.
  • Shadow Warrior is set in a world of corporate ninjas. Lo Wang was once Zilla's most loyal corporate ninja until he learned that his employer was summoning monsters from the netherworld and planning to take over the world and quit, resulting in Zilla taking out a Contract on the Hitman.
  • Adam Jensen in Deus Ex Human Revolution serves as such for Sarif Industries, while the Tyrants (Namir, Barret, Federova) serve as these for the conspiracy.
  • Colonel Richard Vanek in F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin as the commander of the Armacham Black Ops units. In FEAR 3, the Phase Commanders in general serve these roles as commanders of Armacham's mercenaries.
  • Conrad Marburg in Alpha Protocol.

Western Animation

  • Dethklok's manager/lawyer/CFO Charles Foster Ofdensen in Metalocalypse.
  • In one episode of Samurai Jack, Jack joins to a crime organization in order to meet with Aku, attire and all.

Real Life

  • In an Old West version, freight caravans along the Santa Fe trail (from the East Coast to the newly conquered Southwest) had large numbers of these (in the form of hired guns) to protect against bandits and hostile Indians and what not. Kit Carson was among the more famous to take this job.
  • The East India Company's army and navy might have counted for this.
  • Already corporations with a large amount of vulnerable electronics employ cyberwarfare professionals some of them former black hats.
  • In Russia there are stories of businessmen taking up the slack for pay-arrears by using local soldiers as security guards.
  • Really anyone who has something worth stealing will also be inclined to make some investment into protecting it however they choose to go about it.