"Long ago, in a distant land, I, Aku, the shape-shifting Master of Darkness, unleashed an unspeakable evil! But a foolish samurai warrior wielding a magic sword stepped forth to oppose me. Before the final blow was struck, I tore open a portal in time and flung him into the future, where my evil is law! Now, the fool seeks to return to the past, and undo the future that is Aku..."
So begins the introductory sequence to this cartoon from Genndy Tartakovsky, creator of Dexter's Laboratory. It tells the story of a young samurai who, after escaping the destruction of his kingdom as a young boy and being trained by warriors from around the globe, returns to his kingdom to defeat the villainous demon-sorcerer Aku. As the opening monologue above indicates, before the samurai could finish him off, Aku sent him thousands of years into the future, into a world that Aku had crushed neatly under his feet.
Inspired by some jive-talking locals to adopt the alias "Jack", the samurai now wanders the world, fighting the machinations of Aku (and other evildoers) and trying to find a way home.
Supposedly, Genndy intended to finish off the story with a movie, but in any case, Cartoon Network called it a day after 52 episodes, and instead of its expected Grand Finale, it ended on an episode about Jack carrying a baby around. Over a decade later, however, the show's still strong fan following persuaded Cartoon Network to revive the series for a fifth and final 10 episode season, essentially the Grand Finale movie split into ten 25 minute sections. The season was aired on the Toonami block of CN's Adult Swim for being Darker and Edgier and aimed at a more mature audience, and saw the completion of Jack's journey after his fated final showdown with Aku, with the series finally ending on a bittersweet note.
Noteworthy for its outline free style, impressive action sequences, and long stretches without dialogue. In the final season particularly, the show took unusual stylistic risks, such as the episode in which Jack fights a Ninja entirely in light and shadow.
- 0% Approval Rating: Played straight most of the time, but subverted in that Aku seems to be aware of it, and made a rather clumsy attempt to get children to like him in the episode "Aku's Fairy Tales". The rest of the time - seeing as almost nothing can hurt him - he doesn't care. It wasn't always quite down to zero percent though, Jack's largely to blame for people thinking there could be anything besides Aku's rule.
- Action Girl: The Scotsman's wife; she single-handedly beats an army both her husband and Jack -- two of the greatest warriors ever -- had trouble fighting, and starts off said fight by punching a god in the gut. Just because said god called her fat. Did I mention that she was entirely unarmed?
- She is also one of few people Jack, without question, ran away from a fight with.
- A Day in the Limelight: The Scotsman gets some focus in XLV and XLVI ("Scotsman Saves Jack"). X9 in "Tale of X9".
- Actor Existence Failure: Mako Iwamatsu (Aku's Voice Actor), passed away in 2006, leaving The Movie in a bit of a lurch (especially since there were only two primary cast members in the first place.)
- Ambiguous Robots: Any time Jack slices someone/something up, it's usually mechanical, presumably to avoid explosions of gore in a children's cartoon. (And if not, it's likely to be something Made of Evil, like Aku himself or his demon minions.) Though many of his enemies are just clear-cut robots, others don't show any signs of being mechanical until we see the stumps of their dismembered limbs crackling and spewing oil.
- Appropriated Appellation: "Jack" is not his name, but rather a slang term much like "Guy" or "Dude" that he chooses to identify himself by.
- Art Shift: Used to great effect to make the visions Jack experiences (and the episode as a whole) in "Jack and the Haunted House" more terrifying.
- Also, in "The Princess and the Bounty Hunters", when each bounty hunter tells his or her plans for defeating Jack, the animation is rendered to closely represent the art styles of each bounty hunter's homeworld: traditional Japanese brushstrokes for the Hive Mind cat hunters, a filter to give the effect of a black-and-white movie for the gentleman hunter, stereotypical Russian animation for the Russian bounty hunter, traditional African art for the vaguely African hunter, and blue with white outlines for Princess Mira, giving it a science-fiction feel.
- Artificial Gill: Jack is given a device before swimming underwater to the Humongous Mecha.
- Back-to-Back Badasses: Jack and the spartan king vs the machine leader. Hard to get more badass than that.
- How about Jack and the Scotsman fighting through hordes of countless demon robots and coming out (exhausted, but) pretty much unscathed?
- Badass: Jack and the Scotsman, so very much.
- Badass Damsel: The Scotsman's wife. How did she get kidnapped in the first place?
- Baleful Polymorph: One episode saw Jack transformed into a chicken after accidentally bumping into a foul-tempered wizard on the street. He was then swept up and placed into a cockfighting match, but proceeded to kick all kinds of (chicken-sized) robot nonetheless.
- Berserk Button: Several characters have fallen into this:
- The Scotsman's wife: do not, under any circumstances, insult her appearance.
- Also, the wizard from "Chicken Jack" seems to fly off the handle pretty quickly if you bump into him and accuse him of not watching his way.
- Big Ol' Eyebrows: Or rather, GREAT FLAMING EYEBROWS!!
- Bittersweet Ending To the entire series in both a story and meta sense: As far as story-wise, Jack DOES succeed in going back to the past thanks to Ashi's help, and he DOES succeed in killing off Aku once and for all and saving the universe and billions upon BILLIONS of lives, but what does he get for his trouble? Without Aku's existence in the future, Ashi ceases to exist. She dies in Jack's arms as they were about to be married... She doesn't even reach the alter. From there, Jack wanders to a forest and is clearly heartbroken. He sits under a tree and mourns her. Then a single ladybug lands on him and seems to cheer him up at least a little. The end. Now for the meta sense. THAT is how the series as a whole ends. After ALL Jack has done, after ALL he's lost, after ALL he's been put through, THAT is how it ends for him. In a rushed 22 minute episode from a 10 episode season set 50 years after the original. Genndy is likely going to face some serious flak for this. [please verify]
- Boisterous Bruiser: The Scotsman. Da Samurai to a lesser extent, though he isn't nearly as skilled as he thinks.
- Bottomless Magazines: There were three superhuman archers that never leave their tower and actually made it rain arrows for almost a minute.
- Brawn Hilda: The Scotsman's wife and his many... many... many... daughters.
- Carnival of Killers: A lot of episodes usually feature bounty hunters contracted to take out Jack.
- Catfolk: There is a race of lion-people who are Proud Warrior Race Guys. They are commissioned by Aku to hunt Jack and succeed in doing so, only to let him go out of respect.
- The Comically Serious: Jack. He has yet to crack a joke, although (funny) insults are frequent. This is what makes certain bizarre episodes like an Alice in Wonderland Homage where Jack ends up crossdressing.
- Except for the episode where he fights the stone viking.
Jack: Surely he takes me for a fool to follow deeper into his trap.
- Or in "The Scotsman Saves Jack, Part 2." After Jack's memories are restored following his Surfer Dude amnesia:
Jack: I am forever in your debt.
- Or in "Jack vs Mad Jack", Jack delivers a deadpan line after being attacked by a cross between Chewbacca and Domo-Kun in such a manner, it's almost impossible to think how he could have said it with such a straight face.
Alien: Googooplex... (he falls unconscious)
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Aku, as evidenced any time anyone ever trusts Aku, such as the fish people, the scientist who makes the assassin robots, and Jack himself when they duel.
- The married cowboy couple that attack Jack. It is implied they love each other, but are so obsessed with money that they regularly betray each other, especially the woman. The man even has a restraining order on his wife, but he forgets it when she sweet talks him. Right when they have Jack, she betrays him, but she is unable to defeat Jack alone. Jack then ties them together and throws them off the train where they dangle comically. The woman then says that she didn't mean it and she wants her husband's help escaping promoting the man to yell something like, "The order says a hundred feet, woman! A hundred feet!"
- Cowboy Episode: Episode XXIX is set on a train, where Jack is pursued by a (married) couple of bounty hunters.
- "The order says a hundred feet, woman! A hundred feet!"
- Crazy Prepared: Jack in "Jack vs. Aku."
- Dance Battler: DJ Salvatore from "Jack and the Rave". He actually holds his own against Jack for a good while.
- Dangerously Genre Savvy: Although hero and villain alike ordinarily suffered from Contractual Genre Blindness, one episode started with a hilarious subversion - Aku confronts Jack, and then explains exactly how this confrontation is going to play out. Then he suggests that they end the endless cycle with a final duel. Of course, it's a trap. Less predictably, Jack knows it's a trap. However, Aku knows Jack knows it's a trap... but he doesn't know that Jack knows that Aku knows that Jack knows that it's a trap. Or... something like that.
- Dark Action Girl: Ikra in "The Warrior Woman" (who is obviously Aku). They get along remarkably well until she manages to pry the Idiot Ball out of his hands.
- Daylight Horror: Aku was born/freed on a sunny day.
- Deadpan Snarker: "Silently, I hoped."
- Death Seeker: The Norse warrior cursed with immortality by Aku. As a follower of the Norse religion, he needs to die in glorious battle to join his people in the afterlife, something forever denied to him due to his immortality. Not quite immortality, but being placed in a nigh-unbreakable crystal prison, from which he cannot attack or be harmed, really makes it hard to die in combat.
- Disney Death: Jack believes that he has failed to save the kids that were under the control of the Dominator and that they have all perished from electrocution. Fortunately, they have not. However, Jack believes that he failed to save the day big time and decides to submit himself to the phantom so that he can commit seppuku (AKA suicide).
- The Drifter: Jack. He once came across the lands he called home as a child; he was nostalgic for awhile... then moved on.
- Estrogen Brigade Bait/Fan Yay: Studmuffiny Jack frequently getting his clothes ripped off in battle (though this happened more in later seasons than it did in season one).
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Aku chalks down all of Jack's good actions to being a "FOOOOOLISH SAMURAI!!!" and is almost always completely flabbergasted when Jack defeats his plans.
- Evil Knockoff: Mad Jack.
- Evil Overlord: Aku.
- Expy: The "crazy round man" in "VIII" greatly resembles Domo-Kun.[context?]
- Eye Beams: Aku seems to have a whole range of abilities stemming from those awesome peepers; thus far, abilities include force blasts, incendiary force blasts, alchemy, summoning, teleportation, transformation, necromancy, and general spellcasting. Basically, whenever Aku's feeling lazy, he'll just use his eyes.
- There's also the giant sun guardian dude (presumably the Egyptian god Ra or Horus), who zaps away the three minions of Set with no trouble.
- Fairy Sexy: The fairy Jack rescues in "Jack Tales." The Spring Maiden from "Four Seasons of Death" is a significantly more sinister version.
- Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Being set in the distant future, there's the expected sci-fi fare of aliens and robots (lots and lots of robots), but the world is equally filled to the brim with zombies, elementals, demons, mystical guardians, and at least three pantheons of air. Hell, half the episodes revolve around trying to reach some magical artifact to achieve the Series Goal.
- Fire-Forged Friends: Jack and the Scotsman initially mock and fight each other, but after beating down some bounty hunters together, they become fast friends.
- Fish People: The Triceraquins from "Jack Under the Sea".
- Forged by the Gods: Jack's sword was forged by the chief deities of multiple religions using the pure spirit of his father, making it the only weapon able to kill Aku.
- Honor Before Reason: One of the more prominent examples of this is in "Jack, the Monks, and the Ancient Master's Son" where he chooses to save the lives of two monks instead of entering the portal to the past and preventing thousands of years of Aku's rule.
- If You Want Something Done Right, Do it Yourself: In the Jack Vs Aku episode, after countless of countless robot assassins failed to kill the "foolish samurai". Aku then decides to get rid of Jack himself.
"Guess it's true what they say, if you want something done, you gotta do it yourself..."
- Jerkass: Lots of characters, most notably Aku himself. It actually cost him victory at least twice (most notably when he pulled the standard "Agree not to harm someone/thing if you do X for me, then do it anyway" with the scientist who made his assassin robots, who then gave Jack the means to destroy them.)
- Jive Turkey: 'Da Samurai' is an unabashed parody of this trope.
- Just One Man: "Jack and the Three Blind Archers"
General: There are only three archers, yet they decimated my whole army. You are just one man. Do the math.
- Knight of Cerebus: Although his status as a normally funny guy is remarked below, Aku is in some episodes loyal to his title as "the master of darkness", most noticeably in "Jack and The Lava Monster" and "Tale of X9".
- Also, Mad Jack and Demongo both qualify as well, as they lack the common Laughably Evil trait shared by Aku's other minions, and came very close to offing Jack. Bonus points to Mad Jack, as his episode began with Jack facing several wacky Bounty Hunters, until he showed up.
- Laughably Evil: Aku, also Faux Affably Evil. He's one of the few genuinely, irredeemably evil villains who can come across as funny while simultaneously being threatening.
- Large Ham: Aku (just listen to the opening monologue). The late voice actor Mako makes this a crowning example of Large Ham done right.
- The Scotsman. Despite the fact he is only in a few episodes, he counts.
- The SAH-MUH-RHAI deservers a mention.
- Made of Iron: Jack.
- Made of Plasticine: The robots are made of a material which can be easily cut, kicked or even punched through.
- Averted with the assassin robots, which are invincible until their creator upgrades Jack.
- Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter: Ikra. Memorably subverted, when the daughter is Aku in disguise.
- However Evil Is Sexy was in full effect.
- Martial Pacifist: Jack.
- Meaningful Name: "Aku" is the Japanese word for "evil".
- Mecha-Mooks: To get past censoring, most enemies Jack encounters are machines. Some baddies he fights don't even look like robots until he slashes them open.
- Morality Pet: Lulu...sweet thing.
- Morphic Resonance: No matter what form you take, Aku, you cannot change your original colour motif!
- It's a good thing for him that Jack rarely sees through this anyway.
- Moses in the Bulrushes
- Necromancer: Demongo the Soul Stealer, supposedly Aku's most powerful minion.
- Nigh Invulnerability: The Time Portal Guardian in "Jack and the Traveling Creatures." Jack manages to hit him with two of his own missiles, and it only manages to piss him off because the explosion ruined his favorite suit.
- Ninja: Jack fought a robotic ninja assassin called Shinobi in one episode.
- No Name Given: Jack's real name is never revealed.
Jack: They call me... Jack.
- Noir Episode: "Tale of X9"
- Obviously Evil: Aku. Huge black figure with spikes for shoulders, chevron-like horns, a quite unusual set of teeth and GREAT FLAMING EYEBROWS!
- One-Man Army: Jack again.
- Our Dragons Are Different: "Jack and the Farting Dragon"
- Outlaw Couple: Josephine and Ezekiel Clench of "The Good, The Bad and the Beautiful."
- Personality Chip: Poor X9...
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Scotsman and Jack, respectively.
- Samurai: Obviously, but also a very specific example. In the third episode, Jack takes on the full samurai mantle against an oncoming horde: longbow, spears, katana, and full "splint" armor, riding atop the closest thing to a warsteed available. As the episode's battle progresses, he slowly gets pared down to the essentials: a katana, the badass wielding it and lots and lots of oil.
- Really 700 Years Old: Jack and Aku have been going at it since the days of medieval Japan, after all. Meanwhile, Aku is a tiny piece of a larger Eldritch Abomination killed by the gods Odin, Ra, and Vishnu.
- Rock of Limitless Water
- Samus Is a Girl: Princess Mira. Her true gender is not revealed until she takes her helmet off.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Da Samurai. His brief encounter with Jack sets him down the right path though.
- Space Jews: In one episode Jack encounters an alien race with large noses who wear what look suspiciously like yamurkles, and are being mistreated in horrible conditions by cold, uncaring oppressors who believe they are naturally superior to other races. Remind you of anything?
- The Stoic: Jack, though he does slip into being Not So Stoic every so often. Also, Jack's father, a.k.a. the emperor of Jack's home village.
- The Unintelligible: Seems to be a staple of Genndy's, but specifically in "Jack and the Scotsman", we have the redneck boss pig, "BLA-BABADUGORBLUBURDEERBLAGOLBADU!!!" Brilliantly performed by the VA in that it almost sounds like he's actually saying something, as opposed to just speaking gibberish.
- Later on though, as his mercenary army of soldiers, tanks, and walking artillery guns are approaching the heroes, "BANGBANGBANGITYBANGBANGBANG!"
- Unusual Eyebrows: Aku's flaming eyebrows (or if you prefer, his GREAT FLAMING EYEBROWS!)
- Valley Girl: More of a "Valley Guy" variant as Jack adopts the accent and mannerisms due to amnesia in "The Scotsman Rescues Jack, Parts 1 & 2"
- Violent Glaswegian: This is essentially the Scotsman's entire personality, and it's why he's one of the most popular characters.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: Aku's main power.
General Tropes Include:
- Abnormal Ammo: the snake arrow in "Jack and the Hunters"
- Absurdly Sharp Blade: Most of the swords and other bladed weapons are capable of cutting through robots made of metal easily. Of course Jack's blade is supernatural in origin, able to cut through anything. In one episode, he found that his strength wasn't enough to defeat a series of Elite Mooks but all he needed was a Powered Armor arm to give his sword the needed cutting power.
- Not all of them. the gauntlet ran out of power before Jack could destroy the sword-wielding leader. Only by calling upon the spirits of his ancestors for help in making his Absurdly Sharp Blade go Up to Eleven was Jack able to beat it.
- After the End
- Arrow Cam: The episode with the three blind archers.
- Arrow Catch: Jack does this in "Jack and the Hunters", although it's soon revealed the arrow is actually a snake!
- He also does it again in the first episode... to Robin Hood no less.
- Art Evolution: Jack's eyes, chin, and face have way more noticeable outlines in the first seven to eight episodes, which give his face a more jagged, crude, and nasty appearance.
- Art Shift: At one point, in order to facilitate one of the coolest scenes in the show, a fairly realistic portrayal of sunlight and shadows shifts to stark, absolute, clearly delineated areas of black and white. When the fight's over, it turns back. The premise is rather silly, but the execution is beautiful.
- Not to mention the fight in the Haunted House episode inside the dragon demon's world that takes on a black and white ink drawing look.
- That first scene in (Samurai vs. Ninja)
- Not to mention the fight in the Haunted House episode inside the dragon demon's world that takes on a black and white ink drawing look.
- Asteroid Thicket: Shows up in the episode "Jack and the Flying Prince and Princess"
- A-Team Montage: Seen in the pilot episode.
- Atop a Mountain of Corpses: In several episodes, most notably at the end of the pilot movie.
- Audible Sharpness: All of the time.
- Back-to-Back Badasses: Jack and the Spartan King. And it is awesome. But that's a given with this series, isn't it?
- Also, Jack and the Scotsman. It really is something to behold.
- Bag of Holding: the Scotsman's pouch
- Jack puts objects in his clothes on a regular basis
- At one point Jack manages to pull his huge straw hat out of his sleeve.
- Jack puts objects in his clothes on a regular basis
- Baleful Polymorph: Jack was turned into a chicken once. This affected his social skills more than his martial ones.
- Barehanded Blade Block: occurs in "Jack and the Hunters"
- Bash Brothers: Jack and any combative ally he meets.
- Big No
- Blade Lock
- Blade Reflection: Failed blinding attempt against the three blind archers, then became important against Mad Jack.
- Also used against the robot ninja from the black&white fight
- Black and White Morality: Jack is the most Saintly person you'll ever meet. Aku is Made of Evil (with a dash of fire and magic from an arrow).
- Brainwashed and Crazy: The children in Jack and the Rave.
- Calling Your Attacks / Explaining Your Power to the Enemy: Generally averted. Though Jack does, at one point (s1e11, fighting the Scotsman on the bridge), inform his enemy of the name and function of his attack, he does so after he attacked and was remarking on how it should have worked, but didn't.
- MAGIC RUNES LADDIE
- Chained Heat
- Charles Atlas Superpower: "You can fly?!" "No. Jump good."
- Not to mention the fact that the pilot debuts a 10-minute training montage throughout Jack's life since he was a kid, including his training with Horny Vikings, Warrior Monks, and Robin Hood, among many, many others. By the time the pilot is half done, it's proven that Jack is able to do things no mortal man could simply by virtue of being trained by the greatest warriors known.
- Chest Blaster: Mondo Bot
- Clown Car Grave
- Clothing Damage: All the time (particularly after season one). Jack must have an endless supply of those things. But it's all good.
- Cloudcuckooland: The village Jack stumbles upon in "Jack Is Naked." Even the titular Samurai was dumbfounded.
- Cowboys and Indians
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: in a future that is Aku, people with black, green, and red colors aren't generally out to help Jack.
- Combat Stilettos: Jack tries wooden ones with bladed heels in "Jack's Sandals", only to regret it when he gets wolf whistles.
- Continuity Nod: In episode XIV, "Jack Learns to Jump Good", Jack learns to jump good. In episode XLVI, while competing with the Scotsman in a jumping contest, Jack reaches the goal-branch first, in one leap. When the Scotsman comments on this, Jack simply replies "Jump good."
- In the episode before, Scotsman mentions how Jack is a protector of things, among those things, talking dogs, definitely from the second and third episodes.
- In "The Aku Infection," Jack's body is being overcome with Aku's evil. He finds the strength to overcome it by a vision of his parents, which is accompanied by cameos of the Scotsman, the talking dogs, the Woolies, the Triceraquins and others that Jack has helped against Aku.
- The Corruption: "The Aku Infection"
- Crazy Prepared It is implied that Jack's training was a well thought out plan set up by his parents in case Aku ever reappeared. It works perfectly and Jack comes back as the greatest warrior of the world at the time. Only the Scotman's wife and the Guardian of the Time Portal has been shown to be stronger.
- Crossover Cosmology: Jack's include the likes of figures from Egyptian, Hindu, Norse, and Japanese mythology. Namely, Ra and Set, Odin and the Valkyries, and Indra and Kali.
- Curb Stomp Battle: The Woolies vs the Chritchellites was a curb-stomp. Originally, the Chritchellites enslaved the Woolies with an orb of "technology" which made them unable to walk upright and it sapped their strength. Furthermore, the electric spears only worked on enslaved creatures which was an Idiot Ball move. It was then reversed when Jack helped destroy the orb. The fight that defeated the Chritchellites literally lasted minutes.
- Cut Short
- Dark Is Evil: Aku, obviously, and also his robot army.
- Decompressed Cartoon
- Defeat by Modesty: Averted. Jack does suffer Clothing Damage a lot (particularly after season one), but he doesn't give up because of it.
- Deus Ex Machina: Usually involving Jack's sword. For example, Jack was once completely overpowered by his opponent, with no chance to win. What Jack decided to do? Pray. And so the gods listened, producing a wave of holy destruction centered on Jack, enabling him to win and succesfully end the episode in one piece. Similarly, but less Egregious, it is revealed in another episode when Jack is under similar danger, that he can't be scratched by his own sword, preventing his opponent (who was wielding it) the victory.
- Development Hell: The Movie. It's been in pre-production forever, and only a few tiny snippets of news every year or so is what tells us it's not canned.
- Did You Just Punch A Celtic Demon In The Gut: Yep. She did. And that's how she started off. Do not call the Scotsman's wife fat.
- Distant Prologue: The pilot episode, as well as the two-parter "The Birth of Evil" take place in what appears to be Medieval Japan.
- Distracted by the Sexy: Jack tends to have a bit of a problem with ladies like Josephine Clench and Ikra, who is really Aku in disguise. In the Cartoon Network Action Pack "Jack and Jill" comic, he lets his guard down (again) for , an onna bugeisha (warrior woman) that he calls "Jill", who turns out to be Aku. Again.
- Doomy Dooms of Doom: "Jack and the Smackback", the Dome of Doom.
- Dual-Wielding: Jack did this with shields in a few episodes.
- Eldritch Abomination: Aku came from a very, very small piece of one that the gods were too busy beating the snot out of to notice it hadn't completely burnt up from their holy weapons. It fell all the way to some unimportant blue-marble type planet. Add some Nice Job Breaking It, Hero and Aku was given anthropomorphic form....
- Empathic Weapon: Aku gets ahold of the sword at one point, but it fails to even scratch Jack (it strikes with a flat metallic "tink" sound) because it won't harm the pure. Aku's reaction is one of the most hilarious Oh Crap faces in animation history.
- Specifically, his GREAT FLAMING EYEBROWS blow out like candles.
- Enemy Without: Mad Jack, an incarnation of Jack's dark side brought to life by Aku.
- Enthralling Siren: In "The Scotsman Saves Jack", and of the humanoid with enthralling voices variety.
- Evil-Detecting Dog: in "Jack and the Warrior Woman", a mouselike creature accepts food from Jack, but hisses and runs from his traveling companion Ikra who turns out to be Aku in disguise.
- Evil Laugh: Supplied by Aku, in nearly every episode.
- Evil Tower of Ominousness: Aku's castle.
- Eye Lights Out: Nearly all of the robot assassins, most memorably X9.
- Failure Is the Only Option: Both Jack's attempts to return to the past and Aku's attempts to kill him.
- Famous Last Words: Some of the robots that attack Jack (Shinobi, the final assassin robot) manage to say the word "Unbelievable" before dying in a cascade of sparks.
- A sadder version occurs with X9, who manages to choke out "Lulu, take care of Lulu." Just after Jack kills him.
- Fish Out of Temporal Water: A series premise.
- Five Episode Pilot: Three episodes, technically. Episodes 4 through 6 that follow could be considered part of the pilot, though, since they follow the same continuity.
- Flaming Sword: Jack uses a Jet Pack to ignite his sword to make it this.
- Forced Prize Fight: On two separate occasions, Jack has been forced into gladiatorial combat. Including the one time he was a chicken.
- There's a dirty joke in there SOMEWHERE.
- Forged by the Gods: Jack's ancestral sword.
- Genre Roulette: Apparently, and sometimes in the same episode!
- Genre Savvy: Jack uses the fact that the world has no shading or outlines to fight a ninja in one episode.
- Aku is pretty genre savvy as well, especially in "Jack vs Aku". Unfortuntely for Aku, Jack was even savvier (see "I Know You Know I Know" for details).
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Most of the Getting Crap Past the Radar moments involve violence and bloodletting (mostly to robots and strange creatures that aren't human). In the way of sexual content and/or innuendo, there isn't much, unless you count the Fan Service of Jack getting his robe ripped to shreds, 90% of the episode "Jack is Naked," or the guys whistling at Jack's legs in Combat Stiletto heels.
- In "The Scotsman Rescues Jack, Part 1", The Scotsman takes an amnesia-stricken Jack to bar named "The Stinking Hole" in order to revive Jack's memory, and to kick ass.
- Note that the only instance of any sort of blood is a few drops for a split second in the last episode, "Jack and the Baby," when Jack pulls a baby 'possum from his pinkie. While not violent, it is notable for its uniqueness.
- Ghibli Hills: The only indication of Aku's global ruination is within urban limits.
- Gladiator Revolt
- Gone Swimming, Clothes Stolen: "Jack is Naked".
- Good Colors, Evil Colors: Black vs. white over red.
- Go Out with a Smile: "Jack and the Lava Monster" - FREE.
- Gratuitous Japanese: Also Meaningful Name, "Aku" [悪] means "bad; wicked; evil". So basically, he's the incarnation of evil.
- Hartman Hips: Most of the female characters.
- Also, earth elementals.
- Hat Damage: Many many times to Jack's straw hat, most notably when Jack first meets the Scotsman on the ungodly huge bridge. Jack gets his revenge about three seconds later.
- Haunted House: "Jack and the Haunted House"
- Deadly Change-of-Heart
- Humongous Mecha: The entire premise of episode 41, "Robo-Samurai vs. Mondo-Bot", involving a Forgotten Superweapon fighting a defense-bot gone berserk.
- Hunting the Most Dangerous Game
- I Know You Know I Know: Taken Up to Eleven in Jack vs. Aku. Jack knew Aku wouldn't keep to their agreement (Aku: No superhuman abilities, no minions, only human form; Jack: No sword), so he hid his sword under a pile of rocks. Aku anticipated this, so he had his minions scour the battlefield for it. Jack anticipated this, so he had a fake sword made. Aku anticipated this, so he had multiple minions searching. Finally, Jack saw this coming, so he had multiple fakes made, with the real sword hidden in the one place none of the minions thought to look: Under the sand!
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every episode is "Jack and the ___" or for introducing a rival character "Jack vs. the ___" The occasional episode had "Samurai vs. Ninja" or "Samurai vs. Samurai"
- Technically, the episodes are labeled by roman numerals and don't have names (except on the DVDs, and the commercials announcing them when it was still on the air).
- I'm Not Afraid of You: Or rather "I'm not angry any more, therefore you no longer exist." when facing Mad Jack.
- In a Single Bound: "You can fly?" "No. Jump Good."
- Infinity+1 Sword
- Intercontinuity Crossover: Quick Draw McGraw and Baba Looey show up in a brief cameo on the train in "XXVII" (the one with the bounty hunters).
- Jet Pack: Jack gets one in "Jack in Space".
- The Jimmy Hart Version: In "VIII", a jukebox plays a song almost exactly the same as Quincy Jones' "Soul Bossa Nova".
- Knights and Knaves: used and subverted.
- Lampshade Hanging: Many of the episodes. Jack vs Aku is practically made of these.
- Lantern Jaw of Justice
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: Jack temporarily loses his memory in "Scotsman Saves Jack".
- Leave Your Quest Test: The "Goddess of Spring."
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The elderly fisherman's summary "Tale of the Wandering Mariner" in "The Scotsman Rescues Jack, Part 1" pretty much describes what has happened in the series so far up to this point, just replacing Jack with a mariner.
- Lighter and Softer: Older kids' version of Ronin.
- Like Cannot Cut Like: In their first meeting, Jack can't destroy the Scostman's sword because, like his own, it has magical enchantments protecting it.
- Lull Destruction: Averted. Some episodes have maybe a dozen lines total. There's a reason Jack is labelled as The Stoic.
- Macross Missile Massacre: "Robo-Samurai vs. Mondo-Bot"
- Made of Explodium: Most robots explode when cut, stabbed or otherwise destroyed.
- Make a Wish: A wishing well in "Jack and the Three Blind Archers"
- Malevolent Mugshot: Aku's face is on pretty much everything.
- Manly Tears: Episode X: Jack and the Lava Monster. This quote will invoke this trope on part of the audience, and anyone who's watched this episode will remember it.
"At last...the Gates of Valhalla, open to me!"
- Also in Episode XIX, Jack Remembers the Past, in which even Jack can't fight his tears back when he stumbles upon the ruins of his childhood.
- Marshmallow Hell: given to Jack by ... the Scotsman's wife when she hugs him
- Meaningful Name: "Aku" (悪) is the Japanese word for "evil."
- Well, one of its kanji readings, anyway.
- Meditation Powerup
- Medium Blending: Anytime something really awesome happens, the screen separates into three Sequential Art panels.
- Mook Horror Show: The Tale of X9... especially sad since this mook gets characterization to boot.
- More Dakka: lots of Mooks and Mecha-Mooks, but more notable Mondo Bot.
- Name's the Same: Princess Mira's not the only space princess with that name.
- Nice Hat: Hello! Jack's straw hat. We actually see him making one in the biker/shoe sales man episode...
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Aku was given consciousness and free will by the hands of Jack's father. It must be added that he was the one who first defeated and imprisoned Aku into a tree thereafter.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: given Jack's training in the past.
- The ninja robot in "Samurai versus Ninja"
- No Dialogue Episode: Some episodes have only a handful of lines.
- Not Quite Flight
- Only Known by Their Nickname: "They call me Jack."
- One-Way Entrance: The door was replaced by a brick wall, after Jack enters the haunted house.
- Opening Narration: See the page quote.
- Our Gargoyles Rock: the gargoyle in "Jack Tales"
- Outside Context Villain: Aku.
- Outside the Box Tactic: "Jack vs. Mad Jack" has Jack fighting a clone spawned from his irrational anger. At the conclusion, he catches on, steps back and meditates. With his anger calmed, the clone's power cuts off and it dissipates.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Subverted when Aku tries this trope on Jack.
- Played straight in "The Warrior Woman"
- Phlebotinum Killed the Dinosaurs: When Aku comes to Earth, he comes in the form of a blazing meteor. Guess what standing right in the impact zone.
- The Quiet One: Jack doesn't speak in a fair number of episodes, even in the flashbacks to his childhood only in one of them does he speak.
- Rain of Arrows: In the episode with the three jackal archers and the well. Aku once shot hundreds of archers' arrows right back at them in this way, as well.
- Ribcage Ridge: that big fish thing in the opening sequence.
- Rollerblade Good: Jack tries them out in "Jack's Sandals"
- Rule of Cool: this series refines this to an art form.
- Scenery Porn: Done very well considering the simplicity of the art style. Just about every episode starts off with Jack walking through it.
- Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Thankfully and beautifully averted. Aku, and the numerous Kaiju that Jack meets along his journey (whether friendly or foe) look absolutely massive compared to the humans they come in contact with. Though, Aku tends to avert this trope willingly.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Once in a while, but the servants of Set in particular are sealed in something quite can-shaped.
- Aku himself, technically.
- Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Just read the quote at the top of the page, aka the show's premise.
- Sheathe Your Sword: How Jack was able to defeat his Evil Twin/Enemy Without.
- Shirtless Scene: On many, many occasions.
- Simple Staff: Jack shows his skill with a bo staff on several occasions. His staff training was from a bushman.
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Inverted somewhat in the winter arc of The Four Seasons of Death, as Jack actually does the shooting.
- And before that, he does it in "The Princess and the Bounty Hunters".
- X9 is, again, an example. Jack doesn't knew who Lulu is and Aku probably threw the poor dog into the streets or worse. Jack is the guard in this case.
- Shout-Out: Plenty. Specifically, and somewhat notably, this one:
- Planet of the Apes, of all things, gets referenced in "Jack Is Naked" when Jack, almost naked, goes for a dip in a pool at the base of a massive waterfall finds out that his gin and sword were stolen by a poor village girl. Of course, he thinks they were stolen by a rabbit.
- There are a few references to Star Wars in "Scotsman Saves Jack":
- Early in the episode, The Scotsman is accosted by an unintelligible Greedo-like alien. Neither of them shoots first; Scotsman just takes him out with one punch.
- Before they meet the fish-men:
Scotsman: I've got a bad feeling about this...
- Upon reaching the seaport:
Scotsman: You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy!
- When Jack and The Scotsman are chartering a ship:
Captain: That's the real trick isn't, and it's gonna cost you, ten thousand.
- Also many Star Wars references and similar elements in "Jack and the Flying Prince and Princess:
The Queen: You are our only hope.
- The robot that accompanies the prince and princess resembles C-3PO, even saying "oh my!"
- After trying to lose the tailing ships in an asteroid belt:
Astor: Ha ha! We lost one of 'em!
- The design of the royal siblings' escape vehicle resembles that of the Tantive IV.
- After being captured by Aku's minions:
Astor: I've got a bad feeling about this...
- Aku sees a glimmer from Jack's sword out of the corner of his eye:
Aku: Mmm... strange. I though I sensed... a presence.
- After the siblings meet Jack for the first time in disguise:
Verbina: Aren't you a little short for a demonic minion?
- Shovel Strike: Jack temporarily arms himself with a shovel in "The Good, The Bad, and the Beautiful".
- Shower Scene: "Jack is Naked" features the waterfall variation.
- Silence Is Golden
- Slipknot Ponytail: Most, if not every, time Jack gets stripped, his hair will come undone.
- Space Western: "The Good, the Bad and the Beautiful" features this trope.
- Spikes of Villainy: Aku must like these. He has them for shoulders and elbows! And his entire lair seems to be constructed of spikes.
- Storming the Castle
- Stupid Evil: Aku many times actually comes up with good plans that leaves Jack on the ropes, however several of them fall apart due to Aku's complete inability to resist throwing some Villain Ball, be it kicking around a vengeful Mook or prolonging Jack's death for some torturous (but escapable) device.
- Stupid Sexy Flanders: Jack
- Swipe Your Blade Off: After every fight.
- Cutlass Between the Teeth
- Sword Plant
- Symbolic Blood: So much oil...
- Take Over the World: "Once again, I am free to smite the world as I did in days long past."
- This Is Sparta: "AKU'S! EVIL! MUSIC! WILL! BE! NO! MORE!"
- Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Jack in his first fight with Aku as Jack's father does the same in "Birth of Evil, Part 2" to Aku, and the Spartan King when he borrows the sword briefly.
- Throwing Your Shield Always Works: A Spartan throws his shield to slice an enemy.
- Training Montage: Many episodes contain this, including the Pilot and "Jack Learns to Jump Good".
- Training the Peaceful Villagers: The wild man and the Jump Good Monkeys
- Tron Lines: The Lava Monster
- Unlimited Wardrobe: How many kimonos does he have, anyway? Lampshaded in the episode where his geta sandals break, and he has to find new ones. Another episode starts with Jack weaving a new hat.
- Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Jack preparing to defend the talking dogs in the pilot.
- Vanity License Plate: in "Jack's Shoes", one of the biker's license plates is "HRT_CHU".
- Villain-Beating Artifact: Jack's powerful yet magical sword is the only weapon to off Aku. Since it's forge out of goodness.
- Villains Out Shopping: Subverted in one episode. Aku sits on his throne, frowning, then picks up an off-screen phone receiver, dials a number and has the following conversation with an unintelligible voice at the other end between each line:
- Walking the Earth: Almost to the point of Knight Errant.
- Wanted Poster: Of Jack and the Scotsman.
- We Will Meet Again: Aku says this in "Birth of Evil, Part 2".
- Lampshaded at the start of 'Jack vs. Aku', where he rants on about how their whole conflict has become rather dull and routine.
- What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: Epic Thumb Wrestle!
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Enforced Deconstruction. Without it, the censors would never have let the show on Cartoon Network.
- Wheel of Pain: Aku has Jack's father turning one of these by himself in the pilot.
- Why Won't You Die?: Samurai, samurai, why won't you DIE!
- The Worf Barrage: the Mondo Bot uses all of its projectile attacks against Robo-Samurai to no effect before they fight with swords.
- Wretched Hive: Heckbucket Seaport. The Scotsman even says that "you'll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy", in a clear Shout-Out. (The crabcakes aren't bad either!)
- Xanatos Gambit: In the episode "Jack and the Swamp Monster", Aku's plot seems to fall under this, though there is a certain ambiguity to it. In his Paper-Thin Disguise, Aku leads Jack on a quest to uncover some magical artifacts, which invariably turn out to be tucked away in elaborate deathtraps. Under this scenario, Jack could either die while trying to retrieve the artifacts or he could successfully retrieve them and just end up handing them over to Aku. What's ambiguous about it is whether or not Jack retrieving the artifacts was necessary for the plan or if Aku could have simply retrieved them himself if he wanted; the deathtraps don't look like they'd be particularly dangerous to Aku, after all.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: Despite always seeming to be near success, the inevitability of him failing to either return to the past or beat Aku in the present.
- You Can't Go Home Again: Countless times.
- You Fool!: "FOOLISH Samurai!"
- Your Eyes Can Deceive You