Sin City

    Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
    "Walk down the right back alley in Sin City and you can find anything."

    Probably writer/artist Frank Miller's best known work (other than The Dark Knight Returns), Sin City is an irregular comic book series about the venal Basin City and the seedy inhabitants who lurk in its alleys and doorways. Infamous for its absurdly macho writing, Sin City reads like an Affectionate Parody of Film Noir turned Up to Eleven: every hero is a mentally or physically scarred bruiser and every woman is a beautiful dame with a heaving bosom. Black and Gray Morality is predominant.

    The series's other defining attribute is its artwork, which is largely black and white, with occasional spot colouring for certain important characters. Miller plays heavily with silhouettes, high-contrast images and negative space to create a series of visually striking images that look like no other comic on the market.

    Because it is almost exclusively set in and around Basin City's criminal underworld, Sin City has a number of recurring characters, although the protagonists vary from story to story. Additionally, some plotlines overlap or weave together in subtle ways (The Hard Goodbye and A Dame to Kill For are both mostly set on the same night, with the protagonists driving past one another in a single scene in both comics).

    The currently available collected editions are, in order:

    1: The Hard Goodbye - Originally just titled Sin City until the film adaptation, this story follows Marv, a street thug prone to psychotic episodes, who falls in love with a beautiful prostitute one night, only to find her dead the following morning and the cops beating down his door to take him in for her murder. On his quest for vengeance, Marv shakes down the criminal underworld, does battle with corrupt cops and discovers a sick conspiracy.

    2: A Dame to Kill For - Dwight McCarthy, a freelance photographer with a vicious temper, is pissed off when his beautiful ex -- Ava, the dame of the title -- contacts him out of the blue. But his anger is allayed when he discovers that her life has been threatened. With time running out, Dwight must save Ava from her cruel husband and his bizarre manservant. But is Ava what she appears to be, or is Dwight being manipulated into making the biggest mistake of his life?

    3: The Big Fat Kill - Dwight gets into more trouble when his new girlfriend, Shelly, is harassed by her abusive ex-boyfriend, Jackie-Boy. Dwight chases after him, but can only watch as Jackie and his pals are killed by prostitutes for threatening to rape one of their number. Ordinarily this wouldn't be a problem -- the prostitutes of Old Town are given free rein by the police -- but Jackie has a dangerous secret, one that might tear Sin City apart.

    4: That Yellow Bastard - John Hartigan may well be Sin City's last decent cop, but not for long: It's his last day on the job. But Hartigan's refusing to go quietly, especially since a well-connected young serial killer/rapist has just kidnapped little Nancy Callahan. It's no big thing -- Hartigan's spent his entire life taking down scum like him. But this time, there will be repercussions...

    5: Family Values - While picking up some intel for his new new girlfriend, Dwight learns of a mafia war that's about to go down in Sin City. Captured by one side of the impending war, Dwight has to rely on a certain enemy-turned ally for help: the deadly ninja Miho.

    6: Booze, Broads and Bullets - A collection of short stories from various sources, including back-up strips from the early issues of The Big Fat Kill and stories from the various Sin City one-shot specials.

    7: Hell and Back (A Sin City Love Story) - Wallace is an interesting guy: an artist, a war hero, a short order cook and a lightning-quick fighter. His life is pretty dull, though, until he saves a suicidal woman named Esther and they begin a tentative relationship. In typical Sin City style, however, Esther is kidnapped and Wallace must pull the city -- and the lives of some of its most privileged men -- apart to get her back.

    Films - Sin City was turned into an anthology film by director Robert Rodriguez, who quit the director's guild to let Frank Miller take co-director status. Rodriguez shot the film pretty much panel-for-panel from the comics, using black and white footage and Green Screen backgrounds to get the perfect Sin City feel.

    The Sin City film comprised The Hard Goodbye, The Big Fat Kill and That Yellow Bastard and was bookended by an adaptation of "The Customer is Always Right", a short story featured in the Booze, Broads and Bullets collection.

    Two more Sin City films are planned. One of them will include the story A Dame to Kill For, along with a brand-new sequel to That Yellow Bastard. They were originally scheduled for a 2008 release, but appear to have slipped into Development Hell.

    Until now, where it's been Saved From Development Hell.

    Not to be confused with SimCity, which is potentially a whole lot nicer. Or GTA Vice City, which is definitely not all that nicer.

    Tropes used in Sin City include:

    • Actor Allusion: When one cop advises another to kill Hartigan without hesitation, they're quickly dispatched and Hartigan quips "Good advice". In Die Hard, a terrorist who tells John McClane to kill without hesitation is offed, with McClane snarking "Thanks for the advice". Both played by Bruce Willis, lying on his back and shooting upwards both times.
    • Actor Existence Failure: If the second and third movies ever find their way out of Development Hell, they're gonna need a new Shellie... or maybe just a new waitress.
    • Adaptational Attractiveness: An odd villain example. In the comic, the serial killer Kevin was a pudgy, middle-aged man with a five o' clock shadow and receding hairline. He ended up being played by Elijah Wood in the film.
    • Adaptation Decay: Averted with the movie. It's one of the most faithful film adaptations ever made, going for a near shot-for-shot remake of the comics, although since the movie focused on three stories, there was a little Pragmatic Adaptation going on, leaving out some fan-favorite scenes that were later included in the Director's Cut.
    • Adaptation-Induced Plothole: The movie moves Dwight's "Most people think Marv is crazy" monologue from A Dame to Kill For to The Hard Goodbye. This works fine in a standalone movie, but in the comics the chronology of that night is very well fleshed out. Its revealed that while Marv was drinking at Kadie's after Goldie's murder two cops were questioning Shellie about Dwight's whereabouts. At that point in the story Dwight is recovering from events in his own story, so he couldn't be anywhere near Kadie's that night. Furthermore, he underwent plastic surgery which gave Dwight his appearance in the movie but that only happened months after the events of The Hard Goodbye, at which point Marv was on Death Row. Since Sin City 2 is slated to use A Dame to Kill For as its lead story they'll have to break from their own continuity or alter the timeline and make the entirety of Dame to Kill For take place before Hard Goodbye.
    • The Alcoholic: Jackie Boy seems to be one and Dwight is a recovering case.
    • Alien Blood: The Yellow Bastard has yellow blood, though this is more of a stylistic choice than an indication of alien-ness. Either that, or it's because of the large amount of medical procedures done on him after his castration messed with his body's ability to get rid of waste - the blood, given its color and smell, is a direct result of that.
    • The Alleged Car: Nancy's car. "No one but me can keep this heap running." Also the clapped out banger without enough space for all the bodies or enough fuel to get them to the tar pits and a cop-attracting broken tail-light. Also the battered old VW Beetle from Family Values.
      • The ironic thing is, The Heap is a 1957 Chevrolet Nomad, a very desirable car, and the car Dwight is given to ditch at the Pits was a 1955 Ford Thunderbird, both Cool Cars. Part of Dwight's narration mentions that it once was a Cool Car, but after years of abuse and neglect, it became a clapped out banger at the end of its life.
    • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Subverted with Shellie. She dumps the abusive boyfriend Jackie Boy and goes for the much nicer Dwight McCarthy. But as readers know, Dwight's no angel either, and he even killed a former Femme Fatale girlfriend in a previous issue--but he's still a far cry from the misogynistic scumbag that Jackie-Boy was.
    • All-Star Cast: The poster alone features Bruce Willis, Clive Owen, Benicio Del Toro, Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson, and Mickey Rourke. And the supporting cast is just as big.
    • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The Japanese theme is "Violet Sauce" by Namie Amuro.
    • Always Identical Twins: Marv talks about a pair of twin prostitutes who "even smell the same." Then again, Marv is crazy enough that he mistakes one for the other... even while knowing full well that one of them is dead.
      • There's also Benny and Lenny, Rourke Junior's bodyguards, although they don't last long.
    • Always Save the Girl: Subverted. At the end of The Big Fat Kill, Dwight tricks Manute and his men that Gail is all he wants in exchange for Jackie Boys head. The head was filled with explosives, and as soon as it goes off, every girl from Old Town shows up on the rooftops and fires every bullet they have into Manute and his men.
    • A Man Is Not a Virgin: Subverted. Marv tells Wendy that due to his looks, he wasn't even able to buy a woman before the night with Goldie that started it all.
    • Anachronic Order: The comics were published in anachronic order, and the segments of the film are shown anachronically as well.
    • ...And Show It to You: The natural conclusion of Marv's brutal interrogation technique.
    • Anti-Hero: Every damned protagonist. Most of them are straight on Type IVs who like to Pay Evil Unto Evil.
    • Anti-Villain: Liebowitcz, the dirty cop. He's as corrupt as any other cop and beats up Hartigan for not ratting out Nancy. Despite this, he is a devoted family man and is willing to turn on the Colonel, going so far as to kill him. In that instance, he's probably the only sympathetic villain in the entire series.
      • Well, YMMV, but Becky from Old Town might qualify.
    • Art Evolution: In the first few issues of A Hard Goodbye the characters and backgrounds are drawn with more realistic proportions and with subtler shading, looking more like a standard black and white comic. By the end of the book the art is crystallized into the high-contrast, over-exaggerated, blocky artwork that became the standard of the series.
    • Asian Hooker Stereotype: Subverted. Sure, the only Asian character just happens to be a sex-worker - but so does almost all other female characters as well. In order to give the Asian character enough of western stereotyping, she is thus upgraded to an Asian sex-worker NINJA. It actually fits the setting perfectly.
    • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Herr Wallenquist (AKA The Kraut), the German crime lord. "Wallenquist" is a Swedish name.
    • Ass Shove: Jackie Boy falls on Miho's swastika shuriken and gets it stuck in his ass. In The Big Fat Kill, Miho apparently shoves her katana up a merc's ass (in the movie, she just stabs him through the back).
    • A Storm Is Coming
    • Author Appeal: Frank Miller sure does have a thing for prostitutes, and Sin City is stretching this so far that there is an entire part of the city that is run by prostitutes. Similarly, count how many times the Nazi swastika appears.
    • Awesome but Impractical: The Cool Car. Lampshaded by Shlubb and Klump.
    • Backup Twin: Goldie and Wendy.
    • Badass: Pretty much everyone.
    • Badass Longcoat: Most of the characters wear one and Marv has several. "That's a damn fine coat you've got there." If Marv comes up to you and says this, prepare to die horribly.
    • Badass Long Hair: Wallace is described as a hippy for a reason.
    • Bad Cop, Incompetent Cop: Almost every cop.
    • Bald of Evil: Manute, Wallenquist, Liebowitcz, Cardinal Roark, and the Yellow Bastard. There was also a bald bad evil rich guy with an odd sense of family values in the short story Daddy's Girl.
    • Bald of Awesome: Dwight fits this at first but he later grows his hair out.
    • Band of Brothels: The ladies are the law in Old Town.
    • Banned in China: Malaysia.
    • Batman Gambit: Quite a few:
      • Goldie seduced Marv so that she would have someone to protect her... or at least avenge her death.
      • The entire story of Family Values is Dwight pulling one big Batman Gambit.
      • Wallace basically turns into Batman himself at the mid-point of To Hell And Back, turning the Colonel's own Corrupt Cop against him and calling several favors from friends in order to destroy the military helicopter the Colonel was using against him.
      • Dwight's revenge against Ava Lord.
      • Dwight's actions at the end of Big Fat Kill.
    • Battle Butler: Manute.
    • Beam Me Up, Scotty: Partial example. The series is famous for its use of spot colouring and thanks to the movie is often assumed to make extensive use of it. But the first story to use it was the short story The Babe Wore Red, published after the first two stories and it didn't become more common until a few years after that, with That Yellow Bastard. And even then, it was still used sparingly, only to draw attention to the truly important characters or items.
    • Because You Were Nice to Me: Marv's reason for going through hell and high water for Goldie.
    • Beware the Nice Ones: Wallace is extremely polite and soft spoken. He's also probably the deadliest person in Sin City... which says something.
      • Even Marv can be a pretty jolly guy who's fun to be around. Just don't piss him off... ever.
    • Big Bad Friend: Bob in That Yellow Bastard.
    • Big Bra to Fill: Jessica Alba as Nancy Callahan.
    • Big Electric Switch
    • Bittersweet Ending: This is the best kind of ending you're gonna get in Sin City.
    • Black and Gray Morality No one in Sin City is good. Some folks are better than others, but none are good.
      • Well, there's Hartigan and Wallace. Keep in mind Good Is Not Nice.
    • Black Blood
    • Blithe Spirit: Nancy acts as this, not only to Marv and Hartigan, but to the series as a whole.
    • Bloody Hilarious
    • Blue Eyes: The assassin named Blue Eyes.
    • Body Horror: Kevin's collection of decapitated hooker heads. Hartigan ripping out Junior's testicles. And several more incidents.
    • Book Ends
      • Though several examples exist, Hartigan's concluding speeches in the film's second and penultimate chapters are especially notable, as both close with Hartigan getting shot and losing everything so Nancy can live.
    • Born in the Wrong Century: Dwight suggests that Marv would have had a better place in ancient times, as a warrior on the field of battle or a gladiator in the Roman arena.
      • Also, Hartigan is the last honest cop in Basin City. He appears to belong to a better age, and follows his own code of morals and honour, when no-one else does.
    • Bottomless Magazines: In the first part of "That Yellow Bastard," Hartigan's partner, Bob, shoots him 8 times with a 6 shot revolver without being seen reloading.
    • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick
    • Breaking the Bonds: Marv did this while being tortured by the girls of Old Town and managed to not let anyone see it.
    • Bulletproof Human Shield: In the film, a federal agent is used as a shield while Heroic Comedic Sociopath Marv hacks up his teammates with a wood axe. This actually seems to be unintentional on Marv's part since he was busy killing one of the agents when the human shield basically ran into the path of the bullets.
    • But for Me It Was Tuesday: A major theme of the series is the act of seemingly random violence happening to the wrong person at the wrong time, resulting in the Anti-Hero taking revenge. The Big Bad in these situations often thought nothing of the crime and may not have even initially known the names of their victims.
      • A notable example takes place in Family Values where the mafia breaks a truce with a rival organization to take revenge for the death of a relative of The Don. Everyone involved is worried about a gang war. It turns out a hooker was killed by a stray bullet. No one thought much about it, except her friends and colleagues, who quickly gather to plot revenge.
    • Captain Ersatz: Many of Sin City's characters are homages to previous characters from pulp fiction and film noir:
        • Marv was created as "Conan in a trenchcoat."
        • Dwight is quite obviously based on Mike Hammer.
        • Miller was always disappointed in The Dead Pool (the movie, not the comic character) so he wrote what he thought should be the real final case of Harry Callahan. Enter: John Hartigan.
        • The Yellow Bastard is a horrific case in that Frank Miller has admitted that he was based off of a grown-up (and deranged) version of the Yellow Kid, the earliest comic book character and a very popular one for children at that time.
    • Card-Carrying Villain: Most of them openly admit to being bad guys. Senator Roark and Ava Lord especially. Ava gleefully seduces men left and right for her own purposes and gives out an Evil Laugh because she knows she can get away with it. Senator Roark openly admits that he killed his wife and gloats that there isn't a damn thing anyone can do about it.
    • Carnival of Killers: Hell & Back features a guild of assassins.
    • Celibate Hero: Wallace is the only example of this in this series.
      • Wouldn't exactly describe Wallace as celibate, just wise to Blue Eyes' seduction technique.
      • When we first meet Dwight, he's trying to maintain this trope. He seems to do okay until Ava comes back in his life.
    • Cavalry Betrayal: When the Federal Agents arrive at the farm, Lucille naturally assumes that they are there to help and yells at them to not arrest Marv, as he's with her. And then they pour literally boxes of bullets into poor Lucille.
    • Chained to a Bed: Blue Eyes chains herself to a bed in order to seduce Wallace. It doesn't work.
    • Chewing the Scenery: There's quite a bit of it in the movie, but it works with the tone quite nicely.
      • Even the comic gets away with this somehow.
    • Chiaroscuro
    • Christianity Is Catholic: The Catholic Church seems to be a big power player in the city, and crucifixes are a motif throughout the series. The Babe Wore Red also features a nun who is shown in a much more positive light than usual for Sin City.
    • Chroma Key: Generally quite good in the movie, but a notable "jerkiness" occurs when Miho stabs several people through the head with her sword.
    • City Noir
    • Cold-Blooded Torture. Lots and lots and lots.
    • Color-Coded for Your Convenience
    • Comforting the Widow: Mort, a mostly honest Sin City cop, tries to do this with Ava Lord and ends up tangled in her web.
    • Comic Relief: Shlubb and Klump are usually the only bright spot in a story if they show up.
      • Of all characters, Marv has been used as this when he shows up in brief cameos at Katie's Bar, as opposed to taking a larger role.
    • Cool Car: Yet more Author Appeal; many characters drive classic American cars of various ages all in mint condition, to the delight of Marv and Dwight who both think modern cars look like electric shavers. The only modern cars treated with respect are European sports models like Junior's Jag and the Awesome but Impractical Ferrari in which Shlubb proposes to smuggle Hartigan's body.
    • Corrupt Politician: The norm.
    • Cradling Your Kill: The Salesman does this in "The Customer is Always Right."
    • Credits Gag: Not only done in the movie but Miller manages to pull it off in the comic as well.
    • Creepy Monotone: Manute in the movie.
    • Critical Psychoanalysis Failure: Claire, Lucille's psychiatrist girlfriend, according to Marv:

    "She tried to analyze me once, but she got too scared."

    • Cut Himself Shaving: Marv tells his mother this. (The scene was filmed for The Movie, but it was deleted from the theatrical shot and can be viewed on the recut edition DVD). The scene was also in the comic, of course.
    • Daddy's Girl: In the appropriately titled, Daddy's Little Girl.
    • Deadly Hug: A few times.
    • Deadpan Snarker
    • Delusions of Eloquence: Shlubb and Klump
    • Death by Cameo: Frank Miller has a cameo in the movie.
    • Death by Disfigurement: Lucille.
    • Deliberately Monochrome: The series is well known for its stark use black and white, with no shading.
    • Determinator: Just about all of the protagonists, but especially Hartigan could be the poster child of this: sixty years plus and feeling it, survives a heart attack, a hanging and having a revolver emptied in his back at close range. Every one of the incidents and each of the bullets should kill him, but he just keeps going.
      • It has been outright stated that the Yellow Bastard's father does everything he can to save Hartigan, so that he can disgrace him.
    • Development Hell: The movie sequels.
    • Devil in Plain Sight: Senator Roark mentions that he could literally get away with murder in public since he's done it in the past... to his own wife, even.
    • Dirty Cop: Just about every damn cop in Sin City with the exception of Hartigan.

    Dwight "I don't have nearly enough money to bribe this cop, 'course there's always the chance he's one of the honest ones"

    • Dirty Coward: The Yellow Bastard both before and after his transformation is more likely to run away from a fight than stay.
      • Hartigan's former partner Bob is also quite cowardly since he is more willing to turn on his partner and threaten a child than he is about catching the real Big Bad.
      • Shlubb and Klump can be pretty cowardly. Especially in the presence of Dwight since he beat up both of them throughout the one-shot The Babe Wore Red.
    • Disposable Love Interest: Goldie exists only to die in the first few pages of The Hard Goodbye and give Marv a reason for his Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
      • Ava Lord has this attitude toward her lovers.
    • Disposable Sex Worker: Somewhat averted. Goldie's death in The Hard Goodbye is used to set the plot in motion, but she is portrayed posthumously as a person of value, especially to Marv and her sister. In other stories, the prostitutes of Old Town tend to avoid getting offed by psychos due to their firepower.
    • Doing It for the Art: Wallace is an artist who refuses to sell out dispite money problems. Dwight also had aspirations of being a photographer as opposed to a PI but they never came to be.
    • Domestic Abuser: Jackie Boy is an abusive boyfriend to Shellie... or was at least.
    • Don't Tell Mama: In the comics Marv tries to keep his mother innocent of what his real purpose is when he goes to get Gladys. As well as Becky with respect to...well, you know.
    • Downer Ending: Many of the short stories have one.
    • Driven to Suicide: Hartigan knows that his death is the only thing that can once and for all save the girl. He promptly shoots himself in the head.
    • Drop the Hammer: Kevin lays Marv out with a sledgehammer.
    • Drunken Master: Marv admits he's more dangerous when he's drunk. In a later story, Dwight purposefully gets Marv "good and drunk" so he can be of better use in the upcoming fight.
    • The Dulcinea Effect: The extreme lengths Marv is willing to go to to avenge Goldie. Most of the other heroes of Sin City might qualify as well, including Dwight, who has this used against him by Ava in a Wounded Gazelle Gambit.
    • Earn Your Happy Ending: Wallace and Esther. They are the only Sin City characters to get one.
    • Enormous Engine: Muscle cars pop up sometimes, engines exposed and all. Sometimes, the engine is not shown but described in explicit detail.
    • Mr. Fanservice: While the series is known for its alluring female characters, almost every male protagonist has a nude scene and there are plenty of shirtless scenes as well.
    • Empathy Doll Shot: Done in a very literal way. Wallace is under the effects of a drug given to him by the bad guys. He finds a dead child in the trunk of a car but all we see is his hallucination: a Raggedy-Ann doll. He knows what the doll really is but actually expresses gratitude that the villains drugged him for that one moment.
    • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Marv and his mother.
      • When the Yellow Bastard mentions his father, he says, "I'd hate him if I didn't love him so."
      • While not literal father and son, it's obvious that Kevin had this relationship with Cardinal Roark.
    • Executive Suite Fight
    • Exploitation Film: With a heavy dose of Film Noir for good measure.
    • Explosion Propulsion
    • Exposition Victim: Happens off-screen when Kevin kidnaps Marv's parole officer.
    • Expy: Hartigan is an expy of Dirty Harry according to Word of God
    • Extreme Melee Revenge: In A Dame to Kill For, Dwight has Marv help him rescue Ava. As Marv is beating up the security guards, he notices Manute (who had given Dwight a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown earlier) among them and yells "You! You're the bum who hurt my pal!", before tackling him through a window and beating the crap out of him. After the beatdown Marv sits beside Manute panting, he hears Manute gasp for breath, and continues beating him up. It is later revealed he also gouged out one of Manute's eyes.
      • Let this sink in for a second. Marv is a Badass Determinator who has shrugged off bullets, cars, and all manner of attacks on his person, has thrown people through walls, and has generally proven to be Made of Iron and an Implacable Man...and he beats Manute up so damn badly he tires himself out.
      • That Yellow Bastard gives us the page quote for this trope. Police Detective John Hartigan saved 11-year-old Nancy Callahan from being raped and murdered by Roark, Jr., then was framed for the rape and spent eight years in prison. After Hartigan is released, Roark gets a hold of Nancy again and tortures her. Hartigan doesn't take it well.
    • Eye Scream: Marv rips Manute's eye out of his socket. In most cases of this trope, this would be out of desperation. Not here. Marv just did it for the hell of it.
    • Face Death with Dignity: Marv and Hartigan.
      • The unnamed female character in the short story The Customer Is Always Right fits this trope as well, but it's implied that she put the hit on herself.
    • Face on a Milk Carton
    • Fake American: Englishman Clive Owen as Dwight.
    • Fallen Hero: Jack Rafferty was once a hero cop nicknamed "Iron Jack". Word of God states that he used to be a good man but the corrupt system eventually ate away at him.
    • The Family That Slays Together: The Roarks. Also, the unnamed family in Daddy's Little Girl.
    • Family-Unfriendly Death: That Yellow Bastard. Hartigan tears his balls off with his bare hands before beating him to death.
      • Also Kevin, who is dismembered, graphically eaten by his pet wolf, and finally decapitated.
    • Fan Service: A good number of attractive actresses get naked (or wear very little) in the name of art. Carla Gugino brandishes a gun topless, Rosario Dawson is in her underwear, Brittany Murphy is in nothing but panties and a button down shirt, and Jessica Alba is a stripper as well. In the comics, all of these characters are depicted naked at one point or another, even if their actresses weren't nude in the movie. We can also add Miho to the mix.
      • Not to be outdone, the ladies are treated to Dwight getting naked in almost every one of his stories. Hartigan and Wallace also both get Male Frontal Nudity scenes.
      • That said, the Yellow Bastard is also shown in full glory.
    • Famous Last Words: That the best you can do, ya pansies?
    • Fat and Skinny: Mr. Shlubb and Mr. Klump.
    • Femme Fatalons: Ava, Blue Eyes, Mariah, the Old Town Girls, Daddy's Little Girl, etc.
    • Finger in the Mail: Hartigan gets a severed finger in the mail instead of his usual letter from Nancy. Junior couldn't find her, so he tricks Hartigan into tracking her down.
    • Finger-Lickin' Evil
    • Foe-Tossing Charge: Marv's intro to the audience was when he barreling through the door of a hotel room, tossing cops aside like tin pins.
    • Forced to Watch: Poor Lucille...
    • Fragile Speedster: As Marv proves, Kevin isn't so tough when he can't hop around.
    • Friend to Psychos: The Roark brothers to Junior and Kevin.
    • Full-Frontal Assault: Dwight fights Manute in the buff in A Dame to Kill For and the Yellow Bastard engages Hartigan while naked at the end of his story.
    • Genius Loci: The general idea is that the city is the main character of the series. It's not uncommon for characters to talk about the city as if it were alive.
    • The Ghost: We know that the third Roark brother is a surgeon general but otherwise, is only mentioned a couple times, never shows up in any stories, and not even named. The movie, understandably,did not mention him at all.
    • Going by the Matchbook: Hartigan, when looking for Nancy
    • Good Guy Bar: Kadie's. Not so much of a Good Guy Bar as it is an Anti-Hero Bar since the main protagonists, Marv and Dwight, frequent the establishment. Not to mention that this is where a few major side characters work as well.
    • Good Is Not Nice: Many of the series' more ethical characters skirt (if not outright embrace) this trope. Perhaps justified, considering that Basin City is a pretty nasty place where most people are either victims or victimizers -- being neither of those, in this setting, seems to require a degree of hardassery.
    • Good Old Fisticuffs: Marv likes taking care of things this way.
      • Averted with Dwight who simply either uses guns or his martial arts to do a lot of flying kicks since he hates skinning his knuckles.
    • Good Scars, Evil Scars
    • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Most characters smoke but the good guys usually have cigarettes while the bad guys chomp on cigars.
    • Gory Discretion Shot: Sometimes invoked... sometimes averted.
    • Groin Attack: Hartigan to Roark Jr. Twice. The second is both Squick and Crowning Moment of Awesome.
      • Marv also shoves a hatchet into a cop's crotch and at one point, crushes Weeval's balls in order to get him to comply.
      • When he first meets Dwight, Manute gives him a good kick in the junk.
    • Guns Akimbo: Everyone wielding a gun (i.e everyone) almost always ends up with two of them.
    • Hand Cannon: Hartigan uses a Smith & Wesson Model 29 in the beginning of the film. Later on he uses a Ruger Blackhawk, also a .44 Magnum.
      • Some of the Old Town prostitutes also use Blackhawks, noticeably Dallas.
      • The (likely fake)revolvers Nancy Callahan uses in her cowgirl outfit are stainless Blackhawks.
    • Here We Go Again
    • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Several of the main characters.
    • Hero of Another Story: Thanks to the fact that many stories feature Kadie's Bar many characters appear in each other's stories. Marv holds the record for most appearances for a protagonist, appearing in six stories while only being the protagonist of three. Dwight and John Hartigan both have a quick cameo outside of their own stories as well. Wallace is the only protagonist to only be seen in his own story.
    • Hey, It's That Guy!: I guess Dakota Block felt guiltier about her son's death than she let on. Also, Ben Hawkins is a sick son-of-a-bitch.
    • Holier Than Thou: The Cardinal
    • Honor Before Reason
    • Humiliation Conga: Jack Rafferty's last night on Earth was a bit of a rough one, even by his own admission.
    • I Call It Vera: Marv's pistol Gladys, named after the toughest nun he ever met.
    • I'm a Humanitarian: Kevin and Cardinal Roark, who occasionally joined in.
    • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Averted in many cases. Every hero has been pinned down or even clipped by Mooks. Shlubb and Klump, who are typically Comic Relief badguys, even prove to be expert marksmen. There have also been a few unnamed snipers who proved to have decent aim.
      • That said, Yellow Bastard doesn't seem to have as much luck. Hartigan comments on how bad his aim is.
        • Actually, Hartigan comments the Bastard is a good shot, seeing as how he managed to shoot inches away from two heads in a moving car. The problem is that he's too impatient and doesn't aim properly.
    • Implacable Man: All the heroes get this treatment but Marv is probably the main offender.
    • Improbable Aiming Skills: Miho, Wallace, and Dwight all get these moments.
      • Even Hartigan, as old as he is, is able to shoot a man's ear off with a crack shot.
    • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It
    • Innocent Innuendo: In "Hell and Back", Wallace is in a car chase with Blue Eyes in the passenger seat. When the bad guys are about to open fire on them he tells her to get her head down, so she, well...
    • Informed Attractiveness: Nancy is often seen as the most beautiful woman in Sin City. While she is drawn quite lovely, she doesn't seem to be all that different from say, Shellie, who looks very similar.
    • Instant Awesome, Just Add Ninja: Miho, the silent ninja assassin.
    • Intentionally Awkward Title
    • Internal Retcon: A recurring theme in the series is characters having to cover up what actually happened because of the disastrous consequences if the truth were known.
    • Interrupted Suicide: Wallace stopped Esther's suicide attempt.
    • I Own This Town: The Roark Family
    • Ironic Echo: "Hell of a way to end a partnership."
      • "Deadly little Miho. You won't feel a thing. Not unless she wants you to."
      • "I take away his weapons... both of them."
    • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Marv is really fond of this. Amusingly, when the Old Town prostitutes try it on Marv, he takes some of their punches and explains himself. Then he calmly rips out of their ropes like they were tissue paper, and could have done so the whole time.
    • Jerk Jock: The story Just Another Saturday Night has a group of jerk jocks from a fraternity. This being Sin City, they don't stop at just being jerks, though. They like to light homeless people on fire.
    • Kangaroo Court
    • Karma Houdini: Subverted in the movie with Becky, who seemingly escapes with nothing worse than a broken arm but is killed by The Salesman in the movie's final scene. In the book her segment's based on, she dies along with everyone else.
      • Also Senator Roark. He may not get his comeuppance, but with Junior dead and Hartigans suicide denying him revenge, he's still screwed.
    • Kick the Dog: All the bad guys love to do this but special mention goes to Lucca from Family Values who shoots a dog and ends up inciting a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, a massive No-Holds-Barred Beatdown, and a Mob War.
    • The Killer Becomes the Killed: Kevin.
    • Kubrick Stare
    • Lady in Red:
      • Goldie
      • And the eponymous 'Babe' from The Babe Wore Red
      • The girl from The Customer is Always Right sequence in the movie (the opening sequence) wears a red dress, though it was not red in the comics.
    • Laser-Guided Karma: Despite the stories often ending with the hero dead or in dire straits, the bad guys usually get what they deserve before all is said and done. Even if they survive, they usually lose whatever they held dear. Case in point, Senator Roark is still alive but he lost his son and has to live with the fact that the Roark family lineage is now cut. Considering this family has lorded over Sin City for more than a century, that's a hell of a letdown for him and his one surviving brother.
      • You mean the brother who got his head ripped off by Marv?
      • Actually the Surgeon General Brother who is never mentioned in the movie.
      • The short story Rats has a Nazi war criminal being shoved in an oven.
    • The Last DJ: John Hartigan, the last honest cop in Sin City.
    • Lightning Bruiser: Marv is big and tough but he proves to be very fast and agile, as evident in his fights with the cops.
    • Lotus Position: Wallace meditates in this position to clear his mind.
    • Loves to Hear Them Scream: Junior.
    • Mad Bomber: The psychopathic Irish henchman in The Big Fat Kill.
    • Made of Iron: Marv and Kevin.
    • MadWorld
    • Magic Realism: It's in the crime genre but that doesn't stop it from dabbling slightly with mysticism (Miho, Kevin, the empathic elements of the Farm) or even light sci-fi (Yellow Bastard, the Colonel's operations). There was also the torture technician in Big Fat Kill who could cause pain with a simple touch. This was changed to Manute in the movie.
      • According to Frank Miller, Miho and Kevin are two sides of the same coin: he refers to them as the "demons" of Sin City, Miho being the "good demon," Kevin being "the bad." This is in reference to their silent, super-violent, sadistic natures, and the fact that both are incredibly difficult to harm.
    • Malaproper
    • The Man Behind the Curtain: Cardinal Roark.
    • May-December Romance: Nancy and Hartigan.
    • Meaningful Echo
    • Mega Crossover: Several stories overlap and there has been at least one instance of protagonists teaming up: A Dame To Kill For.
    • Mob War: One starts in Family Values.
    • The Mole: Becky.
    • Monster Misogyny: Kevin, a farm boy cannibal who primarily eats women.
    • More Dakka: This is what the Big Fat Kill refers to. Dwight and the Old Town girls unload on Manute and his men until they're just "wet chunks of meat."
    • The Murder After: Marv and Goldie.
    • Murder, Inc.: The Colonel's organization.
    • Murder-Suicide: Hartigan commits suicide after killing Roark, Jr., realizing that he's the only link left leading to Nancy (the latest victim). By killing himself, he ensures that she is left alone.
    • My Car Hates Me: Subverted with Nancy's car, which waits until Yellow Bastard's taking her away to break down. This is because she's the only one who knows how to get it working right. Played straight with the car Gail provides to Dwight to dispose of Jackie Boy and his crew. The trunk is too small to hold all the bodies and it runs out of gas before he reaches the tar pits.
    • My Name Is Inigo Montoya
    • Neck Snap
    • Necro Non Sequitur: In Family Values, a mob hitman machine-guns a passing dog For the Evulz while he on a job, causing a Disaster Dominoes effect when a stray bullet accidentally kills an Old Town girl. The girl's lover, also an Old Town girl, has Dwight and Miho systematically bring down the entire crime family, even going so far as to force the hitman to kill his own brother and betray The Don. The girl's lover comes in during the last act and guns down the mafia heads, including the hitman who killed her girl. To cover their tracks, the heroes frame the Wallenquist crime family, inciting a Mob War which would surely result in even more deaths.
    • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The biggest example is Dwight beating up Jack Rafferty at the beginning of The Big Fat Kill. If he hadn't, not only would Jack be alive but Old Town would've been much safer.
      • Another Dwight example is from A Dame To Kill For. Dwight kills Ava's husband, but that just means that Ava will now be in control of his organization and will pin everything on him.
      • Hartigan's actions at the beginning of That Yellow Bastard also count. He ends up exposing Nancy, leading Junior right to her.
    • Nice Job Guiding Us Hero: The Hartigan example mentioned above.
    • Nigh Invulnerability: Marv goes several days without eating or sleeping, gets run over by a car many times in a row, gets shot, slashed, kicked around, hit with a sledgehammer, and more in the span of one story and still manages to bring down one of the most powerful men in the world.
    • No Communities Were Harmed: Where the hell is Basin, anyway?
    • No Dialogue Episode: Silent Night only has a single word balloon.
    • No Doubt the Years Have Changed Me: The Yellow Bastard's appearance completely changes due to the medical procedures that made him whole again, but his voice has remained the same.

    Yellow Bastard: Remember my voice Hartigan, you piece of shit cop?

    • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Hartigan pays so very dearly for saving Nancy.
    • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Hartigan to Yellow Bastard.
      • Marv to... just about everyone. The exception being Kevin.
      • Miho to everyone, but particularly Jackie Boy.
      • Wallace to everyone.
      • As for villain examples, Manute delivers one against Dwight and, as implied above, Kevin gives one to Marv.
    • Not Quite Dead: Marv and Miho both have scenes where they surprise people by still being alive.
    • No Shirt, Long Jacket: Dwight in Big Fat Kill.
    • Off with His Head: Miho is fond of this.
    • Oh Crap: Manute and his men when they realize Dwight tricked them into an ambush. Also Becky in the film, when the Salesman tracks her down.

    I can only express puzzlement that borders on alarm.

    • Older Hero vs. Younger Villain: Hartigan vs Roark Jr.
    • Once Is Not Enough: "I take his weapons away. Both of them." And he does this twice.
    • One Degree of Separation: Major characters are often hanging out in the background. In some cases, this is used to show that two major stories are happening at once.
    • One-Scene Wonder: Both Senator and Cardinal Roark.
      • Technically, Senator Roark appears in two scenes in the comic and the Director's Cut of the movie.
    • Only One Name: Just about everyone. The setting is "down there", after all. If we learn someone's full name, chances are good they're one of the extremely rare honest men or innocent women in the city.
    • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Clive Owen as Dwight. Most audible in "Dammit Gail, not right now."
    • Other Stock Phrases
    • Parental Incest: Such is the case in the short story Daddy's Little Girl. Although its unclear if they really are related, or its just a fetish.
    • Pay Evil Unto Evil: A hallmark of the series in general.
    • Percussive Prevention: Lucille to Marv and Marv to Wendy.
    • Pistol-Whipping: Wendy does this to Marv during his interrogation, and gets lectured on proper techniques by Marv.
    • Playing Against Type:
    • Pocket Protector: Jackie-Boy's badge stops a sniper bullet meant for Dwight's heart.
    • Police Brutality: Hartigan being interrogated by Liebowitz.
      • The cops have similar techniques against Marv.
      • Averted when cops try to beat up Wallace for little reason. The keyword is try.
    • Pragmatic Adaptation: Arguably one of the best examples in a comic book movie. The stories are mostly frame-by-frame adaptations, right down to the cinematography. However, a lot of narration is chopped out, either in small trimmings (removing a fair bit of Frank Miller's infamous use of repetition) or in entire pages worth of backstory, commentary, etc that would have bogged the movie down. Its done so smoothly that its not noticeable unless you read along to the movie.
      • A pragmatic example: In the book, Marv escapes from a cell by bull-rushing the door, slamming into it with his shoulder, over and over and over again, until he finally jars the bolt loose from the wall. This is implied to take at least an hour. Since this would have slowed down the movie intolerably, he instead simply wrenches the window bars out of the frame.
    • Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner:

    Cop: Sir, there's no sign of the target.
    Marv: Here's a sign.

    • Precision F-Strike: Despite all of its many taboos, the comic is pretty tame in terms of language. The one and only F-Bomb comes from Lebowitcz when he shoots the Colonel and says, "Make a missing person's case out of this fucker."
    • Pretty Spry for a Dead Guy
    • Prison Episode: Both movie and comic versions include a very existential-looking prison for John Hartigan.
    • Private Eye Monologue
    • Professional Killer: Both hitmen and assassins show up. Hitmen are sent after Marv early on in The Hard Goodbye; Shlubb and Klump are specifically described as "low-rent killers" but are often just errand boys for the baddies. Miho and Kevin are used as assassins but they're in it for more than money. The Colonel (The Salesman in the movie) has an entire guild of assassins.
    • Psycho for Hire: A good number of people, including at least one good guy.
    • Punctuated Pounding: EIGHT! LONG! YEARS! YOU! SON! OF! A! BITCH!
    • Pyrrhic Victory: Marv avenges Goldie, but is captured by the police, blamed for the murders committed by Kevin as well as by him and finally executed in the electric chair.
    • Quirky Miniboss Squad: The IRA mercs and the small group of thugs led by Manute.
    • Ramming Always Works: Marv rams the frat boys' car multiple times in Just Another Saturday Night to get them off the road and doesn't mind running straight into armed foes more than once.
      • Averted when Dallas rams the IRA members' car in Big Fat Kill. Dwight remarks that she is too excited and careless. This leads to Dallas getting shot to death, Miho getting caught by a grenade, and Dwight almost getting killed.
    • Rasputinian Death: Kevin and Marv.
      • In The Yellow Bastard, we see type 2 and 3. While Junior was probably going to die after the initial stabbing, he goes on to have his balls ripped off and his head caved in for good measure. Hartigan had his reasons.
    • Redemption in the Rain
    • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Mariah and Blue Eyes, the assassins in the Colonel's Guild, although we never see them together.
    • Red Light District: Old Town.
    • Red Right Hand: Manute has a fake eye. The Yellow Bastard has, well... yellow skin.
    • Retirony: Hartigan.
    • Retraux
    • Retronym: The very first Sin City story was titled just that... Sin City. The series caught on, resulting in future stories containing secondary titles (i.e. Sin City: A Dame To Kill For). Even when the original story was first collected in a trade paperback format, it retained its original title. Word Of God gave it the nickname The Hard Goodbye and that's what Fanon called it when discussing this particular story. When the movie came out, the collected editions added this title. Likewise, this particular sequence in the movie shares the same title. It resulted in a slightly awkward line, however. Every story name drops its own title but this one never contained the line "the hard goodbye" since that wasn't its original name. The line was added to the dialogue in the movie.
    • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The Hard Goodbye and the end of That Yellow Bastard. Not to mention all of Hell And Back. Frank Miller loves this trope.
      • While it's not obvious at first, the story Family Values also ends up invoking this.
    • Rocket Jump
    • Rollerblade Good: Miho uses this to race after a speeding car in Family Values.
    • Saved From Development Hell: The sequel is finally going to be in production.
    • Say Your Prayers: In Family Values, one of the mobsters about to be massacred starts doing this.
    • Scary Black Man: Manute.
    • Scary Shiny Glasses: Kevin.
    • The Schlub Pub Seduction Deduction: How Marv and Goldie meet. Subverted in that she dies instead of him, due to some very bad people being after her.
    • Scope Snipe: Wallace does this in Hell and Back.
    • Self-Restraint: Before he goes back to Ava, Dwight struggles with this.
      • Wallace fits this as well since he's probably the most calm protagonist in the series.
      • Hartigan has to employ this to keep himself from sleeping with Nancy.
    • Senseless Sacrifice: If Hartigan knew Marv would kill Senator Roark, he wouldn't have needed to kill himself.
    • Serial Killer: Kevin, Roark Jr.
    • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Shlubb and Klump to the point of having Delusions of Eloquence.
    • She's All Grown Up

    Hartigan: Skinny little Nancy Callahan. She grew up. She filled out.

    • She Knows Too Much: Happens to several of the women of the Sin City verse, particularly Goldie and Lucille.
    • Shout-Out: As mentioned in the Captain Ersatz section, there are many shout outs:
    • Signs of Disrepair: In at least one instance, a now entering sign is shown outside the city "Basin City" with the B and A degraded.
    • Silent Scapegoat: Marv
    • Simultaneous Arcs: The Big Fat Kill takes place during both The Hard Goodbye and Blue Eyes. That Yellow Bastard takes place at least partially during the course of Just Another Saturday Night.
    • Sinister Minister: Cardinal Roark as well as the priest Marv interrogates and kills.
    • Sliding Scale of Anti-Heroes: Many of Sin City's heroes tend toward type IV.
    • Slipped the Ropes: Marv combines this with Breaking the Bonds.
    • Snow Means Death: Hartigan.
    • Stairwell Chase: Marv's escape from the apartment building.
    • Strip Club: The scenes in strip clubs are depicted in all their naked, graphic glory. The film adaptation is way more modest.
    • Suicide Mission: This is a recurring idea in the comics, where almost every mission is said to be one in which the hero could easily be killed. Considering the Anyone Can Die structure of the narrative, it isn't far-fetched to believe that they really will meet their end.
    • Switching POV: Every story has a different protagonist but aside from that, there's a brief sequence in Hell And Back where Liebowitcz's son is the narrator.
    • Terrorists Without a Cause: The ex-IRA mercenaries sent to kill Dwight.
    • Testosterone Poisoning: And how!
    • That One Case: Roark Junior.
    • The Ghost: Herr Wallenquist in the movie.
    • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Manute and his men. The story's called The Big Fat Kill for a reason.
      • The death of Junior also probably counts.
    • This Bed of Roses: When Dwight McCarthy is on the run from the cops, the girls from Old Town heal him and let him stay.
    • Those Two Bad Guys: Shlubb and Klump.
    • Thriller on the Express: "Wrong Track".
    • Title Drop: "Walk down the right back alley in Sin City, and you can find anything."
      • Sin City is mentioned in every story for obvious reasons but even then, the secondary titles are always dropped as well (i.e. "The Big Fat Kill" "That Yellow Bastard", "Blue Eyes", etc.)
    • Too Dumb to Live: Jackie Boy and the mob enforcer from Family Values both made the mistake of using racial slurs towards Miho.
      • A neo-Nazi once insulted the bar tender at Kadie's. Marv asked her if he should step in but she told him to remain calm. Dwight mentioned that Marv was in an "all too generous mood". The Nazi then began to insult the bar tender some more. Marv voiced his displeasure but maintained his cool. The thug then decided it was a good idea to shove a pistol in Marv's face. It didn't end well for him.
    • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Wendy and Goldie.
    • Torture Cellar: Kevin's basement.
    • Torture Technician: Kevin, also Roark Jr., but with less Nightmare Fuel.
      • There is also Davis, the torture expert in The Big Fat Kill, who can inflict pain just by touching people. This character was changed to Manute in the movie.
    • Trenchcoat Brigade: Pretty much every one of the protagonists.
      • Also a few villains.
    • Typecasting: Mickey Rourke as an ugly, down on his luck bruiser with a heart of gold? He was born to play Marv.
      • In fact, when Frank Miller met Rourke, the only thing he wrote down in his notes was, "Met Mickey Rourke -- HE IS MARV."
    • Unproblematic Prostitution
    • Urban Legends: The Colonel has many operations going, two of which, involve snuff films and Organ Theft.
    • The Vamp: Ava Lord. Very much Ava Lord.
      • Also, Blue Eyes, Mariah, and "Daddy's Little Girl" to a lesser degrees.
    • Vapor Trail: Marv does this to a wrecked car in Just Another Saturday Night.
    • Villain Protagonist: The Blue Eyes stories, The Salesman Is Always Right, and Rats all count.
    • Villain Ball Magnet: Marv just wants to be left alone but he will always end up in trouble with someone. Usually this is just a drunk bar patron looking for a fight. And sometimes it's the Roark family.
    • Villain by Default: Many of the villains.
    • The Voiceless: Kevin and Miho.
    • Wasn't That Fun?: This happens mid-chase in A Dame to Kill For. Dwight McCarthy has just been betrayed, is bleeding to death, is being chased by cops, and has Heroic Comedic Sociopath Marv behind the wheel of the getaway car. The entire situation is harrowing for him to say the least but Marv quips how fun the situation is.
    • What a Drag: "I don't know about you, but I'm having a ball."
    • What Did I Do Last Night?: Marv blacks out a lot due to unnamed mental problems. This is most notable in Just Another Saturday Night where he has to sit down and remember the events of the night in order to figure out why he's surrounded by dead bodies.
    • What the Hell, Hero?: Lucille gives Marv one of these when he reveals that he beat up a group of cops.
    • Wife-Basher Basher: Marv.
    • Wife Husbandry: Nancy falls in love with Hartigan due to him being her hero eight years ago. Hartigan does not take advantage due to his sense of morality and because those eight years were spent in prison on false charges of raping her because of Junior's vindictive Senator father.
    • Woman Bites Woman: Gail to Becky in "The Big Fat Kill," nearly ripping her throat out, after learning that she sold Gail and the other girls out to the mob to protect her own neck.

    Gail: Your neck, your neck, your precious little neck...

    • World Half Empty
    • World of Badass
    • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: One of Marv's only rules. The only time he breaks it is to spare Wendy from watching him torture Kevin to death.
    • Worth It: Marv's quest to avenge Goldie results in his death, along with some pretty brutal baseball bat torture, being riddled with bullets and the death of Lucille. Considering the person he was avenging only slept with him for protection and felt nothing for him some might wonder if it was all worth it. But Marv? When he gets confused and sees Wendy as Goldie he proudly says "I got him for you good, didn't I?" For him it was completely worth it and he'd do it all over again in a heartbeat.
    • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Ava uses Dwight's violent protectiveness toward women in general to manipulate him into murdering an innocent man.
    • Wretched Hive: Duh.
    • X Marks the Hero: Hartigan is a shining example of this.
    • You Can Barely Stand: Subverted by Hartigan the first time: "You can't even lift that cannon" -- "Sure I can."
      • Not that Junior learned his lesson the second time around, either.

    Reader, that's a damn fine coat you're wearing...