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GITS-SAC

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is an anime series and an adaptation of Shirow Masamune's Ghost in The Shell manga; the show follows a covert Japanese government counterterrorist task force named Public Security Section 9. (The translation of the group's name can differ depending on language/region; the translation used here is from the English version.)

Stand Alone Complex is visually stunning (it features beautiful digital cel animation which was produced in full widescreen) and audibly mesmerizing (its soundtrack was handled by none other than Yoko Kanno herself). Its plot and characterization are both exceptionally deep, with philosophical discussions of dehumanization through technology and synthetic life -- as well as intense political intrigue -- existing alongside plenty of high-octane action scenes.

The world of Stand Alone Complex is different from that of the two Ghost in The Shell feature films and the original manga -- while the feature films and the manga focus on Motoko Kusanagi and her evolution into something beyond human after her encounter with The Puppetmaster, in Stand-Alone Complex, The Puppetmaster has yet to appear and Section 9 (including Kusanagi) is a fully functional team.

Stand Alone Complex is split up between two twenty-six episode seasons: Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: Second Gig. For obvious reasons, both seasons are often abbreviated by fans; the first is referred to as "GITS:SAC" -- pronounced "Git-Sack" by the uncouth -- while the second is abbreviated as "2nd Gig". Like The X-Files and many other Speculative Fiction TV series, Stand Alone Complex has one-shot episodes which follow a single case ("Stand Alone") and episodes which follow the series' ongoing Story Arc ("Complex") involving a hacker known as "The Laughing Man". 2nd Gig offers three types of episodes -- "Individual", "Dividual", and "Dual" -- and its Story Arc relates to a terrorist group known as "The Individual Eleven" and its "leader", a mysterious individual named Kuze.

As noted above, the Ghost in the Shell franchise has three separate but equally legitimate continuities: that of the manga itself, that of Mamoru Oshii's films -- which themselves are recreations of specific parts of the manga compressed into movie form -- and that of Stand Alone Complex. No continuity has any direct relation to another aside from setting and characters -- though both movies and Stand Alone Complex make references to/offer recreations of specific scenes from the manga.

A Made for TV Movie -- Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: Solid State Society -- was released in 2006; set two years after 2nd Gig, Solid State Society follows Section 9 as it struggles to deal with Motoko's departure and a volatile refugee situation triggered by the actions of someone known only as "The Puppeteer".

In 2011, Kodansha Comics released a Stand Alone Complex manga written by Yu Kinutani. Volume One is a shot-for-shot manga interpretation of the first episode, and Volume Two is a retelling of the second episode, "Testation".

This show has a Shout Out page and a Headscratchers page.


This show contains examples of: Edit

  • A Boy and His X: Batou and his favorite Tachikoma.
  • Abandoned Warehouse: A chase scene is set in one in the eighth episode.
  • Abnormal Ammo: Fem's Arm Cannon that fires coins. As in, heavy rolls of them.
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Section 9 hunts down Marco in the sewers beneath Niihama.
    • In ANNIHILATION, they use the sewers beneath headquarters to escape from the Umibozu, but their Dangerously Genre Savvy commander anticipates their move and orders his troops to seal them off.
  • Action Duo: Batou and Togusa to a certain extent.
  • Action Girl / Dark Action Girl: A favorite of the series. Aside from the Major herself, there are multiple one-shot villains like this, including Fem (¥€$) and Cruzkowa (CAPTIVATED).
  • Adaptation Distillation
  • Adaptation Expansion: A rather unusual example in which the manga expands upon the anime episodes. Both volumes of the manga are faithful retellings of the first two episodes, but pad out the story a bit more by creating new scenes. For example, in "Testation", certain scenes are extended to give more backstory to Takeshi Kago and his parents.
  • Adult Fear: The project of the Puppeteer in Solid State Society involves taking children (of parents classified as abusive) and wiping the parents memories so they never knew they existed.
  • After-Action Villain Analysis: Numerous episodes.
  • AI Is a Crapshoot: Various androids and programs show their fare share of faults, including the sniper assisting program that tried to compensate Saito's own natural skills, but the Uchikomas count in particular. Enough to actually become an in-universe Scrappy.
  • Air Vent Passageway: When Batou is snooping around in Zaitsev's office, he hides in the ducts when Zaitsev returns unexpectedly.
  • Alliterative Title: Solid State Society.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: The Major doesn't seem to reciprocate Batou's fairly obvious feelings for her, At least, not in any fairly obvious ways. If she doesn't want you to see it, you won't... unless you look very carefully at how she treats Batou compared to everyone else. They are definitely closer, but on a pure platonic level.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: In ANNIHILATION, the Umibozu storm Section 9 headquarters.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: In PORTRAITZ, Togusa infiltrates a facility for the care of children with Cyberbrain Closed Shell Syndrome, of which some individuals show signs that strongly resembles autism.
  • Ambiguously Human: Some of the cyborgs are closer to robots than full-body replacement shells.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Cruzkowa loses her cybernetic arm when fighting Togusa. It contains a bomb.
    • The Major loses her left arm when fighting Gayle.
  • And I Must Scream: In the episode MAKE UP, the villain took a woman's brain out of her cybernetic body, and dumped it in the trash. Apparently, she was quite alive at the time, but without a body, it's not like she can call for help.
    • This happens to the Major when she's Strapped to An Operating Table and finds out too late that the doctor is an assassin. She starts by immobilizing the Major's body, then shuts down the vision of her eyes.
  • Anime Accent Absence: Possibly Justified. Given the use of cybernetics, it isn't hard to imagine downloading a language.
    • The dub attempts to give a British soldier a proper accent in Poker Face, and in the first season, there's a British secretary woman who doesn't seem to know how to properly pronounce "Aramaki".
    • Played straight in "Angel's Share", where almost none of the ostensibly British characters have British accents.
    • "Captivated" prominently features a Russian character who has no accent whatsoever.
  • Anime First: A manga series based on the anime wouldn't be released until 8 years after the anime had first aired in Japan.
  • Anti-Hero: Section 9 is very dedicated in their mission to protect the population and fight injustice. However, doing their job according to the law seems to be an even lesser priority to them than for most of their enemies.
  • Anti-Villain: The Laughing Man in the first season, and Kuze in 2nd Gig.
  • Arc Words: "I thought what I'd do was I'd pretend I was one of those deaf-mutes", most obviously in the Laughing Man's logo.
  • Arrested for Heroism: The first season climaxes with Section 9 trying to avoid this.
  • Arm Cannon: Many, including Fem's, which shoots rolls of coins in a deadly shotgun-like blast.

 Batou: Man, this old lady has a lot of tricks up her sleeve.

  • Arrow Cam: Used when Saito is sniping a target, such as when he's shooting at the rogue Spider Tank in the second episode.
  • Artificial Limbs: Everything from a single arm and artificial eye (like Saito) to full-body prostheses (like the Major and Batou). Also, nearly everyone has their brain cyberized.
  • Ascended to A Higher Plane of Existence: While it's never confirmed, there is some implication that Kuze might have done this by successfully uploading his consciousness to the net. At the end of the first season, Motoko seems to have spent a good month or so wandering around the net without a body, if her dialogue with Aoi is any indication.
  • As You Know: Frequently when Section 9 are discussing details of a case with Aramaki.
  • Augmented Reality
  • Ave Machina: One CEO willingly uploads his consciousness into a robot because he loves technology so much. His wife and child aren't so amused.
  • Badass Crew: All of Section 9, to the point that the page quote could have been written about them, but the Major deserves extra points in this regard as their leader.
  • Badass Longcoat:The Major gets one in the opening credits of 2nd Gig to go along with her more modest dress for the sequel, but oddly, doesn't seem to wear it much in the show itself.
    • Togusa gets one in Solid State Society.
    • The commander of the Umibozu also wears a trenchcoat which is left open at all times.
  • Badass Mustache: The Umibozu captain has one to go with his Sinister Shades.
  • Bad Cop, Incompetent Cop: The British police.
  • Barrier-Busting Blow: Several.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Section 9 pretends to be from the sanitation department and a maintenance crew ... in the same episode.
  • Battle Discretion Shot: In ANNIHILATION, a group of Umibozu mooks sneak up on Borma right after he says goodbye to Paz. We only hear see the ensuing fight.
  • Batman Gambit: The Chief's plan at the end of Season 1, definitely. He was counting on his team surviving the purge and still trusting him afterwards.
  • Battle Trophy: In the second season, Kuze keeps Batou's knife after beating him in a fight. He reclaims it in the final episode, when Kuze surrenders.
  • Beat the Curse Out of Him: Or in Borma's case, getting the curse beat out of him just before it can take over his mind. In SELECON, Borma is going through some essay files while doing research on the Individual Eleven with Ishikawa and Aramaki. He tries to move all the essays into a folder, but moving the last one on the list in with the others triggered a nasty virus that almost shut down his brain. Ishikawa had to step in and knock him out with a solid right hook.
  • Being Watched: The Major and Batou can intuit when they are being spied on.
  • BFG: A number of weapons. Saito usually gets the armor-piercing anti-tank sniper rifles, Batou is fond of heavy machine guns and rocket launchers (when available) and one episode has Ishikawa armed with a Big Frigging Glue Gun.
  • Berserk Button: Never ever try to directly kill Motoko. EVER. You might just live to regret it...

  "HEY SAITO! FORK OVER THAT WEAPON NOW!!!"

      • She one-arms an anti-matériel sniper rifle that's bigger than she is, charging the weapon after each shot and all.
    • Related to the above, it's typically a very bad idea to go after Togusa and/or his family. The team is especially protective of him and his.
      • Speaking of Togusa, in an episode of 2nd Gig , after witnessing a women being killed in a domestic dispute by her boyfriend, Togusa completely flips out on the man. He doesn't kill him though, but he did threaten to.
  • Bilingual Bonus: One for Japanese viewers. A lot of Japanese people don't speak English, so the foreshadowing about the Laughing Man's identity comes under here.
  • Bittersweet Ending: In all three cases.
    • In the first season, Secretary-General Yakushima is arrested and brought to justice for his crimes, and Section 9 was able to reunite and continue their work, but we see that some never-explained event happened to Serano prior to being able to testify in court regarding the scandal, and the Tachikomas are all gone. They do come back though.
    • In the second season, the refugee island of Dejima is spared from being nuked, and Gohda eventually gets his comeuppance, but Kuze is murdered in the process, and the Tachikomas have (again) sacrificed themselves to stop the worst-case scenario from happening. Though, in this case, Section 9 tried using Uchikomas instead, since they were suppose to be a superior model. They were less than pleased with how they performed.
    • In Solid State Society, the Puppeteer has been killed, Munei's brainwashing program is revealed and shut down, and the Major reunites with Section 9, but the children who were abducted are returned to their homes, where they must again face their abusive parents, or spend years waiting for their cases to percolate through the judicial system.
  • Black and Gray Morality: Crosses over with Good Is Not Nice. Section Nine may be the good guys, but they regularly hack private databases, engage in blackmail, are familiar with torture, kill people, and generally break the laws that would have applied if they weren't above them. It's referenced repeatedly that the only reason they get away with these actions is though Aramaki's brilliant diplomacy.
  • Black Box: Cyberbrains. It's never shown what they look like on the inside, only the outer casing. The interior is implied to be organic, though.
  • Black Helicopter: The Umibozu use them.
  • Blade Reflection:
    • In Kuze's introductory scene, he slowly draws out his katana in front of him, reflecting his eyes in the blade as he pulls it away from the hilt to the tip.
    • In SELECON, Batou's combat knife provides a perfect mirror reflection of his face while he's commenting on taking an alternative option for bringing Kuze into custody: by bringing back his head.

 Motoko: "How sadistic..."

  • Bland-Name Product: All over the place, eg. Batou orders a package from "ConEx".
    • In EQUINOX, the CEO of Serano Genomics and the Laughing Man or the Major impersonating him meet in "Starchild Coffee".
    • The ninth episode of "2nd Gig" features an advertisement for "Tucky Strike".
  • Blondes Are Evil: Cruzkowa.
  • Blood From the Mouth: Frequently when people are killed. Togusa has some rather prominently in the first season after taking a beating from a hugely strong combat cyborg.
  • Blood Knight: Marco Amoretti. He has no reason for continuing to kill Japanese citizens since Operation Sunset is long since over. He's simply a psychopath.
  • Bluff the Eavesdropper: At one point, the Major realizes that the Tachikomas are observing her meeting with Batou. She and Batou proceed to hold two conversations simultaneously: they speak audibly to mislead the Tachikomas, while using their neural implants to message each other wirelessly and say what they really mean.
  • Blush Sticker: A Tachikoma, in one of the closing omake animations.
  • Bodyguard Babes: Marcello Jarti has two female android bodyguards protecting him. They don't last very long against Motoko.
  • Bondage Is Bad: Marco Amoretti's MO is to tie up his female victims before skinning them alive.
  • Book Ends: The first season begins and ends with Major standing on a rooftop, and Batou appearing in a helicopter rising past it.
    • The second season's first and last episodes involve Major Kusanagi shooting a villain in the head, causing it to explode rather violently. This is also a callback to the prologue in the manga and The Movie.
  • Boom! Headshot!: This is standard operating procedure when fighting cyborgs, as aiming for the center of mass is not a guaranteed kill - only destroying the brain case is.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Rarely for the show, played straight in one episode when a deranged mook sprays a hallway with gunfire, pinning down Togusa until he can return fire.
  • Brain-Computer Interface: Most cyborgs have jacks in their necks which can be used to plug into computers or even another person's brain.
  • Brain Uploading: The practice of "ghost dubbing," which is highly illegal in the Ghost in the Shell universe due to the effects of said dubbing on the original, who suffers severe brain damage and eventually dies.
  • Brick Joke: In the first episode, we learn that Japan's Minister of Foreign Affairs likes to swap his brain into robot geishas when he's out having a good time, which causes him to be kidnapped via his brain being put in a box while his body is stolen. Much later in the beginning of 2nd Gig, Section 9 sees him at the party for "people of particular tastes" they're staking out, and comment that he hasn't changed much. We also get a closeup of him while the Tachikomas discuss whether the partygoers should be called "perverts" or "eccentric."
  • Bridge Bunnies: Section 9 employs numerous Operator androids to cover various tasks around headquarters.
  • Bring News Back: Togusa and the head of the Sunflower Society argue over which of them should leave with the file containing the list of cyberbrain sclerosis victims when the offices are stormed by government troops.
  • Broken Pedestal: Batou looked up to Zaitsev as an idol. It seriously angered him to find out he was a spy.
  • Brown Note: Several interesting takes on this, including one which turns people into fanatical terrorists.
    • Though it only works on people with a tendency towards fanaticism in the first place. Other people get far less dramatic reactions: a journalist assumes more radical views and later becomes suicidal, while a professor of sociology just becomes convinced that he's studying a text that does not in fact exist.
  • Bulletproof Human Shield: The terrorists from NOT EQUAL use their dead as shields during a firefight.
  • Canis Latinicus: The refrain "nalyubuites', aeria gloris" from the theme song "Inner Universe". While nalyubuites' is correct Russian (meaning "watch in awe"), aeria gloris is not grammatical in Latin.
  • Camera Abuse: Particularly noticeable during the bombardment of Dejima towards the end of 2nd Gig.
  • Call Back: The Major jumps on tanks several times, including in the opening of season one. She tries to pry it open, then wisely stops before straining herself too much (if you recall what happened when she tried it in the movie).
    • The opening scene of the series recalls that of the movie: the Major is standing on a building, then leaps down to catch a criminal.
    • Both seasons are loaded with callbacks to the 1995 film, of which Kamiyama is a huge fan. There's at least one every couple of episodes.
  • Camera Spoofing: Taken to extremes, including hacking people's eyes.
  • Car Chase: Several, including one in ANNIHILATION where Togusa gets to show off some Car Fu.
  • Chain Link Fence: Big, heavy Tachikoma climbs over a flimsy chain link fence at the top of a high-rise building.
  • Chair Reveal: When Batou and Togusa burst into what they think is Nanao's apartment, they discover he's not there and his chair is occupied by a sex doll.
  • Chalk Outline: In a few episodes.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Batou gives his favorite Tachikoma some natural lubricant in Episode 2, which allows it to self-activate in Episode 12, thus sparking a chain of events that eventually leads to all of the Tachikoma being disbanded... and developing individual ghosts.
  • Chekhov's Skill: The punch that Zaitsev uses to knock out Batou when they spar for the first time. At the end of the episode, Batou challenges Zaitsev to a fight when arresting him and says he'll let him go if he can punch him out again. Subverted in that Batou blocks it - he let Zaitsev win the first time.
  • City of Adventure: Niihama.
  • Click Hello: CAPTIVATED has Batou doing this to Cruzkowa immediately after she and Motoko engage in a Mexican Standoff with each other.
    • Also, the man who kills Nanao sneaks up behind him and does this.
  • Colon Cancer: Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex: 2nd Gig and Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex: Solid State Society.
  • Compilation Movie: The Laughing Man and Individual Eleven cover the main story arcs of the first and second seasons, respectively.
  • Concealment Equals Cover: In CAPTIVATED, Batou dodges gunfire by ducking behind an I-beam.
    • Averted in RE-VIEW when Togusa hides behind a desk to evade a group of gunmen and gets hit anyway by a stray bullet.
  • Conspicuous CG: Noticeable in the first season opening, as well as some brief moments during some fight sequences. Curiously averted with the Tachikomas (who are animated in 3D first and made to look 2D with some particularly good looking cel-shading programs.)
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Episode 9 revolves a group of them who gather in a chatroom to discuss the Laughing Man.
  • Contemplate Our Navels: In-universe, The Tachikomas' tendency to do this does more than bug Motoko, making her worry about their efficiency as fighting machines, and also that they might somehow become too intelligent.
  • Conveniently-Timed Attack From Behind: Batou rescues Motoko a few times this way.
    • She saves Vice-Minister Jin from Tsujisaki Yu's assassination attempt this way as well.
  • Cool Car: Batou drives a Lancia Stratos, a very rare 1970s racing coupe.
    • In Solid State Society, Batou's Stratos is replaced by a Ford GT. The Major can't help but point out his change in taste.
  • Cool Code of Source: When Ishikawa is hacking, lines of code tend to scroll down the screen far faster than any human could possibly read them. As a cyborg, it's likely he has no problem, though.
  • Cool People Rebel Against Authority: The reason why the Laughing Man is so popular.
  • Cop Show: With Cyberpunk!
  • Corrupt Politician: The Yakushima administration in the first season, as well as a few cabinet leaders in the 2nd season.
    • Kanzaki from the episode CAPTIVATED, although he's more dishonest than corrupt (he later makes a Heel Face Turn).
  • Cranial Processing Unit: Braincases, which allows robots to be killed instantly with headshots (as seen in the first episode).
  • Creator Cameo: Kenji Kamiyama's name appears on the rim the cybernetic eye in the first episode of the first series. In Second Gig, he is seen on a security camera system driving a car.
  • Criminal Mind Games: The Laughing Man seems to enjoy toying with authority figures a lot as they struggle to figure out his true identity.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Discussed, although the general consensus is that they don't and cyborgs are just as human as anyone else. Certain religions and factions, such as the Human Liberation Front, believe this completely, which is why they refuse to even let themselves be cyberized. There are some major religions that have changed their views in favor of cyberization, and benefited from it as well.
  • Cyberpunk / Post Cyber Punk: Ghost in the Shell has been classified by some commentators as Neo-Cyberpunk or Post-Cyberpunk rather than classic 1980s Cyberpunk, in that the protagonists of GITS work for the government and hunt down terrorists instead of being urban guerrillas and streetpunks fighting against governments and mega-corps. Most noticeably, while GITS shows a global community still suffering from the aftereffects of a third and fourth World War, the society in those nations that we get to see has not utterly collapsed and segregated into corporate wage-slaves living in gated communities ("arcologies") on the one hand and the rest of the population living in dismal slums outside the system. The Japan of GITS, while being something of a police state with government and intelligence service controlling the propaganda permeating the media, still has an urban middle class, nature resorts and traditional society. Even the poor and the refugees in their ghetto are not "invisible" and "falling through the cracks" (except in a social sense). Instead, cyberbrain interconnectedness is widespread and surveillance by public cameras, spy satellites and the Net is all-pervasive.
  • Cyberspace, specifically of the Metaverse variety (see the episode where Major Kusanagi visits a chat room, for an example), though not the central theme.
  • Cyberpunk Is Techno: Played straight and subverted with the soundtrack, which also includes Jazz, Punk Rock, Folk, Easy Listening, Hip-Hop, and Funk, among other genres.
  • Cyberpunk with a Chance of Rain: At times.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: The Umibozu commander in the endgame of SAC, who counters every single play Section Nine throws at him.
  • David Versus Goliath: In the Stand Alone Complex manga's Tachikomatic Days bonus chapter, the Tachikomas are sent to a construction site to earn more experience and learn. They decide to challenge a gigantic Power Loader commonly found in strip mining pits in protest to doing menial labor. The boss shows up in a smaller version commonly found in construction sites, and proceeds to instantly beat them all. Played for laughs of course.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Several episodes focus heavily on Tachikomas. Pazu and Saito each get one in 2nd Gig. Batou and Togusa both get a few over the series.
  • Dead Man Writing: The clues Yamaguchi leaves to Togusa in the Interceptor case.
  • Deadly Doctor: Sano in the episode SCANDAL.
  • Dead Unicorn Trope: The series' subtitle is the in-universe name for it. A "stand alone complex" refers to copycat activities (criminal or otherwise, but in the context of the show mostly criminal or terrorist) which mimic a supposed original that doesn't actually exist.
  • Death Glare: The Major can do little else while Strapped to An Operating Table with her speech center immobilized.

 Sano: "My, what rebellious eyes. That won't do." (cuts out her vision as well)

  • Defeat Means Friendship: While "Friendship" can be debated given the personalities involved, in Saito's Flash Back in POKER FACE, the Major's first words to him after their duel are:

 You're pretty good. I want you to join my team.

    • The exact translation of that line differs, often altering the connotations a little. Variations include:

 From now on, you're mine!

You work for me now.

  • Defictionalization: A real Tachikoma?
    • Directly inspired by GITS, scientists in Japan have also built the proper technology for thermoptic camouflage gear that works by bending light around the wearer. It certainly works, but the equipment to make it work is so bulky that it's not worth it... unless maybe it was inside the body.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: A few scenes, such as the training exercise from episode 15.
  • Designated Girl Fight: Rarely for the series. The Major enters a hotel room in pursuit of Marcelo Jarti and has to fight his two android Bodyguard Babes, whom he left behind to delay her while he escapes.
  • Design Student's Orgasm: Some depictions of cyberspace, such as the beginning of the first season finale when the Major exists online in an incorporeal state. See Extreme Graphical Representation.
  • Die Hard on an X: Die Hard in a... wine bank. Interestingly played in that it was a double hostage situation, with the ex-mob bank robbers holding Aramaki and his friend, and the mob-bribed police ready to swoop in and kill them all. Aramaki plays the John McClane role hilariously as he starts ordering the would-be hostage-takers around so that they can all get out alive.
  • Digital Avatar: See Cyberspace example above. Actually called attention to by the Tachikomas in one episode. While they use full avatars, most of the team use a generic "labeled triangle in circle" to identify themselves.
  • Dirty Communists: Fem, the radical leftist villain from ¥€$.
  • Dissonant Serenity
  • Distress Ball: Despite an overwhelming amount of experience and knowledge about political and domestic affairs, Aramaki falls victim to this when he hears his brother was arrested under (falsified) drug trafficking charges. Justified in that he was previously shown to be upset over his dedication to keeping his personal and professional actions separate, to the point of refusing to help the daughter of his former best friend. His guilt over this contributes to his resolve cracking and decision to personally investigate his brother, according to the dialog at the end.
  • Do Androids Dream?: A main general theme of the GITS franchise. Not only do the Tachikomas do this, but the humans themselves do as well, though in the opposite fashion: at what point does a human stop being a human, if there is such a point?
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength: The Major had difficulty controlling her prosthetics when she first became a cyborg. The opening sequence of the first season show her crushing a doll due to being unable to control her hand properly. Incidentally, full-prosthetic cyborgs have a theoretically limitless amount of strength (all comes down to technology,) so there are laws put in place preventing citizens from using their bodies to jump around as a faster form of transportation in order to cut down on property damage. There are many instances in the series where Motoko, Batou, or the Tachikomas survive free-falls from heights that would easily kill them, but they land with very minimal (if any) damage to themselves or the surroundings.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: In ¥€$, watch when the Major gets knocked into a pile of garbage by the criminal's android. Although it's only on screen for a second, an enormous cannon can be seen unfolding from the android's crotch.
  • Do Not Adjust Your Set: When the Laughing Man hacks the Superintendent-General's brain as he's giving a speech on live TV.
  • Dramatic Gun Cock: It seems to be a rule that nobody can load a weapon in this show (or even point it at someone else) without noisily chambering a round.
  • Dress Hits Floor: Motoko pulls this off in Cash Eye. How she managed to conceal a full body suit underneath an evening dress is anyone's guess.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: The Major steals a British SWAT trooper's uniform to rescue Aramaki in ANGELS' SHARE using nothing but her sex appeal.
  • Driven to Suicide: One politician attempts to commit "cyberbrain suicide" over the scandal over cyberbrain sclerosis coming to light.
  • Due to the Dead: Aramaki tells Togusa to put some flowers on Yamaguchi's grave in gratitude for discovering the Laughing Man's return.
  • Eagle Land: Type 2, Americans aren't depicted very well in the series. Established in other Shirow Masamune works, The United States has been split up into 3 individual countries:
    • The United States of America now consists of the states of Washington, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Utah, New Mexico, and Wisconsin.
    • The Ameri-Soviet Union consists of Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, and the entire New England area.
    • The American Empire (Imperial Americana) makes up the largest part of the country, with all the states east New Mexico, south of South Dakota, and south of the New England area. Washington D.C. is part of this country. While the above two are only given brief mentions in the anime, the American Empire is the cause of trouble for Section 9 in the series, either manipulating them for their own ends, or by being racist, incompetent military leaders who are trying to find a way to stabilize their own economy through foreign affairs.
  • Electronic Telepathy: Section 9 can use their cyberbrains to communicate silently.
  • Elite Mooks: The Umibozu.
  • Empathic Environment: Mentioned by the Major after the Laughing Man returns and the sunset tints everything the same colour.
  • Enemy Mine: When Aramaki is held hostage by ex-mobsters in episode 16, he convinces them to work with him to escape when the police show up.
  • Enhance Button: Used by Togusa when investigating some photos a friend from the police force died trying to get to him.
  • Ethereal Choir: In the soundtrack, although not as much as the movie had (eg. the song "Stamina Rose").
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: The Laughing Man: the real one, rather than the many impersonators that cropped up over the years - gets fed up with the latest police corruption scandal and gives a dire (if vague) warning to the police commissioner to come clean during his next speech, or else. Because of the sensationalism of the literal Memetic Mutation of the Laughing Man, people from all walks of life come out to try assassinating the commissioner, each claiming to be the real Laughing Man. The police conspirators even had their own fake set up but were totally unprepared for sheer numbers who showed up to take a shot at the commissioner. The kicker is that apparently the real Laughing Man didn't even do a thing other than issue a threat; the imitators did all the work without even being mind-controlled.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Major Kusanagi is almost always simply referred to as "the Major" Of course, she doesn't introduce herself as just "The Major" to people, and close friends are exempt. In fact, she hates it when anyone calls her by her name while she's on duty.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Some cars blow up extremely easily, such as Yamaguchi's in the crash where he dies.
  • Evil Plan: Ghoda in the second season. He's the one controlling Kuze.
  • Expanded Universe: The light novels, Playstation 2, and PSP video games are all written by the storywriters for the series itself, and are considered Stand Alone Episodes.
  • Expendable Clone: It's possible, though very, very illegal and expensive, to copy a person's mind, body, and most specifically, their soul. The "illegal" part mostly comes from the fact that the "ghost dubbing" process usually kills the original individual's brain (because it requires the original's brain to be so thoroughly analyzed that it's taken apart). With all that said, however, it is possible to create lots of copies of the same guy, and one episode deals with a South American revolutionary leader who seemingly has an endless supply of body-doubles...
  • Exposition Beam
  • Extreme Graphical Representation: Cyberspace is full of flashy lights and colors as well as being fully 3D. It resembles an elaborate VR simulation more than present-day Internet browsing.
  • Extreme Melee Revenge: The Armed Suit who fights Batou in BARRAGE taunts him by tossing his body around like a rag doll, in revenge for his comrades that he killed.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Aside from Saito, Cruzkowa provides a rare female example.
  • Eye Scream: If Saito's flashback in episode 14 of 2nd Gig is to be believed.
    • The one who died in the knife fight at the end of "MAKE UP".
  • The Faceless: The Laughing Man superimposes his logo over his own face and those of bystanders when he appears on camera.
  • Faking the Dead: Part of Section 9's plan while evacuating their headquarters is to leave several prosthetic bodies laying around in the hopes that they'll be confused with those of the actual members.
  • Fallen Hero: Zaitsev is a former boxer and Paralympics silver-medalist who had more than enough skill and fortitude to take the gold. Because he threw that fight, he had lost his way and resorted to spying on the country just to make some cash. Batou is understandably a little more than pissed off when he finds his idol had sunk so low.
  • Fan Disservice: In one episode where we're introduced to a Hospital Hottie doctor via a Male Gaze close-up of her high-heels and bouncing breasts, who then proceeds to carry out an intimate examination of the Major's body whilst making overt Les Yay comments. Things quickly turn here when we realise she's a corrupt narcotics officer out to kill the Major once she's been immobilized.
  • Fantastic Slur: One of the Tachikomas mentions that "cyborg" is considered a slur by some people.
  • Fetish: In-canon; in Cash Eye, the leader of a bank corporation admits he has a fetish for having sex with women who have fully-prosthetic bodies. He'd rather do it while said bodies are running, but the women inside are inactive.
    • The first episode of the first season has an elderly minister who likes swapping his brain into that of a sexy geisha whenever he gets drunk. Unfortunately this sets him up as a prime candidate for a Grand Theft Me when his brain's exposed.
  • Firing in the Air a Lot: Batou empties the clip of his assault rifle into the air at the end of ERASER, a rare instance of Reckless Gun Usage from him.
  • Firing One-Handed: Togusa does it with an assault rifle in NOT EQUAL, although it isn't shown that he hits anything either.
    • In RE-VIEW, Gayle (the head of the DEA squad that storms the Sunflower Society's offices) also does it, although in this case it's a hint that he's actually a full-body cyborg, and Togusa is no match for him.
    • In ERASER, Kusanagi fires Saito's anti-tank rifle at Gayle one-handed, in revenge for him almost crushing her skull beneath the foot of his Powered Armor. Of course, two-handed wasn't exactly an option at the time; she only had the one arm left from the battle.
  • Fish Eye Lens: Used in episode 2 at various points, specifically when showing Motoko or Batou from the camera view from inside their Tachikomas.
  • Forced to Watch: Serial killer Marco Amoretti links with his victims' brains so they can view themselves being tortured and murdered from his perspective.
    • The SST team who plugged into Eka Turkuro's brain were apparently horrified by what they saw.
  • Foreign Language Theme: The opening and ending themes for both seasons and Solid State Society are either performed in Russian and English (with a little Latin in the first season's opener) or entirely in English.
  • Foreshadowing: Listen closely to the conversation between Aramaki and Gohda in episode four of 2nd Gig. That seemingly unimportant line: "...And of course, the occasional manipulation of public opinion" during Gohda's description of CIS duties becomes very important later on.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Each episode's title card includes a multi-paragraph description of the opening scene which doesn't appear onscreen long enough to read in full.
  • Friendly Enemy: Zaitsev becomes friends with Batou, unaware the whole time that Batou is tailing him on suspicion of espionage.
  • The Future Is Noir
  • Gainaxing: Sano is introduced in SCANDAL through a lingering shot of her cleavage. This is the first clue that she's a Femme Fatale.
  • Gambit Pileup: The end of 2nd Gig.
  • Gas Mask Mooks: The SWAT team that occasionally helps out Section 9. And by help, read "form a shield wall and look scary".
    • The DEA hit squad that storms the Sunflower Society's offices in RE-VIEW also have them.
  • Gatling Good: Batou uses a minigun at one point, and the Tachikomas can have their grenade launchers switched out with rotary cannons when needed.
  • Genre Roulette: The Tachikomatic Days short from episode 16 goes from a Star Wars parody to ... a romance series?
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: Used at various points, but the most notable example by Batou to Motoko when she experiences a Heroic BSOD from getting too close to Kuze's consciousness.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: SCANDAL has a lot of fairly blatant Les Yay in the scene where the Major goes to get her body replaced, such as Kurutan enthusing over how great the Major's body is and wondering what she could do with it. Since the Major's canonical orientation is bisexual (there are a few blink-or-you'll-miss it scenes of her in bed with another woman) this lends a very different subtext to the scene.
  • Go Mad From the Revelation: The team that plugged into Eka Turkuro's brain are so traumatized by their findings that Batou has literally grab ahold of one to get him to talk about it.
  • Gonk: The Minister of the Interior.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Not at all. The methods used by the heroes are really not much different than those of the villains. Their aims are.
  • Good News, Bad News: The Major delivers some to Aramaki when he's in the hospital at the end of SCANDAL. One is about the case, the other is about his brother.
  • Good Old Ways: Inverted in the Season 1 finale. It's Aramaki who's calling old-fashioned paper books obsolete, and the young Laughing Man who's defending them.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Whenever Section 9 smokes, it's of the Smoking Is Cool variety (eg. Ishikawa really shouldn't be smoking while working on his computer; Batou doesn't need to smoke because he's a cyborg, etc.).
  • Gorn: The scene where the Major blows off Gouda's head at close range, as well as Marco Amoretti's murders in the episode JUNGLE CRUISE.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: When Nanao is killed by a gunshot to the head. Only a few specks of blood can be seen onscreen.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: Several, most notably Section 9 itself.
  • Government Conspiracy: Part of the Cyberpunk theme of the series.
  • Grand Theft Me: The first episode involves a government official with a fetish for swapping out his brain into a sexy female robot body, and this leaves him open for attack by a spy who swaps his own brain into the official's body. Fortunately they were able to recover the real minister's braincase.
  • Gratuitous English: Dramatic reveal moments are made somewhat narmful by Japanese voice actors saying things like "Stando Arone Conpureksu". In the Major's conversation with the Laughing Man at the end of the first season, where he replies to her questions with the English "yes" and "no", because its his native language (see Bilingual Bonus, above).
  • Great Offscreen War: World War III and IV, but also a covert operation in Central America that Batou served in as part of a conflict between America and Japan.
  • Groin Attack: During the shootout in Kusanagi's mansion, Batou gets his crotch stomped on by a pissed-off mook in Powered Armor. Even though Batou's a full-body cyborg he doesn't find it a pleasant experience. However, the mook wasn't so much stomping on his groin, but rather the entire midsection of Batou's body.
    • Motoko escapes from one mook who has her in a headlock this way.
  • Guile Hero: Aramaki. Without his skill at politicking, Section 9 would not be able to operate. Especially evident at the end of the first season. The Major, Batou and Saitou also have elements of this, using mind games to gain the advantage in a fight.
  • Guns Akimbo: The Major wields twin pistols when fighting Gayle in ERASER.
  • Hand Signals: Multiple examples in both series. One notable examples is Motoko and Batou using this when they infiltrate a youth reform facility for fear of having their comms intercepted/destroyed/hacked after losing contact with Togusa.
  • Harmless Villain: More than a few.
  • Have You Told Anyone Else?: Aramaki presents the prime minister with evidence of the cyberbrain-sclerosis cure scandal that indicts a lot of people in power, including the vice-minister. The PM asks how many other people know. You can guess what happens next.
  • Heart Drive: Anyone with a cyberized brain has the capability of transferring it over into a new body as long as it remains safe and undamaged.
  • Heroic BSOD: Several, sometimes literally.
    • Togusa almost snaps from being out of the loop for three months at the end of the first season. Luckily Batou stops him before he can do anything rash.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The Tachikomas. In both seasons also counts as Tear Jerker and Crowning Moment of Awesome.
  • "Hey You!" Haymaker: Batou delivers one to the Giant Mook android in episode 14.
  • Hold Me: Done wordlessly between Kuze and The Major in the last episode, as they embrace in the face of a nuclear strike. Even though the strike is averted in the end, it's still one hell of a Tear Jerker.
  • Hollywood Hacking: Skilled hackers like Ishikawa are able to whip up cyber-vaccines in a matter of minutes. Notably, the Laughing Man is said to be able to hack into computer networks and replace other people's faces with his logo in real time.
  • Hollywood Healing: Togusa gets mortally wounded in REVIEW, but is well enough to drive just a few episodes later. This is possibly justified by better medical technology in the future, but he's still not a cyborg who can simply swap bodies like the Major can (and does).
  • Hollywood Police Driving Academy: The Car Chase in ANNIHILATION shows the police being terrible drivers in general, including crashing into other cars, although they catch up with Togusa and Aramaki eventually.
  • Hollywood Silencer
  • Holographic Terminal
  • Homage: The opening titles for 2nd GIG homage The Matrix, with Section 9 looking badass in trenchcoats, a green tint on some shots, and a scene of Motoko and Kuze that happens nowhere in the actual show styled after Neo's meeting with the Architect.[1]
  • Hospital Hottie: Sano from SCANDAL tries to be this, but it soon becomes apparent that she's really A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing.
  • Hostage Situation: ANGELS' SHARE is an entire episode about this trope as well as a subversion in that it's more about Aramaki cooperating with his captors in order to get them all out safely.
  • Human Traffic Jam: Happens to the Tachikomas in episode "Ag2O" when the one in front stops to speak to Batou.
  • Hypocritical Humor: When the Major arrives at a party posing as a sexbot, her team is leering at her Sexy Backless Outfit / Absolute Cleavage dress but then get indignant when one of the guests feels her up.
  • Icon of Rebellion: The Laughing Man's symbol.
  • Idiot Ball: An offscreen moment for Gohda in 2nd Gig that gets him into a lot of trouble down the line. When manufacturing your own terrorist group, it's generally a good idea to give them something remotely resembling a coherent ideology.
  • I'd Tell You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You: Paz in Solid State Society.
  • I Know You Know I Know: When Batou is tailing Zaitsev, both begin to suspect the other of being up to something suspicious. They both are - Batou is under orders to investigate him for espionage.
    • In the episode POKER FACE, Saito thinks that the Major doesn't have control software installed for mid-range aiming, based on her shooting. It turns out that was deliberately being inefficient to mislead him, allowing her to blind him with a sort-of Scope Snipe.
  • Impairment Shot: When Aramaki is drugged in SCANDAL and Batou links with his brain, his vision becomes blurred and staggering.
  • Impersonation Gambit: In EQUINOX, the Major, pretending to be the Laughing Man kidnaps the CEO of Serano Genomics in order to get some incriminating dirt on Yakushima's role in the cyberbrain sclerosis affair.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Justified, since people can download specialized aiming software to make them crack shots.
  • In a Single Bound: Cyborgs can jump much higher than unaugmented humans and Section 9 uses this to their advantage, such as when Batou jumps on the roof of a garage to avoid a pack of robotic guard dogs. There are laws in place to prevent property damage (such as Motoko's landing impact in the first opening) despite that jumping from location to location would sometimes be a more effective means of travel.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Aramaki makes one at the end of ANGEL'S SHARE: "the truth is in the wine." [2]
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: The organ traffickers from MISSING HEARTS. They're just medical students trying to help others by getting organs to them that they wouldn't otherwise have. The Major decides to give a stern lecture to their leader.
  • Informal Eulogy: Batou does a visual version where he places a lit cigarette in a bottle and prays over it like a stick of incense for the Individual Eleven as part of his attempt to Hannibal Lecture Gohda.
  • Information Wants to Be Free: The micro-machine industry muzzled the discovery of the cure for cyberbrain sclerosis. Laughing Man wants to expose them.
  • Infrared X Ray Camera: Section 9 uses something like this to spy on suspects through walls, eg. when Batou is staking out Nanao's apartment.
  • Innocuously Important Episode: The heartbreaking episode Affection in 2ng Gig seems to be just a standalone episode made to shed some light on The Major's tragic past. Turns out it explains a lot of Kuze's past too, and shows how he and The Major met when they were much younger. This does not become explicitly apparent until the end of the season.
  • In-Series Nickname: The other members of S-9 have been known to call Motoko as "Queen Kong" and "Major She-Ape" when she's not around to hear it. The Tachikomas simply refer to her as "God".
  • Inside a Computer System
  • Insistent Terminology: Whenever World War IV is referred to, it's always done so as "World War IV, the unofficial Second Vietnam War" or "Non-Nuclear World War IV".
  • Instant AI, Just Add Water: Numerous examples, such as the Jeri from the third episode, or even the Tachikomas.
  • Instant Death Bullet: At times.
  • Intentional Engrish for Funny: The ending theme of the first season ("Lithium Flower") sounds like a Blind Idiot Translation, but it was actually written by an American, Tim Jensen.
  • Internal Reformist: As mentioned on the page, Section 9 is Type 2 with a healthy dose of Type 1 thrown in. They are a police force who for the most part believe in doing what is right for the future of the country in order to maintain peace and order. This means exposing the very corruption within the government that allows them to exist if need be.
  • Intrepid Reporter: One appears outside the Superintendent-General's home after the Laughing Man's ghost-hacking incident, which annoys him greatly.
  • Invisibility Cloak: Thermoptic camouflage.
  • It Always Rains At Funerals: Yamaguchi's funeral in the episode INTERCEPTOR.
    • When Aramaki visits Tsujisaki's grave in LOST HERITAGE, it's also raining.
  • It Got Worse: Especially towards the end.
  • It's Quiet... Too Quiet: When the team are storming the terrorist cell's hideout in episode 12.
  • Just a Machine: Motoko thinks this about the Tachikomas, who manage to literally evolve out of this trope. All of Section 9 thinks this about the Uchikomas... who do not.
  • Just Between You and Me: Nanao delivers a Motive Rant to his killer right before he dies.
  • Just Partners: Batou and Kusanagi, although Everyone Can See It. The other members of Section 9 rib him for it in STAND ALONE COMPLEX (specifically, his overreaction to her apparently dying in the previous episode).
  • Kansai Regional Accent: The CEO/robot from the eighth episode. In the English dub, this was replaced with a strong Texan accent.
  • Knife Nut: Cruzkowa has blades hidden in her cybernetic arms which she uses as melee weapons.
  • Laser Sight: Used to the hilt - and often. There's even a scene where a runaway tank produces its own lasers to baffle other laser targeting systems.
  • Let Off by the Detective: The medical students in MISSING HEARTS (see Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain).
  • Let's Split Up, Gang!: Kusanagi's plan for evacuating Section 9 headquarters and sending the team into hiding.
  • Life Imitates Art: Ghost in the Shell has directly inspired Japanese scientists to develop actual "thermoptic camouflage" cloaking technology (that works by bending light around the wearer) and a functioning Tachikoma prototype (a 4 wheel vehicle with a segmented body that gives a visual feed to the driver through cameras.) Advances in prosthetic limb technology has also advanced significantly over the last few decades.
  • Lighter and Softer: The Stand Alone Complex series, while still fairly dark, is noticeably less grim than the manga and the movies. Usually.
    • The lighthearted "Tachikomatic Days" shorts at the end of each episode are much lighter in tone than the rest of the series and indeed the rest of the franchise. They're meant as humour to lighten the mood of the viewers after watching the episode.
  • Littlest Cancer Patient: The girl from MISSING HEARTS who recently had a heart transplant. She seems to exist mainly so Motoko can bring up her Dark and Troubled Past and also Pet the Dog a little.
  • Logic Bomb: The Tachikomas use a variant of the liar's paradox on an Operator android, because they were curious about a new device that S9 had just tested out, which she was guarding.
  • Lotus Eater Machine: A variant. One of the Tachikomas brings back a mysterious cyberbrain core which seems to have trapped a number of people inside a theater in cyberspace which repeatedly shows a film so beautiful and sad that none of the viewers ever wish to leave: they only want to discuss the film. The Major dives in to save them. Her assessment of the movie? She tells the rest of the team it was okay, but when she watches it she is moved to tears.
  • Magical Database: Database networks are pretty extensive in a world that is mostly cyberized and information technology is commonplace. It doesn't always work, but if Ichikawa is involved there's a usually an important reason it didn't.
  • Magnificent Bastard: In-universe, Kuze and Kazundo Gohda. So much so that [[spoiler: They fall for each other's plans
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: How the Americans plan to bump off Marco Amoretti: by setting up Batou to murder him.
  • Male Gaze: The Major is often shown from interesting angles.
    • Played for laughs in a 2nd Gig episode where a street kid is enthusing about the Major's body - the camera angle makes it look like he's staring at her breasts, when he's actually referring to her cybernetic modifications.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: The Umibozu.
  • Man in the Machine: The scientist from the second episode who transfers his ghost into a Spider Tank.
    • Marcelo Jarti turns out to be an unconscious man on life support who directs his body doubles to do his bidding from an iron lung.
  • Matrix Raining Code: Subtle usage from time to time.
  • Mega City: Niihama.
  • Mega Corp: Serano Genomics is the most prominent.
  • Memento MacGuffin: The Major's watch and Batou's exercise weights, as discussed in "Barrage".
  • Memetic Mutation: The Laughing Man's very existence is a central and clear demonstration of this - both in-universe and out.
  • Mental Picture Projector
  • The Metaverse: Diving into the Net is essentially like Real Life, with fully navigable 3D environments and life-size DigitalAvatars of people.
  • Mexican Standoff: Multiple times, such as the climax of CAPTIVATED.
  • Mildly Military: Although it appears this way on the surface, it's actually mostly subverted hard. Section Nine are True Companions, and will joke around sometimes, but there is a definite pecking order. The Major can and will pull rank whenever she feels her natural leadership abilities aren't enough. And nobody argues with Aramaki. And on the rare occasion this trope is played straight, it's justified in that Section Nine is a small black ops team and gets a lot more leeway than the regular military.
  • Milkman Conspiracy: In Solid State Society the titular Society consists mostly of elderly people with no children who want to impact the society by participating in kidnapping and brainwashing of abused children and leaving all their assets to them after their family histories have been rewritten, thus hoping to save them.
  • Miraculous Malfunction: The Tachikomas become sapient partially due to the natural oil that Batou gave to his "personal" Tachikoma.
  • Mood Whiplash: The rather cheerful "Tachikomatic Days" omake sometimes cause this. For example, the episode BARRAGE ends with Section 9 disbanded and most of the main characters arrested. This is followed by a tongue-in-cheek segment describing "The Life Cycle Of The Tachikoma".
  • More Dakka: Batou loves this trope. Also, some of the gunfights can go in this direction, especially if Powered Armor or gunships are involved.
    • The Tachikomas have miniguns which can spray ridiculous amounts of dakka at targets.
  • Mugged for Disguise: A member of the British SWAT team in ANGELS' SHARE. See Dressing as the Enemy.
  • Mundane Utility: It's well-established that thermoptic camouflage is foiled by water. So how does the Major deal with the cloaked Umibozu troops? She turns on the fire sprinklers.
  • Musical Spoiler: In the episode TRIAL, the instrumental intro of I Can't be Cool is played over a speech by Togusa. I Can't be Cool is usually played when The Major is hacking. Later in the episode it's revealed that she hacked Togusa's brain to deliver that speech.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: Section 9's purpose for existence is to protect the country from terrorism and uphold the law. This means that if need be, they will uproot the government's own administration if they are found guilty of committing a form of terrorism against the people of Japan.
  • Mythology Gag: Almost every scene is recreated or referenced from start to finish from the original manga across the series. Solid State Society almost entirely recreates scene for scene the "Human-Error Processor" manga. The tank/Armor Suit battles are perhaps the most obvious.
    • Much of the Etorofu episode in 2nd Gig was largely lifted from the manga, including the cyborg Koil, the geofront and the visit to Sagawa Electronics.
    • There's a recreation of a scene where Pazu interviews someone, asking for the current face and name of a person they're looking for, all while remaining invisible throughout the conversation, then departing with a comment on how it must be nice to be a Desk Jockey.
    • The Major jumping off the roof of an office building and headshotting a terrorist in freefall in the first episode of 2nd Gig, which plays out almost exactly the way it did in the first movie (sans the Major getting naked beforehand so that her optical camo will work.)
    • For a few episodes in 2nd Gig, Batou is wearing his beige jacket from the original movie.
    • In the second season, Batou exclaims that dogs don't like him much.
    • In episode 25 there is a Call Back to the scene in the film with Motoko/Puppetmaster's new body, only this time with Motoko's younger-self puppet in her high-rise safehouse.
    • The fight between the Major and a Powered Armour-wearing Gayle in ERASER is an almost blow-by-blow recreation of her fight with the Spider Tank in the first movie. At the end, Saito even shows up with an anti-tank rifle the way Batou did in the original scene.
    • During a standoff in 2nd Gig, Batou actually shoots a cornered refugee girl in the mouth to keep her from triggering an explosive wired into her jaw. This is lifted from one of Shirow's other works, Appleseed, which takes place in the same continuity as GITS.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: Section 9 is named after real-life German counter-terrorism unit GSG9 (Border Guard, Unit 9).
    • It's likely that Prime Minister Kayabuki's surname is a reference to Margaret Thatcher - the kanji used translates as 'reed thatch'.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: The Umibozu, a JMSDF special forces squad named after a deadly Japanese Sea Spirit. They live up to their name in spades at the end of Stand Alone Complex, especially when they were infamous for retaking Nemuro from invading armies.
  • Name's the Same: The Puppeteer from Solid State Society is different from the digital life form in the manga and movie.
  • Nanomachines: It's mentioned that nanotechnology is used for medical purposes in the world of the show. They're an ineffective treatment for cyberbrain sclerosis, though.
  • Neural Implanting: At one point in POKER FACE", Saito theorizes that Motoko was downloading fire-control software for the gun in the middle of the shoot-out.
  • Never Found the Body: Double Subverted. Section 9 takes extra care to leave fake corpses to be found and the commander of the Umibozu isn't fooled.
  • New Neo City: Niihama. Its name loosely translates to "new port".
  • Night Vision Goggles: Batou can do this with his Electronic Eyes.
  • Ninja Maid: The android maids at the mansion in ¥ € $ also serve as security. They have hidden weapons built into their arms and are programmed to respond to threats.
  • Nintendo Hard: The Stand Alone Complex video game is subject to this. Particularly because, like the anime, it assumes that Viewers Are Geniuses and subjects the player to some serious Trial and Error Gameplay (such as the first level, where the only real way to gauge if a distance is short enough to not get sniped is to attempt it), a control scheme comparable to Halo with no in-game learning curve (the tutorial is off of the main menu, and the first level assumes you've completely memorized and mastered every single aspect), frequent checkpoints but very infrequent save points, and all while other characters will talk at the bottom of the screen about very important things in the level and plot that won't be repeated if you happened to miss it because you were busy trying not to die. It doesn't help that the dialogue itself assumes not only once again that Viewers Are Geniuses, but that their full attention is dedicated to listening.
    • It should also be noted that many of the Play Station 2 game's conventions of gameplay and interface were lifted almost directly from the game Oni by Bungie Studios, which was published several years before it. However, Oni itself was inspired almost entirely by Ghost in the Shell, bringing the inspiration full-circle.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Eka Turkuro (a girl kidnapped by a terrorist group who becomes a member of it) is clearly based on the infamous case of Patty Hearst. There is even a shot of her holding a gun which is similar to a famous photo of Hearst.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: Niihama is visually based on Hong Kong, although viewers may mistake it for Tokyo as well.
  • No Transhumanism Allowed: The Human Liberation Front is one of several groups opposed to cyberization.
  • Noisy Guns: Averted for the majority of the series, but played straight in some episodes of the 2nd season.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The Major absolutely flips out on Gayle. Considering that he blew off her arm, tried to crush her head in, and nearly killed Togusa, it's hardly surprising.
  • No New Fashions in the Future: Unless there is a sudden trend for going pantless underneath a leather jacket.
  • Noodle Incident: At various points in the series, the novels, and the Playstation 2 video game, the Nemuro Landing Operation is mentioned. The game mentions it the most, but it's never explained what this operation was, beyond an amphibious landing at Nemuro, Hokkaido. It is mentioned that Motoko, Batou, and the Umibozu were all involved in it though. The PSP game goes into the most detail, but still doesn't explain exactly what it is.
  • Obfuscating Disability: the Laughing Man went into hiding by hacking the computers of a mental hospital for children and youths and creating a fake identity of being a patient suffering from severe mental disabilities and being almost unresponsive to other people. Which is particularly ironic as his Calling Card was an image that included the quote from The Catcher in The Rye: "I thought what I'd do was, I'd pretend I was one of those deaf-mutes." The context of the quote is more telling still; it's taken from a passage where the narrator decides in a flight of fancy that he'd run away and live a life of seclusion, far from the falseness and ugliness of society.
  • Odango Hair: Fem wears her hair this way.
  • Oh Crap: When Ishikawa finally decodes the faces of the last three members of the narc squad, he realizes they're the two friendly-looking "hobos" talking to the chief in the refugee district. Another one from the viewer when it's revealed the third is the doctor performing the body-swap on the Major.
  • Older Than They Look: The Russian spy Cruzkowa is over 70 years old, but looks to be in her mid-20's because of her fully prosthetic body.
  • Omake: "Tachikomatic Days"
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: Torukia, featured in the Mexican Standoff between the Major and Saito at the climax of POKER FACE.
  • One-Way Visor: Motoko uses one in Cash Eye.
  • Organ Theft: Several episodes revolve around it, such as the medical students from episode 8.
  • Our Souls Are Different: "Ghosts", the sum of a person's consciousness, are referred to constantly. They are explicitly stated to be impossible to reproduce. Whether machines can have them or not is a topic of debate in-universe.
  • Over the Shoulder Murder Shot: This occurs in episode where Batou recognizes the tactics of a serial killer from a CIA black op during a war. During the flash back they come upon a whole village brutally flayed alive and left to die. The killer in the flash back demonstrates this trope as Batou reaches out to touch him.
  • Parking Garage: Part of the shootout in episode 6 takes place in one.
    • Aramaki gets bothered by an Intrepid Reporter in his car in episode 23, although he does get a photo of his long-lost brother from him.
  • Passive Rescue: The Laughing Man gives the Major one near the end of the first season by giving her control of her body again. To be fair, it's unlikely he'd have been able to take out the assassin more directly.
  • People Jars: When Motoko and Batou discover the cache of replacement bodies that Marcelo has stored in a warehouse.
  • Perp Sweating: Attempted with the Laughing Man suspects, but it doesn't work because they're either fanatically devoted to his cause or have Laser-Guided Amnesia.
  • Pin Pulling Teeth: Batou does this a couple of times during the shootout in Kusanagi's mansion, though as a full-body cyborg his teeth might be a lot tougher than those of an ordinary person.
    • He also does it in NOT EQUAL when fighting the Human Liberation Front.
  • Plot Tailored to the Party: Nobody's ever totally useless, but some episodes manage to make use of everyone of note in Section 9. In TESTATION, for example: The Major and Batou follow an out of control automated tank on the freeway, supported by Tachikomas; Togusa uses his police skills to politely interview, then interrogate, the person most likely to have sabotaged the tank; Aramaki puts the pressure upon the tank's production company's corporate heads to get them to cough up its secret weaknesses; Saito tries snipes the tank with a mounted anti-tank rifle, but is foiled by its defenses, and Ishikawa gets to deliver the coup de grâce with a corporate-supplied glue-bazooka. (Pazu and Boma are still third-stringers, unfortunately, but they get their fair share of action as well.)
  • Positive Discrimination: The team are all specialists who are world-class in their field. Except for Motoko Kusanagi, the only female, who is usually better than anybody at everything. If she's not better, she'll just change the rules of engagement.
  • Powered Armour: Called "Armed Suits" in-universe, the Umibozu use these to go after the Major, and later Batou. Other varieties make appearances later on.
    • Togusa fights a cyborg who is an armored suit in PORTRAITZ.
  • Power Fist: Both the Major and Togusa use a concealed weapon that resembles nothing so much as a taser glove against cyborgs.
  • Power Walk: In the second season OP.
  • Private Eye Monologue: Motoko delivers one at times, as do some of the other members of Section 9.
  • Psycho for Hire: Gayle. In the raid on the Sunflower Society, he casually kills his own men to make it look like his squad was acting in self-defense.
  • Psycho Lesbian: Sano, the Narcotics squad member, has elements of this. She is blatantly flirtatious towards the Major while trying to kill her during her body-swap operation.
  • Punch Catch: When Batou is ordered to investigate Zaitsev, a former silver-medalist boxer and his idol, he starts off by sparring against him in a match. He intentionally lets Zaitsev knock him out with a move known as the prosthetic blind spot. When he later discovers that Zaitsev is a spy, he confronts him and challenges him to another boxing match to settle things once and for all. Zaitsev confidently tries to use the prosthetic blind spot on Batou, but his punch is caught in Batou's hand. Batou counters with a right hook and knocks Zaitsev out.
  • Putting the Band Back Together: The first half of the season 1 finale.
  • Ramming Always Works: In BARRAGE, the Tachikomas try to take out the Armed Suit threatening Batou by slamming into it with their bodies. And it works when the one with an explosive shell does it.
  • Rapid Aging: Eka Turkuro. It's implied to be caused by the stress of her long captivity, although it's never really explained how it happened.
  • Recruiting the Criminal: Motoko and Aramaki try, albeit unsuccessfully, to recruit The Laughing Man in the finale of Season 1.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The security cyborg from PORTRAITZ who nearly throttles Togusa.
  • Remote Body: Major Kusanagi (and presumably other characters) can remotely control robot bodies. At the end of the first season she uses this ability to avoid being killed.
  • Replaced the Theme Tune: "GET9" was used as the theme song in some rebroadcasts instead of "Inner Universe" in the first season. "CHRisTmas in the SiLent ForeSt" replaced "Rise" in the 2nd. The ending themes were changed as well.
  • Restraining Bolt: The Northern Territories mafia uses electronic SlaveCollars on their abductees.
  • The Reveal: At the end of EQUINOX, the Laughing Man is shown to be Major Kusanagi in disguise.
  • Ridiculously Human Robot: Well, cyborgs, anyway; a full-body cyborg can look just like any human and even has skin and all the senses a human would have.
    • This trope is hilariously inverted with the Jameson-type cyborgs; they're literally just a small box with four little legs and a single telescoping arm on top; they're technically human but their bodies are as inhuman as you get.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The episode about kidnappings by the Northern Territories Mafia which is being denied by a prominent politician probably takes from the story of kidnappings by North Korea that were being denied by a prominent politician.
  • Robo Cam: Batou's vision through his cybereyes. Also, the Tachikomas.
  • Robosexual: Humans who prefer to have sex with robots are not unusual in the series at all (eg. the minister from the first episode who has a fetish for swapping bodies with robot maids).
  • Roof Hopping: Section 9 does it from time to time (check out the opening credits).
  • Robot Buddy: The Tachikomas, cute and bubbly killer robots.
  • Robot Girl: The Major and other female cyborgs and androids.
  • Robotic Reveal: Towards the end of 2nd Gig, Proto is revealed to be a prototype bioroid when he coughs up white blood after being injured.
  • Rogue Drone: Subverted. The HAW-206 tank that escapes in the second episode is not actually rogue, but a scientist who uploaded himself into it so he could see his parents one last time after dying.
  • Rooftop Confrontation: The Individual Eleven practice a ritualized Mutual Kill on top of a rooftop; it ends with a sword-fight when one of them changes his mind. All of this is aired live by a news helicopter.
  • Rule of Symbolism: The major giving Kuze an apple, which he eats before he dies, Batou using a cross to save the major, Kuze's superstructure and heaven, the list goes on.
  • Sadistic Choice: In Solid State Society. The Puppeteer hacks Togusa's cyberbrain after he doesn't have Section 9 stop the investigation, explains the process of the abductions and leaves him two options, let them take his daughter or kill himself.
  • Save Sat: In the final episode, the Tachikomas ram the satellite containing their A Is into a nuclear missile to save the lives of Section 9 as well as 40,000 refugees and soldiers, all while singing a happy children's song that celebrates the importance of life, showing that they understood the concept of death, and weren't afraid to die for a good cause.
  • Say My Name: Batou, after the Major is shot in the head: "MOTOKOOOOOOO!". When she gets better, the other Section 9 operatives mock him for it.
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: Sano has them.
  • Schizo-Tech: Sort of. Despite all the futuristic technology, anachronisms like floppy disks and 2G cell phones still appear (although those were the standard at the time the show was created).
  • Scope Snipe: The Major does this to Saito in a flashback in POKER FACE. Unlike most of the examples of this trope, he survives. He also predicted this would happen to him when he ran through the scenario in his head.
  • The Scrappy: In-universe, in Solid State Society, Section 9 acknowledges that while the Uchikomas are suppose to be technologically superior to the Tachikomas they replaced, their AI's weren't capable of advanced development. They just acted like robots with a flat monotone voice, much to the expressed dislike by the members of Section 9. They were eventually.. well, scrapped. With a little help from the Major, The Tachikomas are brought back and reinstated. The SSS Omake even expresses how the Uchikomas just want to be loved, but are incapable of experiencing it.
  • Serial Killer: Marco Amoretti from "Jungle Cruise".
  • Sex Bot: One episode in the first season revolves around all sexbots of a particular model committing suicide. The 2nd Gig episode CASH EYE has a bunch of corrupt politicians holding a party to show off their sexbots, which the Major infiltrates by posing as her own boss' sexbot.
  • Shaggy Dog Story: NIGHT CRUISE has no relation to the overall storyline, follows a one-shot character for 90% of the episode, and features the Major and Batou in what could easily be cameo appearances.
  • Shipped in Shackles: Cruzkowa's hostages in CAPTIVATED.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: In the first season, the Major decides to send the Tachikomas to the lab for analysis just as the truth behind the Laughing Man case starts to become apparent.
  • Shoot the Money: Stand Alone Complex probably set a budgetary record working on all the CGI effects, and it really shows.
  • Shown Their Work: All the time. When the series is inaccurate with regard to physics or technology, it's more a matter of Rule of Cool than Did Not Do the Research.
  • Show Some Leg: Not used often, which is surprising given the Major's Stripperiffic outfit (she prefers to hack her way past the guards). An exception occurs in London when the Major (dressed in a trenchcoat, but with nothing underneath) lures a police Special Weapons officer into an alley so she can knock him out and steal his uniform. In 2nd Gig, Aramaki brings the Major along to infiltrate a meeting of Corrupt Corporate Executive-types showing off their sexbots. The team are eager to see what the Major will be wearing, and she doesn't disappoint with her Sexy Backless Outfit Absolute Cleavage dress.
  • Shout-Out: In a couple episodes, Landmate suits are seen.
  • Shrouded in Myth: The Laughing Man.
  • Sigil Spam: The Laughing Man's logo, which he plasters all over the place.
  • Skyward Scream: Batou, at the end of BARRAGE; he's mocked for it by Ishikawa in the finale.
  • Sliding Scale of Robot Intelligence: The Tachikoma are Human-level. The humanoid Operators superficially appear to be Human-level, but malfunction and shut down when presented with a logical paradox by the Tachikoma.
  • Somebody Set Up Us the Bomb: We find out that Borma specializes in bomb analysis and defusing in 2nd Gig. His talents are called in later into the season when an entire city is evacuated when a supposed nuclear bomb is discovered in a skyscraper.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Depending on the translations, many names are transcribed very differently.
    • Batou / Bateau (the former is the correct spelling, though the later would be more correct if spoken by a French speaker.)
    • Bouma / Borma (pronounced as the former, but written as the latter.)
    • Pazu / Paz (pronounced as the former of the two names.)
    • Gohda / Gouda (both are technically correct as they are both acceptable romanizations of the same kana sequence. The first is the most accepted one in print, though.)
  • Spider Tank: The Tachikomas, all other tanks shown in the series, though they're closer to "Crab Tanks" since they have arms that can grasp things. One model resembles a scorpion.
  • Split Personality Takeover: Colonel Tsujisaki uploaded his ghost into his son Yu's brain when he died. When his sister notices he is Not Himself, it's because their father is taking over Yu's body and forcing him to kill the Chinese minister.
  • Spot the Imposter: A duel between two Pazus. It's never made clear, but close examination, showing "ripped flesh" and no blood, reveals that the real Pazu won.
    • In the Playstation 2 game, Motoko yells at Batou early on in the game because she hates it when he calls her by her name (instead of Major) while they're on duty as members of Section 9. At the end of the game, while Motoko is engaged in melee combat with a Criminal Doppelganger of herself, Batou figures out which one is the real Motoko when the fake responds to him calling out her name, and shoots her accordingly. He knew the real Motoko isn't that easily distracted.
  • Spy Satellites: An entire network of them over Japan, which Ishikawa and Borma hack into in one episode. Yes, all of them.
  • Spy Speak: Zaitsev talks to his handlers this way (eg. using "brewing coffee" as code for "sending data").
  • Staged Populist Uprising: 2nd Gig revolves around Gouda's plan to use Kuze to incite a revolution among the refugees.
  • State Sec: Public Security Section Nine. Well armed with military equipment and staffed with ex-military operatives, they conducted intelligence ops and law enforcement. Operating with great autonomy and great leeway, they only answer to the Prime Minister or the Minster of Home Affairs. They are also one of the few heroic examples of this trope.
  • Storming the Castle: Multiple examples, such as the raid on the restaurant in the series opening.
  • Strike Me Down with All of Your Hatred: Marco Amoretti dares Batou to kill him when he's finally cornered. He almost does, but refuses because he's a cop and has a sense of honour.
  • Supercop: All of Section 9, but especially Motoko and Batou.
  • Super Window Jump: Batou bursts through the window of a hotel room to rescue Imakurusu from the DEA. He gets assassinated at the end of the episode though.
  • Surprisingly Good English: The lyrics of both seasons' opening theme has this, along with surprisingly good Russian, thanks to Origa.
  • Sympathetic Criminal: Many, including the Laughing Man himself.
  • Taking You with Me: The Tachikomas who blows themselves up to stop an armed suit from killing Batou.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Exploited in ¥€$. Fem thinks that she's all alone in the bedroom of the man she had been hired to kill, and decides to monologue out loud about the problems of capitalism before she kills him. Motoko takes this time to sneak up and arrest her.

 Motoko: "A smarter hitman would have shot first."

  • Talking to Himself: In the original Japanese version, both Togusa and the Laughing Man are played by Koichi Yamadera.
  • Tap on the Head: Whenever people are knocked out, they seem to recover with no ill effects. Justified in that a titanium brain case provides much more trauma protection than a skull would.
  • Techno Babble
  • Terrorists Without a Cause: The Individual Eleven's ideology makes absolutely no sense. Picking up on this is what allows Kuze to escape the group's programming in time.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: In the first season, if "Run Rabbit Junk" is playing, Section Nine is either doing something awesome, or is about to.
    • This is lampshaded in the 'Tachikomatic Days' omake to 2nd Gig ep. 24 - NUCLAR POWER, which features the Tachikoma superhero Tachikoman, who's theme song is, needless to say, "Run Rabbit Junk."
    • When the Major regains control of her body and overpowers Sano in SCANDAL (with a little help from the Laughing Man), "Flashback Memory Stick", a remix of "Inner Universe" plays.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Justified in that due to prosthetics, people can sometimes withstand a lot of firepower. Tragically averted in several cases where someone was able to cause a final act of killing because they weren't shot enough to actually kill them.
  • They're Called "Personal Issues" for a Reason: The reason why Paz doesn't want the teams help to clear his name in "MAKE UP".
  • Throw-Away Guns: Batou seems to do this a lot, such as in ANNIHILATION when he exhausts all the ammo in his minigun and simply abandons it.
  • Tokyo Is the Center of the Universe: Averted in that Niihama isn't actually Tokyo, but the trope is played straight otherwise.
  • Tomato Surprise: Played for humor in "C: The Man Who Dwells in the Shadows of the Net – CHAT! CHAT! CHAT!" is both a sort of recap episode, and actually advances the plot. It consists largely of Motoko, as her avatar, discussing the case in an online chatroom that consists of fully 3D environments with user characters, spectators, and is more like a cyberspace talk-show than IRC. The ending reveals that Motoko, in reality, has been driving a car for the duration of the episode, much to Batou's horror when he realizes, as he's been sitting in the passenger seat of said car.
  • Transhuman: Just about everyone in the series.
  • Translation Convention: The Tachikomas talking to each other. Lampshaded in one of the Tachikomatic Days Omakes.
  • Try Not to Die: Aramaki says this to the Section 9 crew in season 1 after finding out that Section 9 is to be shut down by force.
  • Twenty Minutes Into the Future
  • Ubermensch: Hideo Kuze, with his plan of trying to emigrate his followers onto the web to create a new society, and his charisma. Gohda probably falls under the last man type.
  • Undercover Cop Reveal: At the end of EQUINOX, we discover that the Laughing Man who met with Serano in the coffee shop was actually Motoko Kusanagi in disguise.
  • Unstoppable Rage: The Major, usually quite level-headed, totally flips out on Gayle after he blows her arm off. It's not often that you see a mech pilot begging for mercy from someone on foot...
  • Unusual User Interface: Most characters have the standard back-of-the-neck network jacks. Printed media contains mostly barcode-type data that can be translated by a cyberbrain. It allows the media to put far more words on a page than normal.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Kuze to Gohda, and Gohda to Kuze
  • Used Future: The world is recovering from two world wars. Society in Japan seems fairly normal, though it has its fair share of problems relating to the rest of the world. Not every machine or building is in pristine condition. In fact, the Refugee Districts are buildings built upon other buildings, just adding on more and more on top of the decay.
  • The Verse: The critical technologies and themes of another work Shirow Masamune worked on, Real Drive, are near-identical to the critical technologies and themes of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex from prosthetic bodies, cyberbrains and the social benefits/disadvantages thereof, to Operator androids and radiation-scrubber technology. Likewise, the geographical map of the world shown in episode 25 of 2nd Gig and Proto's reveal prove that the series shares the came continuity as Appleseed, which takes place around 100 years further down the timeline.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: Tons of philosophy and literary references tossed about. And they rarely repeat themselves. They won't spell out many things (like the Bitten green apple at the end of season 2, which is supposed to show that Kuze was left-handed - implying many things - or the locked car door at the end of the first season, which has been interpreted as a cyber-brain hack, a bomb, and simply indicating that the guy's car was broken into) as they assume the audience memorized everything in the Complex episodes beforehand.
    • In-universe, this is justified by widespread cybernetics. How deep and cool could you sound if you had high-speed internet in your head? They even Lampshade it:

  Aramaki: "I've been listening in for a while, but without an external memory device, I can't follow your conversation at all."

  • Villain with Good Publicity: The Laughing Man, who has become a Memetic Mutation in-universe. His popularity, or at least his widespread social influence, is reflected when him merely making a threat against the Police Chief's life leads dozens of others, with no other prompting, to try murdering him. The South American revolutionary hero detailed in an earlier first-season episode might also qualify, though we only have Section 9's word to go on.
  • Visible Invisibility: Transitions between total invisibility and translucent distortion invisibility. There's at least one instance where the Major seems able to see a cloaked mech suit even when it is using its optical camouflage, and the narc squad in the same episode is explicitly stated as using cloaking technology that isn't perfect, so it seems that both types are viable. The protagonists usually don't employ their invisibility for long periods of time, presumably because it drains the batteries quickly.
  • Voices Are Mental: The cyber-telepathic "voices" of the characters sound just like their speaking voices with an electronic reverb added.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Night Cruise shows Gino throwing up on screen.
  • Vomiting Cop: Togusa is so disgusted by the recording of Marco Amoretti torturing and flaying a woman that he has to leave his car and throw up over the side of a bridge.
  • Watching the Sunset: The Major does it quite a bit.
  • Wax On, Wax Off: The Tachikomas in the Stand Alone Complex manga are sent to a construction site to earn more experience points by observing and learning more about the environment. They get tasked with shoveling dirt, which they protest because they're far more advanced and capable of doing more advanced tasks. They decide to challenge a power loader to prove they're worthy of stronger tasks, but all become overconfident and are easily beaten by the site foreman. They go back to shoveling dirt with a new appreciation for the task they're doing.
  • We Will Not Use Photoshop in the Future: Averted. The Tachikomas point out that because it's so easy to falsify data and memories, that not even live broadcasting over television or the net can be taken as the truth.
    • The Laughing Man does this in live action by hacking into the cyberbrains of anyone who witnesses anything he does and makes them see the infamous logo or otherwise erases himself out of the viewer's eyesight, such as what he did to Batou.
      • Batou himself does almost exactly the same thing afterwards; hacking a mech pilot's eyes to show his (Batou's) decapitated body where the pilot was expecting it to be. In the future, Adobe is clearly the world's most powerful corporation.
  • Weapon of Choice: While the members of Section 9 are shown using various weapons across the series, in heavy combat situations, they are mostly seen using the standard issue Seburo C26a assault rifle, and environmental variants. The weapon was inspired by the FN P90. Even Togusa, who prefers to use his Mateba Autorevolver, uses this weapon in gunfights.
  • What Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic: Batou struggles under the burden of a massive steel cross as he tries to save the Major at the end of 2nd Gig.
    • Not long before that, when Kuze reaches his hand out to the Major, the bullet holes in his hand only serve to underscore the Messiah role he seems to be taking up.
      • And the Major gives Kuze an apple. Way to mix your Biblical metaphors, guys.
    • The scene in BARRAGE (episode 25 of season 1) where the Tachikomas hear the Major's voice encouraging them and the audience is shown a close-up of the Kannon statue on her estate. Conveniently for Western viewers, it could also be seen as a statue of the Virgin Mary.
  • Why Am I Ticking?: A security guard at the wine bank in ANGELS' SHARE has a bomb strapped to him while he's unconscious which is discovered by the police when they break in. Thankfully, it's not real, but just a ploy to confuse them.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Averted. The Major gibs Gohda in the last episode, but they needed government approval first.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Batou and Motoko, to the point that even their voice actors are well aware of it and poke fun when they speak at conventions. No real resolution is ever reached, aside from a very faint Maybe Ever After in the end of Solid State Society. Batou puts him arm around her and she doesn't throw him into the pool. Yes, that's the closest their romantic and sexual tension ever comes to going anywhere.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: Many songs in the soundtrack combine multiple languages, such as English, Russian, and Latin in "Inner Universe" or Italian and English in "Velveteen".
  • World Half Empty: The political atmosphere in Japan is fairly nasty, between season 1's corporate corruption and season 2's refugee crisis. Other places in the world aren't faring much better. It's not a Crapsack World by a long shot, but the heroes don't always win.
  • World War III: According to a series co-writer World War III erupted in 1996, and Non-Nuclear World War IV erupted in 2020. It's never made totally clear which countries fought which, though it can be discerned from context that the USA fought China during WWIII. Batou once monologues about how Berlin was destroyed in both wars.
  • Would Hit a Girl: In general, people are not afraid to hit Motoko. Not that it does them any good, but they try.
  • Would Not Shoot a Good Guy: Yes, they would. Whether or not the guys gunning for them are actually "good" is debatable, since they're Black Ops types who specialize in erasing people, but they are definitely working for their government and Section 9 doesn't hesitate to defend themselves lethally against them.
    • What the Hell, Hero?: Batou straight up executes one of them, even after hacking the guy's eyes so that he thinks that Batou is dead.
  • Yoko Kanno: This series' soundtrack is usually regarded as the best, if not one of the best soundtracks she has ever composed.
  • You Keep Using That Word: "Vaccine" is consistently used to refer to a cure for a cyber-virus, never as a preventative measure.
    • One of the first computer antivirus programs ever created was called "Vaccine". It was for the original PC and PC-XT and came on one floppy disk. 'Course, you had to actually have a hard drive to make good use of it... which is what a cyberbrain is.
  • You Killed My Father: Yu's motive for assassinating the Vice-Minister of China is that he's responsible for his mother's death. And that of his wife, since he and his father share the same cyberbrain.
  • Younger Than They Look: An old woman found in NOT EQUAL - she's a young girl who was kidnapped 16 years ago, and has been rapidly aged by her experiences as a hostage. Togusa is visibly shocked to learn she's younger than he is.
  • Your Head Asplode: And does it ever. The animation crew seems to have a somewhat disturbing liking for these; there's a head that explodes in some form or fashion in the first/last episodes of both anime seasons. Up to and including the Major herself.
    • Justified Trope. In a world where you can have your brain put in a cyborg body, only a devastating head-shot is a confirmed kill.
  • You Wouldn't Shoot Me: Nanao believes this of his assassin. Unfortunately for him, it's untrue.
    • Serano also says this to the Laughing Man when he holds him at gunpoint.
    • Aramaki isn't fazed at all when he's captured and held hostage, even though he's threatened with a gun to his forehead multiple times.
  • Zeroes and Ones: Scrolling binary code is shown at times when password cracking is in progress.

I thought what I'd do was, I'd pretend I was one of those deaf-mutes. ... Or should I?

Notes

  1. This is an homage coming full-circle, as The Matrix was pitched as a live-action Ghost in the Shell and owed much of its style to the original movie.
  2. The episode revolves around a hostage situation in a wine cellar and is set in Britain, so he was alluding to the British proverb "the proof is in the pudding.