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Madoka Kaname is an Ordinary Middle School Student with a working mother, a stay-at-home dad and a close circle of friends. Other than a strange dream about a black-haired girl fighting off a huge monster in a ruined city, her life is a peaceful one. Then, one day, that black-haired girl, Homura Akemi, transfers to their class.

Things begin to change when, after school, Madoka hears someone's voice calling out to her. This voice belongs to Kyubey, a small cat- or ferret-like creature. She and her best friend, Sayaka Miki, then find themselves in a bizarre dream world where they witness an upperclassman, Mami Tomoe, transform into a Magical Girl and save them from otherworldly monsters. Kyubey then asks Madoka and Sayaka to become magical girls, too. The process is very simple - Kyubey will grant them a wish (any wish, no matter how small) and in exchange, they will sign a contract with him, which will allow them to become magical girls...

Too bad things simply are not as they seem to be.

Bringing together an all-star staff, Puella Magi Madoka Magica has Studio Shaft animating, Shaft's primary director Akiyuki Shinbo directing, Yuki Kajiura producing the music, Nitro+'s Gen Urobuchi writing and Ume Aoki designing the characters for Shaft's first original series. The show started airing in January as part of the Winter 2011 season, though it was put on a temporary hiatus due to the Sendai earthquakes in Japan. The final two episodes were broadcast back-to-back on April 21st; the initial announcement was met with much rejoicing. When it was aired on Nico Nico Douga, over one million people watched. Compare this to Lucky Star's similar stream, which had over half a million.

Initially, there were three manga series related to this anime. The first is a direct adaptation of the television series, under the same title. The others are Spin Offs. Puella Magi Kazumi Magica: The Innocent Malice focuses on a different cast of Magical Girls while Puella Magi Oriko Magica features characters from the anime as well as several new characters. For both of these series, it is strongly recommended to watch Puella Magi Madoka Magica first since they reveal critical plot elements from the anime. Some time after the anime ended, an official but noncanon manga anthology series was released.

This series has a wiki which is maintained and updated very efficiently. Therefore, proceed with caution as spoilers abound.

A dub of the series has been confirmed. Aniplex USA's teaser page for the series can be found here, now updated with more information about the characters and the series itself. Yen Press has confirmed that they will be publishing the manga adaptation of the series in English. Finally, Crunchyroll and Hulu have begun streaming the series for free.

Namco Bandai is developing a video game for the PSP, Puella Magi Madoka Magica Portable. It is slated to be released in March of 2012, and its gameplay is described as a Roguelike RPG. Odds are good that it will avert The Problem with Licensed Games because of heavy involvement of the anime staff -- Gen Urobuchi writing the scenario, and visual design by SHAFT and Gekidan InuCurry. An official iPhone game by Mobage featuring four new magical girl characters has also been released.

Plans to make a theatrical film trilogy have been announced. The first two movies will premiere on October 6 and 13. It has been revealed that another Spin-Off manga will be released simultaneously with the two films.

At some point a teaser website appeared playing voice clips from Madoka. It was eventually revealed to be for a Puella Magi online game.

Dojinsoft group Tasogare Frontier, aka Tasofro, has released a Madoka fangame entitled Grief Syndrome.

Compare Neon Genesis Evangelion, Bokurano, Narutaru, Alien Nine, Princess Tutu, and Digimon Tamers for similar top-down, no-holds-barred dark and edgy abstract works. See Revolutionary Girl Utena for the original Magical Girl (and then some) Deconstruction. Definitely contrast Cardcaptor Sakura, which serves as the show's most obvious antecedent.

Compare and contrast Claymore, Elfen Lied, Lyrical Nanoha and Black Rock Shooter which feature similar cases of specialized women fighting for survival.

For some of the inspiration of the series, see Faust.

/人‿‿人\ Anything is possible, if you make a contract with me!


Late Arrival Spoiler Warning: Puella Magi Madoka Magica is one of the most popular anime franchises in the anime fandom as of the Winter 2011 season. It also has a Wham! Line roughly every episode. In other words, there are a great deal of SPOILERS below -- most marked, some unmarked, but all of which will ruin your enjoyment of the story. Avoiding these pages is highly suggested for those who have not seen the show.


Tropes in Puella Magi Madoka Magica include: Edit

A-H Edit

  • Abstract Apotheosis: Madoka's wish turns her into the abstract concept of hope, here also a kind of force of nature. This fulfills her wish to erase all witches (past, present, and future, including her own) from existence, preventing magical girls from becoming Witches.
  • Accidental Pun:
    • Mami Tomoe's name "Mami" means Mommy in Spanish and other languages like German. Considering her mentor role it fits her.
    • On a slightly pervier note, her name's resemblance to the word "mammaries" has not gone unnoticed by the fanbase.
  • Acid Trip Dimension: Almost literally Invoked by the Witch's Realms, and implied by Homura's room. It does not help that most of it is symbolic.
  • Actor Allusion: Due to the all-star voice actors ensemble, we were expecting this.
    • Eri Kitamura voices Sayaka Miki, the blue-themed member of what amounts to Madoka's magical girl team. In Fresh Pretty Cure, she voiced Miki Aono, the blue-themed member of that show's team. Add also that she played Saya Otonashi from Blood Plus a sword wielder.
    • Junko Iwao plays Kazuko Saotome, Madoka's school teacher, who happens to be a scorned lover who can't keep boyfriends. Junko Iwao also plays every incarnation of Akane in the Mai-HiME metaverse, and most of that character's drama revolves around how she's constantly separated from her sole love interest, Kazuya, no matter what universe she's in. "Kazuko" is literally the feminine form of "Kazu," which is the nickname Akane always calls her boyfriend.
  • Adult Fear. Let's see, Mami is missing, Sayaka is found dead, and Madoka is troubled but refuses to share what had actually happened. Not to mention that with all the Witches, there must've been a whole lot of suicides, missing persons and who knows what else - which makes Madoka's behaviour all the more alarming in her mother's eyes.
    • When Madoka does Abstract Apotheosis, everybody except for her little brother and Homura forget her. That means her own mother doesn't remember her.
  • Alien Geometries: The barriers around the Witches, and the Witches themselves, are this. A great example is the first witch we actually see in episode 2; it simultaneously is and isn't two-dimensional.
  • All There in the Manual: The official website and supplemental materials are quite interesting to read for the fan.
    • Technically the names of the witches appear in the episodes themselves (written in Cypher Language), but other things like the names of their familiars and their personality traits (such as they are) can only be found on the official website. In addition, this information includes witches that have not appeared themselves or only appeared in a Flash Back. Fortunately, they are translated on this page (spoilers, of course). Special note that the creators have left open the rest of The Un-Reveal to Wild Mass Guessing.
    • The black cat in the OP is explained in the drama CD 1 from DVD volume 1, but never in the show proper. In the first timeline, Madoka became a magical girl to save a cat that was hit by a car. She kept this a secret because she didn't want to be scolded for doing it for such a small reason.
    • The third drama CD reveals Kyoko and Mami have a shared past, something that is only hinted at in the anime proper. However, this has somewhat taken form when Oriko Magica came around.
    • The concept art booklet in the sixth Blu-Ray volume reveals a character's name. Madoka's goddess form is called "Ultimate Madoka". The name is never spoken or written in the show. However, since fans have been using Fan Nickname ( Godoka/Madokami/etc.) for it, it isn't such a problem.
    • The You Are Not Alone guidebook includes or alludes to other Magical Girls' wishes.
  • All There Is to Know About "The Crying Game": Let's keep this as clear as possible: the majority[1] of these spoilers have circulated the internet five times over, and it would be impossible to not know about most of them. Even though the anime didt not have a proper English release until March 2012, a newcomer to the series will have to wonder about the size of this page and the rather large amount of spoiler tags. In other words, this page is Tempting Fate for anyone who reads it. You, on the other hand, have been warned.
  • Alternate Character Reading: Invoked. The kanji used for "Mahou Shoujo" can be rewritten to reveal multiple key plot points. Similarly, "Puella Magi" has multiple meanings, which are also key plot points. All of these are explained in the anime proper and their respective tropes.
  • And the Adventure Continues...: The series ends with witches being replaced with demons, so that Magical Girls still have something to fight. The very last scene shows Homura continuing to fight.
    • Averted in the manga adaptation, wherein after this, the final page has Ultimate Madoka taking Homura with her to the new plane of existence to be with her for all eternity.
  • Alternate Timeline: It is a Running Gag on the Puella Magi internet pages that you will see how many times is it now formatted like this in some kind of way. Detailed explanation:
    • Homura is capable of jumping back to a certain point and creating as many of these as she wishes. We know of at least five she's been in (the last being the "current" timeline), and parts of her end monologue in episode 10 as well as some of the dialogue in 11 and 12 implies this may have been going on far longer. For now, we don't know how many times this is done, and the above is done as a placeholder unless Word of God delivers an answer.
    • Madoka's wish in the final timeline changes all timelines ever.
  • Altum Videtur: "Puella Magi" almost, but not quite, translates to "Magical Girl". "Puella magi" literally means "Girl of the Sorcerer". This becomes a plot point when it's revealed that witches are fallen magical girls. "Magi", depending on the context, can be used in two ways: "Magician" or "Deceiver", the latter of which is the closest derivation. The series' title can be thus be translated as Girl of the Deceiver, Magician Madoka.
    • All of the OST's track titles (save two) are in Latin and uses the correct translation for Magical Girl: "puella magica".
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: Kyubey reveals at the end of Episode 8 that the witch is the later stage of a magical girl's existence. She can only delay the inevitable transformation due to The Corruption of her soul by shoving it into limited-use Grief Seeds (which are incidentally fully-corrupted souls). The same episode also showed a magical girl's transformation into a witch.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: Ultimate Madoka in episode 12 is the anthropomorphic personification of hope.
  • Anyone Can Die: Two episodes away from the series finale, three of the main characters have fallen. Only two remain ... in this timeline. In the four shown timelines, Homura was the only main character alive following the battle against Walpurgisnacht.
  • Apocalypse How: Any good show should have an apocalypse. Let's review the scale for this one:
    • Walpurgisnacht will cause a Class 0 that leaves, at a minimum, Mitakihara in ruins.
    • Madoka's transformation into a witch in previous timelines is guaranteed to cause a Class 6.
    • Madoka's last wish and her subsequent transformation into a goddess causes a chain of destruction leading up to a Class X-4, although it's all part of a plan to fix things and rewrite reality.
    • Kyubey and his race are actively trying to stall and/or prevent a very prolonged Class X-4 throughout the series.
  • Apocalypse Wow: Episode 12, but Ultimate Madoka saves the day ... by causing another one.
  • Arc Words: Walpurgisnacht is used as some sort of omnious threat. It turns out to be the appearance of a superpowerful witch.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Second episode, discussing wishes:

 Sayaka: Hmmm... fabulous riches, eternal youth, Chinese delicacies...

Madoka: I don't know about that last one...

  • Artistic License Physics: (Fun fact: priority one for someone with an interest in extending the life of the universe would be shutting off all the stars, which throw away vast amounts of energy just to light up dust and dead rock.)
  • Art Shift/Medium Blending: A witch and her barrier will employ one or the other.
    • The third episode stops borrowing from the Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei opening and starts borrowing from cute 1980s-style cartoons.
    • Episode 4 has a strange, flat, Louis Vuitton-esque design to the witches dimension. In the witches' TV screens, one can see the same art style used for the Maria Holic ED.
    • Episode 5 features a realm that resembles an elementary school kid's drawings. Kyoko's explanation of her past is shown in a similar way.
    • Episode 7's realm is Deliberately Monochrome, looking like a shadow-play.
  • Art Style Dissonance: It uses characters done in the cute style of Hidamari Sketch to tell a story that can be accurately likened to Neon Genesis Evangelion.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Madoka does this in the last episode, disconnecting herself from time to ensure witches never exist. In the process, she becomes something akin to a magical girl goddess. It is implied that all magical girls post-Madoka are also like this, with Ultimate Madoka guiding them to her own plane of existence after they die.
    • In the manga, Ultimate Madoka takes Homura to be with her forever some unspecified time afterwards.
  • Ascetic Aesthetic: For starters, the school building is about 90% glass. The utter sterility of the city itself makes a nice contrast against both the characters and the bizarre world of the Witches.
  • Asshole Victim: In Episode 8, Sayaka encounters two rude misogynists on a train. The context seems to imply that she killed them.
  • Astral Checkerboard Decor:
    • Many of the witches have this motif somewhere inside their closed off worlds. The first few minutes of the opening episode is nothing but this.
    • The end of the manga takes place in a dungeon with a checkered floor. Acts as nice Book Ends.
  • Awful Truth: Coincides with Wham Episodes.
    • Episode 6, Kyubey reveals some disturbing tidbits about soul gems. Soul gems literally are souls, as the process of becoming a magical girl causes the soul to be literally ripped out and placed in a gem. The human bodies are empty shells animated by the soul gem; the two must remain in close proximity. In other words, "magical girl" is just a fancy way of saying "lich".
    • Episode 8 reveals witches' origins. Magical girls whose soul gems are sufficiently corrupted become witches themselves.
    • Episode 9 reveals why Kyubey is turning girls into magical girls. They are a power source for saving the universe.
    • Episode 11 reveals the reason why Madoka has so much power. Time loops centered on her added to the power of each timelines' Madoka.
  • Ax Crazy: A character becomes more and more Ax Crazy to show her descent into madness and despair. Sayaka begins showing signs of this at the end of Episode 7.
  • Bait and Switch Credits: The opening is something that would fit perfectly on any typical Magical Girl show, with Shout Outs to Cardcaptor Sakura, Sailor Moon, and Pretty Cure. The ending ... has distorted music, is nearly completely devoid of color, has creepy lyrics[2], and ends with Madoka floating in the fetal position in the eye socket of a giant skull. Prior to Episode 3, the anime avoids showing the ending, instead running the credits along the conclusion of the episode and using the song for fight scenes.
    • Subverted later, when it becomes clear just whose perspective the opening song is from.
    • The Blu-rays for the first two episodes have an ending theme which plays this trope straight as well.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy:
    • For the briefest moment when Kyoko and Homura transform.
    • Madoka in the opening, also in a transformation sequence.
    • Also shows up in episode 12, during the encounter between Homura and Madoka after the latter's ascension to law-of-naturehood.
  • Batman Gambit: Kyubey's modus operandi is the Batman Gambit. It involves manipulating and withholding as much information as possible from magical girls, so that they can eventually fall and become witches themselves.
    • A specific example: Kyubey misleads Kyoko into believing there may be a way to make Sayaka human again, which leads to Kyoko's death and leaves Homura as the only magical girl left; since Homura can't possibly defeat Walpurgisnacht alone, Kyubey hopes this will force Madoka into making a contract.
  • Batter Up: On her first witch hunt alongside Mami, Sayaka brings along a baseball bat to compensate for a lack of magical girl powers.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Played With. It's is sometimes Played Straight, sometimes surprisingly Subverted : the problem isn't in the literal granting of the wish, it's the fact that the wishers aren't asking for what they really want. The repeated warnings against making selfless wishes are there because there is no such thing as a selfless wish. Each wish was made in the hope that it would result in something the magical girl would ultimately benefit from, but since that result isn't what they asked for, that isn't what they got. This plays into Kyubey's plans rather nicely, since it means forcing the girls to realize that their pure dreams and wishes were never really pure at all, and can only further divide them from the happiness they wanted after it's too late to change their minds.

 Kyubey: Before you took up the burden of this fight, you had a wish you wanted to see fulfilled. And I did make that wish come true, didn't I?

    • Played Straight for Mami's wish. She connected to life, being able to continue her own life, but it was alone, without family or friends...
    • Subverted for Sayaka's wish: She wished for the boy she loved to get better; he did, and no bad consequences came from it, but what Sayaka didn't wish for was for him to fall in love with her, which was what she really wanted. Kyoko pointed out that what she should have wished for was for him to never recover and become completely dependent on her.
    • Played Straight for Kyoko's wish: She wished for people to understand her father's preaching. It backfired when he discovered the truth, driving him insane and leading him to kill his entire family apart from her; she likely only survived because she was unknowingly a "zombie".
    • Played Straight for Homura's wish. She wanted to protect Madoka instead of being protected, but what she wished for was to be able to go back in time and do it over, knowing then what she does now. And boy, did she ever.
    • And finally Averted for Original-Timeline Madoka. The wish didn't backfire on her, just because her wish was simple, straightforward, and relatively petty. In the Drama CD, she wished for a cat to be saved after being hit by a car, and there's no indication that anything related to that wish ever went wrong.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Cleopatra, Queen Himiko, Joan of Arc and Anne Frank were magical girls. A Middle Eastern girl speculated to be Sharbat Gula was one as well.
  • Being Good Sucks:
    • Sayaka's attempt at being a moral crusader backfires and the strain of fighting as a magical girl while not getting what she wanted causes her sanity to start leaking down the drain.
    • The ending also qualifies, as Madoka's tradeoff for saving magical girls from their inevitable fate was being erased from physical existence.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Kyoko doesn't like it when people waste food.
    • Don't mess with Madoka in any way or form if you want to stay on Homura's good side.
  • Better to Die Than Be Killed: Arguably Kyoko's Heroic Sacrifice, because she had no intention of being transformed into a witch.
    • In Episode 10, after The Reveal in a previous timeline, Mami suffers a mental breakdown and tries to kill the other main characters and herself, following this logic. After the battle against Walpurgisnacht in the same timeline, Madoka asks Homura to Mercy Kill her before she turns into a witch.
  • Beyond the Impossible: As noted above, WhamLines lines are frequent and rules can be rewritten.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Is done frequently, usually by Homura. It's eventually subverted when Kyoko tries to step in for Sayaka, who refuses Kyoko's help, gets back up and defeats the witch she was fighting.
  • Big Eater: Kyoko rarely appears without some kind of snack food in hand.
    • Madoka herself comes off as this in the 100 Questions.
  • Bigger Is Better: Not enuff dakka? Try bigga shoota! Averted. The bigger gun doesn't hit the enemy's weak spot (its head), and it rushes out of its shell to engage her in melee.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The German graffiti in Episode 2 are quotes from Faust.
    • Homura's wall is decorated with a full transcription of "Das Hexen-Einmaleins" (Counting with witches basically), which reads like a nursery rhyme, but again origins from Goethe's Faust.
    • The Anthonies in Episode 1 chant a series of phrases in German.
    • "Tiro Finale" is Italian for "last shot". It was originally supposed to be "Filo Finale".
    • Madoka's homework in Episode 6 is apparently to translate the English nursery rhyme "Hey Diddle Diddle." To see her word processor giving a closely translated suggestion to the words "Hey diddle diddle" in Japanese is quite an amazing feat.
    • Graffiti on the wall shown right before Kyoko and Madoka enter Sayaka's Labyrinth says "Love Me Do".
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • Walpurgisnacht has been defeated, there are no witches and there never will be, Incubators are able to gather curse energy harmlessly, and both Kyoko and Mami return from death. Madoka is a goddess, and one day, she and Homura will be together again. But now, magical girls vanish when they would have become witches before, the magical girls fight demons (rather than witches), Sayaka is still dead, and Madoka has disappeared from normal existence, forgotten by all except Homura and Madoka's pre-verbal little brother.
    • An unspecified period after Homura's battle with the demons in the Manga, she is shown in Madoka's heaven, restored to her innocent Adorkable self, to be with Madoka forever.
  • Black and White Magic: Magical girls are powered by wishes and in Ultimate Madoka's universe, hope, while witches are powered by curses. Guess how witches are created.
  • Black Box: Magic is impossible to figure out even to Kyubey and the race of Sufficiently Advanced Aliens he comes from, but it seems to work and its better to think that a black box that involves the suicidal grief and monstrous transformations of adolescent girls is just fine.
  • Black Comedy: The official franchise has a lot of fun making fun of Mami losing her head. For instance, when about to air episode 3, an official broadcast tweet said something along the lines of "This episode features Mami - keep your heads on!". Aniplex of USA got in on the fun as well when they uploaded Mami's voice actress' interview.
  • Black Speech: Shown when the art shifts and the witches come out.
  • Bland-Name Product: Kyoko offers Homura some Rocky[3]. The Dog Drug Reinforcement dancing game she's playing in the same scene is another one.
  • Blatant Lies: Kyubey does not, since he considers himself above lying, but Gen Urobuchi does. A lot.
  • Blessed Are the Cheesemakers: Well, according to Charlotte the dessert witch. She can create any dessert in the world, but she can't create her favorite food, cheese. No wonder Mami got eaten by her; she wears all yellow.
  • Blessed with Suck: In exchange for putting their life on the line, a magical girl will have any wish of theirs granted. Of course, there are a few things in the fine print Kyubey "forgets" to mention. Like having to experience despair equal to the happiness gained from that wish, and spending the rest of their life as a lich fighting witches that may or may not be evil. And possibly becoming a witch themselves.
    • Cursed with Awesome: This is the final fate of magical girls in Madoka's reconstructed universe. A wish is granted to the girls at the cost of fighting the demons until the girls exhaust their soul gems and die. It's kind of like the whole Grey Wardens schtick. However, as long as they keep fighting the demons, their soul gems keep replenishing -- so it's very much a willpower thing.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Mami, Homura, and Kyoko are the only main magical girls still existing in the rewritten universe.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Where the anime avoids depicting gore, the manga revels in it. Gory Discretion Shots are frequently averted. Blood is added to scenes that didn't originally have it, and characters are drawn with Nightmare Face expressions that give Higurashi no Naku Koro ni a run for its money.
    • Strangely, the mangas reads like a bastard child of Elfen Lied: extremely cute characters with a Fan Service cover, but Gorn all over the place. All we need now is an R-Rated Opening...oh wait, that already happened in the original anime and Oriko Magica.
    • Here's a comparison of Sayaka's fight with Elsa Maria in the TV and BD version. (spoiler warning) The BD version adds more blood to the scene.
    • The BD release keeps better consistency with Kyoko's injuries during her fight with Oktavia.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: Kyubey, who is apparently a supposed Starfish Alien gathering energy to stave off entropy. It just so happens that having teenage girls turning into Eldritch Abominations is a very efficient way to do so, and he doesn't understand how anyone who knows the whole story could object to the plan.
    • His consistent reply to the girls' protests is "I don't understand what you mean," which has become a Memetic Mutation associated with him in Japan.
    • In the epilogue he's still this, but his race's best chances to work on things in the new paradigm is to work very closely and openly with the magical girls. He even warns them up front that they will fade away when they run out of magic.
  • Bright Is Not Good: A Talking Animal, colored Puella Magi Madoka Magica white and pink? How dangerous could it be?
  • Body Horror: Episode 4 features a witch that kills its victims by stretching them until they tear apart. The effect is exaggerated by the art style used for it.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: Homura's final fate is uncertain in the anime; it could be one of two things: either she's gained new superpowers, or she's going to Heaven as soon as the series is over. Or it could be both. Averted in the manga, when Madoka does indeed take her to Heaven, where they'll be together forever, along with Sayaka.
    • Sequel Hook: It is possible that Homura in the anime had split into two separate people. The anime depicts two versions of her: one with Madoka's bow defeating large Mooks, and another with an insane amount of symbolism showcasing her Badass purple wings. Word of God, so far, has not given a confirmation on the ending. See the WMG page for speculation.
  • Book Ends: The very beginning and the very end of the series are set to the sound of a projector running, and then the sound of it abruptly shutting off.
  • Boss Subtitles: Every witch has one written in Cypher Language.
  • Bread and Circuses: The modus operandi of the series. See the trope page for the explanation. Almost taken literally with Sayaka's witch realm, which is represented like a operatic cinema/three-ring circus.
  • Break the Cutie: To be expected:
    • Madoka, who over the course of the series is forced to suffer through the deaths of Mami, Sayaka and Kyoko, on top of learning how the system works.
    • Kyosuke is revealed to have been on the fence for some time, since his injuries meant he would never be able to play the violin again. At least, until Sayaka uses her wish to heal him.
    • Sayaka becomes a magical girl for Kyosuke's sake, only to find out the truth about soul gems and discover that Hitomi also has feelings for Kyosuke. She falls into despair, and eventually becomes a witch.
    • Homura was originally a very shy girl from an alternate timeline, who befriends Madoka and Mami after they save her from a witch. After the two magical girls die fighting Walpurgisnacht, Homura wishes to go back in time and protect Madoka, hoping to save her. Instead, Homura is forced to watch all of her friends die or become witches in each of the four iterations we have seen her experience. The series offers what appears to be a fifth iteration, however in Episode 11 Kyubey remarks that Homura has gone through this cycle countless times and it is still not looking any better.
  • Breather Episode: Episode 5 is much lighter in tone compared to the previous two episodes, which dealt with Mami's death (Episode 3) and the effect it has on the characters (Episode 4).
  • Broad Strokes:
    • The author of the Madoka Magica manga has stated that the anime and manga are based on the same scenario, but has implied that the manga could be very different down the road. This is completely false; the manga is based on the exact same script as the anime, and is simply a Bloodier and Gorier Compressed Adaptation. The closest it gets to diverging from the anime is the addition of a short, highly ambiguous, epilogue.
    • Kazumi Magica appeared to be this in the first three chapters, but the fourth chapter ultimately explained most of the inconsistencies. On the other hand, the soul gems and grief seeds look different until the third chapter, where they suddenly look like the ones in the anime. This was fixed in the collected edition.
  • Broken Aesop: For the most blatant one out there: if it ain't broke, don't fix it. The series' ending was obtained because Homura's Aesop Amnesia actually caused it.
  • Call Back/Brick Joke: We have a separate page for this.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Mami calls out the name of her final attack when she's fighting witches.
  • Canis Latinicus: Though the song titles are real Latin, the lyrics to songs such as "Sis puella magica!" and "Credens justitam" are not (composer Yuki Kaijura apparently does this often enough that fans call the "language" Kaijuran). Latin with Italian pronunciation and word construction, with Japanese grammar, would be as good a guess as any.
  • Can't Catch Up: In every timeline shown, Sayaka is the weakest Magical Girl shown. Even in the best-possible-timeline ending, she still dies, despite being partnered with Kyoko and Mami.
  • Cash Cow Franchise: One episode was all it took for this series' (and the company's) popularity to go through the roof. Now Studio Shaft is rolling in money. Maybe. (NSFW?)
  • Cast From Lifespan/The Corruption: Using magic of any kind, as well as experiencing negative emotions (especially despair and Angst) dims your soul gem. When it's completely dark, the 法少 (Mahou Shoujo) - magical girls - turn into 魔女 (Majo) - witches.
    • In the new universe, this is even more true -- when the soul gem runs out of power, Ultimate Madoka takes the despair -- and the soul gem -- away to the afterlife.
  • Censor Steam: Madoka and Homura in Madoka's dimension "beyond reality". Adds 100% pure liquid Les Yay.
  • Cessation of Existence: Kyubey implies this is what happens to human souls after their receptacle is destroyed. However the wish-magic of the setting, Madoka's "omnipotent" potential being enough to "change the laws of nature", Kyubey's own ability to be reborn, the witches cloning themselves via familiars, and Homura coming from an alternate timeline render this less than certain.
  • Cheeky Mouth: Madoka displays a very wide one during the first episode, when she's talking about her dream.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The long haired Madoka from the OP. Also, before the last two episodes aired, the website was redesigned to have a picture of Madoka with a pair of wings. Madoka gets both in the final episode.
    • Homura's original art featured her as the one with a bow. Then there was the later illustration of her and Madoka holding the bow together in what looked like a disguised spoiler for the last battle. They left guns outside the Fourth Wall. Although in the epilogue, Homura is shown using a modified version of Madoka's bow instead of her time-stopping powers. Which makes sense, as in the new reality there was no Madoka to sacrifice herself and gain time powers for.
  • Chromatic Arrangement/Power Trio: Done brilliantly throughout the series. Genius Bonus if you can figure out how this applies to the series itself. May also explain the reason why Gen Urobuchi is such a Lying Creator.
    • For the main Power Trio, we have Madoka, Sayaka, and Hitomi. This represents the Red-Blue-Green, or what we see personally.
    • For the second Power Trio, we have Madoka, Sayaka, and Mami. This represents the Red-Blue-Yellow, or what the artist sees.
  • Class Is in Room X-01: Mami is briefly shown to be in class 3-A (at least, in the manga).
  • Combat Pragmatist: Homura. The justification, however is explained on the character page.
  • Combat Tentacles: Gertrud has this attack, as does Elsa Maria.
  • Conspicuous CG:
    • The train tracks at the beginning of Episode 9 are quite obviously a flat CG surface.
    • Walpurgisnacht also uses copious amounts of it, though this was likely intentional.
  • Cosmic Balance: Everything revolves around this.
  • Cosmic Horror Story
  • Cosmic Retcon: Madoka's wish results in all witches having never existed.
  • Cool Big Sis: Mami. Though it's also deconstructed in Episode 10, where Mami attempts to kill her younger comrades as an alternative to letting them "grow up" into witches. While she's still acting perfectly in line with her protective, motherly archetype, she's clearly out of her mind and few people would argue this action exemplifies "cool" qualities.
  • Cool Guns: Homura mainly uses guns and explosives to deal with witches. Her primary weapon in Episode 10 is a Desert Eagle.
  • Costume Porn: The magical girls have beautiful battle outfits.
  • Covers Always Lie: Played with. Official artwork for the series constantly shows Madoka in full Magical Girl attire. She doesn't make the contract until the final episode. However, she became a magical girl in the previous four timelines Homura has experienced. Aside from that, the bow and arrow Homura is shown with in one piece of official artwork is actually the weaponry one of the alternate-timeline Madoka uses. We do see her use it at the very end, though.
  • Crapsack World: Just wrap your mind around it: the laws concerning magical girls in this world were specifically created, in-universe, to cause as much grief and suffering as possible to all involved. The Powers That Be are not so much incompetent [debatable] or outright evil as they are purely sadistic, because that's the most efficient way of getting what they want.
  • Crap Saccharine World: Everyone in the world of Madoka gets a raw deal. Muggles, despite living in a nice city with advanced technology and apparently quite nice welfare system, are either killed by witches or branded with their "kiss", filling them with despair and brainwashing them into committing suicide. Witches can creates world fit to their preferences inside the barrier, spread despair and grief in process after having lost all of their own hopes as Magical Girls, and exist mostly to be destroyed by magical girls. Magical girls have their wishes fulfilled, got magic power and fancy costumes, turned into liches, and must live a life of constant battle, where the tiniest mistake can be fatal, until they die or become witches themselves. All of this is because Kyubey's race, the Incubators, apparently want to counter entropy by using the souls of teenage girls as an energy source.
    • This is visible even in the artwork. Check out most of the environments: Everything in the foreground is bright, clean, sterile and lifeless. Everything in the background is dark, and largely consists of black skeletons of buildings under construction.
  • Creator Breakdown: Gen Urobuchi's self-confessed "tragedy syndrome" from his afterword to Fate/Zero (see the Quotes page) is in full play here.
    • ...but eventually subverted! Everyone gets a happy ending in the last episode, with the exception of Madoka and Sayaka, who get Bittersweet Endings.
  • Credits Running Sequence
  • Cry Cute:
    • All of the main characters.
    • Just about every past and future magical girl as they hit their Despair Event Horizon.
  • Cryptic Background Reference: Mami states that witches cause all sorts of bad things to happen with their mere presence, but we're only shown two attempted suicides. Walpurgisnacht's true nature and name are also never divulged, even in the manual.
  • Cryptic Conversation: Somewhat justified. The last time Homura tried to explain everything, none of the girls in timeline 3 believed her until Sayaka became the witch Oktavia. Immediately after Oktavia's defeat, Mami suffered a breakdown and murdered Kyoko, forcing Madoka to kill her.
  • Curb Stomp Battle: In one timeline (specifically, the one that the very opening sequence from the first episode is from), Madoka becomes a magical girl and defeats Walpurgisnacht on her own very easily. She becomes a witch almost immediately, however, with enough power to destroy the world within a few days.
  • Curtains Match the Window
  • Cute Is Evil: Kyubey. His full name is Incubator, as in the incubator of the witches that magical girls fight and eventually become themselves, if their soul gems are completely corrupted.
  • Cyberpunk: While it uses magic rather than technology, and the city is much cleaner than in usual works, the show's hints at transhumanism and, to a lesser extent, Kyubey's mottos and personality could feel right at home in a Cyberpunk series.
  • Cypher Language: The runes. They are not just a substitution cypher, they are also in German. See the Trivia page for the translations. The Wiki Rule, however, is filled to the brim with the translations.
  • Darker and Edgier: Expect no less from the author of Saya no Uta. The finale makes things a bit Lighter and Softer, though.
  • Darkest Hour: Episode 11 Walpurgisnacht has endured an army's worth of firepower from the lone Homura, who has finally given up hope of the Groundhog Day Loop ever saving Madoka, who steps up to make her wish...
  • Dark Reprise: Somewhat. "Magia", the ending song of the series, made its appearance in the first scene of the first episode. There, the song is slowed down quite a lot, giving it a much darker atmosphere than it already had.
    • Which turned out to be a production error as all of the music in the first episode was slowed down and it was back to its normal speed and pitch in later airings.
  • The Day the Music Lied: Episode 3's battle scene starts with standard battle fare when the fight with Charlotte starts, but it immediately switches to grim dark once Caterpillar!Charlotte appears.
    • The music in the scene near the end of episode 8. See Musicalis Interruptus below.
    • The opening theme song is sung by Homura in the post-Episode 12 world. The lyrics and symbolism make perfect sense once you realize this.
  • Deal with the Devil: Kyubey will give them anything they want, but in exchange, they will have to fight witches to the death as what is essentially a lich. Also, when they accumulate enough corruption, the girls will turn into witches themselves.
  • Dead Person Conversation: When Madoka was on her way toward goddess-hood, she met Kyoko and Mami in... somewhere suspiciously similar to Mami's apartment. Chat and cakes were had. For some reason, Sayaka was nowhere to be seen.
  • Deconstruction: The director has outright said he is aiming for this while still maintaining some traditional Magical Girl elements. this is a Deconstruction of certain aspects of magical girls. Now, a lot of these elements are merely subverted or toyed with in various ways, rather than deconstructed outright; see the Darker and Edgier entry above. However, the "sending young girls out to fight monsters of the week" aspect is played straight, but with the potentially horrific and traumatizing consequences of it allowed to realistically play out. Also, even though many of the Darker and Edgier elements aren't necessarily deconstructive in themselves, it does draw attention to the fact that the sort of creature who sends young kids out to fight would turn out to be rather morally skewed.
  • Decon Recon Switch: Specifically, this series deconstructs the power of heart often used in Magical Girl anime. The show does this by drawing attention to the fact that the power of what the girls wish for (the desires of their heart) are never as pure and noble as many shows often assume they would be (these are young girls after all). Tragedy ensues because of their often selfish and unclear desires. The ending, however, reconstructs the power of heart completely in that a wish made for all the right reasons can essentially become the most powerful force to ever exist.
  • Death By Origin Story: Mami's and Kyoko's parents.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: The Latin title reads as this, but it's subverted in that there's an alternate, more accurate translation (based off of Altum Videtur): Girl of the Sorcerer: Magician Madoka. Furthermore, "Puella" literally means "a young girl" but it's derived from "Puerulus", which means "a young slave". "Magi", depending on the context, can be used in two ways: "Magician" or "Deceiver", the latter of which is the closest derivation. The series' title can thus also be translated to "Slave to the Deceiver, Magician Madoka"
  • Deranged Animation: For example, the Anthonies' South Park-ish appearance (read: reminiscent of that series' cutout style), as well as how it doesn't match the art style of the other characters, is already bad enough for them to deserve to be the page image for the HONF tab, but their laggy animation really drives the point home.
  • Design Student's Orgasm: The witches' mazes. The first witch, Gertrud, is a gardener, so the maze is covered in roses and thorns, with floating scissors and butterfly- and puffball-themed familiars. The second, Charlotte, has a maze made of cake and sweets with syringes and bottled body parts everywhere. Charlotte herself looks like a children's cartoon from the 80s.
    • A certain aspect of Charlotte takes heavy inspiration, too, from Takeshi Murakami's Superflat artwork.
    • As noted below, if you're into architecture, this is the series for you.
  • Despair Event Horizon: For magical girls, this is more than a metaphor: it's an actual, literal point of no return that has tangible consequences. Sayaka starts heading towards it when Kamijo hits it, gets really close when Hitomi confesses that she wants to ask Kamijo out (going Ax Crazy in the process), and passes it in Episode 8, turning into a witch. In episode 12, however, she's "purified" by Madoka's wish, which gives her a more peaceful death.
    • In Episode 10, Mami from one of the previous timelines snaps and tries to kill the other magical girls when she finds out about the Awful Truth, murdering Kyoko and nearly killing Homura before being killed by Madoka. Eventually, Homura becomes so desensitized due to her past failures that she essentially becomes a Knight Templar for Madoka's survival.
  • Divided We Fall: One of the major subversions of this series: the magical girls are not working together. In fact, there are reasons for them to not work together, because they're competing for the same resource (the witches' grief seeds). At the same time, the girls are clearly inclined to help one another, and yet are also unwilling to accept the others' help. The results are sadly unfortunate.
  • Did Not Do the Research:
    • When Kamijo starts to play violin again, what you actually hear is a viola.
    • The description of "entropy" in episode 9 is a bit off.
    • Homura's explosive and flash grenades seem to have been mixed up. Odd when you consider how much care they put into detailing her other weapons.
  • Died Happily Ever After: Sayaka in episode 12, and possibly Homura, following the series conclusion. Mami and Kyoko are slated to go out this way, too, but possibly only after Homura herself is reunited with Madoka in Heaven.
  • Distant Finale: The last pages of the manga occur some unspecified time after the last scene in the anime.
  • The Ditz: Madoka, and In the first few timelines, Homura.
  • Doing in the Wizard: Sort of. Kyubey is from a species of Sufficiently Advanced Aliens, and his goal is staving off the heat death of the universe by breaking the 2nd law of thermodynamics. Magic is still magic, though.
  • Downer Beginning: The curtain rises with Kaname Madoka dreaming of a mysterious black-haired magical girl battling giant falling pieces of buildings in a grey, war-torn world.
  • Dramatic Irony: Sayaka blames Homura for Mami's death, on the grounds that she didn't enter the fight until Mami was killed in order to take the witch for herself. However, both the audience and Madoka know that Mami had cast a binding spell on Homura, meaning that she couldn't have stepped in until it was too late.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Madoka's dream at the beginning of Episode 1. Inverted, as Episode 10 reveals the dream(?) depicts a scene from another timeline, which from the only available trans-timeline perspective happened previously.
  • Driven to Suicide: People affected by the witches, who radiate despair. In Episode 4, they form a suicide pact.
    • The backstory of Kyoko Sakura winds up with her father murdering the rest of her family once the truth is revealed to them.
    • Mami, in Episode 10, as a result of discovering the Awful Truth about becoming a witch. She was also going to take down everyone else, but Madoka stops her after Kyoko's fall.
  • Due to the Dead: Sayaka gets a real Tear Jerker of a funeral at the start of episode 11, and after Madoka takes her to Heaven in the current timeline, it's implied she gets a token funeral shortly afterward.
  • Dull Eyes of Unhappiness: Magical girls get this after their Soul Gem is taken away from them, due to them being effectively dead.
  • DVD Bonus Content: The DVD / Blue Ray releases have soundtracks and audio dramas - at least two of the dramas can be considered canon, and reveal important backstory information.
  • Dying Alone: Kyoko performs a Heroic Sacrifice to kill Oktavia so that Sayaka doesn't have to die alone.
  • Dying as Yourself: Arguably, what Ultimate Madoka does for every magical girl that has ever, or will ever, exist. By taking them off to heaven with her, she prevents them from turning into witches and allows them to fade away instead.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The series' Bittersweet Ending would not have been possible without Madoka and Homura's sacrifices.
  • Easter Egg: There's a ton of content in the series that is easy to miss at first, such as Freeze Frame Bonuses, hidden phrases in a Cypher Language, and more information about witches on the official website.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The true form of witches. Kyubey can also be considered a representative of one too. He hails from a race that utilizes the emotions and souls of magical girls as an energy source that violates the second law of thermodynamics. Considering that Kyubey essentially kick-starts the process of creating Eldritch abominations known as witches, he is arguably the Eldritch abomination behind the Eldritch abominations.
  • Eldritch Location: The barrier that surrounds each witch.
    • Homura's Apartment: Word of God is that "the white walls, floating texts, and clockworks are all a holographic projection superimposed on a more mundane setting. At the same time, there is the suggestion that Homura's residence was intentionally drawn to resemble a witch's barrier."
  • Emotion Eater: Kyubey's true purpose. They're able to turn emotions into surplus energy that violates the second law of thermodynamics, in order to save the universe.
  • Emotions vs. Stoicism: Most of the girls (Sayaka especially) are often hindered by their emotions, and are always being rescued by the more stoic Homura, who advises that they not let their feelings get the better of them. The one girl who did not heed her advice, Mami, was quickly met with a gruesome death.
    • And later, Sayaka let her emotions turn her into a witch.
    • This is a running argument throughout the series. Kyubey's arguments make a lot of sense, but only from a coldly logical, utilitarian standpoint; the girls' counter-arguments always run along the lines of "But it's so horrible."
  • Empathic Environment: The barrier seems to work this way. When Madoka says that she will become a magical girl and fight alongside Mami (who, at this point, is bitter from all the fighting but hides it well), medicine capsules fall from above and then warm, fuzzy-looking wispballs float from below.
    • Episode 8 has Madoka and Sayaka at a bus stop in the rain. The rain gets more intense to match Sayaka getting more riled up.
  • The End Is Nigh: Apparently, this is what Walpurgisnacht will entail, or at least that's what Homura seems to imply.
  • Enhanced on DVD: The DVD / Blue Ray releases have fixed up a large number of Off-Model shots, added additional details to the backgrounds, and fixed one lingering question -- The witch in the episode 1 prologue was re-drawn to look like the witch in episode 11 and 12.
  • Environmental Symbolism: Due to the classrooms looking like cages, there has been speculation by fans that the school (lots of glass, generally futuristic) was based on Justice Center Leoben, an Austrian prison with a similar design.
  • Equivalent Exchange: Vaguely, this is how having a wish granted is related to being a Magical Girl.
    • The hope spread by magical girls is equally counteracted by the despair in their everyday lives, eventually turning them into the very witches they fight against. This is on purpose. However, the system Kyubey presents arguably does not balance out, since he apparently claims the "good" energy himself to "prevent the Entropic Heat Death of the Universe".
    • Interestingly, it's possible that the implication that Equivalent Exchange is being strictly enforced (or is inherent to the process) may well just be a masterful piece of misdirection on Kyubey's part. The real reason they meet despair proportional to the hope they bring is because it lets him double-dip--he profits from ANY sufficiently strong emotional swings.
  • Essence Drop: A defeated Witch usually leaves behind a Grief Seed, which a magical girl can then pick up and use to refill her lost Mana and thus restore the brightness of her Soul Gem -- or rather, that's what they're led to believe. What they actually do is transfer The Corruption that they had accumulated from their magic use from the Soul Gem into the Grief Seed, thus delaying their eventual fate of transforming into Witches themselves.
  • Evolving Credits:
    • If you watch closely, you can see the OP change slightly from episode to episode.
    • Similarly, each ending progressively becomes darker.
    • The final image of episode 10's outro is changed from just Sayaka, Madoka, and Mami. This time Kyoko and Homura are in the picture, too.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin:
  • Expy: Mami has the same hair style as Kanaria, both with flower accessories.
  • Eyes of Gold: Madoka on episode 12
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Once you become a magical girl, that's it. There's no way back.
  • The Fair Folk: Some witches behave like this. Gertrud is focused on her(?) roses; while Charlotte is fixated on cheese and will be caught off-guard if one throws her(?) some. It's also a tantalizing irony for Charlotte: despite being able to make candies out of nothing, she can't create cheese.
    • Kazumi Magica refers to contract-making creatures like Kyubey as fairies.
  • Fairy Tale Motifs: Sayaka's storyline has paralells to the non-Disneyfied The Little Mermaid.
  • Fan Nickname:
    • "Moemura" for pre-Adrenaline Makeover Homura.
    • "Madokami" or "Godoka" for Ultimate Madoka before her name was revealed in the booklet of the sixth DVD/Blu-Ray release.
  • Fan Service: The nude transformation scene with two Madokas in the OP.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: Arguably for any girl who becomes a Magical Girl must continued to kill witches or else they'll become one as well. (At least until Madoka manages to Take a Third Option.)
  • Faustian Rebellion:
    • Up until the last episode, Homura's time-manipulation powers seemed to be the only factor capable of catching Kyubey off guard.
    • Madoka's wish in episode 12 coupled this with Cosmic Retcon.
  • Fear Is the Appropriate Response: Type 1, and is consistent throughout the entire series, including Kazumi Magica and Oriko Magica. Can be considered a Mythology Gag (although a very Nightmarish one) for the series due to Mami doing this in Episode 3 and getting her head chomped off in the process. Every time a character performs this trope, something bad happens directly next to it.
  • Field of Blades: Queen of Dakka, do you have enough rockets?
    • Of course, this too would be subject to fan videos comparing Homura to Archer
    • Mami is capable of creating a field of rifles, but it's not quite as impressive. That's more a testament to Homura than a dig against Mami, though.
  • The Film of the Series: The anime will be adapted into three movies, the first two being recaps of the show, and the third expanding the plot after the anime's ending.
  • Finger-Twitching Revival: Inverted by Sayaka. Her entire body twitched except her fingers.
  • Five Moves of Doom: Anime example, and an Oh Crap moment. Crosses over with Arc Number. Episode 10 showed how Madoka had four iterations, each one getting progressively worse than the last time. The fifth one in Episode 12 rewrites the universe.
  • Flash Step: One application of Homura's power looks very similar to this.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: The witches' names, barring a few examples such as Walpurgis Night.
  • Food Chain of Evil: Magical girls need Grief Seeds, which witches leave behind upon death, while familiars don't. Familiars need to eat (figuratively or literally) weak people to grow into full-blown witches. Kyoko wholeheartedly embraces the necessary philosophy of it. If the magical girl doesn't get grief seeds? They become a witch.
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: "Magia" by Kalafina plays during fight scenes and Madoka's dream at the beginning of the first episode. It's also the regular ending song.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the form of a Freeze-Frame Bonus when Mami and Madoka enter Charlotte's maze: "Caution" with a row of decapitated bodies on crosses.
    • Kyoko appears in the opening credits long before making her first appearance in an episode proper.
    • During a brief moment in Episode 7, when Kyoko and Sayaka are in the church, an angel appears to come out of Sayaka's shadow, stabbing Kyoko's shadow with a sword. A bit of a Red Herring in that what happened was a bit different.
    • In the ending, Sayaka's silhouette is facing away from Madoka. Guess what happens after she contracts?
    • The conversation between Madoka, Sayaka, and Hitomi about Homura in Episode 1. In Episode 10 we find nearly all of it is relevant, even Sayaka's throwaway joke about "Is this moe?"
    • Sayaka's own narration moments before the opening credits of Episode 4.
    • Also in episode 4, Homura and Madoka's conversation about Mami dying and nobody remembering her.
    • Meta example: "Puella Magi" was initially thought to be a botched mistranslation of "magical girl". It means "girl of the mage" or alternatively "slave of the deceiver".
    • The bow that Homura carries in the initial concept art is finally seen in the last episode.
    • According to the website, Madoka's witch form wishes to make a perfect world free of suffering. When Madoka finally does make a wish, it isn't very far off.
  • Frozen Face: Kyubey's face in the anime is always frozen in an intense stare, and his mouth never moves since he talks telepathically. This makes him extremely creepy to look at face to face. However, this is averted in the manga, where Kyubey uses normal facial expressions. Usually. Sweet dreams. Or good lulz.
    • In the first few episodes, however, Kyubey's expression does change. He has several expressions of pain when Madoka first meets him and has a different expression when one of the girls is feeding him.
  • Gainax Ending: Episode 12 is really weird.
  • German Expressionism: Borrows a lot from it, especially the witches' barrier. Even during real world sequence, the atmosphere feels dark and surreal. Have we mentioned that Faustian motifs and Gratuitous German are abundant?
  • Ghost in the Machine: A magical girl's body is essentially a magical meat-puppet controlled and powered by her soul, now in the form of a jewel.
  • The Glasses Come Off: Just before the last "iteration" of past, Homura takes off her glasses and uses her powers to restore her eyesight.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: When Charlotte eats Mami in episode 3. Subverted, as afterward we see it dive down and start tearing the corpse apart like a wild animal. It pans away again, to the disbelieving and horrified Sayaka and Madoka watching on, but the sounds continue--this just makes it worse.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: The grief seeds, the source for the strangeness in the town. If it only was that simple.
  • Gratuitous French: The themed cafe that will appear in Matsudo, Chiba is called Cafe du Madoka Magica (Cafe of the Madoka Magica). "Du" (de + le) is masculine; it should be Cafe de la Madoka Magica.
  • Gratuitous German: The language of choice for the bizarre creatures at the end of the first episode. They speak in a highly disturbing, screechy and somewhat childlike voice, which is arguably even scarier if you can understand bits of what they're saying. Let's just say those flying scissors aren't just for show... [4]
    • In Episode 2, there is some German scribbled on the wall. It is a quote from Faust. Specifically about a destroyed world being rebuilt...
    • Translating the runes scattered around also yields up a few more Faust quotes.
  • Grey and Grey Morality: Just about everyone in this series seems to have a little good and bad in them. Even Kyubey has an understandable reason for what he does, and the witches are fallen heroines. Madoka is an exception, being the only 100% good character.
  • Groundhog Day Loop, Save Scumming: Due to Homura's wish to start her relationship with Madoka over again and this time protect her, she gains power over time. However, she hasn't quite succeeded yet. As a result, she rewinds time to try again whenever she fails. This is why Homura seems so powerful early on in the show; she was very weak when she started as a magic girl, but by "now" she's had years of combat experience and has detailed knowledge on any witch (and magic girl) that is likely to show up.
  • Green Lantern Ring: Generally, a magical girl's abilities and signature attack will remain the same, but they seem to be able to use it for minor things on the fly; this generally adheres to New Powers as the Plot Demands meets Mundane Utility. For example, Mami mostly sticks to summoning enchanted muskets, but can enchant a bat to harm familiars and can create a barrier using a length of chain as a boundary and conduit. Homura once used her powers to fix her eyesight, despite that her main gimmick is totally unrelated.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: In the end, Homura remains as the only living witness to everything that has happened, and the new version of Kyubey says he'll have to take her word for it since no proof of it remains.
  • Guest Strip: PMMM continues the recent trend of inviting talented semi-pro and Pixiv artists to draw eye catches and end-of-episode preview art, something that has been traditionally done at the last few pages of Doujinshi for decades. The full list of ending cards can be found in trivia.
  • Guns Akimbo/Gun Kata:And how.
    • Not that it helps...
  • Gut Punch: Mami's death in episode 3 is something of a shock to the system. Every episode after that is arguably more of a Gut Punch.
  • Hair Decorations: All of the magical girls have some form of this.
  • Hammerspace: One of Homura's abilities. It's shown that she's got an entire armory hidden literally up her sleeve. Mami also has the ability to summon muskets from under her hat and skirt and Sayaka once summons swords from her cape. It's not entirely apparent where Kyoko stores her spear because it sometimes vanishes between shots with no evidence of her dispersing it (episode 8).
  • The Heartless: Without witch's grief seeds to infect, the grief of mankind become demons that Magical Girls have to fight; the demons output can be consumed by Kyubey.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Played with but probably subverted. Sayaka is the only one to use a sword as her weapon. Although her outlook and motivations fit the classic hero mold, she is far and away the weakest of the magical girls and eventually turns into a witch.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Kyoko for Sayaka so the latter won't die lonely.
    • If what Kyubey told Madoka in episode 9 is true, becoming a magical girl can be viewed as such, with delayed consequences though.
    • In another timeline, after both of them suffered mortal wounds from failing to defeat Walpurgisnacht, Madoka brightens Homura's soul gem with her only remaining grief seed, giving the latter the chance to go back again and try to save everyone but at the same time dooming her own self to become a witch. Cue the request for and subsequent Mercy Kill.
    • Madoka pulls this again in the end, by using her wish as a Reset Button that prevents witches from being born (and gives the already witchified magical girls peaceful send-offs) ... but while doing so, pretty much erases herself out of existence ... or possibly above existence. Bonus, the finale aired on Good Friday. Significant? With her last words to Kyubey ordering him to fulfill her wish, it's made clear that she doesn't care what she becomes as long as the world is saved.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Witches are magical girls who let their soul gems become too corrupted. Sayaka is a more specific example.
  • Hive Mind: Kyubey, according to an interview with Urobuchi.

 There are many bodies, but only one consciousness. Therefore, even if you kill the body, there isn't any sort of damage. Killing one is just like pulling out a single strand of hair. The scene where Kyubey eats his corpse was a scene that came in after the early stages of the script; I was trying to write Kyubey as something that humans can't relate to. Imagine what your response would be if one of your compatriots had just died.

  • Hope Spot: And an in universe example in Episode 9. The main characters ask Kyubey if it's possible to restore Sayaka to human form. He replies that it's never been done before.
    • Subverted in that not only does it fail, but he was counting on it failing and only presented the hope as a trap.
    • It could be argued that the entire anime timeline -- as opposed to the timeline in the epilogue / the previous timelines is one giant Hope Spot. Everything seems to be going so well from Homura's perspective. She's saving Madoka, Madoka hasn't contracted, and that's all that matters. But then it turns out that even with an absolutely ungodly amount of military hardware she can't stop Walpurgisnacht, Kyubey now knows about her time traveling, she's the cause of all Madoka's problems in the newer timelines, and her very actions are making things worse, every. single. time. It takes the events of Episode 12 to pull everything out of the tailspin.
  • Humanity Is Insane: Never outright stated, but the Incubators consider emotion to be a mental disorder.
    • Power Born of Madness: From the Incubators' perspective, this is arguably what turning emotions into energy is.
  • Humans Are Flawed: One of the main themes.
  • Humorless Aliens: Kyubey
  • Hurting Hero: Every Magical Girl, but especially Homura. Kyoko ceased being a hero at all. (Until episode 9, that is).
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Especially Homura.


I-Z Edit

  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each episode title is a line of dialogue from the said episode.
  • If We Get Through This: "...we're all going out for cake!" The cake is unfulfillable.
  • I Know You Are in There Somewhere Fight: Deconstructed. Kyoko and Madoka try it on Sayaka, and it fails.
  • Immortality: Magical girls have Types III, V, and VII. Kyubey has Type IV. Of all things, despite being Wrong Genre Savvy, Type V is Lampshaded in Episode 6. The immortality and effect of the magical girl transformation. Most girls turn into witches long before it becomes noticeable. Homura might be proving in The Stinger that you can theoretically live forever as a magical girl as long as you don't exhaust your magic and never give up hope.
    • That last spoiler is played with in the manga. The manga goes a bit further in the timeline, showing that eventually Homura does stop fighting and joins Madoka beyond existence. It is not shown when or how this happens.
    • At the end of the anime, Madoka gets Type I.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Taken Up to Eleven with Kyubey, who eats himself. Or rather, the corpse that used to be him.
  • Improbably-Female Cast: Considering the storyline...
  • In Medias Res: Depending on how you view the anime, it can either be Double Subverted or Played Straight. Episode 10 explains the alternate timelines, but every timeline has technically the same start, due to being parallels of each other. However, the Start of Darkness for the anime actually is explained in Episode 10, which explains Homura's intentions that were not explained in the first two episodes. In other words, the anime starts at the how many times is it now parallel timeline, but we learn of the beginning in episode 10.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Homura has used her power to reset time to try and approach the series a countless number of ways, but the outcome is always that Madoka becomes a magical girl and either dies or turns into a witch.
    • Likewise, When Madoka makes her final wish, despite having just radically changed the course of human history (namely, those killed by witches no longer died that way), Mitakihara still exists more-or-less the same, along with every character other than Madoka herself.
  • It Always Rains At Funerals:When Sayaka's body is recovered and she is given a proper funeral in episode 11, it immediately starts raining.
  • It Got Worse: This is the premise of the series.
  • It Sucks to Be the Chosen One: Takes it and runs with it.
  • I Was Told There Would Be Cake/The Cake Is a Lie: In Soviet Russia, cake eats you.
  • I Will Definitely Protect You
  • Jedi Truth/You Didn't Ask: Kyubey. He will not lie to the girls. He just withholds information unless specifically asked.
    • Or answers with multiple true statements that can be easily misread by those not adept at picking out logical fallacies. When asked if there is any way to turn a witch back into a magical girl he says, essentially, "That's impossible" followed by "Magical girls do impossible things all the time". An emotionally distraught fourteen year old isn't likely to realize that these two statements are unrelated (just because you can do some impossible things does not mean you can do all impossible things) until it is far too late.
  • Jerk Justifications: Homura is mostly Type 3 ("That's the way I am, I can't fix it") while Kyoko is type 1 ("Kindness is weakness").
  • Killed Off for Real: Mami Tomoe (Episode 3, which got bumped into some really meme-tastic territory), then Kyoko Sakura and Sayaka Miki in Episode 9 (the former sacrificed herself to "save" the latter).
  • Kill Them All: In all the timelines she has gone through, Homura has always been the only survivor. Only time will tell this will change in the current one. For now, it doesn't seem probable...
    • At the end of the anime, Madoka creates a new timeline where she no longer exists, while Homura, Mami, and Kyoko are still alive. Sayaka still dies in the new system.
  • Killer Rabbit: The witch Charlotte starts off looking like an adorable little stuffed doll.
    • Kyubey is starting to look a lot like this as his behavior becomes more and more sinister.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Madoka and Homura both exemplify this, but especially Madoka. She sacrifices all semblance of her own identity to change the magical girl system. She creates a new world where suffering runs just as rampant as ever, acknowledging good cannot exist without evil. And why? Because, by god, magical girls deserve to die happily, and she's willing to become the embodiment of hope itself in a despair-filled world.
  • Knight Templar: Kyubey comes off as this due to his Blue and Orange Morality.
  • Late Arrival Spoiler: Mami being Killed Off for Real seems to be one now, due to fan-reactions, blogs, and especially 4chan mentioning it everywhere.
    • Sayaka's transformation into a witch is also the quickest one ever!
    • The reason why the headline at the top exists. If you did not know that Episode 3 was a Wham! Episode and did not decide to look at the spoilers (there's a lot of them), you've seen the series properly. Otherwise, good luck.
  • Laughing Mad: Sayaka, at the end of Episode 7 and the beginning of Episode 8.
  • The Law of Conservation of Detail: Done straight, but with consequences. This trope was one reason why the storyline was predicted ahead of time, mostly due to the numerous Faust references (again, there's a lot of them). Lists are on The Wiki Rule (here), the Trivia page, and the Fridge page. There is, however, one notable one that is very easy to pass off: Homura, near the end of the anime, is shown with only one of Madoka's hair ribbons. Madoka gave Homura both.
    • She's shown wearing only one of them, which makes sense, since the ribbon is a precious memento from Madoka, Homura probably has the other locked up in a safe somewhere. That's probably why Homura offered to give one of the ribbons to Madoka's mother.
    • In the manga, Homura wears her hair in pigtails in the new universe, using both ribbons.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Dog Drug Reinforcement makes its debut! Supports up to three players!

 WASSYOI WASSYOI WASSYOI WASSYOI

  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In Episode 12, when Homura seems to recognize Tatsuya's "imaginary friend" (Madoka), Madoka's mother asks, "Is she some kind of anime character or something?"
  • Leitmotif: Each of the six main characters has one. Madoka has Sagitta Luminis (Arrow of Light), Sayaka has Conturbatio (Disorder) and later Decretum (Decision) (same motif, different arrangements), Mami has Credens Justitiam (Believing in Justice), Homura has Puella in Somnio (The Girl in the Dream), Kyoko has Anima Mala (Evil Soul), and Kyubey has Sis Puella Magica (You should be a Magical Girl).
  • Light Is Not Good:
  • Lighter and Softer: The second drama CD (appropriately named "Sunny Day Life") is probably the closest we will get to a canon depiction of the show as a conventionally cute Magical Girl series.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Every girl is shown with two outfits each: her school uniform (Madoka, Homura, Sayaka, Mami)/one casual outfit (Kyoko) and her magical girl costume. A slight subversion in the last episode when Ultimate Madoka is seen with a more complex uniform.
  • Literal Genie: Seemingly averted in the few instances Kyubey is seen granting wishes.
    • Probably a case of Zig-Zagging Trope. Kyubey gives exactly what is asked for without twisting the intentions of the wish in any way, but the unfolding plot reveals that what is asked for is not always what is wanted or intended.
  • The Little Detecto: Soul gems, in addition to everything else they do, also function as handy witch detectors.
  • Live Action Adaptation: Apparently, there's going to be a comedic one, courtesy of Nico Nico Douga.
  • Lock and Load Montage: Homura does this, every single time after she loots tons and tons of firearms from the local Yakuza.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Played with in regards to Sayaka. Since she became a Magical Girl in order to heal Kyosuke, it fills out one of the main aspects of the trope. Kyoko later suggests she go a step farther and add a dose of If I Can't Have You by breaking his arms and legs so Sayaka can be the only one he can depend on. Once Hitomi tells Sayaka she has her own feelings for Kyosuke and says she intends to act on them, it essentially leads to Sayaka's My God, What Have I Done? moment, which then leads to her Heroic BSOD/witch transformation.
  • Love Triangle: Hitomi reveals to Sayaka that she also likes Kyosuke and plans on confessing to him. She gives Sayaka 24 hours to do something about it ... and since she doesn't, she acts on her own word and confesses. See also the above trope.
  • Lucky Charms Title: 魔法少女まどか☆マギカ, Mahō Shōjo Madoka ☆ Magika.
  • Lying Creator: So much. Gen Urobuchi enjoys teasing the fans.
    • Claiming that the "kyu" in "Kyubey" comes from "cute" we now know it's Incubator. Technically he wasn't lying. The 'Kyu' in 'Kyubey' really did came from "cu-" of "cute". Just without the "-te" part.
    • Before Episode 3, he made a point of complaining about fans speculating as to when the show was going to get really dark: "Come on, we still haven't shown even a single scene with bloodshed yet!" That episode more than made up for it.
    • He also claimed that Sayaka is The Heroine. Well, technically, she was. Until the grimdark world broke her.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: The opening may have an irritatingly cute demeanor, but the lyrics are so sad.
  • Made of Iron: Justified. Magical girls have their souls separated from their bodies which allows them to take hits that would severely injure or kill any normal human being. Any damage can be repaired by magic later as long as the soul gem stays safe.
  • Made From Real Girl Scouts: A soul gem contains its owner's soul.
  • Magical Girl: It's half of the title, duh.
  • Magic Skirt: Madoka's magical girl skirt is basically justified since there are a lot of frills underneath. The other skirts are rather short and the show has a tendency to show a lot of leg, but never more. Especially apparent when Kyoko is carrying Sayaka in her arms in episode 9. There is a side shot with Sayaka's leg conveniently in the way.
  • Magical Underpinnings of Reality
  • Magitek: Kyubey's race. That's because they're Sufficiently Advanced Starfish Aliens.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Kyubey, specially towards the end of Episode 9. He allows Kyoko to try (and fail) to save Sayaka as it would force Homura's hand since she would not be able to stop Walpurgisnacht by herself, thus requiring Madoka to become a magical girl.
    • Episode 12 suggests that this was later averted due to the major Retcon done by Madoka.
  • The Masquerade Will Kill Your Dating Life: Being a magical girl is a lonely job.
  • Meaningful Name: There is a freakin' good reason they are called magical girls. It's a bit of Japanese wordplay: In written Japanese "magical girl" contains the characters for "young girl" and "witch" - "magical girl" can then be read as "young witch". Also, Kyubey's full name is Incubator, which more than hints at his actual purpose, - and coincidentally is formed from the same root as incubus.
    • also the name Madoka can be written with the character for "circle"or "round" in Japanese reflecting the cyclical nature of the magical girl,witch,incubator relationship as well as the circular repetition of timelines that revolve around her.
    • The final and most powerful Witch seen in the series is Walpurgisnacht. This is the name of spring festival in Central and Northern Europe, and tradition dictates that it is a time that witches would gather together. Walpurgisnacht is a fusion of many different witches.
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor: Emiri Katou plays Kyubey. According to Gen Urobuchi, she's a sweet lady and a big Magical Girl fangirl ... and almost had a Heroic BSOD when she learned what would go on with the series.
  • Meganekko: Surprisingly enough, Homura before getting really serious about her goal.
  • Memento MacGuffin: In the last episode, Homura's weapon of choice changes to a bow that looks identical to Madoka's, but in Homura's purple-and-black color scheme instead of Madoka's pink-and-white.
  • Mental Time Travel: The mechanics behind the fulfillment of Homura's wish.
  • Mercy Kill: Sayaka receives one from Kyoko. Homura to Madoka in one timeline.
    • At the end of the anime, Madoka performs a Cosmic Retcon that basically does this to every magical girl that is about to become a witch (including ones that existed in the past). Though they may actually go someplace else.
  • Meta Twist: Bacause of Gen Urobuchi's previous works, many expected a Kill'Em All Downer Ending. It didn't happen.
  • Million-to-One Chance: What Kyubey says about Kyoko's desperation move -- it's never been tried, it's completely illogical, and even he doesn't think it'll work -- raises all the flags for this trope. The show promptly goes on to subvert the trope: it's completely illogical, so of course it doesn't work.
  • Mind Rape: This happens to Madoka, when she got caught in the witch Kirsten's barrier. The witch then uses her powers to torture Madoka by re-playing Mami's death over and over while subjecting her to Body Horror.
    • Kyubey is not above doing this. He shows Madoka how the world has been affected by his contracts, and how if it wasn't for the Incubators humanity would probably still be in caves. She did not enjoy it.
  • Mini-Dress of Power
  • Mistaken for Gay: Madoka and Sayaka in the second episode by Hitomi, since Sayaka did spend some time flirting with Madoka in Episode 1.
  • Mood Whiplash: People were trying desperately to figure out where exactly the Deconstruction lay in this series. Episodes 1 and 2 were fairly tame, although ominous. Then came Episode 3, complete with new ending.
  • Monster of the Week: The witches. Subverted in that they're not harmless mooks, and that fighting them is actually an emotionally scarring experience. It is even more scarring when the witches themselves were once magical girls like the protagonists.
  • More Dakka: In one scene, Mami briefly manages to achieve this trope using only an unlikely number of single-shot rifles. Also, in Episode 11 when Homura attempts to take on Walpurgisnacht alone, there is a long one-sided battle consisting of Homura expending a small army's worth of weaponry against Walpurgisnacht, including rockets, mortars, and a naval barrage. Unfortunately, it merely serves as The Worf Barrage.
  • More Hero Than Thou: Every magical girl or magical girl candidate is adamant about being the only one who will have to throw herself on the blade for the sake of somebody else. As they all get in each other's way doing this, it causes an amount of conflict that would be downright ridiculous if it weren't so depressing.
  • Morning Routine
  • Morton's Fork: On Walpurgisnacht, Homura's choices are:
    • Lose to Walpurgis alone and see it destroy the city, or
    • Defeat Walpurgis with Madoka and see Madoka destroy the world, or
    • Rewind time, making Madoka more powerful.
  • Mundane Wish
  • Murder-Suicide: Mami of all people attempts this in episode 10. In one of the alternate timelines, she completely snaps when she finds out magical girls eventually become witches. She succeeds in killing Kyoko, but is killed by Madoka before she could kill Homura.
  • Musicalis Interruptus: In episode 8, Kyubey finally manage to convince Madoka to make her wish while the overly optimistic music is building up in the background. However, Homura shows up to put a stop to not only the proceedings, but the music, Kyubey (for the moment at least) and time itself.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Several examples:
    • Sayaka after her Despair Event Horizon where events just keep giving her one Gut Punch after another. She eventually starts to lose her humanity/sanity as a result.
    • Kyoko perhaps felt this way due to her telling Sayaka her backstory, and why she's such a Jerkass who only cared about herself. Which helps explain why Sayaka began to care less and less about the reason why she became a magical girl in the first place. As well as finding out more about their roles and the gems. This may be one reason why she seemed to be trying to hard to help Madoka save her later on.
  • My Greatest Second Chance: Homura has gotten many second chances to undo her greatest failure. Four of those were seen in episode 10, and it's strongly implied there were more. Unfortunately, Failure Is the Only Option.
  • Mythology Gag: That black cat that keeps on popping up in the opening? Okay, it doesn't show up in the anime proper, but you can interpret it entirely differently. A black cat is normally associated with witches (you know, the one on a broomstick, casting spells, wearing a pointy hat, and so on). Now think about this for a moment: what was one of the biggest Wham Lines that Kyubey mentioned?
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Walpurgisnacht, Kriemhild Gretchen, Incubator.
  • Negative Space Wedgie: When you stop to think about it, a witch's maze is nothing but a big entropy sphere that houses an alternate dimension, something that wouldn't be too unfitting in a sci-fi series.
  • Never Found the Body: As Homura explains to Madoka, a magical girl who dies in a witch's barrier does not leave a corpse in the real world. Thus, they will forever be "missing".
    • This trope's straight version (someone's not really dead unless you see a corpse) seems like it may be coming into play with the revelation about what soul gems really are, until you realize that Mami's soul gem was stored in a hairpin during combat, meaning it was likely destroyed by the witch during the fight in Episode 3.
    • Subverted in Episode 11 with regards to Sayaka. On the other hand, we never saw if Oktavia dropped a grief seed or not.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The way the previews for the series were set up, the series looked to be rather average and normal as a Magical Girl series.
  • New Transfer Student: Homura.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Almost. In Episode 6, Madoka nearly kills Sayaka by throwing her soul gem away in order to prevent her from fighting. To her credit, this actually worked, and to be fair she didn't know the consequences of such an action.
    • Episode 10. The very first timeline was the best possible conclusion: Madoka and Mami defeat Walpurgisnacht and die in the process, without becoming witches. As Homura keeps turning back time, the endgames get worse and worse, down to Madoka becoming a super powerful witch and destroying the world. Nice job breaking it, Homura.
    • Episode 11 drills it in: Homura was literally giving Madoka more power to use as a witch by creating alternate universes.
    • In Episode 12, this gets subverted; Homura's time loops gave Madoka enough power to break the system.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Kyubey, multiple times over. To count the times he screwed up, he:
    • Gave someone time traveling powers to try and retcon someone's death, thus setting off the chain of events in the show. To his credit, this means it would fill his quota quicker...
    • But then he goes off and tells Awful Truth after Awful Truth, not knowing that they could be used against his advantage. Again, to his credit, he thinks this would lead them to the Despair Event Horizon...
    • ...Until he revealed one Awful Truth too many and told Homura that her time traveling is what is making Madoka stronger, thus giving her despair when she considers time traveling again. Sure, the more witches, the merrier, but considering that Homura is the main source of Kyubey's quota income, this is a bad thing to do. Oh, and it just so happens that Madoka decides to use these awful truths to her advantage and tells Kyubey to eliminate witches as her wish. Had Kyubey not did these things, he would have gotten away with it.
    • Had he not done these things either the Universe would have been eaten by Krimhild Gretchen, or, if we don't assume that Kyubey is suicidally stupid enough to even appear before Madoka if she had a wish other than the one she made in mind, everything would have remained unchanged. The idea that the ending was somehow not planned by Kyubey, who can easily read human minds (easily enough to flawlessly relay girls' thoughts to each other) is ... bizarre. Simply considering the fact, that the only time he actually goes beyond his usual bounds and mindscrews Madoka in Episode 8, he does that to make Madoka witness Sayaka's witch transformation, leads to conclusion that he (again) is not telling the whole truth about his goal. Never mind that a being far-sighted enough to seriously care about the end of the universe countless billions of years in the future would never risk an action that has even a remote possibility of causing the end of the Universe right now, so it's pretty much a given that Kyubey's goal was not what he told Madoka, the only question is whether he lied to her, or whether he omitted what he truly had in mind for her.
  • No Body Left Behind: The final fate of all magical girls in the current timeline, including Sayaka, as Madoka takes them to Heaven, body and all, at the very moment they'd normally be slated to become witches.
  • No Conservation of Energy:
    • When Kyubey explains entropy, he says it involves the net loss of energy, which is not possible in physics. What the term actually describes is the decay of energy into internal energy (associated to its temperature) and its subsequent scattering through space, until the system reaches equilibrium, at which point all energy conversion ceases until further external energy input.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Double Subverted, Discussed, Exaggerated, and Defied.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Sayaka goes into one of these against a witch to show how badly she's been broken.
  • No Ontological Inertia: Mami's bindings on Homura dissolve as soon as the former dies.
  • Non-Indicative First Two-and-a-Half Episodes: Be careful of these episodes, as they make the series billed as a Magical Girl series with Slice of Life. That's half-correct, as the second half of Episode 3 demonstrates.
  • Normally I Would Be Dead Now: Subverted with Kyubey. The multiple bullets he takes does kill that particular body, but unfortunately, he has spares.
  • Not So Different: Episode 7 implies this between Sayaka and Kyoko.
  • The Obi-Wan: Mami quickly becomes this.
    • Kyoko becomes one as well in the final episode where she and Mami return in a dream-like sequence to discuss things with Madoka.
  • Official Cosplay Gear: There are official soul gem necklaces. However, they aren't cosplay gear as such -- they're smaller than the canon Soul Gems -- and are more intended as, well, jewelry. Still really nice, though.
  • Official Couple: Hitomi and Kyousuke.
  • Off-Model: Really doesn't have that much of a problem with it (and the instances tend to be from distance shots), but it's absurdly popular so it's a meme anyway. (Spoilers for the entire series!)
  • Oh Crap: From Kyubey, of all things, in Episode 12. "That's treason against the wish itself" indeed.
  • Omniscient Morality License: Kyubey's plans to combat the entropy implies this.
  • One Degree of Separation: The third drama CD reveals that Kyoko and Mami had actually worked together before the events of the anime. This was subtly hinted at in the anime proper. But then it further reveals that Kyoko once helped Madoka and Sayaka escape from a witch. This was not hinted at the anime - although to be fair, Madoka and Sayaka never actually saw Kyoko.
  • One Magical Girl Army: With the exception of Walpurgisnacht, Homura is able to defeat literally every witch she encounters by herself. However, this took a long time to perfect.
    • It also makes perfect sense; she has the power to save-scum, so she "memorized the guide".
  • One-Winged Angel: Charlotte in Episode 3. Starts off as a shout-out of Pukka, ends as a supremely creepy Takashi Murakami-style thing that looks like what you'd get if you mated a clown with a Sand Worm.
  • Origins Episode: Episode 10, for Homura. Doubles as a Whole-Episode Flashback.
  • Our Liches Are Different: You see, in this series, they're called "magical girls."
  • Our Souls Are Different
  • Our Witches Are Different: They are reality-warping Eldritch Abominations with more specific powers that seem to be based on a combination of the location they were born at and whatever they were feeling at the time. They are actually "matured" magical girls who allowed their soul gems to become too corrupt.
  • Out-of-Clothes Experience: Madoka and Homura in Episode 12
  • Out of the Inferno: A villainous version with Walpurgisnacht, who emerges from huge flames of Homura's making unharmed.
  • Parental Abandonment: Subverted with Madoka who actually has a nice happy family, but played straight with every other magical girl.
    • Mami's and Kyoko's are dead, latter's killed from the one she gave her wish to.
    • Homura appears to live alone; the nameplate of her residence only has her name, much like Mami's. She is also conspicuously by herself when seen in the hospital, and seems to be the one filling out the forms to transfer to another school. The implication is that she's Conveniently an Orphan.
    • Sayaka presumably has them, but the only mention they get is when we hear Madoka talking to one on the phone in episode 8. Her mother appears in Episode 11, during her funeral.
  • Parody: Meduka Meguca
  • Peggy Sue: Homura Akemi
  • Phantom Zone: The nightmarish other world where Witches hide.
  • Pieta Plagiarism: Episode 9. Kyoko as Mary, Sayaka as Jesus.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: The magical girl outfits, of course. Also, look at Walpurgisnacht upside-down.
  • Pin Pulling Teeth: When Kyoko grabs Homura to keep her from Flash Stepping, Homura pulls a flashbang grenade out of her Bag of Holding and pulls out the pin with her teeth, forcing Kyoko back.
  • Pink Girly Girl And Blue Tomboy: Madoka Kaname and Sayaka Miki.
  • Plot-Based Voice Cancellation: Homura yells some things to Madoka in the prologue scene in episode 1, but we don't hear it -- and neither, apparently, does Madoka. We learn in episode 10 that she was begging her not to make the contract again.
  • Post Modernism: The witch barriers include many references to both Faust with the runes and writing, and classical artwork. Meanwhile the plot bears many similarities and even several Shout Outs to other anime such as "Evangelion", "Utena", and "Bokurano".
  • Power Crystal: Soul gems.
  • Power Dyes Your Hair: More or less. While the color doesn't change, the cast's hair colors become more vibrant in their Magical Girl forms (in Homura's case, it gets darker).
  • Power Glows: Madoka, in Episode 12. In one particular shot you might be tempted to wonder "Why is the sun pink"?
  • Power Source: Inverted with grief seeds: magical girls shove their corruption into it to prevent their soul gems from dimming.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: Kyubey's race decided they wanted to violate entropy. What better way than to use the transformation of pubescent magical girls into witches?
  • The Power of Friendship: Episode 10 shows this being played straight, in as much as the series can play it straight. The reason Homura keeps repeating things is because she wants to save Madoka. She outright says so at the end of her Day in The Limelight episode.

  Homura: Repeat. I'll repeat it no matter how many times. I'll live through the same events again and again. Until I can find the only way out. The way to save you from despair. Madoka... My only friend. If... if it's for your sake... I don't mind being locked in this eternal maze!

    • Subverted hard in Episode 3. When Mami gets hyped up on the Power of Friendship during the battle with Charlotte, it leads to her fighting recklessly against the witch, as opposed to the cool, careful and methodical style of witch-killing she employed in the second episode, resulting in her freezing up when Charlotte goes One-Winged Angel, leading directly to her Cruel and Unusual Death.
  • The Presents Were Never From Santa: Sayaka (and Mami) falsely believe that their Magical Girl powers are righteous in nature, and people like Homura and Kyoko are misusing their powers for selfish interests. Of course they are wrong, their powers have nothing to do with morality. Not at all.
  • The Promise: In Episode 12, Madoka promises Homura that she will see her again someday. It's insinuated that all magical girls will be with Madoka after they run out of magic; she is shown collecting their grief and taking their soul gems.
  • Psychological Horror: The city is cold and sterile. An unspeakable atmosphere of alienation and helplessness permeates it. The witches are completely incomprehensible. Something about the supposedly-helpful mascot is very, very off. Magical Girl meets The World of Darkness namely, Changeling: The Lost; indeed.
  • Puni Plush: The characters are designed by Aoki Ume, the mangaka of Hidamari Sketch.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Any timeline where Walpurgisnacht is beaten ends up with Mitakihara in ruins and the combatants either dead or having used so much magic that they'll shortly become witches themselves.
  • Rain of Arrows: In the final episode, Madoka uses this twice, and both were awesome rains of arrows indeed!
    • First time - She fires a single arrow into the sky which instantly blows away the black storm clouds caused by Walpurgisnacht and reveals a brilliant blue sky. The arrow then bursts into an infinite number of arrows that shoot off in all directions. These arrows transcend space and time, and arrive to save every single magical girl, past, present and future, from their Fate Worse Than Death.
    • Second time - A galaxy-sized Madoka in what can only be described as her goddess form instantly fires thousands of arrows at a planet-sized witch -- the witch form of herself from the timeline that made the wish to save everyone, everywhere -- that is threatening to end the universe. Everything is blown away.
  • Rapunzel Hair: Ultimate Madoka
  • Read the Fine Print: Kyubey's contract. He actually doesn't let them know there's a fine print in the first place.
  • Real Place Background: Madoka's town is basically a hodgepodge of famous architecture.
  • Reconstruction: Effectively, the Cosmic Retcon Madoka unleashes in the Bittersweet Ending rewrites the rules into those of a more traditional Magical Girl 'verse. Monsters still exist in the form of demons and magical girls exist to fight them, but in the recreated universe they no longer turn into witches, which no longer exist at all (not even Kyubey remembers them, and he scoffs at Homura when she suggests that they did exist). Kyubey becomes a Deadpan Snarker assistant to Homura, who can now transfer her grief directly to him without using grief seeds (which no longer exist), while Madoka has Ascended to A Higher Plane of Existence, having effectively become the patron goddess of all magical girls. On the other hand, the reason magical girls don't become witches is because Madoka causes them to vanish instead, while Kyubey's motivations and methods are basically unchanged ... creating a world that's less of a deconstruction, but not entirely back to the tropes that the show picked apart. Despite all this, Madoka is considered nonexistent in this new universe due to the extreme levels of the Retcon and because she is retconned recursively, but made herself into the hope of the Magical Girls in this universe.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Kyubey. Played up in Episode 8 to Irisu Syndrome levels.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: initially it seemed Madoka and Sayaka, but later episodes have clearly made it Kyoko and Sayaka. Madoka and Homura fit the bill as well.
  • Red Right Hand: Magical Girls have unique marks on the fingernail of their left middle finger. It can most prominently be seen on Homura and Kyoko in episode 7.
  • Red String of Fate: Fans have interpreted Madoka's giving her red ribbons to Homura as a variation on this trope.
  • Refusal of the Call:
    • Madoka and Sayaka are at first hesitant to make a contract with Kyubey, which is only worsened after they witness Mami's death. Sayaka doesn't become a magical girl until Episode 4, and Madoka is a plain Muggle until the final episode (which doesn't last long anyway).
    • In Episode 10, it turns out that what is actually going on is that Madoka would have Jumped At the Call if Homura had not stopped her or Kyubey every time.
  • Regular Caller: In the form of Kyubey, who tries to get Sayaka and Madoka to make wishes at least once an episode, often in the most pushy, manipulative manner possible. He succeeds with Sayaka after waiting until the exact moment that her friend hit the Despair Event Horizon, to say nothing about what he did to get Mami to sign up.
    • He finally succeeds in the latter in Episode 12, but he was too clever by half. By explaining to Madoka the true story of the history of magical girls, he inspires her to perform a Cosmic Retcon ... and she's powerful enough to force him to grant the wish, much to his surprise -- this is notably the only time in the entire series that Kyubey expresses any emotion on more than a superficial level.
  • Relationship Values: Crosses over with The Masquerade Will Kill Your Dating Life. A very good premise of the plot is the questioning of why Madoka wants to become a Magical Girl, or why anyone would want to do so. Homura brings this topic up so much, it's almost her Catch Phrase whenever you see them together. Kyoko and Mami learned this the hard way, and suffered because of their misunderstanding.
  • Resurrective Immortality: Kyubey can come back every time he's killed and devours his old body.
  • Retconjuration/RetGone: Madoka's wish causes Witches to cease to exist, by Madoka causing magical girls to vanish before becoming witches. This also makes her Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence with the cost of erasing every trace of her existence, except Homura's memories. It's insinuated that magical girls at the end of their lives also see her, and she can interact with them as a form of guardian angel. Her little brother also remembers her.
  • The Right of a Superior Species: Kyubey plays with this trope. He turned vunerable teenage girls into magical girls in order to fight witches, but doesn't tell them that he does so by turning them into Liches. Then the girls find out that if they don't keep their soul gem pure, they become witches too, and it then it turns out he's doing all this to collect energy to fight the heat death of the universe. He justifies it by wanting to prevent said heat death, and by the fact that his kind has been assisting humanity since the stone age. All this while subtly implying that his race regards humanity the way humanity regards cattle. However, Kyubey doesn't have emotions, so he doesn't do this because he thinks he superior to humanity (or at least that's not the most important reason). He does it because they need to prevent the universe ending, and this is the most efficient way to do it.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Everything references Faust. Everything. In a subversion, Madoka wasn't the Faustian character. Sayaka was. Thanks to the Gretchen symbolism with Madoka and Homura's desire to protect her, Homura may represent Faust as well. Since different interpretations of Faust include both redemption and doom, one could argue both Homura and Sayaka are Faust.
  • Sanity Slippage: Poor, poor Sayaka...
  • Say My Name: Particularly in Episode 8. Homura for Madoka. Then, at the end of the episode, Sayakaaaaaa! This is notable for the fact that Homura just showed a Not So Stoic moment and that Kyoko never calls anyone by name, but then proceeds to spend a good deal of Episode 9 calling for Sayaka.
  • Scenery Gorn: During Madoka's dream in Episode 1.
  • Scenery Porn: Everywhere. Including the above.
  • Schedule Slip: After the 2011 Sendai earthquake, SHAFT announced first that episodes 11 and 12 would be delayed a week, then upped that to "will air some time before April is over." Episodes 11 and 12 were eventually scheduled to air together on April 21st. The last volume of the manga adaptation, and the manga spin-off Oriko Magica, have also been delayed.
    • The cut segments of the anime were later revealed, which explains the delay -- Showing refugees hiding in a school gym, and a collapsed building crushing someone's leg was just a little too close to home after the Sendai disaster in 2011.
  • Schoolgirl Lesbians: Invoked by Hitomi who is convinced that Madoka and Sayaka have the hots for each other. In her defense, Sayaka spent the first episode giving her that impression. It turns out that Hitomi may have been aiming for the same boy Sayaka was aiming for, which gave her a reason to hope that Sayaka was a lesbian or at least lesbian-leaning bi. Or that she just preferred Madoka over Kyousuke, so they wouldn't have to "fight" for him.
  • School Uniforms Are the New Black: The Mitakihara Junior High girls are rarely ever seen in something other than their uniforms and magical girl outfits. Partially averted in the manga, where Sayaka is shown in 'casual' outfits on several occasions.
  • Science Fantasy: Kyubey reveals that he and the other Incubators were created by an alien race to try and prevent (or stave off, anyway) the heat death of the universe. However, he also states explicitly that magical girls/witches really are magic and are not completely bound by logic.
  • Screening the Call: Homura is actively trying to prevent Madoka from becoming a magical girl.
  • Screw Destiny: Homura's primary goal is to save Madoka from dying horribly or becoming a witch, as it happened many times before in many different timelines.
    • Madoka's wish is essentially this codified.
  • Screw Yourself: In the Bait and Switch Credits, we see a pair of naked Madokas doing a very touchy-feely Transformation Sequence together.
  • Screwed by the Network: Until April 21, MBS (The station broadcasting Madoka) refused to air the final two episodes, citing the images of destruction in light of the Sendai Earthquake as the reason.
  • Second Episode Morning: Madoka awakens to find out the first episode was not a dream.
  • Seinen
  • Senseless Sacrifice: Kyoko's. Subverted, from Kyubey's point of view.
  • Sequel Hook: The Bittersweet Ending leaves room for a possible sequel. It helps that even Word of God admits that they would like to make a second season.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: The nature of Homura's powers and apparent goal, as of Episode 8. (Later expanded on, in Episode 10.)
    • Deconstructed as well. In the first timeline only Madoka and Mami die heroic deaths, Madoka more or less accepts her fate and there are no uberwitches left to wreak havoc upon the world. Every following restart gets more and more tragic and horrible, culminating in Endofthe World As We Know It in the timeline right before the current one. This is because, due to Homura's meddling, the universe basically revolves around Madoka more and more with each iteration. This is not good when you are in this universe.
    • Then reconstructed in Episode 12. It was this very power-up that allowed Madoka to recreate reality, even though it was at the cost of her own existence.
  • Serial Escalation: While the whole anime decides to do this from the get-go, especially after the first Wham! Episode, a specific mention should go to the first Drama CD: The wiki's page on it (has spoilers) decides to explain that Episode 10 was light when comparing the versions of Homura's Dark and Troubled Past. This is extremely appalling after you have watched said episode and Lighter and Softer would be the last thing you would ever want to describe it, since it was one of the Darkest ones in the entire series.
  • Shoot the Dog: In Episode 10, in one of the previous timelines, Madoka asks Homura to kill her to prevent her from turning into a witch. She does it.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Episode 12: Madoka gives Homura her hair ribbons. This has also been used as symbolic bonding between magical girls in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha.
    • Another one in 12 -- Madoka's speech as she tells off Kyubey for trying to renege out of fulfilling her wish ends with three sentences that are almost word-for-word from Sadako Sasaki's Memorial Statue.

  Madoka: This is my prayer. This is my wish. Fulfill it, Incubator!

    • Episode 9, When Kyubey explains the purpose of magical girls and witches, along with his real role in it to Madoka, several chairs similar to those on which characters from Bokurano sit while piloting Zearth can be seen in her room. Even more of these chairs are added in certain locations throughout the series in the DVD version.
    • Mami Tomoe and Kyoko Sakura have some very familiar names.
    • Kyoko's first name calls back to another redhead with family issues (who showed up about a third of the way through the series). what was her mother's name again?
    • Madoka's appearance to the magical girls in the past is more than a little reminiscent of the "Everyone gets turned into Tang" sequence.
    • Episode 9, aspects of Kyoko's fight with Oktavia are reminiscent of Revolutionary Girl Utena, mainly the red and blue silhouettes of Kyoko and Sayaka melting together. Kyoko kissing her soul gem in a prayer position before her suicide attack is a more subtle one.
    • Something of a stretch, but Mami's association with guns and Italian plus the fact that she became a magical girl directly after becoming an orphan is just a little reminiscent of the protagonists of Gunslinger Girl. Which honestly tells you all you need to know about this series.
    • Episode 12: Ultimate Madoka, aka Godoka/Madokami has a rather interesting similarity to the Mugen silhouette albeit somehow even more powerful. The similarities between the two are made obvious in this fanart
    • Episode 12 also gives one to Fantasia with Kamijou's music piece being Ave Maria - which the "Walpurgisnacht" sequence in Fantasia segued into.
  • Skyward Scream: When Homura sees Madoka next to Kyubey in the very first scene of the series. It's either a Big No or a Say My Name moment.
    • It turns out to be a Big No, since Madoka accepting the contract will end with her death and cause Homura to repeat the timeline again.
  • Slasher Smile: Almost everyone except Madoka has one in the manga. Kyubey is no exception.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Mostly pretty far on the cynical side. The finale moves things a bit closer to the idealistic side. Madoka becomes a god of sorts and prevents any witches from ever existing or having existed... but now demons exist, and the magical girls still have to fight them. Things are now less horrible, but most characters are dealing with roughly the same problems as they were before.
  • Shown Their Work: In regards to Homura's weapons, which are not only real-life weapons but also are drawn properly to detail. They even made sure to give Homura's Beretta M9 exactly 15 shots, the Beretta's full round.
  • Soul Jar: The soul gem of a magical girl is exactly what it is called.
    • On a smaller note, the grief seed of the witch is exactly the same thing.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: In Episode 9, we're treated to soft, relaxing violin music as the magical girls fight Sayaka's Witch form, Oktavia von Seckendorff. Justified as it's a Song Of Solace for Oktavia.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Runes in the last episode spell the anime's title as Puella Magi Madoka Magika. (However, the original Latin adjective is indeed "Magica", so this isn't very much debated over.)
    • Also seen with Kyubey, who can be Kyubey, Kyuubey, Kyuubei, Kyubei, Kyuubee, or even Cubé. The fact this comes from "incubator" does not help.
    • Rarely with Kyouko versus Kyoko.
  • Spinoff Babies: The novel features a kindergarten-aged Madoka and Sayaka meeting for the first time.
  • Spiritual Successor: Arguably, of Fate/Zero, of which Gen Urobuchi was also the author. Specifically, he wrote in his afterword to the first volume his wish to write a "heartwarming story" (the exact words he used to describe what he wanted to bring to viewers with Madoka before it aired), and Kyubey's mention of the inevitable increase in the entropy (and the heat death) of the universe, can be traced to the same afterword. The first half of the afterword itself is essentially a blueprint for Madoka, in terms of "What are the things that will allow Urobuchi to write a happy ending?" And the ending pretty much satisfied the prerequisite Urobuchi laid out in that same afterword - "a heavenly and chaste soul, who can sing carols of praise for humanity".
  • Spoiler Opening: The cover art (as seen in the picture above), and the opening prominently feature Madoka as a magical girl. However, we don't see her as one until episode 10, as part of Homura's backstory, which makes sense as she was actively trying to dissuade Madoka from becoming one in the first place.
  • Standard Female Grab Area: Kyoko tries this on Homura, and it works! It's later revealed that this is because Homura's abilities are based on time travel. She can't escape a grab by freezing time.
    • The trope is then completely subverted when the 'victim' drops a live stun grenade on the floor and easily escapes in the panic.
  • Starfish Aliens: Kyubey, and his race.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • Fans have noticed that the 魔法少女 (mahō shōjo, "magical girl") kanji in the title are stylized enough to make 廃怯少女 (haikyō shōjo, "faltering girl") a valid interpretation.
    • More important and lampshaded later: A young witch is a girl who uses magic, a "magical girl". What magical girls grow into was always inevitable.
    • This gets even more interesting and treads into Meaningful Name territory when you consider "廃怯少女": so a 法少 eventually evolves into a 魔女, a witch, right? Going by that logic, a 怯少 would mature into a 廃女, a haijo, or roughly a "girl who abolishes". Right, then: consider the ending.
    • Sayaka's witch is named Oktavia von Seckendorff and fights by summoning giant wheels. The German poet Karl von Seckendorff wrote The Wheel of Fate.
  • Stealth Hi Bye: Homura's modus operandi.
  • The Stinger: Depending on how you interpret the ending, Homura appears to have lived for so long that she's developing witch-like powers. Despite this however, she never gives up hope.
    • There's also the silhouette's of what might be the human forms of the witches.
  • Stock Footage: A couple of Kyoko's moves in Episode 5 are repeated via this method. There are problems with them meshing with surrounding footage.
    • Fixed for the DVD version.
  • Stock Sound Effects: Though not of the usual sort. If you've watched both series you'll notice this anime shares a lot of sound effects with Bakemonogatari.
    • One of the explosion sounds from Mami's final attack hitting Charlotte in Episode 3 is the same as the sound of a warship exploding in Freelancer.
  • Suicide Pact: The one in Chapter 4.
  • Taking You with Me: Kyoko, for Sayaka. Although it's debatable whether she thought she couldn't beat Sayaka without a suicide attack, or was just following her into the dark.
  • Technology Porn: Everyone seems to be using the very latest pieces of technology, like interactive whiteboard in Madoka's school and projection keyboard for her home PC.
  • Thanking the Viewer: The final still in the final episode.
  • The Movie: An upcoming trilogy. The first two will be a retelling of the original series, and the third will be a continuation.
  • Theme Naming: Each of the main protagonists has a surname (Kaname, Miki, Akemi, Tomoe, Sakura) that can also be used as a given name.
    • Doubly so in Homura's case--her last name is usually a first name, and vice versa.
  • Theme Tune Cameo: Madoka listens to "Connect", the opening theme, at the record store in the mall in episode 1. Episode 6 also features Kyoko dancing to a techno version of the song on a DDR stand-in.
  • There Are No Therapists: Well, there are, but when witches are involved...
  • They Killed Kenny:
    • Episode 10 reveals that everyone has died multiple times in different timelines, and Homura has witnessed all of them.
    • Also Kyubey, who Homura has killed at least a couple times, probably more.
  • The Four Loves:
    • Becoming a Magical Girl automatically detaches the girl from their loved ones. Though all girls seen so far have phileo love (friendship) as a main motivation.
    • Madoka almost became a magical girl (thus accepting a Deal with the Devil) to rescue her friend.
    • And in the last episode, Madoka demonstrates Agape love in her wish to rewrite the laws of the universe so no magical girl will have to suffer turning into a witch ever by absorbing all of their despair.
    • Sayaka Miki became a Magical Girl because she wanted Eros (romantic) love. Not getting it drove her to her Start of Darkness and then to a Face Heel Turn.
    • Mami Tomoe despised being alone, and wished phileos love from Madoka. Shortly after getting it, though, she died.
    • Kyoko's sacrifice in Episode 9 for Sayaka's sake could very well be considered a form of Agape love. It's fitting considering the worldview she originally lived by and was brought up in. That, and her Selfless Wish regarding help for her father so he could gain followers and support the Sakura family was born from Storge love.
    • Episode 10 reveals that phileos love is Homura's entire motivation for everything she does.
  • Throw-Away Guns: Part of Mami's modus operandi.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Tried in Episode 5 by Sayaka. Hard to tell if it would be really successful because the fight got interrupted.
    • It worked against the witch in the previous episode.
  • Time Stands Still: Homura's power.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: Homura's time travel is specifically creating alternate quantum universes, mostly divergent upon if/when Madoka becomes a magical girl, and just how powerful she is. Then she surpasses and destroys the entire system.
  • (Episode) Title Drop: Each episode's title is a line spoken in that episode. The person who speaks it is the same person to speak the final line of the preview in the previous episode.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl:
    • Sayaka and Madoka fit this respectively.
    • And then Sayaka was the girly girl to Kyoko's tomboy.
  • Too Happy to Live: The creators did this with Mami Tomoe. Don't go thinking they won't have the guts to do it again.
  • Took a Level In Badass: Akemi Homura. She started as a frail and nervous student in her original timeline, but has steadily become more prepared and cynical with each timeline she finds herself having to wind back, resulting in the Homura that we know.
  • Too Hot for TV: Said Too Soon sequences below have aired on Internet broadcasts and presumably will be on the DVDs.
  • Too Soon: Suspected to be the reason for why the Schedule Slip is more than the one week of most other shows. Episode 10 shows a flooded city after the Walpurgisnacht attacks; after the 2011 Sendai earthquake (and resultant tsunami), SHAFT apparently re-animated some sequences.
  • Tragic Hero: Sayaka does everything in her power to be a force of good, but collapses when she couldn't forgive wrongdoings of others as well as her own.
  • Transformation Sequence: While this is a Magical Girl show, these sequences are done in very sparse quantities, very quickly, and for each girl the sequence appears perhaps once or twice in the series (most "transformations" are simply a more realistic rendition of the girl briefly glowing and reappearing in new clothes). They are also not done consistently, averting Stock Footage, and are very rare; for a while, only Mami's, Sayaka's, and Kyoko's could be found. We finally get to see Homura's in Episode 11. Madoka never gets one.
  • Transformation Trinket: The girls use their soul gems to transform into magical girls.
    • Inverted. It's not so much that they use the soul gem to transform their bodies than they use their bodies as vessels in which they project their soul into, as it is the soul gem, not the body, which contains the magical girl.
  • Troper Critical Mass: The page was scroll-worthy as of Episode 3.
  • Troperiffic: It sure did take a while to get down here, huh? Then again, it was scroll-worthy enough to read all that.
  • Trope Overdosed
  • Twenty Minutes Into the Future: There really isn't anything in terms of technology that isn't possible in this day and age, but things like motion-activated lamps, the architecture, and an extremely stylized CD player lend things a futuristic vibe.
  • Two First Names: See Theme Naming above.
  • Two-Teacher School: A second teacher aside of Kazuko didn't even show up until episode 9.
  • Undead Children: Magical Girls are zombies, the Witches are ghosts.
  • Unflinching Walk: Due to a combination of her weapon of choice and her ability, Homura is a master of this and demonstrates exactly how it's done in episode 10.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Kyubey may be one.
  • Vagueness Is Coming: The lyrics of "Magia".
    • The event known as Walpurgisnacht.
  • Vicious Cycle: Played straight. Kyubey needs Magical Girls to fight Witches; he also needs Magical Girls to become Witches.
    • Homura goes back in time whenever Madoka dies.
  • Villainous Breakdown: A very minor one from the resident stoic, but still, Kyubey's reaction to Madoka finding exactly what to wish for in episode 12 was somewhat satisfying.
    • Doubles/works better as an Oh Crap, as the very last thing he says is the thing he'd been tempting Madoka with: "Do you really want to become a god?"
  • Visual Pun: Minor, possibly unintentional example: in the first episode, Sayaka uses a fire extinguisher on Homura. "Homura", written a certain way, can mean "flame" or "blaze".
  • Walking the Earth: Homura in the ending; fighting demons who are the new manifestation of despair to feed Kyubey and protect the world that Madoka left.
  • We Have Reserves: Why Kyubey doesn't feel guilty about all the Magical Girl blood on his hands.
    • Also why he doesn't seem to mind Homura killing him, seeing how he's a Hive Mind and all.

 Kyubey: Your population is six billion nine hundred million right now, so why do you make such a big fuss over the loss of just one of you?

  • Weird Moon: The moon phases consist of either dramatic crescent or completely full moons.
  • Wham! Episode: Episode 3. You will NOT be ready.
    • To recap -- the first few episodes were ominous, but mostly standard Magical Girl show fare, leading to lots of fan theories. They had no ending credits montage nor ending theme, relying on the credits showing as the story continued. After the events of Episode 3, we have a fairly good idea where the deconstruction elements lay, and the show now officially has an closing-credits sequence. It's creepy as hell.
    • Another one happens in Episode 6. Not only Sayaka is getting more and more hyped up in her rivalry with Kyoko, but when Madoka tries to stop her from fighting via throwing her soul gem away and hoping to strip her off her powers ... it's shown that if a Magical Girl loses said soul gem, she will become an Empty Shell. So no, there's literally no way to get the fuck out of the contract, until she dies. Ouch.
    • Another one happens in Episode 8. Homura is confirmed to be from an alternate timeline. Sayaka's soul gem goes fully dark, turning into a grief seed, which then explodes and turns her into a witch. This is how all "true witches" are created. Kyubey knew this from the beginning, ending the episode with the Wham! Line below.
    • Why don't we just go ahead and call this a Wham Series while we're at it?
    • In episode 9 it is revealed that Kyubey is an alien who is using the massive amounts of energy released from magical girls and witches to prevent the universe from dying. Also, Kyoko sacrifices her life to kill Sayaka.
    • In episode 10 we see Homura has traveled between not one, but several different timelines trying to save Madoka, and all of them have ended with the deaths of everyone except Homura herself. On that note, "past" Homura herself is a wham; she is unexpectedly different from her "present-day" counterpart.
    • Episode 11 sees Kyubey point out that all the time traveling has inadvertently given Madoka all the magical power of all her previous incarnations, which due to Homura's Groundhog Day Loop, are legion, meaning she's destined to be the most powerful witch ever, and every time Homura tries to fix it, she makes it worse. Speaking of Madoka, she shows up at the very end, causing divergence from the foreshadowing of episode one, and announces her intent to make a wish.
    • And in Episode 12, we see what she wishes for--and it's big enough to completely rewrite the laws of physics. Even Kyubey freaks out.
  • Wham! Line:

 Kyubey: That was very bad, Madoka.

Madoka: What?

Kyubey: Even on this world, something like throwing your friend down there, that is crazy.

    • Episode 8 spoilers:

  Kyubey: "Since this country calls women who are still growing up shoujo (少女 girls), then for girls who are on the way of becoming majo (魔女 witches), it's logical to call them mahou shoujo (魔法少女 magical girls)."

    • From Episode 8 as well:

  Homura: I will not allow your plan to succeed, Kyubey... no, Incubator.

    • Episode 11

  Kyubey You'd all still be living in caves, I think.

    • And in episode 11:

  Madoka: "Homura-chan... I'm sorry."

    • Also from episode 11:

  Kyubey You've done great, Homura. You've raised Madoka to become the most powerful witch ever.

    • Episode 12:

 Madoka I want to destroy every witch, before they are born- with my own hands!

Kyubey That's treason against the wish itself! Do you really want to become a god?

  Madoka becoming hope as Penitent Gretchen Hang in there.

  Kyoko: You son of a... Give me a break! You've turned us into zombies!

  • What Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic: There is no way that Homura could be Faust, Madoka couldn't possibly be Gretchen, and Kyubey representing Mephistopheles/Satan? Patently absurd.
  • What Is One Man's Life in Comparison?: Kyubey's rationalization of the events. Witch energy is used to prevent, or slow down, the universe's entropy. Those that meet the requirement to provide a good amount of energy in exchange for a wish should not really object to it as they would be helping all the other lifeforms in the universe. Kyubey even insinuates all of human history has revolved around magical girls and their wishes, and later falling.
    • A Million Is a Statistic: It gets worse. Kyubey's have energy quotas per planet. As long as they fulfill their quotas, they don't care if a whole civilization, along with their planet, perishes.
  • Where On Earth Is Mitakihara?: The city has a German shopping mall, the school building is an Austrian prison(!), and the tallest man-made structure is the Burj Khalifa; there is even an oil refinery. Yeah.
  • White Void Room: Homura's room; she puts holograms of her memories over the walls.
    • Also in the manga This is where Ultimate Madoka and Homura talk, instead of the starry cosmos.
  • Whole-Episode Flashback: Episode 10. Doubles as an Origins Episode.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: While it isn't obvious at first, the plot is essentially that of Goethe's Faust: Eine Tragödie, with Homura as Faust, Madoka as Gretchen (her witch form's name even references this) and perhaps a bit of Helen-of-Troy (& Euphorion), and Kyubey as Mephistopheles. We just don't see it in full until late in the series because the plot is basically being told from "Gretchen's" point of view.
  • The Wiki Rule: Includes an enormous amount of speculation, a translation of the weird runes, as well as translations of All There in the Manual and Word of God. Can be found here.
  • Wind Turbine Power
  • Wishplosion: Madoka's wish rewrites the laws of the universe so that magical girls don't turn into witches when their soul gem expires, vanishing instead. By doing this, she even manages to safeguard herself by erasing her own witch form.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: If Sayaka's insane laughter and Ax Crazy behaviour is anything to come by...
  • With Great Power Comes Great Perks: This is Kyoko's attitude after becoming a Magical Girl. While she initially was an idealist like Madoka and Sayaka, after her life was ruined, she decided to only use her powers for her own benefit. Yet another reference to Faust...
    • Also, insofar as Kyubey is concerned, the "become a magical girl" process involves a lot of this. He's very quick to point out later on that the "detached soul" thing makes their human bodies virtually painless and nigh-invincible (Mami only dies in Timeline 5 because she gets eaten in one bite, basically, and the only other time we see non-witch magical girls die are when their soul gems are violently destroyed) and essentially gives them superpowers. He really doesn't understand why they freak out about the soul separation so much, because as far as he's concerned, even with the whole "fight witches" thing, this "painless immortal superbeing" thing is a pretty sweet deal.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility: Deconstructed. Is getting your wish granted (which can be as small as [ wishing for a cake) worth having to fight Eldritch Abominations for the rest of your life?
  • Worf Effect: Two examples in Episode 3:
    • Mami, who had been played up as being rather powerful if not experienced, goes up against the witch at Homura's express warnings against doing so, and gets her ass kicked in the most horrific manner possible.
    • The second example is Homura, showing up seconds later (Mami had used magic to subdue her) and beating the witch effortlessly.]] Justified in a later episode when it's revealed that Homura's time stopping ability is useless if she's restrained before she activates it, which is logical considering she would still be restrained with time stopped.
  • Worf Barrage: Mami's Tiro Finale easily finishes Gertrude in episode 2. When Episode 3 comes along, it did little outside of making Charlotte go One-Winged Angel and kill her.
  • The World Tree: An enormous tree appears post-Walpurgisnacht in the Niconico stream of episode 10.
    • Walpurgisnacht in general seems to be associated with a giant tree.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Kyubey pulls this off in the first episode while being chased by Homura.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: A lot of this goes around but particularly Kyoko in episode 9.
    • Sayaka seems to think that being a seigi no mikata (warrior of justice) in a Gen Urobuchi work is a valid life choice.
    • In most other Magical Girl series, trying to reason with the remaining human part of Sayaka's witch form, Oktavia, would probably have worked.
  • X Meets Y: has been described in some circles as Sailor Moon set in The World of Darkness.
  • Yakuza: Homura raids a Yakuza group's locker for small arms after the other magical girls became uncomfortable with things randomly blowing up around them.
  • You Are Not Alone: The Stinger after episode 12: "Don't forget. Always, somewhere, someone is fighting for you. As long as you remember her, you are not alone."
  • You Can't Fight Fate: The no-holds-barred unfortunate truth and the Broken Aesop that's present. Homura intends to avert this trope. However, every time she tries to do so is ... well ... it got worse every time. Still present even after the ending.
  • You Didn't Ask: Kyubey's response to Sayaka regarding why he didn't bother mentioning that becoming a magical girl involves separating magical girls' souls from their bodies.
    • Or the reason why they actually need grief seeds, witches and magical girls.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: The colors span the rainbow.
  • Your Size May Vary: In the broadcast versions, soul gems vary in size from egg to pear. They're more consistent in the Blu-Ray versions.
    • Kyubey mentions that the size of a soul gem can depend on the magical girl's potential power. In the last episode, Madoka's soul gem is the size of a comet.
    • Kyoko's spear seems to randomly change length between shots. In a zoomed out shot, the spear is twice her height. When the shot changes immediately afterward, the spear is a more manageable length for her to spin around. There's nothing to really suggest that she can change the number of segments in the spear.
  • Zettai Ryouiki: Madoka in her school girl outfit and Mami, Sayaka and Kyoko in their magical girl outfits.

 Don’t forget.

Always, somewhere,

someone is fighting for you.

As long as you remember her,

you are not alone.

Notes

  1. which would be anywhere between 50%-80%
  2. The song is Magia by the band Kalafina
  3. which is also an actual product... in Malaysia
  4. They're surrounding Madoka and Sayaka, saying that they've never seen flowers like them before. This would be creepy enough as it is, but then they start saying things like "Let's just cut them off." and "We present the roses to our queen."

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