Cowboy Bebop: Spike’s Backstory Explained | Screen Rant

Spike Spiegel's dark backstory is one of the most crucial plot elements in the Cowboy Bebop anime series. The nature of Spike's past and his relationship with the mysterious woman Julia and the killer Vicious are introduced early in Cowboy Bebop, but the series only gradually reveals what happened to Spike before the start of the first episode. This backstory proves to be pivotal to the anime series' ending.

Spike is the most important of the four central characters in Cowboy Bebop. He is introduced as a cynical bounty hunter who, despite his jaded outlook, has a soft spot. This dual nature is best evidenced by the way that, despite his protestations that he hates "kids, animals, and troublesome women," all three quickly partner with him on his ship. Spike's signature suit, lit cigarette, and unruly hair became one of Cowboy Bebop's iconic images and is copied identically in Netflix's live-action Cowboy Bebop. Spike's backstory helps to explain in part how he became so embittered.

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While many of the details of Spike's childhood and early life are unclear, flashbacks suggest that he grew up in the slums of Mars. He became involved with the Red Dragon Syndicate, a powerful criminal organization, where he quickly rose through the ranks. Spike was even considered to be a potential successor to Mao Yenrai, the head of the Red Dragon. During this period, Spike lost his eye and had it replaced with an artificial one.

Spike's fate changed when he met a woman named Julia during a pool game. He quickly fell in love with her. This brought him into conflict with Vicious, another rising star within the Red Dragon syndicate, who had a romantic obsession with Julia. Spike was shot by mysterious gunmen who may have been hired by Vicious, an example of the violence that made Cowboy Bebop controversial. This shooting ended up bringing Spike and Julia closer together, as she nursed him back to health.

His love for Julia motivated Spike to try to escape the Red Dragon to live a life with her. Spike planned to fake his death, but Vicious discovered the plot. Vicious told Julia that if she met with Spike, they would both be killed. As a result, Julia ran away and went into hiding in an attempt to save Spike. Spike believed that Julia deserted him, leading to his bitterness in the main series of Cowboy Bebop. This event is reflected in the main series through wordless flashbacks of Spike in the rain walking away from a cemetery.

What's less clear is how Spike met and teamed up with Jet Black, forming the bounty-hunting team that stars in the Cowboy Bebop TV series and movie. It is known that they met in 2068 and quickly became one of the most feared tandems in the galaxy. However, Spike's history continues to haunt him, popping up in key episodes and especially Cowboy Bebop's memorable finale. Spike Spiegel's history with Julia, Vicious, and the Red Dragon syndicate is ultimately something that defines his character, which he is unable to escape.

NEXT: Cowboy Bebop: Why Season 2 Never Happened

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