Aesthetics Wiki

Mall Ninja is a braggadocious stereotype involving boasting about weapon proficiency and being "badass," despite a lack of mastery and respect for weapons practice. Obsessed with weapon tropes depicted in anime, action movies, or other violent fiction, the Mall Ninja is characterized by clumsy threats or posturing for superiority. Mall Ninja is an offshoot relation to the "Internet Tough Guy."

The main aesthetic concept of the Mall Ninja is that of being a poor mimicry of a fictional badass character. Their weapons, which they often carry in the eponymous malls, tend to be tacky and based on items that they have seen in anime. For example, they would have unnecessary ornamentation like colors, have no practical function, and are made of poor quality materials. Likewise, the clothing that they can typically be seen wearing is cheap, may fit poorly, and looks tacky. This is not based purposefully on camp, but rather being inexperienced in judging quality.

Most of the aesthetics and hobbies also overlap with Weeaboos. In fact, one of the main motivators of becoming a Mall Ninja could come from wanting to be like an anime character or because of the Dunning-Kreuger Effect which is defined as "a cognitive bias whereby people with low ability, expertise, or experience regarding a certain type of a task or area of knowledge tend to overestimate their ability or knowledge. Some researchers also include in their definition the opposite effect for high performers: their tendency to underestimate their skills."[1] For example, a Weeaboo may mistake the hours of anime they watched as being hours of watching weapons training. These two groups, Weeaboos and Mall Ninjas, also share similar stereotypes such as a lack of hygiene, anti or asocial personality traits, "basement-dwelling", and an over-obsession with their hobbies.


As described by the Internet history site "Know Your Meme,"[2] the term was first documented being used around a thread on Glock Talk, a forum for gun owners, in 2001. Gecko45, a mall cop (sometimes derogatorily referred to as a "2.5" insinuating a mall cop is equal to half of one police officer which is a "5-0"), was paranoid about being shot on the job and talked about constantly wearing a bulletproof vest while having a firearm with him. The following is his defense of these habits which ironically, though unintentionally, became the very first Mall Ninja post. Linked here is an archived version of the original thread responsible for coining the term.[3]

"I do not understand the “joke” or the “Rambo.” I am in a high-risk job. It is not the Mall of America, but Ill tell you what its no podunk mall either. I am a responsible citizen who has made the choice to carry at all times. I defend others. If something happens at the Mall then I would be the hero, not those of you who are making fun of me for no reason. Yes I'm not a Green Beret but guess what neither are you and unlike you I have to face unruly shoppers every day. My REAL problem is that, like any LEO, I have enemies because of my job. They may have access to high-powered rifles. My job starts and ends at the same time every day. Although I use four rotating routes to drive to and from work, I am still vulnerable during the walk to and from my car. This is the time that I load up on the trauma plates because I DO NOT WANT TO BE SHOT DEAD! Also, someone said that my Tac-Team doesn’t get training. Not true. We meet at the range every night and shoot 400 rounds each through weapons that closely resemble our duty setup. We also practice unarmed combat. I am a Master of three martial arts including ninjitsu, which means I can wear the special boots to climb walls. I don’t think any of you are working as hard as I am to be prepared. I asked a serious question about tactical armor and I wanted a serious response. If you want to laugh at somebody, try laughing at the sheep out there who go to the mall unarmed trusting in me to stand guard [sic] over their lives like a God."

After this incident, the fact that Gecko45 worked in a mall and had claimed to be adept at skills held by real ninjas the term "Mall Ninja" became popular on the Glock Talk forum and spread to other internet communities as Mall Ninjas appeared on other social media sites such as Facebook and 4chan. In 2012, the subreddit r/mallninjashit[4] was created for the purpose of posting images of Mall Ninja weapons, accessories, and memes. Later the same year, a page related to this cultural niche appeared on "Rational Wiki," a wiki-like site similar to this one with the purpose of documenting internet philosophy.[5]


  • Anime imagery
  • Badass quotes and threats overlaid images of badass characters
  • Camouflage-printed items
  • Dragons
  • Improbable weapons, such as a gun that shoots knives or gun-chucks (gun nunchaku)
  • Iridescent rainbow blades
  • Nunchaku
  • Over-sized weapons
  • Weapon shops in shopping malls
  • Weapon storage rooms


  • Belt/wallet chains
  • Faux military uniforms
  • Fedoras
  • Goatees
  • Mohawks
  • Stereotypical "nerd" clothing that is poor for exercise (e.g. collared shirts and boot-cut jeans)
  • Ninja costumes
  • Elements of cosplay
  • Ponytails
  • Sunglasses