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Roman Torchwick was a character in RWBY. Born in the city of Wind Path and abandoned by his mother as a child, Roman became a pickpocket from Mistral in his younger days. After he was caught by members of Spider and was taken under the wing of Lil' Miss Malachite, he became her second-in-command until he started becoming more ambitious than her and defected from the gang to become independent while eventually meeting Neopolitan in the process.
Later becoming a wanted criminal in Vale, he made a very small cameo in the "Yellow" Trailer before being properly introduced in "Ruby Rose". There, he orchestrated the robbery of Dust supplies from the store From Dust Till Dawn, but was ultimately foiled by Ruby Rose and briefly imprisoned by Atlas forces after a Vale Grimm invasion.
He features as a main character in the novel, RWBY: Roman Holiday.
Roman had slanted, dark-green eyes and bright, long, orange hair, with long bangs covering his right eye. Black eyeliner traced his visible left eye. He is described as tall and lanky.
As a result of his affiliation with Spider, he had the organization's emblem tattooed on his right wrist. After deserting the group and fleeing to Vale, Roman had it re-made into his classic pumpkin emblem.
Mistral Outfit (RWBY: Roman Holiday)
During his teenager years in Mistral, Roman wore his hair in a short ponytail under a hat. He also wore a green overcoat and black leather gloves that he stole from a wealthy man. This outfit appears to be inspired by unused concept art for Roman.
Vale Outfit (Volumes 1-3)
In his adult years, Roman dressed similarly. His signature outfit was gifted to him by Neopolitan, who made it herself; though he lost the initial bowler hat.
Roman wore a red-lined white suit with long black pants and black shoes. His accessories included a small gray scarf, black gloves with buckled sleeves, and a black bowler hat with a small feather tucked into its red band.
Roman was often seen smoking cigars, and he kept a small zippo-style lighter on hand at all times
Roman's personality was a mixture between that of a formal gentleman and a ruthless criminal. He emitted charm and spoke calmly even in the middle of an armed robbery. Roman emitted hostility when upset or frustrated, as seen in "No Brakes" when he ordered the White Fang to help him shoot Ruby as she escaped, bent his weapon and slammed a subordinate backward.
Roman shows many classic signs of being a possible psychopath. He takes a sadistic kind of pleasure in committing elaborate crimes and demonstrates little to no guilt over any of his actions or how they might go on to affect others. He is fully aware of how the rest of the world sees him as a dangerous menace to society, but makes no effort to try and justify any of his actions and even seems to take a twisted kind of pride in his infamy, believing himself to be the most wanted criminal in Vale and seeing it as an accomplishment.
He also demonstrated a ruthless streak, evidently willing to use lethal force on Ruby when she foiled his scheme, even going so far as to laugh after successfully shooting her down in "Black and White". In "Heroes and Monsters", he demonstrated a jaded side when he chastised Ruby for her being blind to the cruelty of the real world while trying to beat her with his cane. Judging by his elaborate outfit and accessories, Roman also had expensive tastes, a common stereotype of Mafia Dons and other organized crime kingpins.
Despite working with the White Fang, he had no respect for them and discriminated against Faunus in general. On several occasions, he talked to or about them in a derogatory fashion, referring to them as "mutts" or "animals". It is unclear if this is representative of hostility towards the Faunus in general or him acting out his frustrations towards having to work with the group. It was also clear that he held some level of irritation towards Cinder Fall and her faction, as he was both kept under pressure to steal large amounts of Dust and be kept in the dark about Cinder's plans. He also often took to mocking, taunting and insulting his enemies. This quality persisted even when he was in very difficult situations, such as when he was imprisoned and interrogated by James Ironwood.
In "Heroes and Monsters", he revealed that he worked with Cinder's faction under the belief that nobody can stop them, and he could not afford to lose, considering himself a gambling man who knew what bets not to take. Despite his self-serving personality, it is shown that Roman genuinely cared for his right-hand woman Neo to the point that he was both saddened and angered when she was blown away from the airship during their fight against Ruby. In his final moments, Roman revealed his perception that he ended up the way he was because it was the only way he could survive the harshness of the world.
More of Roman's personality shines through in RWBY: Roman Holiday. His motto and final words were taken as a result of abandonment issues from his childhood, only ever letting Neo in and becoming close with her.
Roman was also highly ambitious, wanting to be famous to satiate his abandonment issues. This ambition led to him carrying on the longest, most successful crime spree the city of Vale had ever seen, becoming a sort of folk hero in the eyes of the public.
Roman was also a flirt, often using this trait to manipulate others. He enjoyed leading on his partner at Spider, Chameleon, as he enjoyed the control of it. He also flirted with Lisa Lavender after his first bank robbery, using her position in an attempt to garner more notoriety. With Neopolitan, however, he gets flustered and reprimands himself when he catches himself thinking about impressing her at the tea shop. He also blushes and gets flustered when Neo shows any form of affection, including when she kisses him on the airship at the end of Roman Holiday. The contrast between the two behaviors shows Roman's genuine affection towards Neopolitan, versus utilizing the other women for his own gain.
Roman was also shown to be paranoid whenever he was offered food or drinks, believing that they were drugged. Due to this habit, he was able to figure out that the tea that Jimmy and Carmel Vanille offered him and Neo was actually drugged and only pretended to be affected to get the drop on them.
Roman believed he'd never be happy, but regardless attempted to buy his way to it. Because of this, he attempted multiple schemes in order to become rich quickly, such as when he stole and monopolized Vale's coffee supply.
In the manga adaptation, which alters several things from the canon source, Roman's personality has been changed drastically. In this version, he is portrayed as a deranged sadist who looks forward to the slaughter the Breach will involve. After Ruby is captured he has her tied to a chair with the intention of letting the White Fang slowly torture her to death showing that he is incredibly cruel and merciless to his enemies. His relationship with Neo has also been changed as shown when after saving his life, Roman coldly tells her to "mind her place" and even threatens to kill her if she "interferes" again.
Powers and Abilities
He also had exceptional accuracy, able to shoot Ruby from a considerable distance along with snatching her by the hood with the grappling hook. Roman was also able to counter all of Ruby's attacks with ease during their fight atop the airship, even when she was using her enhanced speed.
He is also a skilled thief and pickpocket due to his former affiliation with the Spiders. In Best Day Ever he stole the lighter that Emerald had originally stolen from him without her realizing it.
However, Roman was liable to underestimating his opponents and had trouble adapting to surprise attacks. In "No Brakes", Roman found himself unable to counter Blake's use of Dust-augmented Semblance clones and was promptly defeated.
In RWBY: The Official Manga, Roman is shown to be more formidable than as demonstrated in the series, being able to temporarily fight off the entirety of Team RWBY, and later physically strong enough to kick Ruby up several feet into the air with ease.
- Main article: Melodic Cudgel
Roman's weapon of choice was Melodic Cudgel, a cane that contained a canon and a grappling-hook. In "Black and White", Roman was shown to be adept in using his cane as a melee weapon. He was very capable in reflexes and parrying, able to hold his own against both Blake and Sun Wukong as swift opponents, deflecting nearly all of their ranged and close quarter attacks.
He had the skills to use Melodic Cudgel offensively, such as using it to hook Blake towards him to deliver a punch or staggering her by whipping her knees. In fact, Roman came close to overpowering Blake, knocking her to the ground and temporarily disarming her.
In "Ruby Rose", Roman was a skilled pilot, as he was able to keep a Bullhead relatively stable even though it was being bombarded with multiple attacks.
In "Painting the Town...", he was also able to operate an Atlesian Paladin-290, effortlessly guiding it through traffic, moving it fast enough to catch up to a fleeing Blake and Sun. He utilized the Paladin's weapons and sensory systems to good effect, yet despite that was unable to defeat Team RWBY.
In "PvP" he was able to pilot an Atlesian Airship all by himself and used it to take down two other Atlesian Airships with ease.
Roman appeared to be a sort of criminal mastermind. By "Best Day Ever", he had reportedly obtained most of the Dust in Vale, showing that his empire was formidable. This image was furthered by "Players and Pieces", for he was seen planning for the Fall of Beacon. He was also good at planning escapes should his schemes fail, escaping on a Bullhead after his failed Dust heists in "Ruby Rose", "Black and White" and after his Paladin is destroyed in "Painting the Town...".
In "Best Day Ever", Roman's pickpocketing skills are shown, lifting a piece of paper from Emerald Sustrai without her knowing despite being in close proximity to her.
Despite his experiences, Roman is short-sighted, as shown in RWBY: Roman Holiday. He considers Semblances overrated, instead preferring to use his wits and charm, denying himself a useful tool. He is also prone to attempting to backstab his superiors, which costs him as he makes an enemy of Spider, who does not take to his betrayal lightly and makes an effort to try and assassinate him. Roman's need for attention is also his ultimate downfall, as he is caught off-guard when trying to self-aggrandize himself in the middle of a swarm of Grimm.
- Roman alludes to Romeo Candlewick from the story of Pinocchio. For more information on this allusion, as well as other choices the creators made for this character, see Roman Torchwick/Behind the Scenes.
- Roman's name and weapon could relate to the famous Roman candle firework, which ejects multiple pyrotechnic stars and is illegal in some countries. Also, Roman's weapon fires a blast that resembles a firework.
- In "Ruby Rose", it is revealed that Roman's criminal identification number within the Vale Police Department is 274761453. This little known Easter Egg is a nod to his name, as the numbers refer to dates relevant to the Roman Empire (Formation of the Roman Empire in 27 BCE, Fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 CE, and Fall of the Byzantine/Eastern Roman Empire in 1453 CE).
- Roman miming slitting his throat at Emerald and Mercury Black behind Cinder's back in "Best Day Ever" was not scripted. It was a character moment added in by Shane Newville.
- Some of Roman's scheme ideas throughout "RWBY: Roman Holiday" reference his schemes from RWBY Chibi, such as his "Death Ray" idea which references his plan during his first appearance in the show.
Character and Design
- Roman's fighting style seems to be inspired by the martial art of Bartitsu, where practitioners are taught to use a cane as a weapon in addition to various hand-to-hand techniques.
- Roman's emblem is a Jack-O'-Lantern, otherwise known as a Will-O'-The-Wisp or Will-O'-The-Torch, the origin of which was a spirit cursed to roam the world with only a torch/lantern.
- Roman, like Arthur Watts, and Mercury Black are notable for being some of the rare active fighters that succeeded without ever developing a Semblance.
- Furthermore, Fiona Thyme's Semblance was originally going to be Torchwick's Semblance, and it was originally called Deep Pockets. But the production team never found a moment for him to use it, so it was saved for a later character and decided Roman could be a great example of how some people don't unlock their Semblances.
- RWBY: Roman Holiday' Chapter Two: Lie
- RWBY: Roman Holiday' Chapter Four: Steal
- RWBY: Roman Holiday' Chapter Six: Cheat
- Rooster Teeth Tumber Q&A October 5, 2017
- Volume 2 Directors Commentary "Best Day Ever"
- Rooster Teeth Tumblr Q&A October 5, 2017
- RTX 2020 RWBY Panel
- RWBY: Volume 7 Director's Commentary – Chapter 7