[[caption-width:320:None of them really like each other, so you can imagine how much trouble it was to get them together for this shot.[[note]]Actually, we just gave up and pasted their solo poses.]][[/note]]

-->''"Available for your home in 1995, only on [[{{Nintendo64}} Nintendo Ultra 64]]..."''
-->--'''The attract mode for the first ''Killer Instinct''.''' [[VaporWare They never fulfilled that promise]]. [[note]]Even though [=KI Gold=] eventually did make it to the Nintendo (Not-So-Ultra) 64. In 1996.[[/note]]

It was the olden days of 1994, and Nintendo felt they were hurt hard by the perception that they were the video gaming equivalent of the AnimationAgeGhetto. They took a huge hit in censoring the {{Gorn}} in ''Franchise/MortalKombat'', and even allowing it in the sequel didn't calm their detractors. What was there to do?

Why, go DarkerAndEdgier, of course! Make a FightingGame that would make ''Mortal Kombat'' look tame, and even make sure to break their own long-established rules (like allowing a player to control the undead or putting the word "Killer" in the title). Even better, get Creator/MidwayGames to manufacture it! And thus, the seeds of ''Killer Instinct'' were planted.

The game's actual [[ExcusePlot story]] revolves around the eponymous [[TitleDrop Killer Instinct]] [[TournamentArc tournament]], which is being held by the [[TheOmniscientCouncilOfVagueness mysterious]] [[MegaCorp UltraTech]] company for reasons not totally revealed. Attracting several disparate competitors in addition to a few of the company's own projects, it's not quite known what the result of the tournament will be.

The first proved popular due to its eye-popping graphics (courtesy of Silicon Graphics, who did the pre-rendered sprites for ''VideoGame/DonkeyKongCountry'') and signature combo-intensive gameplay, which also allowed players the chance to [[ComboBreaker break combos]] and fight back. A sequel was later released which wasn't nearly as popular, partly for revamping several characters, partly for a confusing time-travel plot, and partly due to the rise of 3D {{Fighting Game}}s. The series still had a fanbase, however, and some still hope for a revival done by developer {{Rare}}. However, in light of [[ recent news]], it sadly seemed unlikely...

...That is, until [=E3=] 2013 when Microsoft announced a new KI game was in the works for the XboxOne, developed by [[ Double Helix Games]]. It was released as a download-only launch title on November 22, 2013. Watch the trailer [[ here]]. As of March 2014, Double Helix got bought out by Amazon, but they have handed off the role of developers to Creator/IronGalaxyStudios, the company behind ''VideoGame/{{Divekick}}'', ''VideoGame/MarvelVsCapcom Origins'', and ''VideoGame/StreetFighter III: Third Strike Online Edition''.

Has a [[Characters/KillerInstinct character sheet]] in need of some [[NeedsWikiMagicLove wiki magic love]].

!!This series has examples of:

* AIBreaker: You can easily beat Fulgore by dashing in, stopping just out of reach, and jumping back until he tries to uppercut you, then countering over and over.
* AllegedlyFreeGame: The 2013 game can be downloaded for free, but has a single playable character that rotates on a regular basis (with Jago being the free character at launch). The remaining cast can be downloaded individually, or can be bought all together in a single purchase. Buying the characters individually also discounts the cost of each individual character so that players who purchase characters individually never pay more than those who buy the full pack of characters.
* AllThereInTheManual: The games themselves give nothing more than character backgrounds, although important character information can be pieced together from various profiles to form a vague idea about what's going on. Anything else came from the manuals to the console ports or WordOfGod attached to official artwork and the like. The biggest plot point ignored by the game is that Eyedol is ''not'' an [=UltraTech=] bio-weapon in testing like many of the standard characters, but a warring god from ancient times sealed in Limbo by sorcerers (the other one being Gargos, boss of the second game). Eyedol's lava-bridge stage has the portal machine that freed him as its backdrop.
* AnnouncerChatter:
** '''C-C-C-COMBO BREAKER!!!!!!'''
** When you perform two Ultras in your finisher in the XboxOne game, you get an extended "'''ULTRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!"''' cry.
* BonusBoss: The ''2013'' title has a special version of Shadow Jago as a secret endboss, available only after unlocking everyone else's endings and then completing Arcade Mode again on at least Medium difficulty without losing once. This guy is definitely much tougher than the original Jago.
** TrueFinalBoss: Defeating him nets you a special ending where [[spoiler:ARIA]] is revealed for the first time to the player.
* BoobsOfSteel: Maya and Orchid
* CallingYourAttacks: [[KamehameHadoken ENDOKUKEN!]]
* {{Cap}}:
** In the first two games, you can do up to 80 hits in a single combo.
** There is no hit cap KI 2013, as there have been several combos shown that go beyond 80 hits. However, it has "knockdown value", a bar that represents the amount of combo potential you have left before your combo will automatically stop. Depending on the move, the KV bar will rise at different speeds. It's crucial to perform an ender before the KV fills up or risk losing out on big damage.
* ChargedAttack: Charged by performing a combo breaker. The second game had a more traditional super meter, but the easiest way to charge it was performing combo breakers.
* CherryTapping: The "Humiliation" moves, which makes your opponent dance to a disco-ish beat.
* ChristmasRushed: [[WordOfGod Double Helix]] admitted that Microsoft wanted ''[=KI=]'' 2013 to be a launch title for the XBoxOne, and they had to release it with only six characters and no story mode. Fortunately, unlike most examples of this trope, ''[=KI=]'' 2013 still ended up very playable and polished, with a minimum of bugs, and Double Helix has been supporting this game with DLC, including multiplayer lobbies and Arcade Mode.
* ComboBreaker: '''Tr-Tr-Tr-Tr-[[TropeNamers Trope Namer]]!'''
** The 2013 game now allows you to perform a "Counter Breaker" when this occurs, essentially breaking the combo breaker.
* {{Combos}}: This series is basically the TropeCodifier, as it was the second (after ''Super VideoGame/StreetFighterII'') FightingGame to count combo hits and the third to use chain combos (after ''VideoGame/{{Darkstalkers}}'' and ''VideoGame/XMenChildrenOfTheAtom'', later games like ''VideoGame/StreetFighterAlpha'' and ''VideoGame/MortalKombat3'' would adopt the system.) Almost any hit can be strung into a combo, and can be interrupted with a C-C-C-{{COMBO BREAKER}}! In ''Killer Instinct 2,'' it's possible to reach 60+ hits ''without'' glitching or cheating, although this is limited to the end-of-match Ultra combos, and to players who had a full comprehension of the combo engine. Also, combos basically ARE the gameplay; you won't get far without using a few of them.
* ComebackMechanic: The Instinct Meter in the 2013 game builds only when you take damage or successfully perform combo breakers, so you won't be able to activate Instinct mode unless you've been beaten down a few times. The only aversion to this rule is Spinal thanks to his Shadow Skull Fireball draining Instinct.
* TheComputerIsACheatingBastard: The computer pretty much performs {{combo breaker}}s at will. In the second game, it almost always counters your combo opener with [[TacticalRockPaperScissors the move that trumps it]]. One saving grace; the computer will never have magical immunity to the TacticalRockPaperScissors; if you respond to the computer opponent's opener with the appropriate counter, it ''will'' work, every time. The game is also quite infamous for the computer controlled characters hit harder then human ones. Get into a mirror match with the computer and trade blows, you will lose.
** And let's not get started on the new Arcade Mode boss, [[spoiler:Shadow Jago...]]
* ContinuitySnarl: The character profiles for the second game explain that Eyedol's death sent the surviving characters 2000 years into the past, but several parts of the game's design contradict this while others reinforce it. Several characters, especially the three new ones who could only be ''from'' the past, have stages seemingly set in fantasy worlds or at least fanciful concepts of a past time. On the flipside, TJ Combo's and Orchid's stages are set in a modern-day city, Fulgore's stage is a robot factory, and Sabrewulf has involuntarily gained cybernetic arms courtesy of Ultratech. Various [[{{Handwave}} handwaves]] have been proposed, some more reasonable than others, [[WildMassGuessing but none of them come from the actual game.]]
* CrowningMomentofHeartwarming/[[spoiler:Brother-Sister Team: One of Black Orchid's endings in ''KI 2013'' has Jago coming to her aid to help ease her '''very''' troubled mind.]]
* DeathCryEcho
* DemBones: Spinal, complete with sword and shield.
* DesperationAttack: If your opponent doesn't use a finishing move of some kind, it's possible to recover from no damage once, which also grants you a ChargedAttack chance.
* DigitizedSprites: At least with the {{SNES}} port of the first game.
* EasyModeMockery: In the easier difficulties in some versions, after you fought Fulgore you get... a credits screen.
* EconomyCast: Compared to many modern fighters. Between being a series starting nearly two decades ago and having a long SequelGap, the cast of the series never gets very big. Both KI and [=KI2=] have ten playable characters and one boss character, adding up to a grand total of 15 characters across both games. KI 2013 began its first season with ''six'' playable characters, only one of which is new, with more released as time passed.
* EmbeddedPrecursor: Opting for the top tier package of the 2013 game will include an emulated (but offline[[note]]Although Ken Lobb has said that he and his team would like to give the original game online play down the line.[[/note]]) version of the original ''Killer Instinct'' (a game that, until now, has yet to get a full arcade-quality home port).
* EvilLaugh: '''SPINAL.'''
* {{Feelies}} - The game was released with a soundtrack album, ''Killer Cuts''.
* FinishingMove - Each character gets at least two, plus the Humiliation moves and a match-ending "Ultra Combo". Although the third game has mostly done away with all these finishers aside from Ultra Combos, BonusBoss Shadow Jago gets his own cinematic Ultimate Combo to finish combos in the same way as Ultras.
** The replacement developer for Double Helix, Iron Galaxy Games, has said they want to bring these back for everyone during the second season of content.
* FireIceLightning - Cinder, Glacius, and Chief Thunder, respectively. They don't do extra damage to each other, though.
* {{Gorn}}: The game exceeded ''[[VideoGame/MortalKombatI Mortal Kombat]]'' in the gallons of blood characters lost during the match, though the actual finishing moves were relatively tame (opponents still ''died'', but in a less gruesome manner, probably to maintain the game's "T" rating).
* HighAltitudeBattle: The ever-elusive Sky Stage present in both games. It's a flat platform somehow floating several stories abovegroung inbetween clouds rushing at high speed. Any hit may be deadly as in, even if you're whooping your opponent's ass, if he manages to use a knockdown move while you're at the corner, you'll fall off the stage and lose (it's a pretty long fall, by the way). ''[=KI2=]'' made it even worse: the platform is even smaller, and you can die simply by ''walking off''.
* HitboxDissonance
* {{Homage}}: B. Orchid is practically an homage to Cheshire from Creator/DCComics. If you think that is unbelievable, then check out the pictures of B. Orchid and Cheshire [[ here]] and [[ here]].
** Orchid may have received a homage of her own in Joystick from Marvel Comics.
* IdiosyncraticComboLevels: They go in this order: Triple, Super, Hyper, Brutal, Master, Awesome, Blaster, Monster, King, Killer. Above that, there's two types: [[FinishingMove Ultimate Combos]] and '''[[NoHoldsBarredBeatdown ULTRAAAAAAAAA COOOOOOMBOOOOOOOOOS!]]'''
** KI 2013 seems to have the following: Basic, Triple, Quad, Solid, Hyper, Brutal, Master, Extreme, Blaster, Awesome, Beastly, King, Crazy, Insane, Godlike. Killer Combos are also in there somewhere. And above them all is '''[[FinishingMove ULTRAAA COOOOOOMBOOOOOOOOO!]]'''. Perform ''two'' ultras, and you get an elongated '''ULTRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!'''
* ImMelting: In the Arcade version, if you finish off Glacius with Riptor's Acid Spit or Chief Thunder's Lighting Bolt No Mercy moves, Glacius will melt into oblivion.
* LargeHam: The announcer, bar none. Taken UpToEleven in the XboxOne Reboot.
* MegaCorp: Ultra Tech. Dabbles in all sorts of freaky science from MechaMooks to reviving the dead to cross-breeding humans and reptile genetics. They also capture aliens and force them to fight, turn convicted felons into sentient lava beings, and graft mechanical arms to werewolves.
* MickeyMousing: Ultras in KI 2013 are now punctuated by music, where each hit in the combo is accompanied by a note. The beat is different for each character, and the song is different for each stage.
* MultipleEndings: Depending on who you let live and not (and in Glacius' case, if his ship is still intact), it can cause different ending scenes to play out at the end of the game in ''[=KI2=]''. These came back in the ''2013'' release's Arcade Mode.
* NightmareFace: [[spoiler: Or lack thereof, in ARIA's case.]]
* TheOmniscientCouncilOfVagueness: [=UltraTech=].
* OverdrawnAtTheBloodBank: KI 2013. Any one hit results in a enough sprayed blood to make a puddle on the ground. Keep in mind that every character has the potential to make fairly long combos...
* PerfectPlayAI: Very prevalent in the first game, not so much in the second. Makes a violent comeback in the third when playing under [[HarderThanHard ''Kyle'' Difficulty]].[[note]]If you reach Shadow Jago, he will fight at "Kyle" level regardless of what difficulty you used to reach him.[[/note]]
* RecycledTitle: The 2013 game will be called ''Killer Instinct'', not ''Killer Instinct 3'' (which is understandable since people ''born'' at the time of the release of ''KI Gold'' would be ''17'' now).
* SceneryPorn: Noted for its at-the-time excellent pre-rendered graphics, which made it stand out against the hand-drawn or digitized-sprite fighting games in the genre's glut of imitators.
** KI 2013 is known for its incredibly detailed backgrounds and characters, fitting for a next gen game, with no graphical slowdown. Chief Thunder's stage (the rain, in particular) and Glacius' stage are specific things critics like to talk about when praising its graphics.
* SpritePolygonMix: More noticeable in Killer Instinct Gold, and EVEN MORE noticeable when you knock your opponent off Jago's stage - the sprite will stay there as if it suddenly decided to lie down on the bridge!
* SuperMode: In the 2013 game, each character has a character-specific trait called "Instinct Mode", where they can gain different buffs that aid their playstyle (so for instance Chief Thunder gains an invincible, longer dash that allows him to rush in and grab his opponent without having to worry about being hit). It also grants the universal effects of instant cancellation and knockdown value reset if popped during a combo.
* SurplusDamageBonus: The 2013 game enforces this by allowing players to continue their combos even if they kill their foe, and allowing that continued combo to even gain meter. This extra meter allows such things like [[TheresNoKillLikeOverkill using one Ultra Combo, then activating Instinct Mode to reset the combo, and then gaining enough meter to make another Ultra Combo]].
* TacticalRockPaperScissors - The proper combo breaker to use depends on the strength of the combo's initial attack.
** Complaints about the ridiculousness of this (it takes master-level knowledge of every character to recognize what button to do the breaker with) led to a simpler system in the second game, where punch breaks kick and vice-versa. Unlike in the first game, maneuvers in combos will always match the button being used as a blink-and-you-miss-it visual cue for the victim; a punch input results in the character performing a punch, even if it's not the punch that button does outside of combos.
** Also in the second game, every character can open a combo with most basic attacks, standing or jumping in. However, every character also has three special moves that are specifically meant to open combos, often more damaging and easier to work with than the basic punches and kicks. The weakness of the special-move openers is that they function on a literal rock-paper-scissors mechanic, and no matter which two characters are facing off, one character's specific opener will ''always'' trump someone else's specific opener.
** KI 2013 is back to the original system of strength-based combo breakers. Failing to choose the correct one results in a "lockout", preventing combo breakers for a few seconds.
* TakeThat: [[ Eyedol's ending]] is clearly inspired by Blanka's ending in StreetFighter II.
* TheresNoKillLikeOverkill: The 2013 release will give players the ability to chain an Ultra Combo into another combo, which in itself can lead into another Ultra Combo. Since the opponent is basically knocked out before you can perform an Ultra, this is basically just for eye candy, racking up a high hit count, showing off and needless [[Franchise/MortalKombat brutality]]. On the other side, more merciful players can perform the ultra combo ender early to end the opponent's suffering.
* ThreeRoundDeathmatch: A variant: Each character gets two life meters. When the first runs out, the character stands back up, the two face off, and the battle continues.
* TitleScream: Well, more like pronounced normally in a sinisterly low voice.
* VariableMix: The music in 2013 will change in accordance to what's happening in the fight. For example, if you idle, the music becomes more passive; if something exciting happens, like a counter breaker, the music becomes more intense. An example of it [[ can be seen here.]] The [[ Ultras]] also have MickeyMousing.