The anime filler so far has given screen time to Fairy Tail's less plot-important members, most notably Loke and Lisanna.
The anime also throws in an occasional Chekhov's Gun/Gunman, or otherwise mentions points that came up much later in the manga. For instance, Laxus's symbol being used by everyone from the beginning of the story, or mention of Siegrain and Jellal being twins before fans can form ideas about them being the same person.
The backstories of the Oración Seis members (being slaves forced to work on the Tower of Heaven like Erza) are shown and integrated into several scenes and motivations, as opposed to being relegated to All There in the Manual trivia as in the manga.
It's done this a lot with the Edolas arc, which glossed over quite a bit in the manga. For example, we get to see some of Gajeel's adventure as he searches for Fairy Tail, and he even gets to meet his Edolas counterpart, who is never shown or even mentioned in the manga.
The anime also expanded Ultear's Troubled Backstory Flashback to not only show how torturous of an experience the experiments done on Ultear were, but why they happened: As it turns out, Brain, the to-be leader of Oración Seis, was running the facility to strengthen young wizards to use as candidates for members of his six-man guild. However, after Ultear returned to the facility to willingly strengthen herself and take revenge against her mother, Brain noticed that she was becoming too powerful to be a proper subordinate, and he had already gathered five other children to form his guild, so he up and left the facility right before it fell at the hands of the vengeful, overpowered little girl (and kind of expected it to happen).
There's more dialogue between Laxus and Hades in the anime than there is in the manga. The most significant part is when Laxus tells Hades that strength isn't as important as having the courage to stand up to someone stronger, then adds, "Ain't that right, Natsu?"
A blink-and-you-miss-it line in the middle of the Grand Magic Games arc refers to a Zentopia incident that caused a number of celestial mages to lose their powers. This gets depicted as part of the anime-only Zentopia arc.
In the Grand Magic Games arc, Erza destroys 100 monsters in the Pandemonium gameoffscreen, but this is expanded in the anime.
Adaptation Induced Plot Hole: While the anime will often make little corrections to Mashima's consistency errors, coming close to the manga has caused it to create a few of it's own. The shadowy figure that Jellal is kept from pursuing is changed from a spiky haired silhouette to the hooded girl, for instance. While that was generally assumed to have been Mashima not knowing how the figure should look until later, a manga chapter that came out at almost exactly the same time as the episode revealed that it actually had been a separate person.
It's revealed that Ur had been told by some researchers that her Ill Girl daughter Ultear had died, when in reality, they kidnapped and experimented on the girl because of her magical power. Ultear is one of the villains, and for worse, she hates her mother Ur because she has been led to believe that she hated and abandoned her.
Makarov, guildmaster of Fairy Tail, was forced to exile both his son, Ivan, and his grandson, Laxus, from his guild. Later on, he finds out that Ivan is planning to lure Laxus to his own guild so he can steal the dragon lachryma in his body, and it's heavily implied that doing so might kill Laxus. Seeing as how Ivan only wants the lachryma for money and doesn't care what removing it will do to his son, it's not hard to see why Makarov looked so horrified upon finding out about this plan.
Jude Heartfilia may count as well. A few weeks after he reconciles with his estranged daughter, Lucy, and manages to get over the sudden death of his wife Laylea, who Lucy is the spitting image of, she and her friends are attacked by a monster and seemingly killed. Even worse when Lucy returns and finds out that he's been sending her birthday presents every year since her disappearance... and then died a month before her return.
Aerith and Bob: The names ranges from Lucy to Jellal, Makarov to Erza, Elfman to Ur, Merudy to Laxus, Yukino to Lahar. There are western names, eastern-ish names, as well as names that fans have never heard of.
Cobra's thoughts: "My prayer...I...just wanted to hear the voice of my one friend...Cuberos..."
The Alcoholic: Cana drinks entire barrels of alcohol. She drinks about 30% of the guild's alcohol. She started drinking at age 13, 2 years before the minimum age of the country. On her guild card her likes are: Alcohol and her dislikes are: Non-alcoholic drinks. Also recently introduced is Bacchus of Quatro Cerberus who not only has managed to drink Cana under the table but has also created his own drunken martial arts style.
Cobra's pet snake Cuberos was actually a human turned into a snake.◊ And she's a member of Fairy Tail, to boot. This is nearly, if not utterly, impossible to tell from just reading the manga or watching the anime, and you'd have to read the extra information that comes with the published volumes to find out.
There's a lot that's only said in the extra info. Like all of the members or Oración Seis being involved in the Tower of Heaven; Brain was Jellal's mentor, and everyone else was just doing regular work on the tower.Adaptation Expansion put scenes in the anime depicting this, though.
Gildarts hates Ivan Dreyar. We never see them interact in the manga or anime, but from this little fact we know that there was bad blood in the past, even if we have no idea what it was.
All Part of the Show: The townsfolk of Magnolia think the fighting in Fighting Festival arc was part of the preparation for the Fantasia parade.
Natsu beats the Big Bad most arcs, but he's still not an S-Class wizard, even though Erza admits that he's at least as strong as her, if not stronger.
Gray is usually portrayed as Natsu's rival, so that throws him into the mix.
Juvia was an S-Class wizard for Phantom Lord, but she lost that rank when they disbanded (to be fair, Fairy Tail seems to have higher standards).
Gajeel was considered Phantom Lord's strongest mage, above even Juvia.
Going by the Grand Magic Games standards and assuming that the other guilds are/were fielding their strongest S-Class mages, it seems that what constitute a Fairy Tail S-Class mage surpasses all the other guilds, because in both Fairy Tail A and B teams combined, reserves included, only 3 of the members are official S-Class mages.
7. All dragons disappeared at the same time, seven years prior to the story's present, on the 7th day of the 7th month of the year 777. This was also the same year that Lucy's mother (and possibly several other people) died and when Mystogan came to Earthland. There have also been several Quirky Miniboss Squad with seven members. And in Chapter 253 we have a seven year Time Skip.
In the same arc as the above, but earlier We have 7 teams headed by legitimate members of Fairy Tail, 7 paths lead to battles, 7 Fairy Tail members (Makarov, Erza, Mirajane, Gildarts, Carla, Pantherlily, Wendy) that aren't members of one of the seven legitimate teams. There are 21 (7 x 3) wizards holding hands for the protective magic prior to Acnologia's final attack.
In the Grand Magic Games arc, the 7/7/777 date is coming up again, the 14th anniversary of the dragons' disappearances. Something important is going to happen again.
When the Eclipse Gate finally opens 7 dragons emerge.
There are also currently 7 Dragon Slayers total
Fairy Tail was founded 105 years ago(7 x 15) in the year x686, another year evenly divisible by 7.
Also 3 as well: The Dragon Slayers in the Fairy Tail guild and three active S-Class wizards currently at the guild. Makarov is the third guild master. Lucy starts off with three gold keys and three silver keys. There are three S-Class wizards at any given time. You start off with Laxus, Mystogan, and Erza (Gildarts has been gone so long some people think he's not coming back.) Laxus is thrown out in the same arc that Mirajane gets her magic back. Mystogan leaves at the end of the arc where Gildarts returns. And then Gildarts leaves shortly after Laxus comes back.
Armor Is Useless: Played straight with both genders in almost all situations. Only Erza (and not always) and a few warriors use armor in battle, the rest only magical barriers if anything at all. It stands to reason that a slab of metal is not going to protect you from fireballs, ice blasts, energy beams, etc.
Erza's metal armor is actually a hindrance in fighting Midnight in the Nirvana arc.
Art Evolution: Compare the first chapter to the most recent one. The artwork's much smoother, the lines are thicker, and the characters are less lanky.
The art style has gone from being quite similar to One Piece to definitely being its own style and being more classically anime-like though it still has a slight Western look to it. For example, characters have gone from having normal mouths to usually having cheeky mouths, and the girls have bigger eyes and smaller noses. Lucy in particular goes from looking like One Piece's Nami to the degree that she could be a blonde Expy of her, to having very few similarities except for big breasts.
Ass Shove: While everyone sleeps off their latest party/brawl in Chapter 200, Max is seen with a broom sticking out of his butt.
This somehow happens to him again in the midst of an explosion at the pool in Chapter 298.
Subverted by the Oración Seis. The leader, Brain, actually goes down pretty easy; the actual strongest member is Midnight.Or not. As of Chapter 156, the strongest member appears to be Brain's Superpowered Evil Side.
Ignoring the Fanservice, Mystogan's identity makes it seem that Hiro Mashima loves parallel world plots.
Also, Pantherlily's appearance makes much more sense if you know Mashima likes Blacksad.
Awakening the Sleeping Giant: Hades does this twice in the same arc. His actions during the Sirius Island arc do indeed 'awaken' Zeref... and subsequently piss him off enough for Zeref to track him down and then kill him for dragging him out of his self-imposed exile. And as if that wasn't bad enough, all of this leads to Acnologia showing up, too.
Balloon Belly: Earlier episodes of the anime gave Natsu this briefly whenever he ate fire.
Batman Gambit:Phantom Lord's Guild Matser, Jose Porla uses his super weapon Jupiter on the Fairy Tail Guild knowing Erza would most likely block the attack. This would leave the Fairy Tail Guild weak enough so that he could capture Lucy.
Bavarian Fire Drill: A small scale one in the Edolas arc. Carla tells the enemy she's a princess. It doesn't keep their pursuers from chasing them for long, though it does save Lucy. It's inadvertently true, though.
Rusty Rose: The communication between two lovers sometimes goes hand-in-hand with a violent skinship.
Elfman and Evergreen: THAT'S NOT HOW IT IS!
Berserk Button: Never, under any circumstance, piss-off Fairy Tail! Attempts to harm their True Companions or, worse still, their guild as a whole, is a surefire way of being ass-kicked without prejudice. A lesson learned the hard way by countless mages and magic guilds alike. No other guilds in their universe come together and go berserk like Fairy Tail whenever harm comes their way.
During the Fighting Festival arc, Mirajane finally gets pushed too far, and both we and her opponent get a demonstration of why she used to be an S-Class wizard with the nickname "Demon".
Also a possible Brown Note moment too, simply because the wizard she pummeled had a demon form of his own that he ended up using and still got his ass handed to him, proving that you DO NOT FUCK WITH MIRAJANE'S NAKAMA unless you are ready to have her rip you a new one then pummel you into the ground.
Makarov too. He was perfectly content to ignore Phantom Lord's unprovoked attack on the guild... until they attacked Team Shadow Gear. Then he led everyone in the immediate vicinity in a march right up to Phantom Lord's doorstep. And don't even get me started on Fairy Law...
Basically almost anyone in Fairy Tail, no matter how nice or friendly they seem, mess with their nakama and they will go into a frenzied rage that will leave you a pile of ash.
Pantherlily's sword is big. It's not quite Jack Rakan big, but the handle alone is large as Lily himself. And Lily's a pretty big guy. Lily's sword is actually significantly bigger than he is (at least in the anime). Happy comments on how absurdly large it is and uses a little size comparison to show that Lily's sword is at least 4 times as big as he is. That's why Lily is able to knock chunks out of a floating island with his sword.
This is practically Natsu's signature move with regards to Lucy: In fact, she relies on it once when she jumps from a tower in the Phantom Lord guild, having heard Natsu in the distance and knowing he'd come to save her.
Bigger Bad: Master Hades up until the S-Class Trial arc, when he becomes the direct Big Bad. He's indirectly responsible for the Tower of Heaven continuing after the revolt, the events of Galuna Island, and for Oración Seis existing in the first place.
Zeref is also an example, as it's been 400 years after he's done anything and people are still talking about him and trying to clean up demons and other pieces of dark magic he left behind.
Acnologia is even bigger than them. In the present day he just flies around wrecking stuff for fun, but his deeds in the past and the future play a huge role in recent arcs. Zeref himself is afraid of Acnologia and considers a being that humans cannot match.
Big Good: Erza had this position at the start before the other protagonists caught up and she became The Big Guy. Now held by Makarov and Gildarts.
Bilingual Bonus: Those familiar with English will get a laugh when Mystogan appears in the second OVA as the school gardener, with a spray can (a literal mist gun) in each hand.
Lluvia, the noun for rain in Spanish, is pronounced Juvia in Argentina.
Bizarro Universe: Edolas, where the land's in the sky, Gray's extremely sensitive to the cold and has an open crush on Juvia, Jet and Droy are the strongest of the guild, Elfman's a wuss, Lucy's a delinquent, and Natsu loves to drive but is a complete wuss when not driving. Alzack and Bisca are also Sickeningly Sweethearts. To add to that Fairy Tail as a whole is an illegal guild, due to all guilds being banned, and thus being the only magic guild who resists the King's orders. Also, the only person from Earthland who can still use magic normally is Lucy thanks to the mana potion Mystogan had her drink; he provides such for the others later, too.
The anime implied that King Faust might be the Edolas version of Makarov. Although astute viewers would have noticed that Edolas' Fairy Tail stated that their guildmaster was killed. And Faust looks a whole lot more like the new head of the magic council. If what we've seen of him so far says anything, their personalities are a pretty good match. Edolas-Gajeel's a Non-Action GuyIntrepid Reporter and he and Earthland!Gajeel get alongsmashingly.Porlyusica is actually an Edolas version of Grandine the Sky Dragon.
While some earlier removals of blood are forgiven, the anime leaving Gray unharmed after being impaled by a ice tiger is not. To top it off, they had him try to stop the bleeding with ice anyway.
Getting really silly when Gajeel claims that his dragon's breath (it's made of blades of iron) has torn Natsu's body to shreds. Natsu doesn't have a scratch on him.
And then there's Erza vs. Ikaruga.
Finally subverted to an extent during Gray and Ultear's fight, where he actually slashes at his chest and freezes his blood to use as a weapon. Granted, there was a flash of light drawn instead of blood when he did the deed, but the wound is shown sealed with ice, and we actually get to see the ice on his shoulders turn a deep crimson. So that can be forgiven.
In the anime, when Fukuro gets beheaded, there isn't even the slightest sign of blood.
Boke and Tsukkomi Routine: Usually Lucy, Max, and Warren are the Tsukkomi. Parodied in Episode 29 by Gray in an attempt to replace the missing Lucy and is quickly told how bad he is much to his dismay.
Book Ends: The first and last fights of the Laxus arc both end the same way: with Gajeel Taking the Bullet in order to save someone from a fatal attack from Laxus.
Bread and Circuses: The capital city of Edolas looks more like a giant amusement park than a city. This helps keep the populace happy despite the fact that their ruler is a greedy nutcase.
Breaking the Fourth Wall: The anime has done this occasionally, with Lucy complaining at the end of one filler episode about how it has No Ending, and how another episode ends in the middle of a fight with a Cliff Hanger. Also at one point, the narrator has one of the characters provide the audience with an explanation for a problem that would otherwise go unexplained. It would appear that Happy is better at talking to the audience than other characters.
During the fight with Kain, the narrator provides an explanation of Kain's powers. As soon as he is done talking, Happy says "You heard the man, Natsu!"
Lucy and Natsu do this in a preview of the next episode in the Oración Seis arc, saying "Do you know how many episodes ago that was?" upon the return of Lyon and Sherry.
Broken Bird: Erza, after she was enslaved and tortured, witnessed the death of a close companion, and then suffered betrayal from her childhood crush. She can't even seek comfort in anyone else because telling anyone about what happened will get all of her old friends killed. She gets better though.
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Most of Fairy Tail, and don't even get me started on Blue Pegasus.
Butt Monkey: Lucy gets quite a lot of grief from Natsu, Gray, Erza and Happy, though it's not limited to them. Despite being the closest thing to being the main heroine of the story, Lucy is basically the butt monkey of the group, whether its being on the recieving end of another character's actions or simply being the victim of circumstances. That's why we love her though.
One event that is a combination of both is when Lucy is watching a sleeping Natsu and thinking that he's pretty cute when he's sleeping when she gets sent flying through the roof by a fist to face because Natsu was acting out his dream. Seen here and here.
Lucy can funnily be a quite literal example of a Butt Monkey in the sense that she gets spanked quite a few times which has never happened to any other character in the series, and Lucy seems to suffer from it every time.
Episode 48 racks this Up to Eleven during the Fantasia Parade. If you pay attention, you can see, amidst the audience, The Galuna Devils village chief, his son, and the chick who likes Gray (in human form during night, for some reason), The contractors from the Daybreak arc, Kageyama and his Gonk-ish friend (out of jail, for some reason), Lyon and the Lamia Scale wizards, Erza's friends, Bora and the anime-only That Guy And That Chick from the Phantom Lord arc, and a girl that suspiciously looks like Wendy.
Subverted beautifully by Happy at one point to trick his opponents. He calls out a poison gas attack, but it turns out it was just flour.
Lampshaded by Toby; if you call your attack Paralysis Claw, its effects aren't exactly secret anymore.
Double Subverted, with a dash of Genre Savvy thrown in, during Natsu's fight against Cobra. He calls his attack as a dragon's roar, which Cobra thinks means a giant fireball. Turns out, it's an actual dragon's roar, let loose point blank on Cobra's ultra-sensitive ears.
A non-romantic example is Cana, who as it turns out, is Gildarts' daughter. However, she was originally raised by her mother who apparently never told Gildarts about her, and after her mother died, Cana sought out Gildarts but couldn't work up the nerve to tell him she was his daughter. She's been trying to work up the nerve for 12 years.
And then there's Bisca and Alzack.
Captain Obvious Reveal: Angel being Sorano Agria, and Yukino's sister. The moment she said she had an older sister who was kidnapped by Zeref cultists, fans immediately reached the conclusion that Angel, who has a VERY similar physical appearance to Yukino and even uses the same type of magic (Angel Magic notwithstanding), was in fact Sorano. It was finally confirmed in Chapter 365.
Subverted with Happy. No matter what anyone tells him about what horrible things he was supposed to do, he refuses to accept it, and fights against expectations to stick by his friends.
The Exceed in Edolas effectively rule the human world from afar, murdering any humans which are in excess of the population to both demonstrate their power and to prevent the humans from draining the limited magical supply. They also dispatched a hundred covert assassins to assassinate the Dragon Slayers of Earthland, only changing the mission to "capture" once they realized that the targets made for excellent sources of magic. This is ultimately inverted at the end of the arc. The Exceed don't actually have the ability to do all that. Everything was simply an act to protect themselves by intimidating the human population, which had done horrible things to them in the past. The "assassination mission" never actually existed; Carla isn't remembering downloaded or transmitted instructions, she's seeing snippets of the future with the clairvoyance she inherited from her mother, Queen Shagotte, who herself turns out to be a Broken BirdWearing The Queenly Mask. The actual purpose of sending all those eggs to Earthland was to save their children and preserve their race against the End of the World the Queen foresaw.
Cerebus Syndrome: Done gradually and tactfully. The first couple missions are simple rescues, then comes confronting a Rival Turned Evil. The next one has the entire guild fighting a rival guild with Natsu's Evil Counterpart, who kicked it off by destroying Fairy Tail's guild hall. The Tower of Heaven arc involves a Brainwashed and Crazy slavemaster trying to revive Black Wizard Zeref. The Fighting Festival arc inverts this, as the only thing at stake is one town and it's heavily implied that Laxus holding Magnolia hostage is an empty threat. It returns with the Nirvana arc, where a Mad Scientist attempting to bring out an artifact that can turn people Brainwashed and Crazy. The Edolas arc has the few survivors of being sucked through the Anima trying to stop a parallel world from turning Earthland's wizards into lacrima. And the Sirius Island arc is once again trying to revive Zeref, only thing time, it's an entire dark guild led by Makarov's former mentor. And they inadvertently succeed in reviving him. Except he was awake all the time.
And Grand Magic Games arc has managed to top all of the above. To recap, we have: The tournament itself, cloaked figures with Zeref's magic running around, a time travel conspiracy involving soldiers from the kingdom, Carla having visions of entire buildings being destroyed and a crying/singing Lucy, and to top it all off... a scarred Levy is narrating all this from the future, the survivor of some horrific event occurring on 7/7/777, one day away from Chapter 303.
And now we have the Tartarus Arc. And you thought Grimoire Heart was bad...
Charles Atlas Superpower: If the Vanish Brothers (and by extension, mercenary guilds) are anything to go by, a mere human who trains hard enough can hurl people through solid walls, catapult a grown man several meters into the air, punch so hard they create an impact crater, attain an iron body, and probably more without using any form of magic whatsoever.
The Oracion Seis is a particularly notable example. They first appeared (post-timeskip) in the Key of the Starry Skies filler arc. At first, it would seem to be a throwaway filler arc with a brief mention in manga canon. But it turned out to serve the purpose of re-introducing Oracion Seis to the manga audience as well, particularly Cobra and his eventually pivotal role in the Grand Magic Games arc and subsequently, a notable role in the Tartaros arc.
Chekhov's Skill: Gray learnt how to handle himself in a motorcycle chase against Racer, and can strip in a split second. In his fight against Sugarboy he steals a motorcycle to pursue him and and dodges an attack by taking off his jacket quicker than the eye can see.
The Chessmaster: Jellal attempts to play this role, even using actual chess figures to represent other characters unsuccessfully. He ends up as a pawn for his supposed minion, Ultear.
Loke and everybody from Blue Pegasus except for Ichiya. Especially the chivalry part.
The summon spirit Taurus, whose contract essentially stipulates that as long as Lucy stays hot, he'll gladly protect her sexy, sexy body. So, to that end, on one occasion he summons himself to block an attack that Lucy couldn't otherwise have dealt with.
Child Mage: Most wizards learn magic at a very early age.
Natsu and Lisanna as well. Sadly, this subplot goes completely Out of Focus after their reunion at the end of the Edolas arc.
The Chosen One: Parodied. Lucy wonders if she's this when she's the only one who can use magic in Edolas. She is immediately shot down. Then everyone else gets their own mana potions to drink, and they're right back to using their powers.
Also Gildarts, even more than the above character.
Cliffhanger Copout: Wendy gets hit by a spell and vanishes into thin air at the end of the chapter, and at the start of the next she's just inside Hologorium, who conveniently popped up right then and is clinging to the ceiling.
Pretty funny that, before we realize that Wendy is safe and not hit by Hades' attack, Hades keeps a very calm face, as Wendy disappearing was supposed to happen. Shouldn't he be like 'What happened to my spell?'
It's mostly Lucy and Erza who gets this, though Erza usually switches armor shortly after. Despite having in the most battles, Natsu doesn't seem to get this as much. Although after a long fight, Erza will leave her damaged clothing on for a long time.
Possibly justified with Natsu, since he doesn't ever wear a shirt to begin with. Just a vest and a scarf. His pants and vest are often frayed and worn by the end of a fight, though. And recently his scarf changed colors under ominous circumstances.
Gray subverts this. He takes his clothes off in advance. And not just before fights. Avoiding clothing damage is not the reason, he just likes taking his shirt off.
Cold-Blooded Torture: A graphic example in Chapter 365, in which Kyouka does this to Erza by stripping her naked, and then flogging her after using magic to make her extremely sensitive to pain. For extra effect, she shows Mirajane, also stripped naked and covered in tentacles, and says if Erza doesn't tell her where Jellal is, she's going to turn Mirajane into a demon. Erza quickly broke down into Tears of Fear, and pleas to spare Mirajane while swearing that she doesn't know anything about Jellal's location.
Colony Drop: King Faust plans to use the lacrima of the Fairy Tail guild as a magical bomb on Extalia.
Natsu and the gang (12 members) have been easily defeated by Oración Seis (6 members)
Shortly afterwards they were separated into pairs (2 members)
Each pair fought a whole guild (30+ members) and won.
And the good guys who later fought an Oración Seis one-on-one won.
Also in the beginning, Erza and Lucy took down most of Eisenwald.
The Raijinshuu, Lucy (by herself), Natsu, and Gray vs. the Naked Mummy guild they lose everytime.
The rules for the determining the outcome of a battle seem to be: 1. the team with more people will lose, 2. if it's one-on-one, Fairy Tail wins, and 3. if the enemy is a boss, Fairy Tail still wins.
Constellations: Celestial Spirit mages can summon Celestial Spirits, which are based on constellations, through various magical keys. The Golden Keys summon the twelve zodiac signs while the Silver Keys summon other constellations.
Any new members of Fairy Tail we are introduced to appear in the background of the guild whenever they can, and at one point you can see Romeo hanging with Macao when Wendy introduces herself to the guild. Lyon and his group appear on newspapers and magazines from time to time, as well. The fact that they didn't do this with Mest is the first sign that he's not what he seems.
The horn from the demon that Erza vanquished and brought to the guild in her introduction is seen as a display in the guild 200 chapters later.
Mashima recently has been using this in reference to the extra details included in the anime such as Makarov's character design as a young man and Ultear's Ice Make magic having the same flower theme as Ur's, which was only made known in the anime.
In the Daphne arc, at one point, Happy and Lucy mimic Cobra and Hoteye's Catch Phrase/Verbal Tic respectively.
Gajeel and Natsu once argue about The Tortoise and the Hare, later it's parodied in a filler episode.
The second OVA, for example: Carla dressing up as Laxus and accidently blurts out that she wants to take over Fairy Academy.
From the same OVA, Gajeel seems to be channeling Bixlow for a moment.
The tenth ending has the whole series up until the Sirius Island arc done in a board game-like setting.
Conveniently Timed Attack From Behind: The Magic Council, especially the new council always seems to time themselves to arrive right after the day has been saved so they can arrest or take a character in to custody for property destruction/illegal war/manipulating the council/being a member of Oración Seis. If they're so high and mighty would it really kill them to try this on the villains as well.
Considering the level of mages in this universe, yes.
Chapter 236's "Seduction Armor" pretty much confirms this. The sad part is, it probably would have worked.
As incredible as it may seem, Natsu is the one to take the initiative in thisFuro Scene... and after finding out, Erza proposes to let them join!
Covers Always Lie: In the Volume 6 cover, Levy is slightly more busty than she should be... Though to be fair, it's also a question of Art Evolution. The page caption is from the start of the series, where she was actually drawn having breasts, just quite smaller than the ones she got in the caption. Nowadays, she is the series' resident Pettanko, not counting Wendy who is simply too young to have grown breasts.
Crap Saccharine World: The capital of Edolas is a shiny amusement park of a city kept prosperous with stolen magic, while the rest of the world is literally falling apart.
Had a Christmas special with Nanatsu No Taizai by Suzuki Nakaba. Though rather then the characters crossing over, each author just took over the other respective series for a one shot. In Suzuki's, it involved Natsu noticing someone trying to go down the chimney of the Fairy Tail building only to find out it's Marakov playing Santa. Of course the discovery comes only after Natsu unleashes a fire blast his way.
Erza vs. all the enemy monsters in the Pandemonium battle.
Laxus vs. all of Team Raven Tail (including his own father).
Minerva (Sabertooth's Master's daughter) vs. all of the other opponents in the Naval Battle that includes Juvia and Lucy's Aquarius. When Lucy refuses to quit after Aquarius ditches her and Minerva kicks out all the others (Juvia apparently fell out accidentally) because she'd see it as a betrayal of her friend's efforts, Minerva steals her keys, blasts her to the edge, teleports her back, and beats her unconscious as the rest of Team Sabertooth smugly laugh.
What we saw in the Natsu & Gajeel vs. Rogue & Sting battle. Rogue & Sting have gone through no less 2 power ups, resulting in little more than some dust build up on Natsu & Gajeel. Natsu & Gajeel on the other hand have been beating the ever loving tar out of them with the most effort used being to close the initial distance between them. They are now using Dragon Force to power up again just to attempt to compete with Natsu and Gajeel. A later chapter shows Natsu sending Gajeel away on a minecart, which came out of nowhere btw, before utterly wiping the floor with Sting and Rogue. All without undergoing any kind of powerup.
And after unlocking her Second Origin and re-equiping into the Nagakami Armor, Erza epicly curbstomped Minerva into submission. Minerva even begged for mercy before getting flattened.
Cute Kitten: Natsu has Happy, Wendy has Carla, and Gajeel has Pantherlily. Sabertooth's Dragon Slayers Sting and Rogue have Lector and Frosch, respectively.
Cute Little Fangs: Variation with the Dragon Slayers; every Dragon Slayer has very pronounced teeth, thought not pronounced enough for fangs to stick out of closed mouths. Even Wendy has them. Just compare her teeth when she's smiling to any other girl in the series.
Zeref appears to have them too. Rumors have been flying since Gildarts' introduction that Zeref is a Dragon Slayer himself.
Cutscene Power to the Max: The anime openings frequently show Natsu flying around using his fire magic as propulsion because it looks cool. In the actual anime and manga, he can only use his magic to enhance his jumps, and needs Happy to fly. Somewhat subverted; he uses it against Jellal (who can achieve flight by casting Meteor on himself) in the anime.
Dark and Troubled Past: All of the main characters were set on the path that eventually led them to Fairy Tail by some past trauma. Each of character arcs has the spotlight character confronting (although not necessarily in direct combat) and overcoming the villain who inflicted such trauma on them, all the while relying on their True Companions to help them through.
The Big Bad is The Man Behind the Man to Ultear, who has been The Chessmaster to several other big bads. Not only that, but he's the first one in the entire series to ever beat Makarov in a fair fight. Makarov's only other loss was due to a sneak attack.
Most, if not all, of Hades' Quirky Mini Boss Squad are more powerful than previous Big Bads. They use lost magic, which is absurdly powerful. One of them is basically a more powerful version of Natsu. He can eat Natsu's flames, and uses fire that Natsu chokes on.
And to top it off, the goal of the whole thing is to revive the Black Wizard Zeref.
And all of the above is nothing compared to the Tartaros arc. While most of the previous arcs' conflicts' scope was limited between Fairy Tail and dark guilds, the Tartaros arc has now involved innocent civilians with well over a hundred deaths and counting.
A hilarious one happens where Lucy declares her undying love to Gray and tries to lay him down. Thank you, Juvia.
D-Cup Distress: Within the Freaky Friday episode; Gray ends up in Lucy's body, and the first indication is that he starts bitching about how her back hurts.
Dead Alternate Counterpart: Inverted in the Edolas arc, with Mirajane and Elfman's dead little sister Lisanna, as Earthland's (the main setting) version of Lisanna is dead, but the Edolas version is alive. turns out to be played straight later, as Edolas Lisanna really is Earthland Lisanna who was transported into Edolas, while the real Edolas Lisanna is already dead.
Deader than Dead: How does being broken up at the atomic level and shot into the sky sound? And yet, Jellal got better...
Natsu after he eats Etherion magic, actually enters Dragon Force, but due to it being made of other magic is deadly to his health.
Whenever he eats magic that's not fire.
The reformed Ultear has an ability to unlock untapped magic potential in other wizards, which has an excruciatingly painful effect as experienced by the Fairy Tail members who decided to accept it. Somehow, the only subversion is Erza, who didn't feel a thing.
It's implied that Erza has always had her second wind.
Death by Origin Story: Most of the main cast has at least once dead loved on somewhere in their backstory.
Zeref is (or was, rather) this for the longest time, believing that Natsu was the only person capable of killing him. He breaks down into tears when he realizes that Natsu still isn't strong enough to do so yet.
Death Glare: Gildarts takes it to a whole new level by breaking Natsu's will to fight with a look.
Erza, although she completely thawed out after the Tower of Heaven arc.
Carla seems to be one as well.
Designated Girl Fight: The only times when Lucy doesn't end up fighting a girl are when Erza fights the girl instead. Though neither of them got paired up with Juvia in the Phantom Lord arc. And when Ultear fought Natsu she was disguised as an old guy.
The majority of Lucy's fights have been against men. Although she always fights someone who fights uses something else so her fights are more like Pokémon battles, only with her taking a more active role with her whip.
Destructive Savior: One of the reasons Fairy Tail is one of the most notorious guilds around, despite the relatively high caliber of their wizards. Erza, Gray, and Natsu are especially bad at avoiding property damage.
In Chapter 23, the Magic Council formally charges Erza for the MASSIVE property damage that occurred throughout the Lullaby arc. Fortunately for Erza it was just a formality: She wouldn't have actually spent any time in jail. Unfortunately, Natsu busted into the proceedings in a misguided attempt to help her and got both of them thrown into jail for the night.
This turns out to be to their advantage during the conclusion of the Tower of Heaven arc. Natsu even lampshades it:
Natsu: "The mages of Fairy Tail specialize in property damage!"
Gildarts takes this trope to its logical conclusion. The townspeople literally change the town's layout when they hear Gildarts is returning in order to give him a clear pathway to the guild.
Except now, the Magic Council has decided they have had enough of the property damage.
This has been a point of criticism towards the series, as a great many of the fights aren't won with strategy or training, but simply with the character in question saying something along the lines of "I can't lose", and then proceeding to curbstomp an opponent that had previously been mopping the floor with them.
The guild is completely worn out after having fought all of Phantom Lord's best members and mooks, but their almighty leader is still in top shape. It's a good thing Makarov came back and destroyed them all with a single spell.
Also Wendy being able to revive Jellal from a coma to speed up the search for Nirvana.
The X-Balls from Edolas arc. No more needs to be said.
Mavis' Fairy Sphere saves Sirius Island from the Diabolus ex Machina of Acnologia's attack. However, Mavis won't be able to use it again, and the guild was still split apart for seven years.
Deus Exit Machina: Typically, arcs that have more than a small team of heroes have something near the beginning happen that keeps the strongest guild members there from kicking all the villains' asses themselves, which they don't get out of until only the strongest villains are left.
Makarov gets his magic drained at the beginning of the Phantom Lord arc and trapped behind a Containment Field during the Fighting Festival arc (the same barrier also trapped Natsu and Gajeel).
Erza got turned into stone during the Fighting Festival arc and poisoned in the Oración Seis arc.
Lately, Loke's been coming up with excuse upon excuse to be of no help.
Also the Edolas arc, in which Mystogan by all accounts could solve the conflict in ten minutes and is the only one who actually knows what's going on from the beginning, doesn't bother to show up, instead settling on sending Lucy of all people as a backup. And that's exactly what happens. Of course, there is a perfectly valid reason for why he was waiting. How else would he get his exploits mentioned here???
Gildarts, Fried, and Bickslow leave Sirius Island just before Grimoire Heart arrives. Bad timing. They could have beeen of some use. They however return.
Gildarts lives and breathes this trope. He could have taken out Master Jose and ended the Phantom Lord arc in less than half the time it took had he not been on the 100 year mission. It's debatable if he would have been any use during Fighting Festival; Fried would have just set his runes to lock in anyone over 40, rather than 80.
Laxus completely skips out on the Phantom Lord arc even though he made it pretty clear that he could have defeated most of the guild easily. However, he took the whole thing as a laughing matter.
Subverted in the Grand Magic Games arc. Just when the fans are wondering why Laxus, Mirajane, and Gajeel aren't on Fairy Tail's team, you find out that they submitted two teams. The second team is Gajeel, Mira, Laxus, Juvia, and Jellal disguised as Mystogan.
Immediately after the guild alliance destroyed Nirvana, the new magic council comes to arrest two of the people who helped to save everyone. Well, they were well-known villains. They were going to have to get arrested some time, might as well be then.
The first day of the Grand Magic Games for Fairy Tail.
Difficult but Awesome: Quite a few of the highly specialised wizards. The strongest example is Fried, who can basically rewrite the laws of nature.
Magic Tool Users like Ichiya, Mystogan, Cana and Celestial Spirit Mages can have their tools taken away from them or be unable to use their tools due to being restrained. However they benefit from a very versatile powerset in exchange, with a very wide range of possible effects. For example, Celestial Spirit Mages are inherently unpredictable since there is no way of knowing what and how many Celestial Keys a given mage may own. Getting those keys however can be a difficult prospect.
Dirty Old Man: Makarov likes to take on this role during times of peace, or as close to peace as things get.
Disability Immunity: One of Erza's eyes isn't real (though she can still see through it, which is a subversion of this trope). This gives immunity/resistance to magic that involves her eyes, including illusions and petrification through staring (since it only goes through one eye).
Gender-reversed version. Juvia gets incredibly distracted when fighting Gray. Of course, then she misunderstands things and thinks that he's in love with Lucy, and gets ticked.
Gemini pulls this on Hibiki. Turning into Lucy and removing her top. Lucy was not pleased.
Natsu manages to try and get Lucy to pull this on Hughes. It doesn't work.
Lyon is distracted long enough by the sight of Juvia's underwear as she leaps down from above for her to kick him in the face.
This tends to happen to Taurus as well.
Distress Ball: Happens to Erza during the Tower of Heaven arc with Jellal, though it's slightly justified. She just had waaaaay too much faith in her old friend and thus, let her guard down enough that he was able to slap her with the magical equivalent of the Standard Female Grab Area. All so that Natsu could save the day, of course.
Ultear thus far, has played second to most of the villains. Though she turns out to be the realBig Bad in the Tower of Heaven arc. Aaaand she's back as the Dragon of the Big Bad, Master Hades.
More recently, Cobra of Oración Seis seems to be this to Brain. He is loyal, gets extremely happy when their plans seem to succeed, and stands to defend him from Natsu, although that's probably because Brain is too busy guiding Nirvana towards Cait Shelter to deal with him. And it turns out Cobra fits the role almost literally, being the Poison Dragon Slayer.
Some fans give this role to Midnight, being the strongest member of Oración Seis except for Brain's Super-Powered Evil Side and the leader's son.
In the anime, Duke Everlue's face can be seen on a request on the board, presumably the one Natsu picks up in the next episode.
In Episode 34, you can see kid versions of some of the Oración Seis during Erza's flashback.
Wendy, who was made the "fateful encounter" that Lucy meets (in the manga it was originally Natsu and Happy).
A twist on the theme, the 10th opening credits and Episode 113 show us Romeo 7 years older.
Easily Forgiven: Everyone but Jellal, regardless of how horrible their plans were. Granted Jellal caused the most suffering for any member of the main cast and is the only one who killed another character onscreen. This also applies to outside the story. Fans pretty readily ignore characters' past actions. Again, Jellal is not always accepted by them, despite him being the only one with reasonable evidence that he wasn't completely in control of his actions. Of course, Jellal did kill three people (villains) before that potential excuse kicks in. Still, a lot of other forgiven criminals are known to have or at least attempted murder.
Gajeel is a subversion of this. While he is forgiven, it's not until he proves his loyalty to Fairy Tail in the Fighting Festival arc that they really regard him as one of their own.
Definitely played with. Makarov declares Gajeel's actions UNFORGIVABLE (complete with a very scary look on his face) but goes on to declare that letting Gajeel fall into darker moods and darker habits would be even more unforgivable, and that's why he makes the invitation. Plus, Gajeel doesn't earn full forgiveness until he allows two of the members of Fairy Tail that he'd beaten and nailed to a tree to beat him down in return, and then tank some friendly fire that was going to hit Levy—the third one he nailed to the tree. She was too kindhearted to attack him with the others.
Speaking of which, Laxus with his Raijinshuu tribe turned against Fairy Tail and tried to destroy not only the guild but the entire town where it resided... twice. The only punishment he got for it was expulsion from the guild, and most of the characters felt even that was too harsh.
Ultear has her Freudian Excuse to back her up, but she's still killed hundreds of people and destroyed Merudy's hometown (who forgives her anyway). Partly justified in how she doesn't expect redemption, but still tries to do good deeds regardless.
Eldritch Abomination: Acnologia, the Black Dragon of the Apocalypse, definitely qualifies compared to what we know of other dragons. The gap between it and human beings is so immense that communicating with it to fathom its thoughts is completely impossible even though it's fully capable of understanding human speech.
Zeref: "In spite of that, the reason it doesn't use words is because it doesn't think of humans as anything more than insects. You wouldn't stop and talk to a pest buzzing around you. It's the same for the dragon. You also wouldn't bother taking an obnoxious insect seriously even for a moment. There are things in this world that you cannot oppose or fight back against, no matter how hard you try."
Elemental Baggage: Subverted. The ice wizards make ice, the fire wizards make fire, et cetera, et cetera. Sure, being able to eat one's element gives a Dragon Slayer a temporary boost, but for the most part the elemental wizards don't need the element on hand.
Elemental Powers: Many of the different wizards who are able to manipulate and control an element.
However, Natsu's fight with Erigor play this back and forth. The fight starts off shaky for Natsu, since Erigor's wind disperses and extinguishes Natsu's fire before it can touch him. But then Natsu turns up the heat so much that the air pressure changes and Erigor loses control of the wind.
Gray and Juvia's fight also plays with it a bit. You'd expect Gray to freeze her and have an easy victory, but when she gets mad, she can boil herself.
Endurance Duel: Elfman's fight with Bacchus becomes this once he transforms into a lizardman with spiked scales. It becomes a test of wills to see who falls first: Elfman from getting struck, or Bacchus from getting his hands sliced up.
Enemy Civil War: Faust orders Code ETD, which crystallizes the Exceed forces sent to capture the heroes, then declares war against them all in a bid to steal their magic.
Enemy Mine: Natsu and Gajeel teaming up against Laxus, though it's more "rival mine" since they were supposed to be in the same guild by then.
Bisca and Alzack, minor characters who are the only ones unaware of the fact that their feelings are mutual.
Juvia's crush on Gray, at first. Gray might be paying attention more often these days.
Evil Costume Switch: Juvia when Mind Controlled by Vidaldus. However, she is made of water, so her clothes are just more water she layers over herself, so it wouldn't exactly be hard for her to change.
Natsu and Gajeel each get a new one in the Tournament Arc: Rogue and Sting. They're Third Generation Dragon Slayers (meaning they were both trained by a dragon and they have Slayer Lacrima) and they killed their dragon parent to become "true Dragon Slayers".
Evil Is Not a Toy: Zancrow really should have been more careful while handling a legendary Black Wizard who commands absolute power over life and death. He becomes one of the few confirmed casualties in the series when Zeref kills him. Later followed by Master Hades. Turns out interrupting the self-imposed exile of an unstoppable Black Wizard really isn't a good idea.
Evil Twin: Sort of. Apparently it wasn't supposed to be incredibly obvious in the manga who Siegrain and Jellal were, so in the anime they threw in the thing about Siegrain being his evil twin immediately, right at the start of the arc. Of course, they're really the same person.
An inversion with Mystogan though he is from another world.
Evil Versus Evil: King Faust and his underlings lost no time backstabbing the Exceed. Leaders of the latter presented themselves as nasty, murderous, specieist tyrants by that point, and Faust was a power-grabbing megalomaniac. Partially subverted, when later Exceed were revealed to be just pretending to be powerful and evil, with the help of their queen's propthetic abilities, to keep humans frightened and avoid annihilation. But they still were serious dicks.
Jellal to Sieg Hart another uber-wizards from Mashima's previous work Rave Master, in what is probably the most obvious example of Expy-ing ever. In short: They look exactly the same! And his familiar alias, Siegrain, and his use of Altairis, one of Sieg Hart's spells. The author claims that it's done in the name of fanservice, though. Guess what? Sieg Hart isn't the original either.
Natsu is basically a Hot-Blooded Haru with fire powers instead of a sword, Lucy is basically Elie without the amnesia, and Gray is basically Musica with... no, that's right all on it's own.
Laxus looks a lot like Captain Hardner, at least in his original appearances when he's chomping on a cigar. Less so during the Fighting Festival arc, but the resemblance is still there. Both of them start out calm and get more and moreAxCrazy as the arc progresses, and both of them are defeated by the combined efforts of The Hero and a dragon who's Made of Iron.
And now we have what could be called a Whole Concept Expy during the Grand Magic Games arc. The first round of the tournament features a game called Hidden, the concept and rules of which have been lifted entirely out of the multiplayer stages of the Assassin's Creed series. The competitors must move through a town populated by masses of clones of themselves. They have to blend into the crowd and locate the real participants and get a hit in on them in order to score points and lose points if they strike a clone instead.
Lahar, one of the captains of the reformed Magic Council looks exactly like Uryuu Ishida, right down to the push-glasses-up-bridge-of-nose-dramatic-glint habit.
We also have Bacchus of Quatro Cerberus, whose fighting style is basically an Expy of Neji & Rock Lee's. I'm sure some fans were happy to see how a Drunken Gentle Fist would look like.
Jiemma and Sabertooth seem to be what Laxus and Fairy Tail would have turned into had he not been stopped in the Fighting Festival arc.
The Anime-only character Dan Straight, who appears in the Anime-only filler arc ("Key of the Starry Sky") both looks and behaves a bit like Patrick Colasour from Mobile Suit Gundam 00.
Yukino, the Celestial Spirit Wizard from Sabertooth, is basically a Rei Ayanami Expy, right down to her personality. The biggest difference is that Yukino seems embarrassed to let her comrades see her naked. Rei wouldn't.