Objection!Originally released in Japan as the Gyakuten Saiban (Turnabout Trial) series on the Game Boy Advance, the Ace Attorney franchise chronicles the adventures of a couple of hotshot young defense attorneys, and is one of the rare Visual Novels to have a large-scale distribution in the West, where the entire series (aside from the No Export for YouInvestigations 2) was released on the Nintendo DS. It has become famous in the English-speaking locales for its above-and-beyond top notch localization (outside of a few grammatical errors) and has gleaned much Memetic Mutation from the fanbase.The central series consists of the following games:
There is a (work-in-progress) recap page for the series here.
This franchise provides examples of:
Always Murder: The second case of the third game initially appears to be about a case of grand larceny (which creates an odd scenario where the victim of the crime is alive, and yelling at you for taking the defense case), but within a day, you have to defend the same guy for a related murder.
Also occurs in case 4-2, with 3 related cases - 2 thefts and 1 hit-and-run. But then, of course, a murder occurs.
A few cases feature crimes that appear to be murder but wind up slightly different: case 1-3 involves a manslaughter in self-defence and case 2-3 also involves a manslaughter, though the law of transferred intent applies.
Subverted in Phoenix's last case, which, 7 years later, was revealed to be a suicide.
The first case of Dual Destinies has bombing as the primary charge against the defendant, with murder as a secondary charge (a body was found in the rubble). Assault is later added as a third charge.
Played with in the DLC case of Dual Destinies, as Blackquill insists on a formal murder charge even though the defendant is an orca. It later becomes a traditional murder charge when Buckler is arrested, and in the end it turns out to have been an accident!
Amateur Sleuth: Despite the fact that the defense attorneys have no police training whatsoever, it's also their job to do all the detective work for their client- you don't have any kind of Paul Drake equivalent.
Klavier Gavin plays both sides of the fence. In his younger days, he exhibits some of the attributes but is cooler-headed than someone who might be the AKFG. Later in his career, he mellows and enjoys his work as a prosecutor as a chance to match mettle with the defense attorney rather than a trial being a battle that can only be won or lost, which ultimately turns him into a subversion (though his brother may be the defense attorney-equivalent).
Asshole Victim: Roughly half the victims in the series. Sometimes they're done in by other assholes, other times by more sympathetic characters, but in many cases, there's at least two people who hate them enough to kill them.
Notably averted with the victim in 2-3. No one can think of anything bad to say about the victim, and the motives presented in the case are shaky at best due to this. All the witnesses and even the suspect have nothing but praise for the Ringmaster. This is because he's not the intended victim. He showed up at the meeting place instead of his daughter, and the killer couldn't see who it was.
Author Tract: The franchise is somewhat a satire of legitimate corruption in the Japanese Judicial system.
Be as Unhelpful as Possible: Neither Phoenix nor Apollo will get a single useful bit of information out of a witness, suspect, or even the detectives unless they drag it out of them.
Especially jarring in 2-2, when you have to use the Magatama to find out where Pearl was at the time of the murder. She wants to help you, she really does...so why doesn't she just say it and help you out a bit? You find out why she doesn't just help you, but when you don't know what her reasons are, it's more than a little infuriating.
Brought to new heights in Apollo Justice, when Trucy refuses to tell how a magic trick was pulled off, even though the outcome of a murder trial hangs in the balance.
Larry also embodies this in general.
Whoever the co-council happens to be often does this, because it's a way of giving the player a hint without telling them the answer. "I think I see the contradiction, Kitten..." But they don't tell you, causing the player to guess wrong and get a guilty verdict. It can be excused in some cases as a more experienced attorney wanting their protege to piece things together for themselves and do it themselves (i.e. Mia to Phoenix, Kristoph to Apollo, Grossberg or Diego to Mia) but the mentor never intervenes when it would be sensible to save the defendant from a guilty verdict. The player characters are fond of this too; Wright will tell Maya that it's finally come together, only to leave her and the player in the dark for dramatic effect.
Truth in Television since witnesses in trials are instructed to only give as much information as asked for. "You didn't ask" is therefore a legitimate reason for withholding a specific detail if it wasn't in the scope of the original question.
Berserk Button: For everything that Phoenix goes through and sees in his time in court, it's amazing he only has 2: using poison and betraying others' trust. These two happen to cross into This Is Unforgivable for him and it makes perfect sense considering how badly case 3-1 shook him when he was at his most naive.
NEVER accuse the Judge of murder. Just ... don't. Your Penalty meter will thank you.
Big Damn Heroes: About to lose? No hope left? Cue a crucial witness or a person carrying vital evidence barging into the courtroom with a cry of "HOLD IT!".
Big "NO!": Witnesses have a tendency to do this when you manage to break their alibis.
Winston Payne has a Big "NO!" so big that it turns him bald.
If they can be considered a family, Troupe Gramarye fits too.
And the Kitakis. Actually, practically any two related characters belong to one of these.
Big "WHAT?!": Frequent, often in response to case-breaking evidence being presented.
Big Word Shout: "Objection!" "Hold it!" "Take that!" "Gotcha!" "Eureka!" "Not so fast!" "Overruled!" "Got it!" "Silence!"
Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Usually the true murderer. Dahlia Hawthorne before she developed her Yandere tendencies towards Mia, and Alita Tiala from Apollo Justice. Matt Engarde had this as his defining character trait—even his name is a hint. And from Gyakuten Kenji 2, Souta Sarushiro.
Broken Aesop: An example relating to degree of openness. Cases 2-4 and 3-5 are all about bringing The Truth to light, especially when Edgeworth is involved. The issue is that the view of when the truth should be brought to light expressed through the events of the game is a nuanced one, while the view expressed through the dialogue is an absolute one. Edgeworth's dialogue after his Heel-Face Turn could be summarized as "expose the truth, no matter how painful." Yet there are situations in which players are supposed to hate someone for exposing the truth.
Situations where revealing the truth is praised:
Telling a man who already knows that he was deceived by his girlfriend five years ago exactly how he was deceived? Sure, the truth turned out to be that he hadn't been as bad a judge of character as he thought he was, but Edgeworth starts pushing for the Truth to come out without knowing what it is. Edgeworth inherently knows that The Truth will heal the man's pain even if it gives him more to be upset about.
Situations in which revealing the truth is condemned:
Telling a jealous man the truth about his fiance's ex in order to make him reconsider the marriage? How evil! (The timing of the reveal is implied to have been part of what made it evil, but the heroes don't exactly tread lightly when it comes to the timing of big reveals either.)
This is Matt Engarde. And he didn't expose his past with Celeste to Juan for any reason other than to cause more pain. He didn't love Celeste, and Celeste never did anything to hurt anybody, but he told Juan because he knew his rival would never marry Celeste because of it. Sure enough, Celeste commits suicide over it and both men use her death as just another means to hurt each other. That's why what Matt did was evil.
Telling a skeptical public about a very unconventional technique the police used to solve a case, that lead them astray? Or publicizing a politician's affair with a secretary? The work of an evil man who caused nothing but pain. (The truth was definitely not the culprit's motive, but revealing the truth about what the police did was an effect nevertheless.)
Situations in which exposing the truth was portrayed in a mixed light:
In Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth, it is clear that the Yatagarasu's tendency to "steal evidence of corrupt dealings of all kinds" and send it to the press is illegal and that Edgeworth would like to be above such actions, but the Yatagarasu's actions in this regard are hardly portrayed as evil. The Yatagarasu was just "stealing the Truth" in order to bring it to light.
At one point, Edgeworth threatens to publicize a witness' embarrassing psychological diagnosis unless that witness testifies truthfully. He says that it's not his problem if the witness chooses to commit suicide in response to the psychological profile being publicized.
Revealing who the killer is, even when there's already enough evidence to prove the defendant didn't do it, and the killer is in some ways a decent person who had a compelling reason for what they did and will now likely get in huge trouble? Mia says it's justice (though Maya didn't seem to agree and it's unclear whether Phoenix was fully convinced). Godot, at least, seemed to WANT to be brought to justice, and in fact subtly encouraged Phoenix to put the nail in the coffin, so to speak.
In the above case, the judge has explicitly stated that only Maya or Godot could be the killer. Maya knows that Godot had acted in order to save her and is thus protecting him at all costs; however, Phoenix is just as determined to protect Maya, so he has really no choice but to expose Godot. And as stated in the spoiler above, Godot did subtly encourage Phoenix to prove him as the killer.
A case could be made that revealing the truth really was good in the situations where it was portrayed as good and bad in the situations in which it was portrayed as bad, but the dialogue describes bringing The Truth to light as though it is a golden ideal that is always good - as long as the person doing it is a good guy, and the person whose truth got exposed only considers committing suicide rather than actually doing so.
All in all it seems the games have the aseop of "bringing the truth to light is a good thing", especially when done to help others, but also point out that in some contexts doing so can cause more harm than good, especially if the motives for doing so aren't really pious, and that the matter isn't quite black and white.
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Most of the cast, including any and all lawyers, from the unflappable but hapless title character to the driven, coffee-guzzling Godot. Honestly, it'd be easier to list characters that don't fit this in someway.
Characters who aren't really that involved with law are this too: Maya, while showing some rather pronounced Cloudcuckoolander tendencies, is also a very talented spirit channeler (she's probably be even better, wasn't it for her occasional lack of self-esteem). Same applies to Ema, who may have screwed up the exam but is very skilled in Forensics and Trucy, who is one of the best illusionists you'll ever find anywhere. Kay Faraday, is an exception: She's as untalented as a thief as one can be.
Butt Monkey: Individual characters aside, the protagonist at any time, in any game, inevitably ends up a Butt Monkey. Even those cases with multiple protagonists. Made even more apparent by changes in a character's treatment after they slip in or out of the protagonist slot. See Can't Get Away with Nuthin' .
Can't Get Away with Nuthin' : Played straight with Phoenix and Apollo, averted by everyone else. Witnesses routinely perjure themselves, and they threaten and bully the lawyers. Prosecutors withhold evidence, and assault the defense, witnesses, and even the Judge, and refer to the defense by insulting nicknames.
Actually, this hapens to Edgeworth as well in Investigations. Seems like being a main character instantly turns you into a Butt Monkey.
Chivalrous Pervert: Larry again. He might be an idiot, but when he falls in love, he falls hard.
Chekhov's Armoury: This is a game based on court proceedings with a judicial system requiring that even with logical sense and linked facts, there needs to be concrete and decisive evidence to prove all separate facts, after all. The only way to be sure you have all the evidence is downright kleptomania. For a non-item version, early in the third game, a silly digression involving a ketchup stain hints at the fact that Godot can't see red on white—which becomes vitally important in the final case.
Chekhov's Gun: A series wide gun was mentioned by Gumshoe during the Rise of the Ashes case.
...the prosecutor is responsible for the evidence he presents in court.
Granted, this trope ended up being inverted: Phoenix Wright is not a prosecutor, but presented forged evidence without knowing.
Closet Geek: Edgeworth is a huge fan of Toku serials, particularly the Steel Samurai/Pink Princess series, to the point where he sabotages his own prosecution rather than let his hero, the Steel Samurai (or at least the guy who plays him on TV) go to jail for a murder he didn't commit. His ringtone in Ace Attorney Investigations is even the Steel Samurai theme song. He usually gets defensive about his fandom to everyone... except Maya, interestingly enough.
Cultural Translation: The English-language versions are posited to take place in a place not unlike Los Angeles (except that it snows in the wintertime and there are a surprising number of Shinto temples in the vicinity), but so many visual elements are so very distinctly Japanese (to say nothing of the court system) that it stretches suspension of disbelief a little much at times...
Dark Secret: Almost every character has at least one of these. Figuring out what they are is the whole point of the games.
Taken to its logical conclusion with Kristoph Gavin's black Psyche-Locks that never (formally) get cracked.
Deadpan Snarker: Phoenix several times over. He may not always say it out loud, but if he's not saying something sarcastic, there's a very good chance he's thinking it.
Sometimes people will react to these statements, meaning that either he's muttering at least some of them under his breath, or there's a bunch of telepaths running around.
von Karma: Tsk, tsk, tsk. Mr. Phoenix Wright. I grow tired of the foolish foolery of the foolish fools of this foolish country...
von Karma: Foolish fool spouting foolish foolishness, just as I expect of a foolish fool such as you.
von Karma: A foolishly foolish idea born from the foolish mind of a foolhardy foolish fool.
Not to mention one of Larry's lines in the first game.
Larry: It's lonely, being alone on Christmas Eve.
Larry has quite a few.
Larry: My claim is a claim claiming my claim. Do you have a problem with that?
Or this from Klavier Gavin in the fourth game.
Klavier: The jurists will function like a jury.
Devil in Plain Sight: Many suspicious witnesses (and of course, the real culprit of a case) start acting awfully suspicious the more holes you start poking in their testimonies, to the point that some of the culprits could probably have easily been convicted in Real Life simply based on how they were behaving (you wouldn't believe how many of them start openly gloating if the prosecution gets a leg up on you.)
Double Entendre: In spades. Hits a real high with Apollo and Ema's conversation about her "tool" in the fourth case.
Franziska's "I DEMAND SATISFACTION!" before whipping Larry Butz into unconsciousness.
In the latter part of Investigations' first case, a lot of time was spent on figuring out who touched Portsman's knob. Only Portsman himself and his partner touched his knob. Possibly unintentional, but who knows.
Dramatic Irony: There are several cases (generally the first one in the game) where the murderer is made clear from the very beginning, but the main character doesn't realize it.
Looking at the whole series, Phoenix's disbarment could be seen as such. During case 1-2, Mia told Maya that Phoenix should have another three years before he's someone she could rely on in court. Three years forward of the events of the first game, Phoenix is forced out of the legal profession in disgrace.
Dub Name Change: Not just from Japanese to English, but also to French, and many other languages, to keep the puns they carry.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney case 2: Near the victim's body, Maya's name is written in blood. Detective Gumshoe says this is a message from the victim saying that Maya did it. It turns out that the killer wrote it in the victim's blood to frame Maya.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney case 5: The name "Ema" was written in blood on a broken jar, again by the real killer so as to convince Ema's sister to help forge evidence.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice For All case 1: The name "Maggie" was written in the sand in front of the victim and the victim's right index finger was near the last letter. The player shows that the killer used the victim's hand to write this to frame Maggey by showing that the name is spelled wrong (when the victim would have known how to spell it) and that the victim was left-handed.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials And Tribulations case 5: The name "Maya" is written in the victim's blood. It turns out that the victim was channeling a spirit at the time and that the spirit wrote the name to implicate Maya because said spirit was hostile to Maya.
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney case 3: There is something written in blood on the floor in front of the victim, but it's hard to read. It turns out that the victim was an Interpol agent and wrote his agent number. The killer saw this and tried to smear the number to make it unreadable - proving that the person who tried to smear the number wasn't blind.
Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth case 1: When you put the binders back on the shelf, you find that the name Gumshoe was written in the victim's blood on the file binders. It turns out that the killer wrote this name to frame someone, but then someone else came and stole one of the binders that the name was written on.
Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney Dual Destinies case 1: After Apollo is knocked unconscious, the name of the defendant, "Woods", is written in blood, apparently by him. It turns out that it was written by the victim, and not by Apollo, and that it was used to implicate the real murderer. However, originally it read L 10015 R, the number of the culprit's bomb carrying case. The culprit altered the message using Apollo's blood to implicate Woods.
Exact Words: If the contradiction isn't a mistake or an outright lie, it'll usually be in this form and require pressing for further details. One of the most notable examples is Phoenix using the Magatama on Matt Engarde in Farewell, My Turnabout, asking if he killed the case's victim. The response is "No, I didn't kill anyone." The Magatama doesn't register anything because technically he didn't kill Juan Corrida, but hiring an assassin to do it makes him just as guilty.
Expy: The TakarazukaMusical has Monica Clyde for Ema Skye, obvious from the first glance at her. Less direct expys are also present. All necessary for compressing the plot into a 2 hour play, plus dancing.
Kristoph Gavin and Manfred von Karma.
Let's face it, the other main young female partners to the lawyers (Ema, Trucy, Kay) are obviously expies of Maya. This is lampshaded and used as a plot point in 1-5, as Ema's resemblance to Maya is what spurs Phoenix to take on the case. Maya, Ema, and Trucy are all identified as "in training", and even Takumi stated before AJ that Trucy's role would be "just like Maya's". Athena, the new assistant in Dual Destinies, appears to be continuing the trend; a spunky novice lawyer about the same age as Maya and Kay.
Fan Boy: Edgeworth is a huge Steel Samurai fanboy. It's subtle in the main games, confirmed in the supplemental materials. Investigations throws all pretense out the window and makes it a minor plot point in the final case.
Fangirl: All of the assistants are a huge fan of something in popular culture, including Gregory's male assistant, a younger Tateyuki Shigaraki. Maya (Steel Samurai and its spinoffs), Ema (Edgeworth), Trucy (Troupe Gramarye and the Gavinners), Kay (Jammin' Ninja), and young Tateyuki (Dansweets).
Flashback: Used frequently to recall key clues during a case, or to reference events from past games or cases. Can be somewhat annoying as the game will sometimes flash back to things that you just saw a few minutes ago, especially in the third case of the fourth game, when you see one scene something like four times in close succession.
For Great Justice: Most obvious in Phoenix and Apollo, of course, but Edgeworth also learns to seek out the truth rather than just more wins on his record. Being a game series based on lawyers, it's justified.
Gambit Roulette: Many of the arguments for both sides in several cases are these, dependent entirely on a particular character being in possession of the Idiot Ball at a particular time.
Genius Ditz: Despite Gumshoe's seemingly sieve-like mind and short attention span, he actually seems to have a knack for engineering, over the course of the series building a mechanical puppet, a frequency detector, and a metal detector. The frequency detector is actually a pretty basic model that professional detectives wouldn't usually use, but it's somewhat justified that Gumshoe made it in middle school and didn't have time to fill out the paperwork for the precinct's equipment.
Genki Girl: It seems to be an unwritten rule for all sidekicks in the series to be this.
Giving Someone the Pointer Finger: In a particular pose that's easily as iconic of the series as any of the catchphrases. It's in the series' logo and even in the scroll text button on the touch screen. It is oddly absent on the touch screen in Apollo Justice and Investigations, however.
The Pre-Order Bonus for the first DS game in the US was a stylus...whose tip was a hand with that very pointer finger.
The Wii port of the first game even allows you to issue an objection by flailing the Wiimote at the screen in imitation of said pose.
Case 1-5 (first game, fifth case, Rise from the Ashes) has this exchange:
Judge: "If I cut my finger Mr. Wright, I wouldn't be able to pound my gavel anymore."
Phoenix: (Yeah. But if I cut my finger, I wouldn't be able to point it at people anymore...)
And now Wright is crossing over with Professor Layton, another famous pointer. This can only end well.
The newest prosecutor, Simon Blackquill from Dual Destinies, tries to point at Apollo during their trial but because he's wearing handcuffs he can't do it and gets stuck mid-gesture.
Guile Hero: It doesn't get more "Guile Hero" than a defense attorney who can only use evidence, brains and chutzpah to save innocent people from the chair!
Hope Spot: It is nearly impossible to get to the end of a trial without the prosecutor or culprit finding a significant flaw in your case, often a lack of decisive evidence, that renders your entire argument worthless despite everything you have proven. Cue Phoenix holding his head in his hands... until...
Hurricane of Puns: The vast majority of names you meet are a pun of some sort. Some are subtle, most... not so much.
Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every episode (save the bonus case in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, "Rise From The Ashes") contains the word "Turnabout" in the title. The Japanese name of that case can be translated as "Turnabout Revival". And the series itself is originally titled "Turnabout Courtroom", which quite nicely describes Phoenix's tendency to make a dramatic comeback when all seems lost.
Improbable Age: Edgeworth became a prosecutor at a very young age, but he's got nothing on Franziska von Karma, who started practicing law at age thirteen! And Klavier Gavin started practice at age seventeen while still finding the time to become a rock star. The German/American legal system must be fun! Only gets away with it due to Rule of Cool.
Indy Ploy: At least once every trial, Phoenix comments on how he's making his defense up as he goes along.
Informed Ability: Winston Payne is described as a "rookie killer", yet every single rookie he goes up against in the games he ends up losing to. The only time the player sees Winston win a case is when he's arguing against Furio Tigre, in a Paper-Thin Disguise as Phoenix, who was trying to lose.
To be fair to Payne, the first trial that he lost was chronologically his first appearance, and this first loss led to him becoming the loser that he is in the rest of the games.
The Judge: ... and his Canadian brother! Who is also a judge.
Just in Time: Often times, just when all seems lost... someone bursts in with case-breaking evidence at the very last moment, usually backlit by the sun for extra dramatic effect.
Which is actually pretty odd, seeing as how in Apollo Justice during the MASON system segment, we see a overhead view of the courthouse, and that door opens to a hallway...
There's more than one courtroom in that courthouse. But even if the courtrooms are all laid out in a similar fashion, likely Rule of Cool and/or Rule of Drama applies.
Kangaroo Court: The legal system in this universe clearly operates on presumption of guilt... but it doesn't stop there. It's not enough to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that the defendant is innocent. There is at least one point in the games (probably more) where it is actually possible to have the defendant found guilty despite the Judge acknowledging that you've already proved their innocence. It's not even enough to prove who else did commit the crime. To get the defendant acquitted, you have to identify the real criminal and make them confess on the stand. This is Hand Waved by the Next Sunday A.D. fictional legal system having undergone legislated reforms to drastically shorten and simplify the trial process, resulting in a system where the majority of defendants are quickly found guilty unless the defense can prove their innocence.
To be fair, the series originated in Japan, which has a significantly different legal system. It has an inquisitive court system, where the goal is to find the truth. Even trial by jury was not established in the Japanese legal system until 2009—and even then only for certain severe crimes (and the arrangement has far more in common with a court-martial than a common law trial). Yeah, it seems mildly biased against the player, but that's simply a gameplay mechanism. The prosecutors tend to treat the inquisitive court system as an adversarial one, doing anything to get their guilty verdict. Phoenix is not corrupt, and tries to only defend clients he truly believes innocent. The Rule of Cool and the Rule of Funny let the characters get away with murder (well, not literally, that's the one thing no one actually gets away with). When the judge believes there are loose ends, he will not give a verdict until the loose ends are tied up. So it's not guilty until proven innocent, except where it inconveniences the player.
Even most countries with the inquisitive system, including Japan, have the principle where one is "innocent until proven guilty." However, in a bit of Truth in Television, the Japanese court system has a >99% conviction rate (though it has been attributed to limited funding leading to only the most solid cases being tried), forced confessions are allowed frequently, and prosecutors can appeal not-guilty verdicts. In 2008, the Justice Minister noted that the idea of "innocent until proven guilty" was one that he wanted to constrain. However, this game takes it even further than the broken system in Japan and makes it so that one is "guilty until someone else is proven guilty". More in this article.
The trope becomes a plot point between the Trials & Tribulations and Apollo Justice chapters in the series. Phoenix notices just how utterly broken and biased the court system is and how he would have lost several cases if something didn't turn the tide of the trial at the last minute. After Phoenix becomes disbarred from practicing law, this sets off a string of events. In order to get Kristoph Gavin for evidence fraud and murder, Phoenix had to fight to get the court system to instate a jury system so that the fate of a client is decided by their peers rather than a single judge and he used Apollo as a catalyst for seeking out the truth during trials, something Phoenix was no longer able to do anymore legally.
And then between Apollo Justice and Dual Destinies comes the "Dark Age of Law", where the justice system became SO corrupt that all the people lost their trust in the legal system, and the Jurist System was abandoned. Thus, the original system is in place for Dual Destinies.
Kleptomaniac Hero: If it even conceivably passes for evidence, Phoenix or Apollo nabs it. However, it's difficult to tell if Phoenix or Apollo actually grabs the evidence, or just takes a picture of it or something similar. It would be highly improbable for them to lug around a large statue or noodle cart, for example. The general consensus seems to be that if it disappears from the scene, Phoenix or Apollo took it, and if it stays there, they took a picture. However, for extra fun, simply imagine them holding everything, and then presenting it in court by lugging it out from Hammerspace.
Well, there is always Trucy's panties...
Godot and Edgeworth also seem to share this trait, both finding the safest place for evidence to be their pocket and satchel respectively.
In Investigations, it's "Jotted down in the Organizer" unless the object is clearly handed to you, and you can examine it in detail.
'Bear snatched up by Edgeworth.'
Yeah, that bear the size of a hotel room.
The assistants, Maya and Trucy, are also fond of grabbing things and the protagonist often has to talk them out of stealing things. Not that they call it stealing mark you.
Trucy gets called out on this in case 4-3. When Gavin says they can take a flyer, Apollo tells him good, as Trucy already swiped one. She is a little upset to be found out.
Kay often claims she was about to do this, but never actually does. It's funny when the spirit medium and the illusionist among the partners indulge in more theft than, well, the thief.
Lady of War: The Pink Princess, the Steel Samurai's love interest, wields a rapier.
Large Ham: Is the character a lawyer? They are this. Is the character a witness? They are this. Really, there's just something about the court system that turns everyone involved into one of these. Even the judge gets to join in once or twice.
Last Name Basis: Edgeworth, von Karma (Manfred more than Franziska), and Gumshoe, most prominently.
Living Emotional Crutch: Celeste and later Franziska for Adrian Andrews. The Case Files manga parodied this with the suggestion that Adrian, by accepting Franziska's advice, was just as co-dependent as ever.
Lost in Translation: Mostly averted, character name meanings and puns are generally carried over to English and French about as well as can be hoped. A few things are lost that make things somewhat more sensible. (notably the kanji for dragon in Phoenix's Japanese name, see Animal Stereotypes above)
Of course the Japanese Pronouns are lost but most of the time it's not a big deal. However, at one point they're used to emphasize that the Matt Engarde you meet at first and the one he reveals himself to be are not the same person. The former uses "boku" (a boyish pronoun) while the latter uses "ore" (a more serious, adult one). Thankfully, the rest of The Reveal is enough to make the change very obvious.
Mad Prosecutor's Gorgeous Children: Franziska von Karma is the daughter of the Big Bad of the first game (not counting DS 1-5), though she doesn't fall in love with Phoenix. At the same time, Miles Edgeworth is the adoptive son of von Karma and Franziska's "unrelated little brother".
It's symbolic of Franziska's personality that she calls Edgeworth her "little brother" when he's older than her.
Magic Realism: Ghosts regularly become involved in what would otherwise be a fairly realistic setting.
Malicious Misnaming: Many characters keep calling Phoenix under different names (Mr. Wrong, Trite, etc.) as an insult, and Klavier Gavin's favorite nickname for Apollo is Herr Forehead. Franziska does the complete opposite by always addressing Phoenix and Edgeworth by their full names, but notably refers to Gumshoe as "Scruffy McTrenchCoat".
Matter of Life and Death: In Trials and Tribulations it is shown on two occasions that murder is a capital crime, thus all the trials are this for the defendants. This fits with the Japanese origin of the game as the one time we hear details of an execution, it is performed by hanging as it would be in reality.
Meaningful Name: Too many, but one that practically spoils Apollo Justice immediately is Kristoph Gavin, Japanese name "Kirihito Garyu". As in "hitokiri". As in "murder".
If you know the correct way his name is pronounced, Godot can suffer from similarly easy spoilers in the English version. It's the last syllables of his real first and last name (Diego Armando) smashed together.
Men Are the Expendable Gender: To the point that there are no female victims in two of the games and Investigations only features one female victim in the backstory to the fourth case.
Do note, however, that there are quite a number of dead females tied into cases. Also, in the first game, there are 2 female victims, one in the first case, the other, your mentor.
Truth in Television ; Men are 3 times more likely to be murdered than women. So it makes sense.
In fact this is apparently so omnipresent in the Ace Attorney Universe that when, in 2-4, Adrian Andrews fails to deliver one, Phoenix immediately become suspicious of her guilt.
Averted, though, with Kristoph Gavin, who confesses to a murder but refuses to disclose his reason for doing so. Then Drew Misham bites the dust, Apollo and Phoenix investigate the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death, and we finally realize why Kristoph is so tight-lipped about his own agenda.
Edgeworth: "O-objection! I... object to the witness's taltakiveness." Judge: Objection sustained! The witness will refrain from rambling on the stand."
Mukokuseki: A significant part of the reason the sweeping name changes in the English version don't cause too much complaining; if anything, the number of characters who look distinctly "Asian" - never mind Japanese - are a minority, and passing off characters like Reiji Mitsurugi and Mei Karuma as caucasians (as Miles and Franziska, respectively) is somewhat more believable given how they look.
Basically, it takes law—as any non-reader of End User License Agreement will attest, law is really boring—and makes it awesome, often simply by increasing the volume ("Objection!"). The fact that all lawyers in AA look really cool also helps there.
At various points in the series, the dramatic close-up of one of the lawyers that's usually reserved for adding impact to rightfully awesome declarations is used for completely ridiculous (though they make sense in context) statements, such as "What kind of murderer uses a Samurai Slap?" or "Baseballs have stitches! Are you saying that all baseballs are suspicious?"
The final case of the third game has an exorcism take place on the witness stand, accomplished with little more than some inquisitive prodding.
Mystery Magnet: Many cases start with Phoenix having only taken a passing interest in something (an awards ceremony, for example), only for someone involved with whatever it was to turn up dead. Apollo Justice seems to have been set up to become one of these as well, and the same is true for Edgeworth in his Gaiden Game.
Near Villain Victory: Frequent. Very frequent. Most trials typically range from Phoenix having one last chance to present decisive evidence before his client is convicted to the judge announcing the verdict before someone comes in with new information.
Next Sunday A.D.: The first Phoenix Wright game takes place in 2016. Nothing's changed at all, really, except the court system. And cell phones have regressed back to the late 1990s.
No Badge? No Problem!: The lawyers frequently overstep their authority in their crime scene investigations. Its very vague about whether the lawyers are actually allowed to do this—sometimes Phoenix will be stopped from entering a crime scene due to lack of authority, and sometimes the police will gladly let him look the whole thing over and take whatever valuable evidence he wants.
No Communities Were Harmed: For the most part (they're all just puns), but Gumshoe does mention at one point that he lives in Compton.
Oh Crap: Half of the fun is watching the reactions of the prosecuting attorneys and witnesses as you rip right through their evidence and testimonies. Especially since almost all of them have insulted you in some way at some point or another.
Overly-Nervous Flop Sweat: A lot of characters sweat bullets when they see themselves trapped into a corner, attorneys, witnesses, or otherwise. It gets Turned Up to Eleven when the radio a certain witness is using to testify starts leaking acid instead.
Periphery Demographic: In-universe, the Steel Samurai franchise seems to be popular amongst older people like Maya and Edgeworth, despite being designed for little kids.
The Perry Mason Method: Courtroom scenes are nothing but this. Even when you aren't confronting the actual killer, you always have to work to get your current witness to reveal some important piece of information.
Pointless Band-Aid: Detective Gumshoe has been wearing a bandage in the same spot on his left cheek for at least seven years. It's almost-but-not-quite lampshaded in Investigations, when he asks, "Do I have something on my face or something?"
The Pollyanna: Maya. Just... Maya. All the assistants qualify, but Maya takes the cake.
Not exactly. Maya gets arrested many times in Phoenix's games and is pretty bummed out about it. She always tells Phoenix that she's not of any help. (Although, in the courtroom, she actually doesn't really say much)
Real Men Wear Pink: Edgeworth, baby (wine-red, according to investigations. Looks like magenta, though).
Seems to be thrown about everywhere. Phoenix's pink sweater when he was younger, Larry's pink overall (okay, so those two don't really count in the context used), Kristoph's pink neck-ribbon-thing, Zak Gramarye's most amazing get-up (it's referred to as red but if you believe that you're colorblind) and Wocky's jacket if we can include Edgeworth's—Capcom seems to love putting pink on men.
And let's not forget Max Galactica. Wow.
Or Redd White. He also has purple hair and sparkles almost every time he's addressed.
Red Oni, Blue Oni: Inverted with Phoenix and Miles. Loud, hot-blooded and impulsive Phoenix wears a blue suit, while calm, composed and calculated Miles wears a burgundy suit.
The same applies for Edgeworth and Agent Lang, but without the color scheme.
Refuge in Audacity: Every murderer in the series bases their plans on the assumption that no one can even hope to imagine the events that have happened. Luke Atmey is a great example of that, trying to use a guilty verdict for a lesser crime as a defense for a murder. Things would work out if it wasn't for the fact that Phoenix, Apollo and Edgeworth themselves tend to be quite audacious in their theories and explanations.
Rule of Fun: The justice system presented in the games would be a joke in real life, the lawyers and witnesses get away with attitudes and behaviors that would be punishable by contempt of court at least, and any witness revising their statement that much would have their credibility wrecked in about fifteen minutes. But is it fun? Heck yes.
The series is supposedly something of a satire of the Japanese legal system, which really does have corrupt prosecutors, an emphasis on confessions, and an extremely high conviction rate. It is, of course, wildly exaggerated.
Seamless Spontaneous Lie: Very common; characters who are caught out on their lies often come up with entirely different, equally detailed stories within very little time. Of course, due to the nature of the game, these are always found out eventually.
Ship Tease: Capcom is very aware of the Ho Yay fan base. The end of the third game also drops one more on the fans before the seven year time skip to Apollo Justice seems to erase it.
Shout Out: Has its own page. Both the Japanese version AND the English translation use many throwaway pop culture references as gags. Justice for All had a serious spike in online memes inserted into the localization, presumably thanks to the Memetic Mutation of the first game.
Show Within a Show: The Steel Samurai, sort of. Also the Pink Princess, the Nickel Samurai, and the Jammin' Ninja.
Sidekick: It's series tradition for the main character to have a cute/attractive female sidekick in almost every case. Or Gumshoe.
Smug Snake: Many of the murderers turn out to be one of these if it's not immediately obvious, such as Redd White, Morgan Fey, Dahlia Hawthorne, and Matt Engarde. The last of those almost qualifies for Magnificent Bastard status, but made one little mistake. Richard Wellington is a particularly over-the-top example.
Sympathetic Murderer: Several, including someone who killed the man who had made everyone think the killer was deranged and ruined his life fifteen years ago in the first game.
How about Godot? His murder was self-defense and defense of another, not to mention payback for the poisoning that ruined his life by putting him in a coma for years, making him effectively blind, and making him unable to protect the woman he loved?
There's also Acro. He wanted to kill Regina because she doesn't understand that she's responsible for putting his brother in a coma and himself in a wheelchair. Then he killed the wrong person, the ringmaster who's pretty much his surrogate father. You get the feeling that if his brother is dead instead of in a coma, he would have just turned himself in or killed himself.
Theme Naming: The given names of the three defense attorneys working for Wright Anything Agency all follow mythology: Phoenix refers to, well, a phoenix rising from the ashes while Apollo and Athena are a Greek god/goddesses commonly associated with truth and justice.
Truth in Television: Unfortunately, all the prosecutors who obsess over perfect win records and with the odds so stacked against you is very true in Japan's criminal justice system, even false confessions are common to avoid dishonoring a family further with a long and drawn out trial. In a way, you could say the series is actually a brilliant and scathing satire.
Tsundere: Franziska, particularly in the third game after she's mellowed a bit. Even lampshaded. Both Phoenix and Edgeworth say "she's so openly hostile it's almost cute".
Villainous Breakdown: The closer you get the real murderer to confessing, the more out of control they get. Once the truth is revealed, they cry, scream, tear their hair and clothes, laugh hysterically, and sometimes faint dead away.Luke Atmey in particular is this trope.
Also, the more out of control they get, the more smug they get when the prosecuting attorney brings up something that could pull their ass out of the fire-"How I Would Have Done It" by OJ Simpson levels of smug. The only thing that keeps this from convicting them on the basis that innocent people simply don't get this smug is that the game is too busy trying to convict your client to notice that the real guilty party's behavior is giving them away without Phoenix pointing this out.
Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Edgeworth + earthquakes = debilitating panic attacks. In his own game, the turbulence on an airplane produces a close enough effect that it triggers his phobia and he passes out.
Fridge Logic: Depending on the version of the game, Edgeworth works in one of two places: Japan, or southern California. If he's so afraid of earthquakes, why does he work in a place that (in either case) is so seismically active?
Fridge Brilliance: It's where he grew up. Many people live their entire lives in the town they grew up in. Not to mention that when he sort of quits after the first game, he is always travelling.
Actually, it's pretty strongly implied he grew up in Germany more than he did Japan/California, since he was raised alongside Franziska, who, until you meet her in Justice For All is stated to have pretty much never left Germany before that. She flew in specifically to go up against Phoenix. He left his home country when he was 9 and didn't return for years. That could explain why he reacts so strongly, rather than building up a sort of tolerance (at least enough where he doesn't always black out). The reason below is probably the more likely reason, as opposed to it simply being where he spent the first 9 years of his life.
Then there's the more obvious reason that its where his father's grave is located.
More literal and yet averted as snakes when in Dual Destinies, Athena and Apollo happen across Myriam Scuttlebutt in her box, and Athena notes that there's something inside. Apollo's first comment is to hope whatever's inside isn't a snake. Myriam then spends the rest of your talk with her making hissing sounds.
Xanatos Speed Chess: As implied by the Japanese title, most of the courtroom showdowns wind up being this, with both sides playing a hasty game of catch-up whenever a new piece of evidence turns the tables. Special note goes to many of the murderers who have a talent for being able to frequently adjust their story to counter anything that gets thrown at them, especially Quercus Alba, who manages to keep going the lion's share of an entire chapter after having his Diplomatic Impunity revoked.
You Are Number Six: All attorneys are given an identification number. Edgeworth takes slight at this.
Franziska von Karma is actually a literalisation of this trope (as well as Curtains Match the Window), as she actually has pastel blue hair. (Vera Misham and Lisa Basil also possess literal blue hair.)
You Keep Using That Word: In the American legal system, an "objection" is a protest issued when one counselor wants to keep a part of testimony out of the official record and the ears of the jury or to deem submitted evidence unusable by virtue of illegality or irrelevancy. In the games, it's used as a translation of the Japanese "Igi ari", or "I disagree". Granted, it's definitely catchier.
Also, an in universe example, with Redd White.
The games tell you to find "contradictions in the testimony" whenever a prosecution witness testifies. Sometimes, the testimony contradicts itself, but more often it contradicts something like the autopsy report. It's not so much a contradiction "in" the testimony as a contradiction between the testimony and something that is probably more reliable.
The games play loose with the definition of the word "lie." If a detective forgets a detail, someone will say that his testimony "contains a lie." If someone misinterprets a photograph and you have to point out something in the photo that disproves their claim, your assistant will say, "find the lie in the photograph!"