Disgaea is a series of Turn-Based Strategy games created by Nippon Ichi Software (Atlus published the first game in America, since Nippon Ichi didn't have an American division at the time).There are currently four main games in the series, plus upcoming 5th and 6th games:
All four games are highly regarded by enthusiasts of Turn-Based Strategy games for their twisted humor and myriad ways to customize and level up characters and equipment. Oh, and the Prinnies are so cute too, dood!The storylines of the games are set in various Netherworlds, populated by demons and the souls of the dead (who serve as Prinnies until they can pay off their sins). Each game stars a primarily new cast, and is set in a different Netherworld, but guest appearances from the previous games are inevitable (and they can usually be recruited). The series' tone is FAR towards the silly side of the Sliding Scale of Silliness Versus Seriousness; expect loads of Lampshade Hanging, Genre Savviness, Shout Outs (enough to warrant their own page), and Parodies, all set in a World of Ham with No Fourth Wall.The first two games both have PSP remakes, with the NA localization of the first entitled Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness, and a DS remake of that remake, Disgaea DS. Afternoon of Darkness is known for its Etna Mode, a "What If" story where Etna accidentally kills Laharl, and takes over as the main character. The localization of Disgaea 2 PSP is entitled Dark Hero Days, complete with its own Etna Mode variant (This time telling what happened before the game started) starring the Dark Hero, Axel. And finally, a PS Vita remake of Disgaea 3 has been released, entitled Absence of Detention, which includes all the DLC from the PS3 version, including Raspberyl Mode, two new characters, and four new scenarios which focus on the rest of the main cast.All four main games have been adapted into manga and a series of light novels with the original game also getting an anime.This series is the Trope Namer for:
The Prism Rangers, a parody of Sentai shows like Power Rangers, would have 'transformed' were it not for Etna shooting two of the three. In a side-quest in the second game, all seven of them show up, and they use this as their ultimate attack. All slots of the Prism Rangers, apart from the relatively strait-laced red and blue, are filled by various random people, such as someone who can't speak English and a salaryman who answered the wrong job posting.
And Prism Black, aka Adell. After winning that title Rozalin expresses a desire to be Prism Pink.
Purposely spoofed by the main cast of the third game when they do their own role call as the Evil Rangers after defeating Prism Red to make their victory all the more sweet.
There's also an actual group known as the Evil Rangers in Dark Hero Days, who are a group of appropriately colored monsters that act in a kid's show.
Alternate Continuity: Though most of the sequels and cameos occur after the Best Ending of Disgaea 1, it's possible that Prinny takes place in a different continuity then the main series, judging by the presence of Prinny Laharl as a boss fight.
American Kirby Is Hardcore: All games have differing Japanese and American box arts, but Disgaea 2 and Disgaea 3 stand out the most. Whereas the Japanese box art for both game uses the standard chibi group shot, Disgaea 2's box art has Adell featured prominently while all the other characters are shadowed out with the exception of their glowing red eyes, while Disgaea 3's boxart is a single image of Mao glaring menacingly.
Bad Boss: Netherworld Prinnies are treated (with good reason) pretty badly, but Etna is sadistic enough to them to shock other demons in the Prinny games. Adell, Yukimaru and Rozalin comment about this in the second game.
Beady Eyed Loser: Laharl is drawn with his normal eyes in the beginning of the Disgaea 2 manga, but after volume two his eyes have turned into this.
Beehive Barrier: In the protecting spells for physical and magical attacks.
Benevolent Boss: Both Mao and Laharl's dads were good to work under. Also Valvatorez
Presumably, Emizel's Father as well, before Judge Nemo took control anyway
Black Mage: Nearly every game has set caster classes.
Blood On The Debate Floor: If the Dark Assembly rejects one of your proposals, you can attempt to physically persuade naysayers.
Bonus Boss: Disgaea(and many Nippon Ichi titles) love this trope in general. The most famous of such is Overlord Tyrant Baal who makes frequent appearances throughout each of the Disgaea titles as a monstrous super side boss, always around the area of 4000+ in levels at minimum. Baal is not the only example, as past Disgaea characters make appearances as powerful bosses, other characters from other Nippon Ichi titles (such as Priere) are also bonus bosses, and the list could continue. Most bonus bosses cannot just be fought either, it requires usually fulfilling certain requirements (i.e. for Disgaea 2 Zetta requires 10 dark sun maps, and the port to the PSP requires Champloo and Raspberyl defeated, and all 16 treasure maps found to fight Mao).
Bonus Dungeon: There are quite a few of them in all of the games, including a system to create an infinite number of random dungeons.
All the games will present a "barrier" during Chapter 3. Said barrier halts you from getting to the next battle until the main character has a Lv. 10 item equiped, an excuse to introduce the Item World.
The first game suggests you try a Common Sword for your first Item World run, being the cheapest weapon in the game. In the fourth game, you are given a Common Sword to try your first time there, except that now the Common Sword is a special sword that can't be bought, can't be stolen since no enemy will be using one, and can't be gotten as a bonus.
Cap: In this series, as well as many other N1 games where it's absurdly high.
In example, In Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days, Pringer X has maxed stats. The main six stats are all at 40,000,000.
Came Back Strong: You level up, then you reincarnate into a new body that starts with better stats.
Cape Wings: Laharl's scarf. Also, most Nosferatu/vampires.
Character Exaggeration: Arguable. But it's a general rule that any character that makes a cameo appearance outside of their debut game will be greatly exaggerated. For example, When Laharl shows up in D2, he seems to have forgotten all of his character development at the end of the first game. Flonne's later appearances, particularly D4, dial-up her otaku-ness and make her much more of an airhead than she originally was. Mao's appearances in Disgaea Infinite and Disgaea 4 also has he seemingly forget his character development and also portrays him as much more of a pervert. Among other examples.
The Chew Toy: The Prinnies are the Nippon Ichi world's choice for menial labor and Stuff Blowing Up. They deserve it, though; they're working off their karmic debt for bad deeds done in a previous life.
Class and Level System: Subverted. The core of ability progression is more about leveling up individual abilities. While leveling up one class does unlock a new one, typically that class has slightly better stats but the exact same skills. (The exceptions are classes that require combinations of characters to unlock.) Additionally, you can't class change, so if you want the new class you're in for some Forced Level Grinding with your newborn Lv.1.
Class Change Level Reset: A staple of the series. The Reincarnation ability allows you to change any unit to any other type of unit, keeping some of their abilities, but they always start over at level 1.
Comically Missing the Point: When Fuka tries to rob the Netherworld mint with Desco and an unwilling Artina in the Fuka & Desco Show, the three of them are stopped by Flonne, who insists they're about to commit a terrible crime: how can they even think of robbing the Netherworld mint without first coming up with an awesome Phantom Thief team name!?
Crapsaccharine World (The situations in each game can be quite serious despite the quirky characters and humor)
Cross-Dressing Voices: Barbara Goodson (Rita Repulsa from Power Rangers and Alcyone from Magic Knight Rayearth) supplies the voice of Laharl in the video games. Rather refreshingly for a profession that has no problem with replacing previous actors with sound-alikes, she voices Laharl in every single instance, even in other games where he's no more than a brief cameo.
Cut-In: So iconically it provides the page image for that trope.
The Succubus and Nekomata races in the first game, the plant-girls in the second. Notable because the Succubus and Nekomata characters (as well as Jennifer) were drawn by a different artist — Yoshiharu "Ryoji" Nomura — the artist who did the characters and art for the Marl Kingdom / La Pucelle games — did the "sexy type" characters with the new artist Yuichi "Haradaya" Harada for the rest — which is why they stand out so much. (Both links go to their respective homepages, which are NSFW.)
Also subverted when Dratti —one of Laharl's vassals who happens to be a big, scaly (and snarky) dragon— points out that it's a she.
Also lampshaded with one of the Flora Beasts you meet early in the second game, who happens to be named Bridget...
Dark Is Not Evil: A major plot point of the four games is the nature of demons/angels as being supposedly "absolute evil/good", nature vs nurture, etc. For example, Flonne staying with Laharl during Disgaea to prove that he can love (and thus, isn't truly evil), Rozalin becoming more upset the more of the outside world she sees, etc.
The Vita port, Absence of Detention, adds four more, each covering two characters; one for Kyoko and a Asuka, one for Sapphire and Almaz, one for Salvatore and Master Big Star, and one for the new character. (This leaves Champloo the only main cast member not to receive a story)
Disgaea 4 has a downloadable Tyrant Valvatorez Mode which takes place during Val's time as a Tyrant and a Fuuka and Desco Mode in which Fuuka starts getting interested in Prinny reincarnation.
Disgaea has a weird relationship with this trope. Characters come Back from the Dead on a regular basis, both in the story and game mechanics, but some stay dead for unexplained reasons. Makai Kingdom, a game set in the universe of Disgaea, introduces the Sacred Tome a book that grants any wish provided you have enough mana power, and it is indeed used to bring a person back from the dead. In Disgaea 3 a character dies, but comes right back to life when he receives a different title then the one he had when he died. In Prinny 2 a particular prinny is given their old body back after doing a very good deed. The game mechanics opens even more loopholes. The thing is; this methods of resurrection is never used to bring certain other characters back from the dead, e.g. parents of the main characters are often dead from the beginning or will be by the end, and their deaths are threatened as final.
One character is directly killed in the worst ending of Disgaea 2. after defeating True Zenon, Zenon dies and Adell begins to lament since Zenon was Rozalin and he promised to protect her, he feels extreme guilt. This is potentially averted when Zenon then turns and possesses Adell, but in that example he kills his siblings and it is implied he got Yukimaru and Etna as well, as they were in the room.
In Disgaea 4 there's Artina who died 400 years ago, then comes back as an angel.
Difficulty Spike: The first game has this at chapter 12, when you start fighting EDF soldiers with way higher HP that what you have at the same level and brutal skills. Disgaea 2 has it at Chapter 11, a puzzle-themed chapter which is hard to navigate, sports strong enemies and mad geo puzzles. Disgaea 3 stops being nice midway chapter 5 when you start facing advanced enemy classes in high numbers and introduces you to Salvatore. Disgaea 4 has it at Chapter 7 with powerful mages pelting you from everywhere.
Disc One Nuke - Some dungeon crawling in the Item World and prodigious Level Grinding can turn any character you wish into this; during the New Game Plus, everybody is this in just about all but perhaps the last few chapters after the first replay cycle (unless you pass the bill to make the enemy stronger), and even more so in subsequent cycles.
Mid-Boss has one. It even uses the combo attack animation, showing four close-up pictures of Mid-Boss before he starts his attack.
DLC: Disgaea 3 has several characters from previous NIS games. Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days has a handful of them available, though they are glitchy in the American version. Disgaea 4 is looking to one-up the previous game by having characters from previous games, entirely new classes and even making otherwise unplayable bosses available through DLC. Disgaea 3 and Disgaea 4 also have alternative stories starred by secondary characters available for purchase, which rewards players with new items and even more characters.
Downer Ending - Each game has at least one "bad ending," which normally requires more dedication than the good ending to get as they are either gained by passing a certain bill or killing your own allies. In the first game, for example, you have to pass at least 100 bills in the Dark Assembly by force before the final battle. This gives you an ending where Laharl wanders the Netherworld for eternity holding the flower that Flonne got turned into.
Think that's bad? In Disgaea 2 the worst ending has Adell kill a Zenon-possessed Rozalin before becoming possessed by Zenon himself and EATING his siblings.
Early-Bird Cameo: Asagi is a test character that the NIS team used to test the engine for another one of their games, Makai Kingdom. (It is rumored she was going to be the main character for Makai Wars, which was canceled and possibly rerolled into Makai Kingdom, but this is not confirmed.) They liked her so much that they left her in as a bonus character, a "cameo from a game that they haven't made yet" (or since). They've added her to every game since then — including Disgaea 2 and 3 — and she's become a sort of mascot for the company. She's even in the opening movie for Disgaea 3.
And in Prinny 2 there is "Asagi mode", which makes her a main character of the half of the game.
Eagle Land: Captain Gordon, Defender of Earth is so obviously American it hurts.
Earn Your Bad Ending: The worst endings in the games are often much more difficult to obtain than the normal or "good" endings. Sometimes they're for things like wiping out the final boss with the main character solo at an absurdly high level or things like that. Other times the bad ending requires deliberately doing horrible things like killing your own allies fifty or a hundred times.
Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: Starting in Disgaea, and carrying over to spinoff franchises like Phantom Brave and Makai Kingdom, all characters have three resistance levels to fire, ice, and wind magic; it's usually balanced by anyone having a strong resistance in one category having a weakness in another, though it doesn't follow a pattern.
Averted with the "Star" element, which no one is particularly resistant to, but no one is particularly vulnerable, either.
Evil Is Petty: The majority of the demons aren't so much evil as they are simply jackasses, and their most nefarious deeds amount to stuff such as not washing their hands before dinner. Most of them end up appalled at the genuinely evil characters.
The best ending of the first game also makes Flonne one, but she is still the Love Freak she was as an angel.
Some material heavily imply the Succubi are in this class as well.
Fantastic Racism: A major theme of the first game despite its light-hearted nature. More specifically, the point about judging a group before you know them, a point elaborated on in detail by Lamington. Almaz comments on this in the third game as well.
For Massive Damage: You can do trillions of HP worth of damage in one turn by one character if you want; if you're not that patient, you can still kill a lot of things fast by using combo attacks, team attacks, and tower attacks (a new feature of the second game).
For the Evulz: This is encouraged by petty demons, such as Mao who goes out of his way to do this.
Forced Level Grinding: During the post-story, the game flows like: win battle, unlock new stage, spend some hours grinding your characters and items, beat new stage, repeat. Disgaea3 is the worst offender, taking 8 full chapters to make enemies reach Lv. 90 while the first optional chapter, Mansion of Ordeals, start with enemies at Lv. 100 and each battle after that raises their levels by another 100 levels. And that's just the beginning.
Due to the games' Absurdly High Level Cap, and encouragement of elite tweaks, there are usually ways to make this go very quickly. Statisticians can be collected and stacked for massive XP boosts, team and tower attacks will split xp among multiple characters, Geo Effects provide further boosts, and bills passed in the senate can raise or lower enemy levels to make them more valuable. In the post game, it's seriously not uncommon to take a character from level 1 to level 1000 after a single ten second long battle.
Fusion Dance: In all of the games, you can create stronger enemies by tossing them into each other (except for Prinnies, who explode when thrown). Disgaea 3 introduced the Magichange mechanic, allowing monster-class units to becomes weapons for humanoid users (examples being Wood Golems becoming fists and Dragons becoming spears), also transferring evilites and gaining new specials (for the record, don't throw anyone with a magichanged Prinny gun). Disgaea 4 amps this mechanic up two new levels by allowing two monsters to merge into a giant version, then allowing said giant monster to become a whole new weapon for a humanoid when Magichange is used again (Giant Wood Golems become axes, for example.)
Whilst most characters stand still when it's not their turn, the Kit-Kat and Succubus monsters, well, don't.
Averted in the case of the Succubus starting from Disgaea 3, where she got a new sprite, and in Disgaea 4 for the Kit-Kat for the same reason (Which may strike some as odd, considering that she got an...upgrade).
Glass Cannon: Every single character in the post-game content. The long and short of it (see One Stat to Rule Them All below) is that after a certain point, you are simply never, ever going to be able to survive more than a hit or two from the bosses, and gameplay descends to trying to get your numbers high enough to instantly kill the enemies before they instantly kill you.
God Guise: Vulcanus does this to Flonne in Etna mode.
Nothing in the game tells you how to get which ending. This can be especially frustrating when you finally do go on GameFAQs and learn that team-killing, accidental or otherwise disqualifies you from the Good Ending. Some of the better equipment is also nigh impossible to stumble into by accident.
Also, the conditions for unlocking most Dark World maps in the second game are pretty much impossible to guess, and for some maps it could take hours of experimentation if a FAQ is not used.
The requirements to unlock some secret bills and character classes are also unclear, and are sown only when the player actually fills the requirement.
Horny Devils: Succubi, naturally. Nekomata (and Flora Beasts), also being cute female (er, mostly) demons, are occasionally lumped in with them (usually when they show up together). Almost all the Horny Devils are drawn by the La Pucelle artist, making them stand out.
Humans Are Flawed: Demons and to a lesser extent angels tend to be very critical of humans, viewing them as weak or stupid at best or complete bastards at worse, though the main character does eventually meet decent humans.
Idiot Ball: Several characters on several occasions, mostly played for comedy. Mao in the 3rd game is particularly fond of the ball, too — he might have even swallowed it.
Immortal Immaturity: Angels and demons can become several thousand years old, but since time flows differently in their dimensions, they age 100 times slower then normal and act exactly as old as they look.
Informed Equipment: You can see your characters weapons, but not their armor. Played further with monsters which also don't shown the equipped weapons, which leads to having everything from sardine bones to, er, naughty tentacles.
With enough Level Grinding, any weapon can become an Infinity+1 Sword. At which point you find a zero-level Infinity Plus Two sword in the hundredth level of the Infinity Plus One sword, level that up until you find an Infinity Plus Three sword in its final level, and so on, until you finally have a 100th-level Infinity Plus Infinity sword of the most powerful base type in the game. To actually get a weapon up to Infinity Plus Most status, you need to ensure it is a legendary item of the most powerful base type, fully leveled, stuffed with the maximal amount of specialists throughout the leveling process, and in the hands of a character with maxed out proficiency (which modifies weapon strength geometrically, not linearly). And weapon proficiency is just one of many, many ways in which one can level up an Infinity Plus One Character.
THE Infinity+1 Sword is the Yoshitsuna sword, its base states are significantly superior to all others of any type, not that you need it to break the game.
To Illustrate just how much of a game breaker this sword is, among other benefits, it has a range of 5 panels. No need to actually get close to your opponents anymore, just stab 'em from across a gap, or have your Mighty Glacier character stand between you and them! This only applies in the first game though. In later games, it has the same range as any other sword.
This is actually broken from the third game on. Yoshitsuna is only the second-best sword, with the Baal Sword being the absolute strongest. And in one of the spinoffs, Yoshitsuna wasn't a sword at all — it was the Space Battleship Yoshitsuna. The Japanese producer has said it doesn't matter what Yoshitsuna is, as long as it's the most badass item in the game.
Note that while the Baal sword, when it appears far outclasses the Yoshitsuna, this is more due to the fact that rank 40 weapons in the 3rd and 4th games all have an insane amount of power of their closest rank weapon of the same type. The Baal sword is in fact not the undisputed death machine the Yoshitsuna was in the first games, sharing both games with other rank 40 weapons that also boost range, movement, and jump like it does, some doing so in areas more than it does, and the rank 40 ax in both said games also does more damage, though the Baal sword does give the highest overall stat boost.
A producer who is, of course, named Kobayashi Yoshitsuna.
Instant Runes: Any time any kind of spell (or spell-like effect) is used, they show up.
Inter-Class Romance: This game loves this trope. Almaz is an extremely Unlucky Every DudeChew Toy guardsman. Sapphire is an Ax Crazy princess. There's also Rozalin (fake overlord's daughter), Adell (peasent hero). Laharl's dad (overlord) and his mom (unknown social status mage).
Item Amplifier: Every item in the series has a randomly generated dungeon inside of it—the more floors you clear, the stronger the item becomes.
The three games have just enough special characters that join so that you don't really have room to use generic characters. Most of these special characters join at a low enough level that it's pointless to use them, however. The third game has an alternative — Loads And Loads Of Generic Characters — it contains male and female versions of every generic NPC that was in Disgaea 1 and 2, as well as generic characters from some other NIS games.
Love Chart: Both of 'The World Of Disgaea' artbooks contain such a chart with arrows, though the only relationship that is described with the word “Love” over the arrow is that between Laharl and Flonne, and even then a question mark is thrown at the end.
Luke, I Am Your Father: A lot of examples. By the third game, they start spoofing it in an alternate ending when Laharl waltzes in and claims to be Mao's father. Surprisingly, everyone believes him even after Flonne and Etna start arguing that they're his mother, though it takes some time before Mao starts believing them as well.
Made of Explodium: Prinnies. Picking them up and throwing them causes damage equal to half that Prinny's remaining Life Points. Also, causes any other Prinnies caught in the blast to explode, with similar results.
Master of One Magic: The starting lineup of Mages and Skulls (male mages) are only able to learn one of three types of attack magic depending on their color: wind, ice or fire (with "Star" Mages being able to learn a fourth). Later down the line you are able to create Prism Mages and Galaxy mages which learn multiple colors of magic at once but they are never able to learn the final elemental spell, so single-element specialists are never totally obsolete.
Mon: You can create or capture monsters by throwing them into the base panel. (You have to weaken them first.)
Money Fetish: Hoggmeiser; a Pig Man (possibly an orc?) with obsessive greed. He shows up as a character in the first Disgaea but references to him keep cropping up later. By Disgaea 4 he gives out money loans by phone to the player.
Monster Lord: The "elite" ranks of various monsters count. The top type of Prinny is called a Prinny God for example.
Mood Whiplash: Each game has a narrative opening that sounds dark, dramatic and tense, as opposed to the general wackiness and humor of the plot. There's generally at least one point in each game where it whiplashes back, though.
A lot of the characters' ultimate special attacks, such as the Prism Cannon example above, seem to operate entirely on Coolness and Nonsensoleum. They're still hella devastating, though.
Taken to its logical extreme in Disgaea Infinite. Just to give an idea of ridiculous some of the scenes are, one has Flonne and Jennifer perform a flying trapeze act to hand off a blu ray followed by Gordon smacking said blu ray with a nail-filled baseball bat into Thursday in order to have it play. Another has Laharl using lasers to straighten out posters.
In a sort of Meta Example, Rosenqueen was also the name of their online store. Key word being was as it's since (sadly) dropped the name.
New Game Plus: The game's bonus content tends to become unlocked after 2 or more play-throughs, which is good, cause for the most part the level requirements for even beginning to prepare for a NIS game's bonus content is several exponential orders of magnitude higher than the original bosses.
No Cure for Evil: Word Of God states that Celestia has something of a monopoly on healing magic, and that demon healers are either fallen angels or descended from them.
No Fourth Wall: Most characters are well aware that they're in a video game series.
Emizel: Veldime? That doesn't ring a bell. Is it in a different Netherworld?
Adell: A different Netherworld? Well... play Disgaea 2 for more details.
Non Standard Game Over: Triggered by a loss to Mid-Boss in the first game, or to Axel in the second (these also count as Multiple Endings). There are also multiple instances in the games of winning "unwinnable fights" thanks to the New Game Plus mode. Some of these cause Nonstandard endings. In other instances, these are caused by the hero having too many Ally kills, which allows unusual plot choices that end the game (refusing to show mercy where in the "real" plot you do, for example).
Non Standard Skill Learning: Starting from the second game there is always one party member whose ultimate skill is obtained through story instead of leveling up.
Mid-Boss is the grandmaster of this, as Seraph Lamington's secret partner in the masterful Batman Gambit to turn Laharl into a decent ruler and make peace between their two realms. About the only part of his personality that isn't an act is his impressive vanity, exemplified when he pauses to point out to himself how awesome he is after menacing a lesser villain
Adell also counts, seeing as he is usually a firm believer in Honor Before Reason, but at one point solves a ridiculously complex Geo Puzzle with one glance. He doesn't play the fool to be sneaky, however. He just considers it more fun to solve his problems by punching them.
One Hit Point Wonder: The Deathblow geo effect will turn anyone into this: if they're hit by attack strong enough to do even one point of damage, they die instantly.
One-Man Army: Arguably the easiest way to beat the main games. Having one character soak up all the Exp. and Mana will often make him/her naturally overleveled, and by expending all the money on one character allows you to buy much better weapons and armor than sharing the money with multiple characters. In the end the enemies will barely be able to scratch your character while every attack of yours will knock out one or more enemies.
One Stat to Rule Them All: NIS games tend to become offense only affairs in post game. Got better in the second game where tank builds (Taro and Wood Golems) are actually playable. This runs out of control in the third game thanks to the way the damage formula works. Modifiers that increase damage occur before calculations based on offense versus defense rather than after (modifiers that reduce damage occur after those calculations). This trope shows up much earlier as a result, around the point where you fight Marona.
This is atleast consistent. Most human characters have last names, but demons and angels don't. Almaz's last name is Von Almandine Adamant, Sapphire's is Rhodinite, Fuka's is Kazamatsuri, etc. Gordon's is apparently THE 37TH DEFENDER OF EARTH. It's possible demons and angels just don't bother with last names.
Petite Pride: Girl Archers infamously have no chests at all and their character description says that this was deliberate via magic, so their boobs wouldn't get in the way of their archery. (Rather like the legends of Amazon warriors)
Plot Armor: Lampshaded with cameo characters, but most prominently with Laharl who wants to be the main character again, stating that the main character has a lot of screentime in addition to always winning.
Every time you spawn a new "player mook" in the first two games, it has to be the "Pupil" of an existing character (say, Etna). If Etna stands next to her Pupil, she can now use any skills that Pupil knows—and, with enough uses, can even learn them permanently.
This system is abandoned from Disgaea 3 onward in favor of the more convenient Class World system, where any character can share their spells and abilities with another.
Disgaea Dimension 2 changes this up again. Now the Pupil learns from the Master, and the Master-Pupil relationship can be interchanged with any two characters.
Laharl, Etna, and Flonne from Disgaea. Mao and Raspberyl from Disgaea 3. For that matter, most of the Disgaea demons have ages tallied in millennia despite appearing as young humans.
Generally, most fans accept the 100 years = 1 year Demon/Human age exchange rate, which basically means that an angel or demon's real age will be their biological age (The age in which they appear to be) times 100. This works for the younger looking demons and angels like Laharl, Etna, Flonne, Mao, and Raspberyl, but not every demon or angel ages the same way. Lamington, for example, is 9147 years old and while he does look about middle aged, he certainly does not look like he's 91.
One can also reason that Lamington's power as High Seraph also helped slow his aging process. Either that or he has a hell of a plastic surgeon.
Lamington, Druids (quirk of how they get their power), and demons born in Veldime (mature at human speed but have demon life span) seem to be the only exceptions to this rule. The rule seems to apply fine to adult/middle aged angels/demons just fine as seen with Axel, Vulcanus, Champloo, Bigstar, and Salvatore.
There seems to be a legimate reason for the Veldime demons age rate. It's stated in Disgaea Infinite that time flows differently in the netherworld, thus causing the crazy ages. Veldime was originally a human world so it's possible it's time flow wasn't affected.
Reconstruction: Disgaea was very much a reconstruction of the SRPG genre after it almost died out in the 1990s, dropping the longwinded political stuff that had plagued the genre since it tried to mimic Tactics Ogre.
All demons in the Disgaea series, barring non-fire mages (and possibly Yukimaru), have red eyes. They're usually no more or less fearsome than the humans in the game. Adell's sprite also has red eyes, though it may be a result of his hair being in his way because all art depicts him as blue-eyed.
Among the Mook gallery, though, there are subversions to this (counting their default colors used in official artwork; Palette Swap only registering a higher tier). The Archers and Magic Knights have blue eyes (fitting, given that supplementary material cites them as being some of the nicer individuals), and the Felynn skirt between blue and purple. Both male and female Samurai have black-colored irises, and the Succubi and Cheerleaders have light-pink colored eyes.
Red Is Heroic: Most of the protagonists have red in their costumes. Laharl has a red scarf, Adell has a giant red necktie (and red hair), Mao has a red overcoat and the inside of Valvatorez's cape is red.
The Red Mage: Prism and Galaxy mages can use attack spells of all four elements, however, they do not learn the ultimate "Tera" damage spells that single-element mages learn.
Running Gag: During the tutorials, when one of the characters chooses to end turn (Either accidentally or on purpose to prove their point), the main character is helplessly surrounded and attacked by the remaining enemies much to the annoyance of the main character.
Royal Brat: Prince Laharl, much to his vassals' annoyance.
The best possible reaction (generally only possible with lots of judicious bribing) in the Dark Assembly is "Loves" with a heart after it. Etna and Sapphire use hearts to cheerfully punctuate death threats.
Most of the female monsters use them, as well; succubi, in particular.
If a prinny gets enough cash, it can skip the workload needed to pay off its sins.
Also an in-game mechanic - to get the Dark Assembly to pass bills in your favor, you can bribe them with items (which items they want are dependent on their rarity... so it's quite possible a given assembly member will heavily desire a copy of the starting weapon and hate your Infinity+1 Sword). There are Elite Tweaks dependant on getting as many assembly members in your pocket as you can.
Taken to a literal form in Disgaea Dimension 2. If you have the money, you can easily force a bill to pass if it initially got voted down, and you don't feel like fighting the assembly.
Slap-on-the-Wrist Nuke: Even the most outrageously destructive attacks leave the terrain unscathed, and can cause surprisingly little damage in the wrong conditions. The fight animations play to completion regardless of how effective the attack is, so it is not uncommon to see an elaborate cutscene of a character getting hit so hard that they literally become a black hole and explode...followed by "Miss".
Sliding Scale of Gender Inequality: A rare Type 5 example. Men and women of various classes have the same base stats and aptitudes in the key stats, but vary in weapon proficiency, other stats, and evil acts. The main cast is usually relatively equal in terms of gender ratio and there are just as many bad ass women as there are bad ass men.
The Smurfette Principle: Averted: The main character gender ratio is roughly one-to-one in the first two games and in the third when you count the hidden story characters, there are more females than males.
Spell Levels: Elemental spells and the heal spell have the more advanced levels given prefixes: "mega", "giga", "omega", "tera", and "peta".
Spiteful A.I.: Enemies will off their allies to rob you of experience. Quite aggravating with high-levelled enemies.
In Disgaea2, the AI will target neutral (Yellow-bar) characters, which includes Specialists, Treasure Chests, and in the Updated Rerelease, Level Spheres. Better hope there's an Invincibility effect nearby.
Splash Damage Abuse: The area of effect for magic can be abused to extend the range of your spells by a couple tiles.
Star Power: "Star magic" is the most powerful offensive spell element.
Stuff Blowing Up: Again, Prinnies; tons of the animations for the attacks also look like they've been directed by Michael Bay, and the explosions in them seem to become both bigger and more numerous with each new installment in the series.
Stupid Sexy Flanders: Characters of either gender can be charged and convicted of the crime of "Liking Girls" or "Liking Guys".
The crime "Corrupting the Youth" is given for having a pupil over Lv. 100.
Sweet Tooth: Laharl and Etna both have enormous sweet teeth, and the former's confiscation of the latter's expensive snacks is a frequent point of contention between the two, particularly in Disgaea Infinite.
Talking Is a Free Action: Most battle scenes in all the games begin with lots of dialogue between the characters, and can be skipped. Etna hangs a lampshade on it on the tutorial level of the first game. Flonne actually scolds Laharl for even suggesting they attack before a later opponent finishes explaining his motivations.
Thieves' Guild: The profile for the rogue class states the existence of one.
The idea of the Prinny sytem is sorta built on this. Sure, they were rat bastards in their former life (well, most), but the universe has given them another chance. For those that realize this, and get past the laziness that seems to be inherent in Prinnies, they work their asses off to either work off the bad karma gained, redeem themselves, or gain enough coin to earn that chance, and the potential to be better beings in the next life. The idea that the universe is so willing to give all the chance to be better is...well...uplifting.
Exemplified in Disgaea 4. Valvatorez tells the Big Bad, who felt that there was no way he could repent without sacrificing his soul, to become a Prinny, saying that no matter how big his sin and no matter how long he has to work it off, he does not deserve to be denied a chance at redemption.
Unfortunately for the Prinnies who end up in the Netherworld, this can rapidly descend into Yank the Dog's Chain depending on who you have to work for, especially if your boss is named Etna.
True Companions: One such group forms by the end of each game, though the more stubborn characters refuse to admit it.
Unusable Enemy Equipment: Cloned characters cannot have their items stolen. However, using a special item that steals items on death, "Dropouts" from Disgaea 3 can. Whether or not this is a bug is up to the reader — it certainly lowers the post game grinding as you can simply clone thousands of copies of Innocents / Items / etc you want. In addition, it's important to note that Nippon Ichi has patched the game several times at this point and the bug has not been removed yet.
The weapon you're talking about, the Puppy Paw Stick, was intentionally added into the game to cut down on the grinding. Considering that the final challenge of the game has well over 400 million HP and around 50 to 75 million in stats, they knew you needed every advantage, though recent patches cut down the PPS' chance to steal items.
Unusual Ears: All demons have 'em, but the humanoid non-demon characters don't.
Verbal Tic: Lots, okay? Just leave it at that,...Zam.
Video Game Stealing: You can steal items from just about any monster, and taking these items away actually has a discernible effect on their performance — for example, steal an archer's bow, and they're a sitting duck. Disgaea Thieves can even steal stats! It's pretty much the only way to level them up, since their growth and aptitude rates are far inferior to other created characters. Thieves in Disgaea 2 are more balanced, and can also use their thievery skills to inflict Standard Status Effects.
Weakened By The Light: The Prinny games confirm that demons get stronger the closer it is to midnight and that weaker demons are up at daytime and stronger demons are up at nighttime. This might indicate that weaker demons are up at day time to avoid stronger demons.
Weapon of Choice: Largely averted, due to main characters choosing any weapon (save for monsters being stuck with the two monster weapon types), but weapon proficiency means some characters are better at some weapons than others.
We Have Reserves: Sort of. You're restricted to only 10 of your units on the field at any one time, including corpses which you cannot reviveuntil the end of the battle. However, the game does absolutely nothing to stop you from tossing your worn-out, beaten, nearly-dead husks of units back into your home base and bringing out new ones. A sometimes legitimate strategy is to attack with a set of fragile speedsters and glass cannons, then throw them back into the home base before they can be killed off, and bring them around for another pass next turn.
What Is This Thing You Call Love?: An important plot point in all three games - In D1 you have Laharl learning to be caring - sorta - because of Flonne, and ultimately forgiving Lamington after he "kills" Flonne, as well as Etna defrosting a little after recovering her memory of King Krichevskoy, the first person to ever show her any kindness; Disgaea 2 is essentially a love story between Adell and Rozalin, complete with Meet Cute and Slap Slap Kiss .... Gun To Face... ; and in Disgaea 3, the entire plot turns out to be Mao feeling soul-crushing guilt over selling out his father to the Super Hero out of spite, which he repressed so far he forgot about it. See also Even Evil Has Standards above.
World of Ham It's a miracle people in the Disgaea universe aren't deaf from all the shouting the characters do.
Wrong Genre Savvy: Mao is convinced that studying video games, manga, anime, and toku shows is the way to learn how to beat an overlord, and attempts to use his knowledge of Fantasy / Scifi RPG tropes to further his goals. Unfortunately, Disgaea is, for the most part, a parody of those tropes...