Franchise / Kingdom Hearts

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/keyblades_everywhere.png
Keys to the Kingdom.note 

"There are many worlds,
but they share the same sky—
one sky, one destiny."
Opening Credits

For the first game in the series, see Kingdom Hearts I.

So Square Enix and Disney walk into a bar...

A series of Action RPG games, co-produced by Squaresoft (now Square Enix) and Disney, directed by Final Fantasy character designer Tetsuya Nomura, and starring characters from both companies. It's basically Final Fantasy meets Disney (with some of The World Ends with You and The Bouncer thrown into the mix). The series is well known for its bizarre premise and increasingly complicated plot.

Sora is a young boy living a peaceful but boring life on an island with his best friends Riku and Kairi. This is until the day his world is engulfed by The Heartless, an eldritch species that feed on the hearts of innocent people and literally consume entire worlds. Sora is sucked through a portal and winds up in Traverse Town, a crossroads world that has become the refuge of those who have lost their worlds to the Heartless. As he begins to search for his missing friends, Sora is granted the mysterious Keyblade: the only thing capable of closing the gaps that the Heartless are using to invade the worlds.

With the aid of Donald Duck and Goofy, two royal knights searching for their missing king, Sora must travel to all of the different worlds in The Multiverse and use the Keyblade to lock them safely away from the Heartless and those who plot to use the Heartless to further their own ends. Meanwhile Riku, having also ended up in Traverse Town, becomes obsessed with rescuing Kairi at all costs and is tempted by the same power of darkness that Sora is trying to seal, setting up the two best friends for a fateful confrontation.

As Sora and Riku grapple with their newfound powers and responsibilities, an ever-expanding mythology begins to unfold around the legendary Kingdom Hearts: the source of all hearts and the goal of many an antagonist.

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    Games In Series 
  • Kingdom Hearts (2002, PlayStation 2): The first game in the series, detailing the adventures of Sora, Donald and Goofy as they search for their missing friends.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories (2004, Game Boy Advance): The sequel to Kingdom Hearts, following Sora as he descends into the mysterious Castle Oblivion and comes into conflict with a mysterious Organization of hostile, black-hooded men and women.
  • Kingdom Hearts II (2005, PlayStation 2): The third game in the series. The story follows Sora once again as he comes into a much grander conflict with what is left of the Organization, now known as Organization XIII, that he seems to have a mysterious connection to and struggles with confusing memories of a mysterious individual known as Roxas.
  • Kingdom Hearts coded (2008-2010, mobile phones): A mobile phone game taking place immediately after Kingdom Hearts II, following King Mickey as he attempts to decode a mysterious message left in Jiminy Cricket's journal.
  • Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days (2009, Nintendo DS): A side-story centered around Roxas, Organization XIII, his friends Axel and Xion, and the internal conflict Roxas experiences while spending time in the Organization's ranks.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep (2010, PlayStation Portable): A prequel that takes place 10 years before the first game. Follows three friends and Keyblade wielders, Ventus, Terra, and Aqua as their lives spiral into chaos, and the origins of the main antagonist of the previous games comes to light.
  • Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance (2012, Nintendo 3DS): A sequel to Kingdom Hearts II. Sora and Riku take their mark of mastery exam to become keyblade masters, but sinister forces attempt to manipulate the boys for their own nefarious purposes.
  • Kingdom Hearts X [chi] (2013, PC): A Web Game set during the Keyblade War, using the same graphical system as Final Fantasy Brigade and Theatrhythm Final Fantasy.
  • Kingdom Hearts III (TBA, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One): The next in the main series and conclusion of the "Dark Seeker Saga".

Remakes/Re-releases
  • Kingdom Hearts Final Mix (2002, PlayStation 2): The first game's Updated Re-release, adding a lot of new content. Only released in Japan.
  • Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories (2007, PlayStation 2): A 3D remake of the Gameboy Advance game Chain of Memories. It was released as part of the Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix+ bundle in Japan and a standalone title in North America in 2008. While it lacks the bonus content of the other re-releases and remakes, the Japanese version can receive (and give) minor Old Save Bonuses from Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix.
  • Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix (2007, PlayStation 2): An Updated Re-release of II. Contains a substantial amount of new content and re-balances several aspects of the game. Only released in Japan.
  • Kingdom Hearts Re:coded (2010, Nintendo DS): A remake of the cellphone game coded, created for international audiences. Uses a new battle system based off of the Deck Command system used in Birth by Sleep.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep Final Mix (2011, PlayStation Portable): An Updated Re-release of Birth by Sleep, containing new content. Only released in Japan.
  • Kingdom Hearts HD I.5 ReMIX (2013, PlayStation 3): A bundle containing Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, Re:Chain of Memories, and a movie using cutscenes from 358/2 Days, all remade and remastered in HD. Released in all territories.
  • Kingdom Hearts HD II.5 ReMIX (2014, PlayStation 3): A bundle containing HD remasters of Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix, Birth by Sleep Final Mix, and a movie using cutscenes from Re:coded.
  • Kingdom Hearts Unchained X [chi] (2015, mobile phones): A tweaked mobile port of X [chi] for international audiences.
  • Kingdom Hearts HD II.8 Final Chapter Prologue (2016, PlayStation 4): A bundle containing an Updated Re-release of 3D: Dream Drop Distance remade for the PlayStation4, the new Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth By Sleep -A Fragmentary Passage- (a short playable episode starring Aqua prior to the events of III), and Kingdom Hearts X [chi] Back Cover (a movie that tells the story of the Foretellers from X [chi]).

The series contains appearances by characters and locations from the following games, films and franchises. Labeled after each is which game it appears in, abbreviated, and its role. (w) for "world" means you visit the location and can explore. (c) for "character" means only that characters from that franchise show up, whether in the form of a summon, or you meet them in person. (r) for "reference" means merely that the franchise is referenced in some way, such as art or architecture, or the world shows up in a non-interactive form.

    Disney 

    Square-Enix 

This series as a whole provides examples of:

     A - F 
  • Aborted Arc:
    • One of the main concepts of the first game was that Sora, Donald, and Goofy cannot interfere with the affairs of other worlds, since they're outsiders. This hasn't been brought up again since the first game and is mostly ignored now. It was recycled and used in Days, where Roxas and the other members of Organization XIII cannot interfere to avoid blowing their cover (at the time they were still covert and not ready to expose themselves).
    • Birth by Sleep adds on that Keyblade wielders are free to travel between worlds, but are not to tell their inhabitants about the existences of worlds besides their own. However by the time of Kingdom Hearts worlds are being destroyed left and right and their inhabitants are taking refuge in Traverse Town, so this isn't an issue for Sora. Even in Birth By Sleep's timeframe though, many other characters are already aware of other worlds and can travel between them in their own ways.
    • As far as an actual installment goes, a sequel to Birth By Sleep was planned, (most likely revolving around Aqua, King Mickey, and Riku's journey through the Realm Of Darkness) and a trailer was even included in the Final Mix version of the game. However, the executives at Square and Disney decided that having another portable game would detract from resources going towards Kingdom Hearts III and cancelled the project. Thankfully, pieces of the planned story were implemented into Dream Drop Distance, and additional elements will likely be used in III. Nomura has stated in an interview that Volume 2 is still a possibility in the future, but as of right now, Kingdom Hearts III is his and the company's primary focus.
      • According to the new trailer for HD II.8, an abbreviated version of Birth By Sleep Volume 2 appears to finally be in production under the title "Birth By Sleep 0.2: A Fragmentary Passage."
    • Riku's implied feelings for Kairi from Kingdom Hearts. It was one of the main reasons he turned on Sora in the first game and for his descent to darkness. It may just count as Character Development, but the way all the Ship Tease was just completely dropped was a bit extreme.
    • II likewise had Ship Tease for Roxas and Naminé that hinted they had a history together. 358/2 Days instead made Roxas' Implied Love Interest Xion. He and Naminé never even meet in Days. note 
  • Absurdly High Level Cap: All games in the series let you level to Level 99, but most of the time you can play through the game and beat the final boss just fine in the Level 40-50 range. Bonus Bosses need more level grinding, but probably not to the Level 99 point. This trope is particularly bad in Chain of Memories, where there are no Bonus Bosses or any other post-game challenges, so other than getting trophies in the 1.5 port, there's no real reason to level grind unless you're having difficulty.
  • Achilles' Heel: Sora, Saïx, Marluxia, and Roxas may be extremely powerful, but depriving them of their weapons would render them almost powerless. Later on, Roxas, in his battle against Sora, is seen to have outgrown his problem by becoming a very powerful mage. If Sora is without his Keyblade, it would take many hits to take down even the weakest of enemies, although using magic is still as effective as if you still had the Keyblade. With that said, given the nature of Keyblades, disarming their wielders is incredibly difficult.
  • Action Girl: Numerous ones throughout the series, thanks to an assortment of both Disney and Final Fantasy party members. For the original generation we have Aqua, and Kairi is looking to grow into the role after II once she got her own Keyblade.
  • Adorable Evil Minions: The Heartless are the well-deserved page picture. Some of them are just so darn cute!
  • Adorably Precocious Child: Ienzo, who follows around his mentor in an oversized labcoat, and Young Riku, who is abnormally serious and mature for his tender years. Both are definitely played for cute.
  • Adult Fear: Imagine this: It's stormy outside - really stormy. Your child has been in his room all evening. You go upstairs to call him in for dinner... the window's open, he's gone, and so are his two friends and their boats. He doesn't come back for years - during which you have no idea where he is, or if he's safe, or if he can ever come back. (The parents of the main characters never get more than a shadow in a doorway...) On the other hand, Word of God states that a world remains frozen in time once it is swallowed by the darkness. Also, due to events of Chain of Memories, the parents forget about their son until Namine restored Sora's memories, which means that they only started worrying at the beginning of Kingdom Hearts II. Which might make it worse for them once they realize they completely forgot of their missing son's existence.
  • Aerith and Bob: You've got Sora, Kairi and Riku (distinctly Japanese names), amongst mainly English or more standard names (and the trio of Birth By Sleep have Latin names). In some cases it's understandable, though, such as with some Disney villains or Organization XIII.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Clayton was technically controlled by the Heartless through his heart's obvious darkness, and Sora, Tarzan, and co. express pity after he's killed.
  • Alien Geometries: Castle Oblivion. It exists at the very edge of light and darkness, it's far larger than it looks, its layout/inhabitants change to match the memories of an occupant, and it somehow forces whomever enters to play a card game.
  • Alien Non-Interference Clause: Very early on in Kingdom Hearts, it's stated that Sora and co. shouldn't interfere with the affairs of other worlds during their mission because they are outsiders. Sora quickly decides to ignore that rule when he sees Alice in trouble on their visit to Wonderland, and the scope of the villains' plans eventually make it impossible to not meddle anyway.
  • All There in the Manual: Many of the explanations for the Kingdom Hearts mysteries are in the Ultimania guides which, surprise surprise, will never see the light of day outside of Japan.
  • Alpha Bitch: Larxene in Chain of Memories thinks nothing of sadism and meanness towards enemy and ally (the Organization) alike.
  • Alternate Continuity: All characters from previous works are subject to Broad Strokes regarding which of their adventures from their original films have happened. For instance, Jack seems to have caused trouble in Christmas Town before Kingdom Hearts II, yet Oogie Boogie is still around. And of course, it's highly unlikely the Final Fantasy cast members are from the same continuities as in that series
  • Ambition Is Evil: Every character who has sought to further their own power or knowledge, no matter how just their cause is, ends up either being a villain or aligned with one. This also extends to simply having the ambition to leave their home. The main character, Sora, is notably lacking in ambition.
  • Anachronic Order:
    • The Reports in any given game. You never collect them in numerical order, leaving holes in the story for other entries to fill in. However, they're usually written in a way to tease you with what's in those other entries, and usually explain some plot revelation that just happened.
      • The Ansem Reports from the first game deserve special mention. They were given to you in such a way to still paint Ansem as a Big Good protagonist, but after The Reveal late in the first stage of the Hollow Bastion level, Aerith gives you the pages Maleficent had in her possession, which radically chance the way the player interprets those early report pages.
    • The games themselves. The first three games were released in chronological order, but 358/2 Days takes place before II (with the first part of the story taking place during Chain of Memories) and Birth by Sleep takes place before all of them, while Coded takes place before The Stinger of Kingdom Hearts II, but the stinger pretty much took place awhile after Xemnas's defeat so it kinda got things moving forward. 3D finally got things completely moving forward again.
  • Anatomy of the Soul: Everyone has a Heart, Soul, and Body. Well, every normal person. Individual worlds also have Hearts, and in-game text alludes to them being somewhat sentient. Memory is also part of the equation, hinted to be another aspect of the Heart.
    • Hearts contain the emotions and identity of an individual, and are made up of light and darkness. If the Heart is overcome by Darkness, it can separate itself from the Body and Soul and become a Heartless. It's accepted by most characters that a person without a Heart isn't really a person at all. The reality is slightly less complex; anyone or anything that wants to think of itself as a person can likely generate a Heart.
    • The Soul is seemingly simple—it's the animating force that gives life and movement to a body and heart. It's also translated as "Spirit" and synonymous with "Will" later in the series. Theoretically, if you somehow give or transplant a soul to an object, that object will gain a mind of its own and move around. In extreme circumstances, the Soul by itself could be enough to keep a Body moving. When a Heartless is formed, the Body and Soul left behind may reanimate into a Nobody, if the individual was particularly strong-willed.
    • The Body is Exactly What It Says on the Tin—the thing that holds the Heart and is animated by the Soul.
    • Memory is hinted to be similar to one's Mind, and is critical to the function of a Heart but not entirely the same. Nobodies have no Hearts but retain Memory to teach them how to fake emotions, Replicas are Artificial Humans made of Memory, and Memory can be used to strengthen or weaken one's Heart. Additionally, Chain of Memories says memories of different people can be connected, like links in a chain, and that chain can be broken, mended or reorganized. This means that as Sora forgets people as he proceeds through Castle Oblivion, the people he forgets about forget him, too.
  • And I Must Scream: The Birth by Sleep video at the end of KHII Final Mix shows Ventus being frozen completely and thrown off a cliff, and still conscious at the end of it (you can see his eyes moving).
  • And Now For Something Completely Different: After being left in suspense for years after the cliffhangers of Kingdom Hearts II, the next game chronologically speaking is...coded / Re:coded, a game which has almost no impact on the lore as a whole save for providing some backstory for the cliffhanger at the end of KH 2 and revealing the contents of Mickey's letter.
  • Animated Armor:
    • There are numerous Heartless modelled after suits of armor. Guard Armor in the first game and 358/2 Days is the most prominent. The latter game also has a Palette Swap called the "Powered Armor".
    • In Birth By Sleep and KHIIFM+ the Lingering Will is another one. Birth By Sleep: Final Mix add Eraqus' and Master Xehanort's empty armor as a pair of Bonus Bosses, Armor of the Master and No Heart.
    • The living suits of armor in Beast's Castle.
  • Anti-Villain: The Nobodies and Organization XIII only want to become whole beings again, and they antagonize the heroes due to their unscrupulous methods. Except Xemnas and Xigbar, they just want Kingdom Hearts for its power.
  • Arc Number: The numbers 3, 7, and 13 show up a lot. To recap some of the most prominent ways;
    • 3 — three party members at a time, the many Power Trios in the series and the associated Trinity motif, three realms (Light, Darkness, Nothingness), three aspects of being (Heart, Body, Soul), three types of Keyblades (Heart, Light, Darkness).
    • 7 — Seven Princesses of Heart, seven Organization members left remaining in II (not counting Roxas), seven Orichalcum+ for the Ultima Weapon in II, seven days left in Roxas's vacation, Ansem and his six apprentices, seven letters in "Xehanort" minus the "X".
    • 13 — Organization XIII, the "XIII Blades" attack in II, thirteen letters in "Kingdom Hearts", usually 13 worlds in each game (accordingly, 13 floors in Castle Oblivion), 13 matches in the Mirage Arena (not counting the Final Mix additions), and several of the mentioned trios of characters have 13 letters between their three names (Sora, Riku, Kairi).
    • This trope comes to its head in 3D; There are three Xehanorts (Ansem, Xemnas, Young Xehanort) acting to revive Master Xehanort, and the true χ-blade is made up of seven Hearts of Light and thirteen Hearts of Darkness.
  • Arc Words: "We'll go together." Also, "Reconnect" has been showing up in the secret endings since Birth by Sleep.
  • Arc Symbol: The Recusant's Sigil, which happens to be the letter "X". This is due to Xehanort's fascination with the χ-blade.
  • Art Evolution: The hand-drawn artwork has gotten much more anime-influenced, angular, and thick-lined over time, but this is less an aspect of this series and more one of Tetsuya Nomura himself. There's also a good deal of evolution in the character models, but that makes sense due to better technology. Even so, it's hard to tell Aurora from KH1 and Aurora from Birth by Sleep are the same person.
  • The Artifact: The Final Fantasy elements have become this. After being important to the plots of the first three games, 358/2 Days didn't include them at all, coded saw their presence reduced, Birth By Sleep was limited to Zack (though there were aborted plans for other inclusions), and 3D went for The World Ends With You characters instead of Final Fantasy. While the series began as a Disney and Final Fantasy crossover, its focus has shifted much more to the Disney and original characters.
  • Art Shift:
    • In Kingdom Hearts III, a new Kingdom Shader is used, which basically has the characters changing appearance depending on the world they are in. I.E. If Sora and co. were to reappear in Port Royal, they themselves would look more realistic like Jack Sparrow and the others were in II.
    • In the other titles, the art style of the game will typically shift between worlds to something appropriate to that world. Characters traveling from one world or another may or may not get altered appearances. This leads to some weird dissonance, especially in the worlds based on live-action films when you see more "realistic" characters like Jack Sparrow standing next to Goofy in Port Royal, or when you see the obviously more stylized Sora standing next to the Flynns in The Grid.
    • Halloween Town is probably the most obvious example, as even the Heartless get tons of added detail so that they look closer to the style of Tim Burton's puppets (Shadows have a grainy skin texture, Soldiers' armor is stitched up and rusted, Wight Knights' bandages are given a darkened guaze look, Emerald Blues' body looks like a strange button-up coat, etc.)
  • As You Know:
    • In KH II...
    Yen Sid: If one such as you, Donald, yields to the Darkness in their heart, they too will become a Heartless. But you know this.
    • Also, recapping the end of the first game...
    Sora: Then I guess we better go find the King first!
    Donald: But where could he be?
    Goofy: Well, we won't know 'til we look.
    Sora: Yeah. And the King must know where Riku is, 'cause the two of them were together in the Realm of Darkness when we closed the door. You know, after defeating Ansem.
    • Also seen in Re:Chain of Memories multiple times, though justified there, since Sora, Donald and Goofy knew they were losing their memories and wanted to make sure they still remembered what they were doing there.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Surprisingly enough, Cerberus. In the original movie, he shows up in the background for all of five seconds and only interacts with the hero near the climax. Despite this, he has been a recurring boss throughout the series.
    • Yen Sid was introduced in Kingdom Hearts II as Mickey's old mentor, and he only showed up to deliver some exposition at the start of the game. Birth By Sleep revealed he's a Keyblade Master, and as of coded he's effectively the Big Good.
  • As Long as There Is Evil: As long as darkness exists within the hearts of sapient entities, the Heartless (and Nobodies) will continue to spawn.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: A staple of bosses in this series, most of whom can only be damaged if attacked in one specific part of their body. Much of the game's difficulty comes from the fact that these are often either hard to reach or are where the boss deals the majority of its damage from.
  • Award Bait Song: Well, it's based off Disney movies isn't it? Protip: Search iTunes for Utada, the singer, to score the Japanese-lyric versions of both songsnote 
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Sora's universe saving feats and daring swordplay are made even more impressive when you realize that unlike his predecessors, he is completely self-taught, his fighting style developing itself over the course of the series from his sparring with wooden swords at home. This shows when you compare him to Terra, Aqua, and Ven. They all fight in their own individual styles that show they have familiarity and training with their Keyblades. Sora wields his like a club or a baseball bat, and shows little finesse. This changes in Kingdom Hearts II, where he's a bit more experienced. The year of training Roxas had that Sora absorbed probably helped.
  • A Wizard Did It: The reason casting fire spells works in Atlantica, or how casting electricity-based spells doesn't completely fry Sora, Donald, Goofy, or Ariel.
  • Back from the Dead:
    • Kill a Heartless and then the Nobody, and the original person comes back to life. Master Xehanort, Braig, Dilan, Even, Aeleus, Ienzo, Isa, and Lea have all been revived in this manner. The only known exceptions to this rule are Sora and Kairi; various odd circumstances surrounding the losses of their hearts and the births of their Nobodies allowed for both of them to exist as normal humans alongside their Nobodies until both pairs went for Split Personality Merges.
    • Maleficent also counts. Killed off near the end of the first game, and then brought back to life through rather vague means (that are implied to have involved the fairies from Sleeping Beauty remembering her) in II.
  • Bag of Spilling:
    • Every single game does this, and every single one justifies it, at least regarding their skills and abilities (but not their weapons and items):
      • In Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, Sora and co. walk into Castle Oblivion of all places, and lose their memories so that they must learn their skills back.
      • In Kingdom Hearts II, they get "restored", meaning restored back to zero, erasing their memories from the previous game and with that, most of the skills they learned throughout. Also, Sora, Donald, and Goofy spent a year in a coma, making it impressive that they could even walk at the start of the game. They weren't in stasis, either, as Sora actually hit a growth spurt during that time.
      • In Kingdom Hearts coded you play as Data-Sora, a digital copy of Sora, thus starting from scratch with a different character.
      • In Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days you play as Roxas, Sora's Nobody, thus starting from scratch with a different character. The fact that Roxas gets his memory erased by the game finale also justifies the beginning of Kingdom Hearts II.
      • In Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep, which takes place ten years before the original game, you play as three completely new characters, Aqua, Ventus and Terra, all fresh rookies considerably Doomed by Canon.
      • 3D has Yen Sid Hand Wave that the self-taught Keyblade skills of Sora and Riku are impressive, but for the purposes of the Mark of Mastery exam, they'll start fresh and prove themselves anew within the rules of the exam. This example does lead into Gameplay and Story Segregation though, since a good portion of the attacks they learn during the game are ones they had before. The fact that they are in the Realm of Sleep (i.e. a dream) may play a factor as well.
    • Every game includes minor aversions. In Chain of Memories, Sora keeps a few of his old abilities (e.g. Aerial Sweep) and his magic has taken a level in Badass. In Kingdom Hearts II he is faster and more technical from the start, retains Blitz, and immediately outstrips the previous games very early on in magic and weapon skills. It's similar in 3D, where he has slide-dash from KH2 as part of his combo and is relatively fast and strong (though granted, never as much as in KH2), and also starts with more movement options. In all cases, Sora has never had to relearn the Guard ability (and usually the Dodge Roll too).
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: Arguably, this is the case of all the heroes and villains in the series, considering every major Final Boss takes place in the middle of space.
  • Beehive Barrier: Seen in protective spells and in boss fights or event battles, locking you in the area.
  • Big Bad: Master Xehanort is the overarching antagonist of the series, acting through various alternate incarnations. Everything wrong in the game universe can be blamed on him or his allies directly or indirectly. In order:
    • Kingdom Hearts I: Ansem, Seeker of Darkness and Maleficent
    • Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories: Marluxia for Sora's story and Ansem for Riku's plotline
    • Kingdom Hearts II: Xemnas
    • Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days: Saix
    • Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep: Master Xehanort and Vanitas
    • Kingdom Hearts coded: Sora's Heartless
    • Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance: Master Xehanort again or more specifically his time traveling teenage self
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Maleficent and Pete decide to fight the Heartless by themselves while Sora and friends battle Xemnas.
    • In Birth by Sleep, Ven is menaced by someone he trusted, and from his POV, Terra comes out of absolutely nowhere to save him.
    • Ven gets to pull one as a disembodied heart no less when in 3D he gives his Keyblade Armor to Sora to protect his heart.
  • Big Door: The Door to Darkness and the door to Xemnas's artificial Kingdom Hearts reality. The big door in Disney Castle has a smaller one built in.
  • Big Good: Yen Sid was probably the closest thing to this during Kingdom Hearts II, but in later games, he's really stepped up to the plate. Ansem the Wise has shades of this as well. The series started this way by teasing Ansem and Mickey as the Big Good characters in the series. Mickey still shows shades of this as time goes on, but Ansem played the audience hard in the first game.
  • Bio Data: Ansem the Wise hides research data within Sora, although it is left vague on how he does this.
  • Bishonen Line:
    • Nobodies are stated to take forms closer to their original bodies as they grow more powerful, with the weakest looking like twitching white jumpsuits and the very strongest being physically indistinguishable from normal humans.
    • Can also apply to the Heartless as well, though only two examples exist: Xehanort's Heartless (which needed a body to remain stable, but changes the body to resemble Xehanort) and Scar (immediately after losing his heart and during the boss fight; the second visit ends with what is either the true form of Scar's Heartless or a One-Winged Angel form, the massive beastly Groundshaker).
  • Bittersweet Ending: The standard kind of ending to the franchise, though they usually end on a high note for the most part. Exceptions to this rule include Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days and Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep, which both Downer Endings when taken on their own but resemble Bittersweet Endings when one considers what happens later on on a chronological scale, and Kingdom Hearts II, which is unambiguously a case of Earn Your Happy Ending only hampered by the fact that it isn't the final chronological adventure.
  • Black Cloak:
    • Comes complete with an In the Hood function! The cloaks themselves are stated by Word of God to be protection against the Realm of Darkness' corruption, but several people who wear them (namely the Organization XIII) don't really need that due to not having hearts to corrupt.
    • It was said repeatedly that darkness always threatens to swallow up Nobodies because of their non-existence, so it's likely to stave it off. 3D reveals that the Nobodies do have hearts, so Xemnas kept them in uniform to protect his potential vessels.
  • Black Magic: The ever-vague 'darkness' everyone keeps talking about can be controlled by strong people, but for those who aren't...
  • Blessed with Suck: The Keyblades. All-powerful weapons that also look pretty dang neat, but no one we've seen who has been chosen to wield one has had a good life. Even freaking Mickey Mouse can't get away from it! The Heartless also constantly follow Keyblade wielders no matter where they go.
  • Bloodless Carnage:
    • All over the place, but special mention goes to a scene early in the first game where a horde of Shadows and Soldiers cut down a civilian and tear his heart out and eat it.
    • Zigzagged in the manga, where characters sometimes are visibly wounded, yet still bloodless.
  • Bonus Boss: This series loves this trope. The most insane bonus bosses are usually an Early-Bird Cameo for plot-central characters. To clarify:
  • Boring but Practical: Shadow Heartless can flatten themselves against the ground, making them invulnerable to attacks.
  • Boss Banter: Pretty much every single humanoid boss does this (and a few of the non-humanoid ones).
  • Boss Remix: A lot of themes are remixed as boss themes sooner or later, particularly character themes, and many boss themes are themselves remixed, sometimes together, to make a new boss theme. One of the most striking examples is the final boss theme of Dream Drop Distance "Eye of Darkness", which is a remix of the Dive to the Heart theme, as Riku has had to dive into Sora's heart and fight him to free him from darkness.
  • Broad Strokes: The events of the original Disney films are subject to this. Some worlds feature a retelling of the plot of the source franchise with Sora tagging along, others imply the events of the source franchise occurred before Sora visited, or haven't occurred yet, and many just have an original plot. That said, the relationships of characters changes as well, and in coded and Chain of Memories when the worlds visited are composed of memories and data that aren't 100% accurate, anything could happen.
  • Button Mashing: A common complaint about the series, and it's not unfounded. Arguably the worst offender of the series is KH II, where upon entering A Drive Form like Valor Form or Master Form, you basically hit X until there was nothing left to attack. The series is growing out of it though due to better integration of special attacks and enemies starting to require more strategy. In Birth By Sleep for example, relying on just mashing attack to win and not properly building a balanced deck will get you crushed.
  • Call Forward: has its own page.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The first game was a lighthearted, episodic adventure quest, and didn't really get tense until the arrival of Maleficent and Ansem. II and Chain of Memories began exploring the mysteries of the heart, soul and memories, the true value of human life, and had stronger overarcing stories, and then coded and 358/Days explored the same issues in-depth. Birth By Sleep took this trope and ran with it by introducing the most sinister villain and the highest-stakes story yet while also making the hero-villain dynamics more personal, and with 3D the series shows little sign of stopping from getting even darker.
  • Chained by Fashion: The Shadow Stalker/Dark Thorn boss.
  • Chaos Architecture: The layout of various worlds changes between games, particularly between I and II. Word of God is that Traverse Town and The World That Never Was are anomalies with canonically changing layouts, and sometimes it's merely visiting a different part of a world than what was seen in another game, but usually it's this trope.
  • The Chick:
    • Both Ariel and Mulan, the only two female guest party members in games I and II respectively, fill this role. Ariel and Sora seem to form a True Companions bond, not to mention with a little flirting in the first game. And of all the new party members you meet in II, Mulan is among the closest allies. Also Kairi plays this role in the series overall.
    • Tinker Bell is the only female summon in the games, being summonable in the first, and appearing alongside Peter Pan in the third.
  • The Chosen Many: Keyblade wielders were a knighthood.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder:
    • Axel. At one point in Chain of Memories, he betrays a senior member of the Organization, killing him, to get into the good graces of another faction betraying the main Organization. However, he's actually The Mole, set to betray that faction under Xemnas's orders, but then he kills a member particularly loyal to Xemnas because he's secretly planning to betray Xemnas alongside Saïx, because Xemnas is betraying the whole Organization. And then later on, during Days, he betrays that alliance when he develops friendship with Roxas and Xion, and then inadvertently betrays them, too! You need a friggin' flowchart to keep track of this dude. Lexaeus said it best:
    "And then there is Axel. Who knows what that one is thinking."
    • The Organization's lack of discipline was lampshaded by Sora in a mocking way:
    Sora: "Not a very organized Organization".
  • Clothes Make the Superman: Sora's drive forms in KH2 are a function of the new outfit he receives in the game, enchanted by the Good Fairies.
  • Clueless Aesop: The series in general seems to be torn between two conflicting cultural beliefs. Namely, it tries to adhere to both a Black and White Morality and a Balance Between Good and Evil. In this story, Light Is Good and Dark Is Evil as far as both aesthetics and characterization goes, but the lore professes that too much of either side (light included) is a bad thing. This confused narrative was inevitable, because the story itself is the brainchild of both a Western company built on children's cartoons heaped with strong Christian values, as well as an Eastern company whose stories typically carry a strong Buddhist bent. Thus, KH tries to be all over the map with its themes, which can be very confusing.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The 2008-2012 handheld games were each given a prominent color motif: Birth by Sleep is blue, Days is red, coded is yellow, and 3D is pink.
  • Combo Breaker: A rare non-Fighting Game example, starting from KH2 onwards, some bosses have a "revenge value," which causes them to instantly retaliate in a specific way if you hit them too many times in succession. Sephiroth, for instance, will teleport out of Sora's combo and attack from a safe distance. The Payback moves in Birth By Sleep allow the player to do this, to some extent, by retaliating immediately after being knocked back by an enemy.
  • Comic-Book Time: The only time that the in-game characters are portrayed as being of a different age between games is when it's plot-relevant. Otherwise, they don't age. This wouldn't be that obvious if it wasn't for the fact that the earliest game in the franchise chronical-wise, Kingdom Hearts X, is set before the first keyblade war (an event that happened a long time before the Birth By Sleep, the next game in the series chronical-wise), and that several of the characters that appear in the game, like Snow White and Aladdin, apparently exist within that era as well. Even Mickey, Donald and Goofy can be encountered within that game within their modern-day Kingdom Hearts design. Their appearance within Kingdom Hearts X can be justified in that their worlds are simulated from the Book of Prophesy á la the Datascape from Kingdom Hearts coded, essentially allowing a form of pseudo-time travel to occur for the player characters of that gamenote .
  • Composite Character: This happens often in the Disney worlds, usually because some of the characters are absent in their video game counterparts. These roles are usually filled by one of the original Kingdom Hearts characters. For example:
  • Continuity Lockout:
    • You have to play all the previous games in the series, or at least know their stories, to understand any other given game. Birth By Sleep tells its own story since it's a prequel, but a lot of references and foreshadowing to the rest of the series will be lost on newcomers.
    • This trope is not helped by the Final Mix versions including cutscenes that later games treat as canon; the Final Mix versions were originally never released outside Japan. Thank goodness for the internet.
    • Additionally, the series spans multiple consoles — PS2, PSP, GBA, DS, mobile phones, browser games, and 3DS. Anyone who does not own all those consoles is left out.
    • As of 3D and the PS3 era, the series is finally making an effort to avert this at make it easier for new players to catch up. 3D contains plot summaries of the past games with character bios and plot points recapped, and the entire series was ported to PS3, including the Final Mix versions at last. Thus, all you need is a PS3 to play most of the games, and the two left out (358/2 Days and coded were given cutscene plot summaries, not full ports) are still on the DS, so once you get a 3DS for 3D, you can play those two as well.
  • Cool Key: Keyblades. Doesn't get much cooler than a key that not only doubles as a sword, but can open literally any lock or barrier.
  • Crazy Enough to Work: The series concept itself for starters. A Disney and Final Fantasy crossover where anime-esque heroes fights the forces of darkness with swords shaped like giant keys.
  • Creature-Hunter Organization: Although not their original purpose. The Keyblade Wielders in general are this given they're the ones with weapons capable of purging the various creatures of the dark.
  • Critical Status Buff: Various abilities can boost the player's status at critical HP, like "Defender" and "Damage Control" for defense, "Berserker", "Striker", and "Grand Slam" for offense.
  • Crossover: The Kingdom Hearts franchise is centered around characters of both the Final Fantasy franchise and Classic Disney Shorts / Disney Animated Canon frequently meeting and interacting.
  • Cutscene Incompetence: Most of the heroes, particularly Sora. In-game the kid is a maelstrom of Keyblade-fueled Magic Knight chaos that can rip through the hordes of darkness for days on end. In cutscenes, expect to see him regularly tossed around, knocked down, taken by surprise, etc.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max:
    • Near the end of Kingdom Hearts II, Sora basically turns into an overpowered action movie character. Case in point: he carves his way through entire buildings using a key. Using cuts that travel the length of said buildings. This may not count, however, depending on your definition of "cutscene".
    • Heartless and Nobodies are disposed of in one hit during cutscenes, regardless if it's Sora, Mickey, or even Kairi who is attacking.
  • Dark Is Not Evil:
    • It doesn't have to be evil. It just happens to attract a lot of bad guys, is all. Darkness, itself, is neither good or evil, and neither is light. They're just sources of power. The difference is that abusing darkness can lead to Jumping Off the Slippery Slope, and you can lose your humanity if your heart is too weak or if you go too far. Riku is the only main character (and implied to be the only character, ever) to be able to use darkness without the drawbacks, but it took him three games to master and to strengthen himself enough to do it, and it was not an easy journey. Not to mention, he still wouldn't have been able to entirely master the darkness without drawbacks had Ansem the Wise's Heart Codifier not blown up and destroyed the remains of Ansem in Riku and make him completely immune to corruption from the darkness, reverting him back to his original appearance.
    • However, while darkness itself is not evil, most of the protagonists associate it with such, which is easy to do since they're beings from the Realm of Light, and all of the villains use Darkness to some degree as the source of their power. Due to the mentioned risk of going too far with it, it's also seen as evil for tempting others away from light and costing them their lives. Both the heroes and villains ultimately agree that there will always be a Balance Between Light and Darkness, and the two cannot exist without the other. As Kingdom Hearts II phrases it, the heroes don't oppose darkness itself, they oppose those who abuse it for evil.
    Xemnas: Denizens of light, answer this: Why do you hate the darkness?
    Mickey: Aw, we don't hate it. It's just kinda... scary. But the world's made of light and darkness. You can't have one without the other, 'cause darkness is half of everything. Sorta makes ya wonder why we are scared of the dark.
    Riku: It's because of who's lurking inside it.
    • This is even reflected when it comes to keyblade appearances - Riku's keyblade, Way To The Dawn, greatly resembles the Soul Eater blade Riku was often seen with beforehand. In spite of this, it's technically a Keyblade of Light. On the flip side, the only way to tell that Mickey Mouse's second keyblade, the Kingdom Key D, is a Keyblade of Darkness is the fact that its color scheme is the complete reverse of its Keyblade of Light counterpart that Sora wields. Otherwise, it doesn't appear to be affiliated with darkness at first glance.
    • Dream Eaters, introduced within Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance, are beings of darkness just like the Heartless. There's two types of Dream Eaters: Nightmare Dream Eaters, which are evil, and Spirit Dream Eaters, which are benevolent and appose their Nightmare counterparts. In fact, Chirithy, the Exposition Fairy from Kingdom Hearts X given to each and every single player character, are actually Spirit Dream Eaters (as evident in the emblem that appears on their back), and Riku temporary becomes one during the events of Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance.
  • Deconstruction: Chain of Memories likely unintentionally deals with a Canon Relationship Sue, while 358/2 Days likely intentionally deconstructs the Copycat Sue. The characters involved are canonically clones of some sort and are considered abominations in-universe. Their Suish traits are actually plot-relevant and tend to be the reason the villains can make use of them.
  • Death Is Cheap:
    • Pretty much every single death has been, is, or will likely be undone by the end of the series.
    • According to Word of God, "...there is no concept of death in the world of KH...." This seems to translate to "Nomura hasn't established an afterlife in the KH-verse" and currently has no plans to. That and the majority of characters haven't "died" as defined in the Secret Ansem Reports, so much as that they've lost their hearts or something similar.
    • Does not apply to Disney villains, however, whether they have a Disney Death or they actually die, such as Clayton in KH1 or, in a shocking change from the usual Disneyfication, Lady Tremaine and the step-sisters in Birth By Sleep.
  • Deus ex Machina:
    • Usually at the end of the games, most notably Mickey and Riku's sudden appearance at the Door to Darkness in I and Riku randomly finding a flying motorcycle right as Xemnas summons his dragon-shaped ship in II. But Justified in Riku's case as his appearance at the DTD in I is explained in Final Mix, but as for Mickey, that has yet to be explained.
    • As the series goes on, it becomes clear that it's not random serendipity so much as it is some really frantic teamwork on the side. The flying motorcycle is a proper example, however.
  • Developers' Foresight:
    • Normally when one character heals another, the former shouts the latter's name. During the fight with the Guard Armor however, before they're properly introduced, Goofy shouts encouragingly to Sora "Don't give up!" instead.
    • In the first game, they thought of what would happen if you engaged in a bit of Sequence Breaking. If you complete Deep Jungle before Wonderland, the scene replaces Alice with Snow White. If you complete other worlds after completing Hollow Bastion, certain events with Maleficent will not play.
  • Difficult but Awesome:
    • Magic in most games. Most players often stick to the basic combos in most games with automatic finishers tagged on, and at most only use magic for healing. However, if used right, such as just before a combo finisher takes place, or at the end of a combo while the boss is stunned, magic attacks can take out large chunks of enemies HP and keep them stun-locked for longer.
    • Additionally, most combo finishers that aren't automated. For those, especially those not good at fighting games, getting the timing down can be rather tricky, but once you do, much like magic, it can take out large chunks of the enemies HP, and keep them stun locked for longer than the basic combos can. In fact, combined with magic above, it's possible to keep any boss permenately stun locked for the entirety of their battle, provided the boss doesn't have a move that specifically gets them out of being permenately stun locked.
  • Doomy Dooms of Doom: A variation in that the series is known for throwing the word darkness around a bit too much. This is especially bad in Riku's story within Chain of Memories.
  • Dub Name Change:
    • Some Heartless got little renames. "Bulk Vendor" to "Bulky Vendor". "Flare Globe" to "Fiery Globe". "Mad Dog" to "Rabid Dog". "Gate Guardian" to "Thresholder" Conversely, very many Heartless were renamed in Days, and some renames are even inconsistent with previous renames (for example, a Heartless named "Loudness" in all Japanese games is called "Crescendo" in the English Chain of Memories but "Loudmouth" in the English Days).
    • Most of the Keyblades were renamed too, though not translated - aside from Oblivion (Sugisarishi Omoide - Passing Memories) and Oathkeeper (Yakusoku no Omamori - Oath's Charm), all the Keyblades had Gratuitous English names in the original. Some were minor changes ("Wish Star" to "Wishing Star", "Kingdom Chain" to "Kingdom Key", "Wishes Lamp" to "Wishing Lamp"), but some were changed more - "Power of Hero" to "Olympia", "Desire Lamp" to "Three Wishes", "Native Work" to "Jungle King".
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • The manga adaptation of the first game was notable for reading left-to-right like a Western book, despite being originally in Japanese. This was dropped for all the following manga, which read right-to-left like any other Japanese book.
    • It was said within that only the Keyblade of Heart that appeared within Kingdom Hearts I could unlock or remove a person's heart. This was retconned away within Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep whereabout not only did Maleficent managed to mind control Terra into removing Princess Aurora's heart using a standard keyblade, the climax of Terra's storyling involves Xehanort unlocking his own heart using his own keyblade just so that he could steal Terra's body.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: It takes three full games for everyone to reunite and return to their home safely. And even then, Sora's job isn't done.
  • Evil Counterpart: Xehanort for Sora. Xehanort steals the bodies of others to extend his life. Sora lets others share his body to extend their lives. Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep goes even farther, revealing that the original Xehanort was not only a Keyblade Wielder but also from Destiny Islands.
  • Enemy Scan: It only shows an HP bar, but it's on-off and will work on any enemy, including bosses.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Although there are many weird creatures in the series, the Nobodies are the closest. Even by the cosmology of the series, it's stated that their existence simply doesn't make sense. It doesn't help that most of them look and move like animated clothing or that their movements look like a video playing in reverse.
  • Elemental Powers: Organization XIII. Most of them. Their individual powers are accurately "attributes", or themes to their abilities. This gets corrupted into "elements" by fans.
    • Some of them aren't quite what they're made out to be anyway. For example: Xemnas has "Nothing" and Luxord has "Time", but they turn out to be more like "Yin-Yang Bomb" and "Timed Mission" in practice.
  • Eleventh Hour Superpower: The Final Form transformation in Kingdom Hearts II. Granted, it's available for a while before the final boss, but it's hard to unlock quickly. It's really, really broken too, seeing as how it automatically attacks with every movement, including flying or drinking potions.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Anyone too cavalier about the power of darkness learns this the hard way; they tend to turn into Heartless or power-mad husks of their former selves.
  • Flanderization:
    • Now, while he was always a very positive kid, Sora was much more prone to negativity, anger, and doubt in Kingdom Hearts 1 compared to the rest of the series. In fact, his situation even caused him some stress in the first game. By 3D, he's gotten to the point where not even failing his mastery exam makes him even the least bit discouraged, and he very rarely if ever stays mad or sad about anything. Remember back in the first game when he and Donald had an argument and Sora actually held a grudge about it for awhile? Lampshaded by Ansem the Wise in KHII, when he's amused by Roxas's anger and tells him that he should lend Sora some of his anger, as he (Sora) is "far too nice for his own good."
    • Also concerning Sora, his messiah status was greatly exaggerated over time. With how clearly it's been made lately that the entire universe rests on him and every single character is connected to him somehow, you'd almost forget that he's not even the universe's original Chosen One (he accidentally stole the job from Riku).
  • Foreshadowing: The very nature of the "Dive to the Heart" location as a dreamworld located within one's Heart, encountered many times throughout the series by the games' various protagonists as a tutorial location, retroactively becomes this when Roxas is able to unwittingly visit it within Kingdom Hearts II foreshadowing the fact that he had managed to develop a heart all on his own in spite of being a Nobody, a race of beings said to have no hearts.
  • Fragile Speedster: Ventus's fighting style centers around speed and agility, but he cannot take much punishment.

     G - O 
  • Gambit Roulette:
    • Master Xehanort. He had been manipulating Terra and Ven for years to accomplish his goals. In the end, Terra, Aqua, and Ven used The Power of Friendship to stop him, but not before getting totally screwed over in the process. And he had some backup plans just in case the first one would fail so...
      • And in Dream Drop Distance, we get a plan that involved all of the previous plans going off exactly as they did so that a crazily convoluted plan involving time travel and dreams to finish what every single game previous has set up can go off according to plan.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration:
    • On the one hand, the developers put a lot of thought into making the gameplay reinforce the idea of teamwork and friendship. By and large, it's not too Anvilicious and almost universally regarded as fun. You also have a lot of little tidbits highlighting Sora's growth in skill.
    • Within Hollow Bastion from the first game, Belle conveniently becomes missing from the Princess of Hearts even when they're rescued just to give Beast the reason to still be with Sora and the gang.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: It is said many times that The Heartless can only be defeated with the Keyblade... yet Donald and Goofy (and whatever guest character who happens to join for the level) can mow down tons of them by themselves. 358/2 Days clarifies things: Heartless can be defeated by any weapon, but they'll just come back some time afterward. The Keyblade is the only weapon that can purify the hearts that make up the Heartless upon defeating them, vanquishing them for good.
  • Genre Blind: Increasingly so as the series has gone on, the heroes haven't yet clued in that listening to Xehanort is never a good idea, but they let him do in anyway instead of just summoning the Keyblade and lunging at him when he appears. 3D is particularly problematic about this, since of all people Sora and Riku should know better by now.
  • Glass Cannon:
    • Aqua in Birth By Sleep is a master mage, mastering every element and is incredibly agile and strong. But she cannot take a hit early on in the game.
  • Green Lantern Ring: Keyblades can be used as tradition swords (or clubs), channel magic, lock and unlock pretty much anything, teleport to their owner's hand at will, create portals to other worlds, generate armor, turn into personal hovercraft that are capable of intergalactic travel, morph into other weapons like cannons or whips with no known limit to the transformations, and create elaborate castles out of rubble.
  • Halloween Town: "Halloween Town", a world based upon The Nightmare Before Christmas. It's named after the main area of the world which happens to be a town that houses the physical manifestation of Hallowen.
  • Hammerspace:
    • Where else do you think the Keyblade goes when Sora's not carrying it?
    • The intelligent Nobodies can also call forth spiritual weapons at will, or at least most of them can.
    • Birth by Sleep shows Donald and Goofy pull their weapons out thin air, complete with pretty lights. Sure, Donald's a magician, but Goofy...
    • Ventus actually pulls a huge wooden keyblade from somewhere behind him during a cutscene in Neverland.
    • Averted in the manga, where Sora carries the Keyblade on his person.
  • Helpful Mook: The mushroom Heartless (with the exception of the Black Fungus) are the only Heartless that aren't inherently evil, rewarding Sora if they've been hit with the right spell, but running away if attacked a few times. Even Mushroom XIII, the Elite Mook variation of them, aren't evil - they just want to play combat-based minigames with Sora. They even reward Sora with an extra Keyblade and a token of appreciation in a form of a crown saying thanks should you complete all 13 of their minigames.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: In any given game, you can be sure that if some incarnation of Xehanort isn't behind everything, one of his subordinates is. The only game where this isn't true is coded, where the Big Bad is Sora's Heartless, but Xehanort still indirectly caused the being's creation.
  • HP to 1: Because of the Once More and Second Chance abilities, the developers have deigned it necessary to practically require the use of them in order to survive, especially on harder difficulties and with the later/bonus bosses. Thus, rather than having bosses with HP to One-type attacks, they simply have massive attack power which will always reduce you to within an inch of your life, regardless of your defense stat. Perhaps a form of Fake Difficulty, some bosses degenerate into the pattern: attack —> get hit by one attack (hanging on with 1 HP) —> heal —> get hit by another attack —> dodge like crazy waiting for your magic to regenerate so you can heal again —> repeat.
  • Humans Are White: The only non-white characters in the main cast are Xemnas, Ansem SoD, and Xehanort. And they're really all the same person.
  • Ice Magic Is Water: Water-themed monster as considered Ice-type. This trope creates a Guide Dang It on why the player should use Fire magic against, say, Demyx.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: Much of the recurring cast debuted in the sequels (including pre-existing Disney characters who play major roles)
    • Chain of Memories - Axel, Namine, Marluxia, Larxene, Vexen, Lexaeus, Zexion, DiZ.
    • II - Roxas, Pete, Yen Sid, Xemnas note , Xigbar, Xaldin, Saix, Demyx, and Ansem the Wise.
    • Days - Xion.
    • Birth by Sleep - Terra, Aqua, Ventus, Eraqus, Vanitas, and Master Xehanort - notably, the Big Bad of the franchise is only introduced five games into the series!
    • Dream Drop Distance - Young Xehanort.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: Beginner, Standard, Hard, Proud, and Critical.
  • Impossibly Cool Clothes:
    • Zippers galore, even on hats!
    • Dusks actually have zippers for mouths.
  • Impossibly Cool Weapon: Keyblades. While consistently referred to as swords and variably used in many varieties of fighting styles including mediums for channeling magic, at the end of the day, Keyblades are still just giant keys. How most of them can actually cut anything is a mystery since only a small handful have any sort of cutting edge or even points on the striking side.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Sora's giant key, Goofy's shield, Demyx's sitar, Zexion's lexicon (a book)...
  • Inconsistent Dub:
    • Renames to Heartless are occasionally inconsistent.
    • All games prior to KH2 were dubbed into various European languages, but all games released afterwards only had English voice tracks for their Europe-wide releases (although text was still translated). Oddly enough, Quebecnote  only received games up to KH2 in English, and only started having French options for the gamenote  at the very point where they stopped providing French audio, which just happened to coincide with a pseudo-law requiring games to be released in French in the province.
  • Infinity–1 Sword: The Oblivion keychain can be gotten in-game once you pass a certain event. While it's not Ultima, it's still pretty fantastic. Its attack power is outstripped only by Ultima and Fenrir, and doesn't have the latter's downgraded magic stats.
  • Infinity+1 Sword: The Ultima Weapon. Good luck hunting down all the synthesis items. Also, Final Form is an Infinity+1 Super Mode.
  • Invisible Parents: Sora's mom gets a single line in Kingdom Hearts I and his dad gets mentioned by Riku in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, but they are otherwise completely absent. Riku and Kairi are also implied to have parents, but they never get any mentions.
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: Sora's interactions with Beauty and the Beast characters, since Haley Joel Osment voiced Chip in one of the direct to video sequels. Also in the Japanese version of Birth by Sleep, Terra's seiyuu voiced Zero, and Master Xehanort's actor voiced Dr. Weil. And in Re: Chain of Memories, Kairi and Naminé, are respectively voiced by Alyson Stoner and Meghan Jette Martin who played archenemies in Camp Rock.
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: As Mickey says in Re:coded, "I should have known there were no coincidences—only links in a much larger chain of events." Looking at the series chronologically in-universe helps one make sense of it, but the mythos of the series is so deeply entwined that you need knowledge of the plot of every game to understand it; something not everyone can afford since the series is expanded through (so far) SIX different game platforms (but there are numerous remakes that mean you can disregard the mobile and Gameboy Advance titles). By this point it's pretty much impossible to follow the overarching story if you just pick a random game and dive in. And as of Dream Drop Distance, on top of the Mind Screw, Mind Rape, human cloning, death and resurrection, alternate dimensions and Gambit Roulette games, we're adding time travel to the equation now.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler:
    • Roxas is Sora's Nobody.
    • Axel is the only Organization member to return from the Castle Oblivion mission.
    • Auron is Dead All Along.
    • The prologue to II spoils pretty much all of the original game and Chain Of Memories, including the endings to both games.
  • Legacy Boss Battle:
    • Sephiroth appears as a Bonus Boss in Kingdom Hearts I and Kingdom Hearts II. The first one as one of the coliseum matches with no context except for one Final Mix exclusive cutscene, the latter game has him cameo during the 1000 Heartless War where he asks where Cloud is, vanishes and then taunts Cloud a little bit later.
    • The Absent Silhouettes in Kingdom Hearts II: Final Mix are Bonus Bosses against the members of Organization XII that had "died" in Kingdom Hearts Chain Of Memories.
    • Xehanort (or rather Xemnas and Young Xehanort) invert the trope, as they first appeared as Bonus Bosses in Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix and Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep, respectively, albeit with their identity hidden from the characters (and the audience).
  • Legacy Character: Many games have new characters that physically resemble established characters and often have similar personalities and abilities. This is actually almost universally significant, as it means those characters are likely connected to each other in some manner. The exception is Aqua and Kairi, whose connection (Aqua inadvertently named Kairi her successor as Master) is comparatively superficial, thus, Aqua looking like an older Kairi and happening to be friends with Legacy Characters of Sora and Riku, is just coincidence.
  • Leitmotif: A very frequent musical inclusion.
    • Kairi, Sora, Riku, Roxas, Naminé, Xion, Ventus, Aqua, and Terra all have their own theme tunes, although Xion's uses riffs from Kairi's, Ventus's is a combination of Roxas's and Sora's, and Aqua's and Terra's are lifted wholesale from "Fate of the Unknown" [Aqua's theme also has riffs from Castle Oblivion's world and battle themes].
      • Vanitas' battle themes, "Enter the Darkness" and "Unbreakable Chains," use an original riff for the first minute or so, before vaulting into Roxas' theme, then a Minor-key version of Sora's theme, and finally ending with Ventus' theme before looping back to the beginning. All of this because Vanitas is Ventus' darkness, and Ventus' heart had already bonded with Sora when they first met.
    • Master Xehanort has a theme that appears first in Birth By Sleep, but was remixed and appears whenever he is present in 3D.
    • Battles against Riku and/or "Ansem" in the first two games open with identical organ chords, though all instances of fighting the latter used some portion of "Forze del Male" as his motif. Also, every battle with Xemnas uses the same bits from "Darkness of the Unknown." However, anything involving past!Xehanort uses "Dark Impetus."
      • A bonus battle in Birth By Sleep Final Mix even mixed the first two of them together.
    • The vast majority of tunes related to Organization XIII use some part of "Another Side"'s melody (the exception being Xemnas, as he uses the themes noted above).
    • Many late stages and some final boss battles use an arrangement of "Destati".
    • Several other themes also have riffs from "Dearly Beloved".
    • All of the Nobodies' themes seem to be the normal characters' themes (for those that have them) slightly altered.
  • Let's Get Dangerous: See, Demyx has all the work ethic of a bar of soap. He goes above and beyond the call of Dismotivation, running and hiding at the first sign of combat. Saïx tries and fails to get Roxas to motivate him. But put a traitor in front of him, and you better run for your life.
  • Light 'em Up: Sora, Roxas, Xion, Ventus, Aqua and Mickey all have powerful light spells and/or abilities.
  • Literal Split Personality:
    • Sora's Nobody, Roxas and his replica, Xion. They're put back together in one being by the end, but Roxas and Xion still exist somewhere in Sora, somehow - but the games never really explore any possible future consequences of that might have. However, Birth by Sleep and coded shows that part of Ventus's note  heart was absorbed into Sora, and that all of the people in Sora will likely get their own bodies back in a future game.
    • coded alludes to some of the issues involving clones/copies/replicas/etc. While Kingdom Hearts II put forth the idea that they should be re-absorbed with the original and don't have true identities of their own, coded seems to argue that copies who develop connections to others are deserving of their own identity.
    • Dream Drop Distance shows that Sora thinks they deserve to be their own people, not just a part of him. If this means anything, it's that they will be back.
    • Not counting the people Xehanort goes Grand Theft Me on, there's his Heartless Ansem, his Nobody Xemnas, and his younger self who all coexist with each other.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: There are more than half a dozen Original Generation main heroes, various supporting characters, numerous villains from Disney's history or made just for this franchise, and a huge number Disney characters from a large pool of their animated and some live action movies that are sprinkled throughout the games.
  • Lucky Seven: The Princesses of heart are seven human incarnations of Light. 3D introduces the idea of seven guardians of light.
  • MacGuffin Location:
    • The titular Kingdom Hearts. It is said to be the ultimate source of knowledge and power, letting whoever controls it have dominion over the entire universe if they choose. The primary goal of the main antagonists is to obtain it.
    • The Chamber of Waking, which houses a comatose Ventus, and is located in Castle Oblivion. Somewhere. Only Aqua (the person who created the Castle) is capable of finding it again.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: An underlying component, and one that may be surprising to newcomers or those merely scanning the plot, is that the series is internally consistent. Retcons exist, usually for the purpose of clarifying/simplifying the cosmology, and the first installment is often glossed over. Despite this, the myriad plot points all conform to what is an overarching storyline.
  • Magitek: All over the place, most prominently the Gummi Ship and the Hollow Bastion/Radiant Garden laboratories. When you're talking about a physical machine that subjects someone's heart to darkness in order to shatter their heart and turn them into a Heartless, it's hard to draw the line between science and magic in this series.
  • Malevolent Architecture: The Land of Departure lies directly between the light and dark realms. Word of God clarifies that the castle houses a mechanism that transforms it to invoke this trope should it fall into the wrong hands, and that's how Aqua made Castle Oblivion.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Sora means sky, the "kai" in Kairi means sea, and Riku means land. Also, the Keyblade Knights in Birth by Sleep happen to be called Ven(tus), Aqua, and Terra. Hmmmmm.)
    • There's also Naminé. "Nami" is a word for "ocean wave". Remember whose Nobody she is?
    • The first part of Xion's name- "shio"- is the word for "tide".
    • "Shion" is also the name of a plant associated with memories in Japan.
    • Xion's name, sans the "X", is an anagram for "No i". For those who do not understand, "i" is a mathematical term for the square root of -1, an imaginary number.
    • To be specific, Ventus, Aqua, and Terra stand for wind, water, and earth respectively.
    • Nomura really went all out with Vanitas. Not only does it mean "emptiness" in Latin and looks like Ventus, but the kanji for emptiness is the same one as the one for sky. His name is connected to a Biblical quote, as well — "all is vanity" and a striving after wind. Now consider what he spent most of the game doing...
  • Metafiction: The series has acquired a surprising amount of meta subtext.
    • Dream Drop Distance, without going into spoilers, makes reference to a group of 7 and a group of 13, and the arrival of the 13th member of the latter group completes the set. The series contains seven base games current — Kingdom Hearts, Chain of Memories, Kingdom Hearts II, coded, 358/2 Days, Birth By Sleep, and Dream Drop Distance. Add in the Updated Rereleases of all games except Dream Drop Distance and Days, and that's an additional 5, bringing the total to 12, and the promised Kingdom Hearts III makes thirteen. If Nomura really didn't have all this planned out from Day One, he is playing some mean Xanatos Speed Chess to make it all work together.
    • The 7 and 13 form the χ-blade, formerly attempted to be formed by Ventus and Vanitas, but they didn't form a complete union. There's been two HD re-release bundles for the series that bring the first six games into HD, but they're missing 3D and thus the series is not complete just with them.
  • Museum Game: To varying degrees. For example, the first and second main games in the series not only have you visiting different Disney movies and interacting with the characters, but there's even an information gallery with details about the characters (albeit their role in Kingdom Hearts rather than their own movies specifically), including details of when the character was first created, and occasionally trivia (e.g. "Doorknob was the only character in Alice in Wonderland who wasn't in the original book").
  • Mushroom Man: The Mushroom Heartless family, which includes White Mushrooms, Black Fungi, Rare Truffles, and Pink Agaricuses.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The victory poses the characters sometimes do is highly reminiscent of the victory poses Final Fantasy characters often do.
    • The way Genie is summoned within the first game is highly reminiscent of the scene in the original Aladdin when the Genie's first summoned out of the lamp, only instead of the lamp that's reacting, it's Sora's keyblade.
    • The theme song for Disney Castle/Disney Town, the home setting of the classic Disney characters like Mickey, Donald and Goofy, is an instrumental remix of the opening song to The Mickey Mouse Club. It's even credited within the credits as "Mickey Mouse March" whenever the song's featured in one form or another (practically any game that portrays events within Disney Castle or Disney Town), the same as any other songs that weren't specifically composed for the game.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • The progress the Organization has made with its plans is due to the unwitting help of Sora, Roxas and to a metaphysical extent, the player himself.
    • According to coded, thanks to killing off Xehanort's Heartless and Xemnas, Sora and Riku ended up reviving Xehanort, and not long thereafter, Master Xehanort. Justified in that according to Yen Sid, they had no other choice - Xehanort's Heartless and Xemnas both posed as very serious threats and that their universe really would collapse if they weren't taken out beforehand.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Starting with KH2, retroactive continuity establishes that the Heartless are actually hearts that have been consumed by darkness, and it's the Nobodies ("no body") who are actually the empty shell of the body left behind when a heart is thus consumed.
  • Non-Lethal K.O.: Party members just get dazed when defeated. After a breather (or some healing) they'll be ready for action again. This doesn't apply to Sora unless it's a battle Mickey shows up in.
  • Non-Standard Character Design: Applies strongly to Shiro Amano's manga adaptation. While the originals and Square Enix carryovers use his native art style, Amano goes to great lengths to imitate the art style of every Disney character's individual movie.
  • Non Standard Skill Learning: The series spreads learning abilities across various methods (level up, progress the plot, defeat a boss, or complete some other challenge), but that comes across as not having one "standard" method in the first place. Though stat boosts come primarily through level-ups, so that might create an expectation that most character growth is from experience points.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: In KH2, Kairi and Mickey get knocked outside the door to Kingdom Hearts as Sora, Donald, Goofy, and Riku go to fight Xemnas. But at the end of the battle, all six characters are shown facing Xemnas in fighting pose, as if they HAD been fighting. Then, Square Enix... why didn't you just find a way to have them fight in the actual gameplay battle!?
  • One Steve Limit:
    • Riku and Rikku. Rikku was actually cut from the first game out of the fear that this would cause confusion, and her name is never actually spoken aloud when she appears in Kingdom Hearts II.
    • Jack Sparrow and Jack Skellington. In the Japanese version, game interface calls the pirate "Sparrow" and the skeleton "Jack" to avoid confusion. In the US version, the game interface calls both of them 'Jack' but when you use an item on them (or cast cure on them) Sora will say "Jack!" for Skellington and "Captain!" for Sparrow.
  • Only Friend: During Axel's death scene, he tells Sora that Roxas was the only one he liked, and basically his only friend.
  • Overrated And Underleveled: Zig-zagged.
    • Sora restarts each game he stars in at level one when he was one-shotting enemies and soloing bosses in the previous game. However; it's explained in Chain of Memories as being forced to forget, and at the start of Kingdom Hearts II, he was spending the past year asleep, progress being hampered by Roxas and Xion. In Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, his and Riku's reversion back to Level 1 deals with them entering the Sleeping Worlds and losing all of their abilities to learn the proper techniques for Keyblade Masters. Sora then gets his heart temporarily shattered and goes comatose for a while at the end of that game, the damage and need to recover from which explains his drop back to level one for the next game.
    • However, played completely straight with Donald and Goofy. When the court mage and knight-captain join Sora, they're at the level he is and only have a fraction of their abilities.

     P - Z 
  • Palette Swap:
    • The Final Mix versions of the games change the coloration of most enemies, apparently just for the sake of being refreshing; this is the only change in Final Mix that doesn't seem to be canon.
    • Rampant in Days, which adds several "new" enemies and weapons by way of this trope.
  • Paradox Person: Nobodies are the remains of a person's body and soul after they become a Heartless, animated by their strong will. They lack the ability to truly feel emotion due to the loss of their heart, but their memories allow them to act out the appropriate emotions in the right situations. They are said to defy the laws of the universe to the point that neither the Realm of Darkness nor the Realm of Light accept them, and thus they don't truly exist.
  • Parental Abandonment: Kairi's grandma, Ariel's father and Simba's dad are the only parental characters given any screentime. Of those three, Mufasa is dead and Kairi's grandma hasn't been seen since Radiant Garden fell. Sora's mom gets one line from offscreen near the start of the first game. Anyone else's parents are either invisible, implied to be dead (Ienzo), or completely unmentioned.
  • The Password Is Always Swordfish: Played embarrassingly straight in II on several occasions. The passwords were (the first two of these were correctly guessed on the first try): "Belle, Snow White, Aurora, Alice, Jasmine, Cinderella, Kairi," "Sea-salt ice cream," and "Sora, Donald, and Goofy".
  • Pieces of God: In game mythology, "the light" was once whole; but was shattered; and the pieces survived in the hearts of children.
  • Pop-Star Composer: Utada Hikaru writes the theme music for the series.
  • The Power of Friendship: This concept is key to the series, but it's usually done in such a well-executed manner as to still feel natural, despite being idealistic. Keyblades in particular appear to be drawn to individuals who have strong hearts, and thus, exemplify this trope.
  • Power Trio: Sora! Donald! Goofy! Trinity Attack!
  • Prolonged Prologue:
    • The second game is notorious for this. The first game is no slouch in this department, either, though most of the stuff you can do on Destiny Islands is optional. However, the spin-off games are typically a lot better at this. Birth by Sleep's prologue is both very brief and can be skipped on subsequent playthroughs (which is helpful since there are three separate storylines to get through), and Chain of Memories barely has a prologue at all.
    • Ironically, the minute Ventus starts messing around for the tutorial, he stops and questions why he was doing all that when he was on his way to see the meteor shower.
    "Wait. What am I messing around here for?"
  • Rainbow Pimp Gear:
    • With space ships, no less. While the Gummi ship editor are clearly there with creativity in mind, more often than not you won't always have matching blocks to pull off a specific design. Similarly, a Gummi's HP is directly proportional to the amount of blocks it has. As a result, most Gummi ships will end up becoming literal Flying Bricks with miss-matching blocks with tons of guns attached to the front and the best engines in the back, with actual wings being considered a Dump Stat. Similarly, if you choose to go with the A.I. Breaker tactic, replace literal Flying Brick with a giant flying donut.
    • Some Keyblade designs themselves can verge on this at times, being the only thing that averts No Cutscene Inventory Inertia. Sure, Keyblades beyond the one you'll start out with will have vastly better stats, but it can occasionally make cutscenes look unintentionally narmish when Sora has something like Decisive Pumpkin equipped. note 
  • Recurring Element:
    • It takes some from Final Fantasy, such as Moogles, summon monsters, and the magic system.
    • Multiple games have central characters that form a Power Trio in the form of a shorter, younger guy, his taller, brasher best friend, and a girl. The tall one tends to have a personality darker than the short stack, and tends to suffer some sort of bad fate (either a Face–Heel Turn, mind control, separation, or death). The short one and the girl tend to be separated in some way.
  • Recurring Riff: No matter which series installment you're playing, the title screen will always have some variation of "Dearly Beloved". Another standout is "Destati", which has been left out of only two games.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Sora's Valor Form and Wisdom Form. The former uses exclusively physical attacks, while the latter relies on magic.
    • Donald would probably like to be this to Sora, but fails due to his own Greed.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge:
    • For the player rather than anyone in the game. Seriously, name something from a Disney film that scared the bejeezus out of you as a kid. Maleficent, Chernobog, Ursula, Oogie Boogie... odds are good that whatever you named, you're gonna get to dish out some long overdue payback on.
    • Also played in-universe during a scene on Hollow Bastion. After defeating Demyx, a rock falls toward King Mickey. Goofy shoves the King out of the way only to catch the rock dead on his head himself. For all appearances, Goofy is now dead. After a brief mourning scene, Mickey declares that "they'll pay for this", throwing off his cloak, revealing his Keyblade and leaping into the battle, followed by one pissed-off Donald!
  • Rule of Symbolism: There's a lot of Taoist symbolism, namely the themes of duality and how nothing can exist without its opposite to give it proper meaning; namely, yin and yang, neither of which is innately evil. This is seen in the series with the balance of light and darkness, the belief that Dark Is Not Evil, it's just misused, and the existences of the Nobodies and Heartless. Furthermore, the three realms of Light, Darkness and Nothingness, tie into the "third" element of yin and yang, wuji, which symbolizes nothingness and limitlessness.
  • Rule of Three: Three, thanks to the Trinity motif, is an Arc Number for the series. There are three enemy types (Heartless, Nobody, Unversed), several trios of characters, the realms of Light, Darkness, and Nothingness, three paths at the start (Sword, Shield or Staff), three ways of levelling up (journey begins at dawn, midday or dusk), three party members at a time...
  • Sad Battle Music: A recurring trope.
    • In II, "Darkness Of The Unknown" is at first fairly epic, but when it hits its third stage, it takes a turn for the somber.
      • And in Final Mix+, you have "The Other Promise," Roxas' theme turned into a boss music. It continues to play in the ensuing cutscenes.
    • In 358/2 Days', you have "Vector to the Heavens," full stop.
    • In Dream Drop Distance, you have "Rinzler Recompiled."
  • Say My Name:
    • In the Secret End of Birth by Sleep regardless of their state of existence, Naminé, Roxas, Xion, Ven, Terra and Aqua pray to Sora's name across time and space.
    • Kingdom Hearts II have Sora, Donald and Goofy referred to or greeted in that exact order almost 100% of the time.
  • Science Fantasy: Due to being a crossover of various properties that are from different genres, the series contains many elements from fantasy and science fiction. Knights, sorcerers, spaceships, intergalactic travel, Cyberspace, Artificial Humans (and other artificial lifeforms like Artificial Intelligence), royalty, some Magitek, and Time Travel are just the tip of the iceberg.
  • Second Hour Superpower:
    • The Keyblade from the original. Sora starts out with a wooden sword.
    • Also, Roxas's keyblade. He starts with a struggle bat.
  • Self-Insert Fic: Literally done with the 100 Acre Wood, in which Sora inadvertently rewrites the story by finding the pages and interacting with the residents to include himself as a prominent character. It even includes him on the cover where Christopher Robin would've been when you clear the stage and find the keyhole.
  • Sequel Hook: Most games have a secret ending movie that teases the next game.
  • Sentient Cosmic Force: The Light; among other possibilities, this is the stuff of which worlds and people are made. It's apparently also the source and distributor of the Keyblades and Sora's initial visions. Can also impart Mysterious Monologues with the best of them.
  • Sequential Boss: No self-respecting final boss in this series would be caught dead without at least three forms.
    • The Virus version of Data Roxas encountered in the 13-level Sector in Hollow Bastion has four forms.
  • Shifting Sand Land: Agrabah (Aladdin)
  • Ship Sinking: Axel specifically states that he considers romantic love (the kind between Belle and Beast being the topic-starter) and love between best friends to be completely separate.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: In the original game, played straight with the Hollow Bastion Climax Boss, but subverted in the final battle (in which Donald and Goofy rejoin you gradually). Played straight at the end of Kingdom Hearts II, in which Sora and Riku are the only heroes at the final battle, but that's because Donald and Goofy had just left earlier after everyone thought that Xemnas was dead already.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The majority of Mook Nobodies are named after the various job classes in the Final Fantasy series, and often behave as such.
    • The Darkside Heartless is named after Tales from the Darkside, an anthology horror TV series. The Twilight Thorn is called Twilight Zone in Japanese, referencing another famous horror TV series.
    • The poses Sora does when he wins a tournament round in the first game are victory poses from Final Fantasy VII, VIII and X.
    • Most of the Gummi Ship names are names of various airships from the Final Fantasy games.
    • Xigbar's title, "Freeshooter", is taken from the title of the German opera Der Freischütz. The eponymous marksman makes a Deal with the Devil in exchange for seven magical bullets; the first six are controlled by the marksman while the seventh is controlled by the Devil.
  • Shown Their Work: Repeatedly. The development staff has access to the whole of Disney canon to look at for concepts, and they go the extra mile to represent them well. Numerous locations look just like they did in the films, and many voice actors return to reprise their roles.
  • Sigil Spam:
    • The Heartless emblem and the Nobody sigil both show up on pretty much anything connected to their groups. The Unversed sigil also get the same treatment, as well the Dreameaters.
  • Significant Anagram:
    • All of Organization XIII; each of their names is an anagram of the old selves' name with an added X. Leads to Epileptic Trees about the original names of the "other" members.
    • Xehanort especially. Get rid of the X and we get both "No Heart" and "Another". Nomura says both were entirely intentional.
    • Eraqus can also be arranged as "Square." Almost a complete reversal of the name in fact, just with the "u" being placed after the "q" to follow English vocabulary rules. This is done to make him a counterpart to Yen Sid, which is "Disney" spelt backwards.
  • Sliding Scale of Continuity: Level 5 (Full Lockout). From the second game onward the games head straight into Kudzu Plot with any detail potentially Foreshadowing future games (Xigbar's cryptic lines in II being an example). Dream Drop Distance has "memoirs" thought that record the plots of the preceeding games and unlocks them when a Continuity Nod/Call Back to the respective game first occurs. Making the games a Level 4 (Arc-Based Episodic) at least (though without that game it still remains at 5). Birth By Sleep tones it down to a Level 3, with the story being self-contained and easy to understand if you've not played the other games, but there's a lot of Call Forwards and Foreshadowing for future games that will be lost on a new player.
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness Versus Seriousness: Shifts from silliness towards seriousness within each game, and over the series as whole.
  • Sound of No Damage: The games feature a rubbery bounce sound when an attack has no effect, accompanied by a ripple where the enemy was struck. Countering an enemy's physical attack with one of your own or guarding causes a high "ching" sound.
  • Spanner in the Works: Sora and Co. have an amazing ability to tear complicated schemes to pieces without ever fully understanding them. (Though they do have help.)
  • Speedy Techno Remake: The PlanitB remix of "Simple and Clean", used in the openings of the first game and Birth by Sleep.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Never Land or Neverland? Never Land is probably right, given that it was written as "the Never Never Land" in the original play (Peter Pan; or, the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up).
  • Spiritual Successor: The World of Mana series was succeeded by Kingdom Hearts, more or less. Disney Fantasy Online is a spiritual successor to Kingdom Hearts, as it's essentially Kingdom Hearts online with the Square Enix properties filed off but with the Nomura art style and core concepts retained.
  • The Stations of the Canon:
    • Take a drink every time Sora and company intervene to make sure that the Stations of the Disney Canon happen properly.
    • Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories turns visiting the Stations of Kingdom Hearts into a plot point—The Important Promise is changed by Namine so that Sora remembers her as the one he made that promise to.
  • Stars Are Souls: Kingdom Hearts is a bit iffy on this one. Usually, the stars in the KH universe represent worlds as a whole and they disappear from the night sky when that particular world is submerged in darkness. Then, in Kingdom Hearts II, we have the Pride Lands as a world, which reaffirms the plot point that the old rulers of Pride Rock become stars in the sky upon death. This is also shown in Birth by Sleep, when, after Master Xehanort strikes down Master Eraqus in front of a horrified Terra, Yen Sid notes, "Eraqus's star has blinked out." The contradictions can just be chalked up to the world running on the Theory of Narrative Causality.
  • Still Wearing the Old Colors: Neither Roxas nor Xion ditch their Organization XIII cloaks after they quit the organization. It's unlikely that Roxas had time to buy anything else to wear and Xion probably was wearing it to protect her heart from darkness, like Riku does.
  • Story Difficulty Setting: A variant - Kingdom Hearts: 58/2 Days and Kingdom Hearts: Re:coded were both re-released in HD as the 1.5 Remix and 2.5 Remix, respectively. Each re-release featured cutscene-only versions of the game in question, removing all gameplay.
  • Surprise Creepy: Especially if all you saw before playing was the Disney element or hadn't actually watched some of the Disney films featured (did you think Pinnocchio portrayed being swallowed by a whale nicely?)
  • Taken A Level In Badass: Mickey Mouse, in his cartoons sometimes goofy, overly polite but assertive. Now kicks all kind of ass in a Badass Longcoat to boot, and sometimes in KHII if Sora is losing in a boss fight, Mickey fights in his place, and is much more overpowered.
  • Take Up My Sword: One way someone claims a Keyblade is by performing The Rite of Succession with a Keyblade Master. A Keyblade still has to choose them, though.
  • Teens Are Short:
    • Sora, Riku, Kairi, Roxas, Naminé, etc. are all shorter than almost all of the adults in the game. "Shorter than some" would be understandable, as would "slightly shorter than most", but there is a significant height gap most of the way through, at least for the males. Although Riku does hit a growth spurt after Chain of Memories and becomes "adult height" for Kingdom Hearts II.
    • Sora's growth spurt was nothing to scoff at either. The pants that reached his ankles in the original didn't even pass his knees in the sequel.
    • Not really a teen, but seeing Goofy next to some of these other characters makes you realize that he's not so tall as much as all of his friends are just short.
    • Gets really weird in 3D when you see them interact with the cast of TRON: Legacy (which are portrayed are as real, detailed, and unsettling humans) and see them tower over Sora and Riku.
  • Terrible Artist: Naminé. Which may be forgivable as she is working in crayon then. In pencil, of course, she's completely amazing.
  • Theme Naming:
    • The three major protagonists are named after the sky (Sora), land (Riku), and sea (Kairi).
    • Their counterparts from Birth By Sleep match, being named after the wind (Ventus), earth (Terra), and water (Aqua).
    • Kairi and the two Nobodies born from her from her have a theme of a Japanese word related to the ocean with an extra mora at the end: Kairi (kai/ocean+ri), Naminé (nami/wave+), and Xion (shio/tide+n).
    • All the names of the Organization XIII members are anagrams of the names they had before they became Nobodies with an "x" added in.
    • The stronger Nobody mooks are all named after Job Classes from various Final Fantasy games.
    • Some of the spinoff games have something of an internet theme: CoM (Chain of Memories), coded, BBS (Birth by Sleep).
  • Theme Song Reveal: The series runs this trope as far as it can take it. Many themes are remixed and incorporated into other themes, and analysis of such can provide a glimpse into connections between characters when one of their themes incorporates snippets from the other's.
  • There Are No Therapists: Especially for Ventus, Aqua and Terra in Birth By Sleep. Aqua winds up having to put down both Terra and Ventus, Terra loses his body and kills his master, and Ventus finds out he has to sacrifice himself. Though some of Organization XIII could also use them.
  • They're Called Personal Issues for a Reason: Played straight and deconstructed several times throughout the series. Cases in point:
    • In Birth By Sleep, if Ven had told Terra and Aqua about Vanitas' warning, if Terra had told them about Master Xehanort's side teachings, basically if all three had just talked before things got out of hand Terra may still have his body, Ven wouldn't be in a coma after destroying his heart to defeat Vanitas, Aqua wouldn't be trapped in the Realm of Darkness, Eraqus may still be alive, and Xehanort's plans would have been either halted or siderailed.
    • Deconstructed and intended for the Nobodies of Organization XIII. By denying their emotions since they had no hearts, none of them progressed, and as revealed in Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance], none of them could regain their hearts due to keeping those feelings locked up. Best part? This was Xehanort's plan from the start, so he could have vessels to put his heart in and create his Thirteen Seekers of Darkness.
  • Thirteen Is Unlucky: Organization XIII are the bad guys of KHII. Dream Drop Distance introduces another example with Xehanort's ultimate plot: creating thirteen human incarnations of darkness, the seekers of darkness, as a direct counterpoint to the guardians of light.
  • Three Strike Combo: The protagonists typically start with a basic three point combo attack just by tapping to attack button. This can be lengthened, shortened or powered up depending on your abilities and keyblade.
  • Thinking Up Portals: Corridors of Darkness are portals that a person can conjure up, and they effectively allow the conjurer to travel to from anywhere in the entire universe to anywhere else in an instant. However, doing so risks corruption by darkness. This explains why the villains can get anywhere in a flash, but the heroes always have to avoid these portals and take the slow way (with one exception.)
  • Title Drop: In every game so far (except within 358/2 Days), the Kingdom Hearts, of which the series is named after, is referred to by at least one character.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Mickey is shown to have been clumsy at wielding a Keyblade when training under Yen Sid in Birth by Sleep. In the present day, he's the most skilled Keyblade wielder of all.
    • Roxas gains a level in badass when he absorbs Xion, gaining his signature power to dual-wield two Keyblades.
    • Sora in Kingdom Hearts II not only gets Roxas's dual-wielding, but later on takes his own level in badass when he gets the power to use Drive Forms. Even not counting this, Sora's skill with the Keyblade drastically increases during the events of Kingdom Hearts I and Kingdom Hearts II.
    • Riku and Kairi both get their own Keyblades in Kingdom Hearts II.
    • By Kingdom Hearts III, Not only did Sora learned to take advantage of the fact that the Keyblade's a Morph Weapon by turning them into guns (among other things), he can also summon various vehicles that resemble Disney Land rides to help him and his friends fight their enemies.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: Most bizarre in the original, where the Hades Cup is harmless. (Well, as harmless as a 50-round chain battle featuring lots of tough Heartless and a battle with Hades himself can be, anyway.)
  • Trilogy Creep: There are 3 main consoles titles and half a dozen side games that were released on various other devices (primarily handhelds). Every single one is important to the plot and lead up to the "third" installment, Kingdom Hearts III.
  • Tomes of Prophecy and Fate: The Book of Prophesies, introduced within Kingdom Hearts X, serve as this for the entire universe. It has information about things that was, things that is, and things that will be and, according to Maleficent via a retroactivelly added scene within Kingdom Hearts coded, one can, among other things, create new worlds simply by adding onto it.
  • The Unchosen One:
    • Sora was not the initial choice for the Keyblade. Pretty much spelled out when Sora meets Terra, one of the previous Keybearers. The latter flips out upon seeing the Keyblade in the hands of someone other than the one he chose. Cue Bonus Boss. This is subverted if you take into account that it was the keyblade that chose Sora. Not a keyblade wielder like Terra.
    • In contrast to Sora, both Riku and Kairi actually are The Chosen One, selected by Terra and Aqua, respectively (Although in Kairi's case, it was accidental, and in Riku's case, as mentioned above, he lost his chosen right and had to work hard to eventually transform his sword into a Keyblade instead.)
    • Mickey and Aqua are also unchosen ones, in a sense. The former is, well, Mickey Mouse, who became a Keyblade wielder just so he could help people with it, and Aqua is simply a highly-skilled Keyblade wielder with no great destiny set out for her like Terra or Ven. It doesn't stop either of them from derailing Xehanort's plans, serving vital roles on the side of the good guys, and generally being Badass the whole time.
  • Uncommon Time: The Hollow Bastion theme is in 5/8.
  • Under the Sea: Atlantica.
  • Uniqueness Decay: Over the course of the series, a surprising amount of Keyblades and Wielders have popped up with each passing game. In the first game, it's implied there's only one Keyblade and Keyblade Wielder, which is a major plot point when Sora has to earn it back and prove himself after Riku reveals his status as the real Chosen One and promptly takes it from him. At the end of the game, there's also revealed to be a Keyblade for the Dark World as well, which isn't too unreasonable to believe because of it being the opposite of the realm of light. However, in the secret video unlocked in the very same game, there's shown to be a mysterious figure who can dual wield two Keyblades. Then in Kingdom Hearts II, we find out that there's more Keyblades and Keyblade Wielders out there, but the amount is still rather reasonable come end game. That being Sora, Riku, Mickey, and Kairi, with everyone else being either a Nobody version of an existing Keyblade Wielder, retired like Yen Sid, or (at that point) being a massive Mind Screw like the Lingering Will. Then the secret video in that game and Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep reveals an entire war of nothing but Keyblade Wielders took place in the past, over what can be considered the ultimate and true Legendary Weapon version of the Keyblade, and that there's an entire graveyard of the things now as a result. It's a fact that Braig in Birth By Sleep lampshades, ironically, given the games status as a prequel to the rest of the series.
    Braig: It seems like these days, everybody's got one of those....
  • Unscaled Merfolk: While in Atlantica, Sora is half dolphin, Donald is half octopus, and Goofy is mostly turtle (only his head is still clearly him).
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight:
    • You'd think someone like Jack Sparrow would say something when faced with an anthropomorphic duck. (Then again, considering this is Jack Sparrow's mind...) In fact, someone would probably comment on there being several people looking like they just stepped out of a cartoon in a place that clearly doesn't have that kind of stuff.
    • Likewise, in the Mulan level, the Captain doesn't seem to notice that the three most powerful of the new recruits don't look Chinese, don't have Chinese names, and aren't wearing Chinese soldier armor.
  • Updated Re-release: The Re: and Final Mix editions of each game as they come. Kingdom Hearts I, Kingdom Hearts II, and Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep all have Final Mix editions that include additional bosses, areas, weapons, minigames, cutscenes, powers, and items, but, until Kingdom Hearts 1.5: HD Remix was announced with the original game's Final Mix included, none of these were available outside of Japan, despite having some international voices. The Re: editions (of coded and Chain of Memories) have been available internationally, however, albeit in some changed format and minor changes to story elements in the process.
  • Unexpected Character:
    • Chernabog shows up in Kingdom Hearts I as a surprise boss fight.
    • One of the summons in Kingdom Hearts II is Chicken Little, a Disney character whose movie wasn't even out in Japan at the time.
    • Dream Drop Distance one-ups them completely with The World Ends With You characters and a Bonus Boss fight against Julius from a single Mickey Mouse short, "Runaway Brain".
  • The Usual Adversaries: While they are also obviously The Heartless, the Heartless and Nobodies are also this. Birth by Sleep brings the Unversed, and Dream Drop Distance introduces the Dream Eaters.
  • Victory Pose:
  • Video Game Remake: The PS2's Re:Chain of Memories, a remake of the GBA's Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts Re:coded for the DS, a remake of the mobile game Kingdom Hearts coded.
  • Villain-Based Franchise: Master Xehanort (or one component of him) managed to cause every single problem in the series in some manner. Nomura recently has basically stated that Kingdom Hearts I through III and the associated spinoffs will comprise the "Xehanort saga" of Kingdom Hearts. Yeah, all these games are just part of one villain-based saga.
  • Weapon Jr.: Sora's wooden sword, Tidus's wooden pole, Selphie's jumprope, Ven's wooden keyblade, and Lea's frisbees.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Xehanort believes himself to be this. Sure he's screwing over Eraqus and his pupils, but he's doing it to bring about cosmic balance. It's just that his idea of cosmic balance requires causing a war between Keyblade masters that will destroy the universe.
  • Wham Episode:
    • The Hollow Bastion visit of the first game caused lingering consequences for the rest of the series afterwards.
    • Birth by Sleep was one for the entire universe as well, as it featured the beginning of Master Xehanort's efforts to put his long plan into motion.
    • Dream Drop Distance, being the penultimate game in the series before the Xehanort Saga's conclusion, ties story elements from practically the entire series and shows how it's all connected, as well as having some major reveals about the Heart, Xehanort, Nobodies, and Organization XIII.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?:
    • The Nobodies. Sora in particular sticks to his "You don't exist, you don't feel anything" mantra right until the end, even after one of them pulls a Heroic Sacrifice for his sake yet comes back to life as a human, because of it... One might think he was speaking directly to Disney's censors. Meanwhile other, non-Nobody villains succumb to The Heartless, a Karmic Death, get One-Winged Angel enough to get covered by this trope or survive for a while. To Sora's credit, once he actually gets some room to just process everything that went down in Kingdom Hearts II, he is the first to avert this trope and he isn't shy about calling himself and others out for their bullshit.
    • To a further extent, Nobodies unlucky enough to not have a human appearance are treated less than the ones that do. Just imagine a Dusk in place of Roxas or Namine or any member of Organization XIII.
  • Xanatos Gambit: As of Dream Drop Distance we have this predicament: Either The Keyblade wielders face Xehanort and forge the χ-blade in the process starting a new Keyblade War, or he attacks and takes the Princesses of Heart by force and creates it anyway.
  • Zipperiffic: Like you wouldn't friggin' believe. Pretty much the only things that don't have zippers in these games are the classic Disney designs (i.e. anyone who's not Donald, Goofy or even Mickey).

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