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Franchise: Shin Megami Tensei
aka: Majin Tensei
What will you do? Burn a path of Chaos with the flesh of the lawful, pave a road of Order with the blood of Demons, or create your own future?
Shin Megami Tensei (translated True Goddess Reincarnation), also known as MegaTen, is a long-running series of JRPG Dungeon Crawlers and spinoffs developed and published by Atlus. In Japan, it has been a direct competitor to Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy for decades, while in the west it only gained real popularity with Persona 3 in 2006, despite numerous localizations going all the way back to the 1990s.

Originally based on a novel series called Digital Devil Story, the games tend to involve using technology to summon and control mythological figures from nearly every culture on the planet, as well as the end of the world, deconstructions of common RPG storylines and far-out monster designs.

Thematically, the series emphasises following your own beliefs: plots tend to revolve around the forces of Order and Chaos battling it out for supremacy, and you are generally given complete freedom in deciding which side is "right". If neither side takes your fancy, you can even kick both their butts and declare yourself as supreme ruler. Depending on the game, there may be other options.

The games also tend to be Nintendo Hard. Elemental affinities, buffing and debuffing are far more effective than in most JRPGs and can make or break battles. Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne introduced the Press Turn battle system to the series, where hitting an enemy's elemental weakness would reward you with more actions while hitting their elemental strengths would cost you actions. In an aversion of Useless Useful Spell, buffing, instant death and ailment attacks are both effective and encouraged repeatedly. Variations of Press Turn would go on to be adopted in multiple later MegaTen games, such as the "One More!" system in Persona 3 and Persona 4.

While a majority of these games have been released outside Japan under the Shin Megami Tensei label since Nocturne, in Japan only a handful of them bear that name; the rest are unofficially known as MegaTen titles. The Persona, Devil Summoner, Digital Devil Saga, and Devil Survivor series are the best-known of these spinoffs in the US. Regardless, many include references to other MegaTen games and intra-franchise character cameos.

    List of games 

    List of animated adaptations and installments 

An extensive article about the games in the series can be found here. A quick reference and a recommended playing guide is here, and is occasionally updated. There's also a comprehensive database of all the games in French here. Also has a massive character sheet is under construction.

Examples: This section is for universal tropes related to the series as a whole. Please place tropes related to specific games in their own article, if it exists.

  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer - The series has a habit of featuring Sewers big enough to house entire cities. Particular offenders include the Great Underpass of Ginza in Nocturne and the Anahata Waterways in Digital Devil Saga.
  • Academy of Adventure: High schools in MegaTen games usually turn out to be built on a Hell Gate or a front for an Ancient Conspiracy.
  • Affably Evil: Most demons are happy to talk with you in the middle of a battle about their lives and interests; however, this won't stop them from tearing you limb from limb if you piss them off.
  • Alice Allusion - Alice, the Cute Ghost Girl who has been a Recurring Character since Shin Megami Tensei, regularly makes Shout Outs to Alice in Wonderland. The Mad Hatter, White Rabbit, Jabberwocky, Trump Soldier, and March Hare have also made appearances in the franchise.
  • Alignment-Based Endings: Most games have a choice between Order, Chaos or Neutral endings.
  • All Myths Are True - All mythical creatures from various folklore and religions are real in one form or another, including God and Lucifer.
  • Alternate Continuity - The franchise has multiple conflicting continuities running through its numerous games.
    • The "main" SMT continuity, which involves an ongoing war between the forces of Lucifer and God being waged across The Multiverse. SMT I, NINE, Imagine, SMT II, Nocturne, Strange Journey, and SMT IV, occur in various Alternate Universes in this continuity, and the first four are explicitly stated to take place in the same world (and in that order.)
    • The Persona continuity, which involves various Anthropomorphic Personifications of the Collective Unconscious interfering in humanity's affairs. This continuity splits off from the "main" one with Shin Megami Tensei If, and Persona, Persona 2, Persona 3, Persona 4 and Persona 4 Arena all occur in this continuity.
    • The first two Raidou Kuzunoha and its manga all take place in the past, which then splits off into different timelines at some point that leads to Shin Megami Tensei, Persona, and Devil Summoner. Devil Summoner and Soul Hackers take place in their own timeline, though similar events do appear to happen in the Persona one.
    • Digital Devil Saga takes place in a Hindu Mythology-centric continuity, though the appearance of avatars of characters from SMT II suggests it may be connected to the "main" SMT multiverse.
    • A long line of continuities that are "dead" or only got new games on cell phones are: the original Megami Tensei continuity (MT 1, MT 2 and the Digital Devil Story novels); the Majin Tensei strategy game continuity; The Pokemon-esque Devil Children/DemiKids continuity; And the Dragon Quest-esque Last Bible continuity.
    • And a few one-shot alternate continuities: Devil Survivor, the completely separate Devil Survivor 2, Giten Megami Tensei and Catherine.
  • Ambadassador - Most characters become this once they get the hang of demonic contracts and negotiation.
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore - The first SMT game to come to the US, Jack Bros., had realistic versions of the titular characters on the cover, rather then the cartoon ones seen in-game and on the Japanese cover.
  • Amnesiac Dissonance - Zain in Shin Megami Tensei II and Serph in Digital Devil Saga 2 find out they're much worse people than they thought they were after regaining their lost memories.
  • Anti-Grinding: The Trope Codifier for getting less EXP from a given enemy as your level gets higher. This "diminishing returns" system has become a mainstay in modern Eastern RPGs.
  • Apocalypse How: As a franchise based around The End of the World as We Know It, it's covered many different levels of the Apocalypse, including a Planetary Societal Collapse in SMT I and Persona 3, near Planetary Total Extinction in SMT II, Planetary Physical Annihilation in some of the Persona games, and Omniversal Metaphysical Annihilation in one ending of Nocturne.
  • Archangels Uriel, Raphael, Gabriel and Michael: Loyal, devout followers of YHVH. That doesn't stop Gabriel from being the Only Sane Man in the group and being the only one to decide, along with Satan, that YHVH has finally crossed the Moral Event Horizon and needs to be stopped.
  • Armless Biped - The recurring demon Take-Minakata is a demonic human with no arms. Reportedly, he is also Kazuma Kaneko's favorite demon.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: The Pierce skills turn certain moves into this. Almighty will never be completely defended against.
  • Ars Goetia - Many demons from this grimoire have appeared in the series since Shin Megami Tensei I, like Ose, Eligor, Forneus, Decarabia and Astaroth.
  • The Artifact - The SMT version of Cerberus, excepting the Soul Hackers and Persona 3 incarnations, looks nothing like the Greek myth it's supposedly based on, looking more like a lion-maned wolf with a segmented, serpentine tail, and often with shell-like armor. This is because the original novel, and the anime based upon it, gave him this appearance, which was then followed by the Famicom Megami Tensei games. The first Super Famicom SMT game then paid homage to this design by allowing you to fuse Pascal, the protagonist's loyal Huskie, with any demon in your stock, resulting in a "Cerberus" very similar to the above. Many other games in the franchise continued in this vein, with minor differences between one another.
    • Likewise Loki, whose early appearance as a blue (or purple) scaly giant with fangs and a massive head of hair harks back to the OVA adaptation of the original novel. More recent games merely smoothed him out to purple skin instead of scales.
  • Artifact Title - Only a few games in the "Goddess Reincarnation" series actually involve a reincarnated goddess: Izanami in Megami Tensei, Sophia in Shin Megami Tensei: NINE, Mem Aleph in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, and maybe Eve in Shin Megami Tensei I.
    • And now Shin Megami Tensei IV has no less than four revived Goddesses. Lady Danu will be reborn through Nozomi in Rebirth of the Lady, Amaterasu is revived in Resurrection of the Koushoushin, Ishtar is revived in Ishtar, Goddess of Harvest, and the "goddess of Tokyo" being resurrected on the Neutral path.
  • Artificial Human - Many characters in the Shin Megami Tensei II setting were genetically engineered in test tubes, and the Digital Devil Saga games feature biological "digital clones".
  • As Long as There Is Evil - Many antagonists in series can never be truly destroyed as long as some negative aspect of the universe exists.
    • YHVH - As long as at least one person believes in God as a savior to be obeyed.
    • Lucifer - As long as humans long for freedom.
    • Shinado - as long as despair exists.
    • Nyarlathotep, Nyx / Erebus, Izanami - As long as humans are self-destructive, or want to die, or ignore the truth.
    • The Schwartzwelt - As long as humans carelessly abuse nature.
    • The White - As long as humans despair about being prisoners of God's schemes and goals.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: The various Chaos factions generally strive to build a world where strength leads to freedom and being in charge. Opponents of Chaos argue that this effectively pegs the weak as Acceptable Targets.
  • Atlus Hard - Even modern MegaTen games use classic RPG tropes that can make a player want to cry.
  • Attack Reflector - The Reflect attribute. Tetrakarn and Makarakarn work like this for physical and magical attacks, respectively. Almighty damage, however, doesn't trigger them.
  • Autobots, Rock Out! - Many MegaTen games since Nocturne have a Final Boss fight scored to an electric guitar rocking as hard as it can.
  • Badass - MegaTen protagonists all end up fighting their way through The Legions of Hell or armies of Eldritch Abominations.
  • Befriending The Enemy: A mechanic in the main games. The player character can befriend demons and make them his allies to summon. Demon's are very fickle though. What works to befriend one demon won't work the same way each time, and if they aren't loyal enough to you they won't do what you say. The games follow Grey and Gray Morality so while a demon's alignment might technically be considered "good"... it's really in a Knight Templar sort of way. Demons are always initially antagonistic towards you before they join you, and after you befriend a species of demon the rest of that species will go out of their way to give you gifts and avoid fights with you while telling you to "take care of their friend".
  • Big Bad
  • Biodata - A key plot point in Digital Devil Saga and Devil Survivor 2. In the former, it's explained all matter ultimately boils down to data, which can be recycled and modified (through the Sea of Milk in the Junkyard and the Sun in the real world) and the demon transformation (the virus merely unlocks the demonic data that exists in every human soul), while the latter explains, along with the Akashic Records, how Polaris is deleting the world, how can he be stopped and how everything can be restored.
  • Bittersweet Ending - Even though most MegaTen games end with you defeating the Big Bad, you've usually been forced to sacrifice yourself or kill your friends after they suffered an Evil Makeover.
  • Black Box - Analyzing the Demon Summoning Program is not an easy task due to the dozens of black boxes littered in its code, as the crew of the Red Sprite learned. Aside from Akemi Nakajima and Stephen, most of the people distributing the program are otherworldly entities (the Three Wise Men, the Anguished One, Naoya) with their own goals in mind. And even Nakajima and Stephen eventually Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence.
  • Bonus Boss - Most of the games have at least one insanely difficult optional boss. The most notable are Beelzebub, who appears in all four numbered games as one of the strongest bosses, and the entire Fiend race, who generally put up a much greater fight than an other enemy or boss in the area.
  • Boss Banter - Nearly all MegaTen bosses will talk to you during battle to drop new plot points, or explain their motivations, or illustrate how they're completely nuts.
  • Boss Bonanza: The games are fond of pulling out multiple bosses in large, climactic dungeons.
  • Boss Warning Siren:
    • Later games will give you a warning if you approach a door with a boss behind it, though earlier games tend to not grant this mercy.
    • Traditionally, encounters with Fiends will be heralded by the game asking you if you "want to stay here". If you answer "yes", the game asks if you really want to stay. Say "yes" again and the battle will begin.
  • Bottomless Bladder - The games rarely address every day needs like eating, sleeping or using the bathroom while you're fighting gods and demons. Persona 3 and Persona 4 are notable exceptions however, with "typical day" gameplay like sleeping, eating meals with friends and taking an extra bathroom break.
  • Bragging Rights Reward - Beating the toughest enemy in a MegaTen game will often net you abilities / equipment / party members you're already too powerful to need.
  • Breakout Character: Of all the demons, there are three who have become popular enough with the fans to earn numerous notable appearances: Alice, Mara, and Matador.
  • Brutal Bonus Level - Most MegaTen games have a Bonus Dungeon with tougher enemies than anywhere else in the game.
  • Butt Monkey: Slimes. They're essential the products of failed summonings/fusions and are usually among the first demons fought. It gets worse in the fourth game, where they're weak to physical attacks.
  • Cast from Hit Points: Physical attacks cost HP to use, except in Strange Journey and Shin Megami Tensei IV.
  • Celestial Paragons and Archangels: The highest-ranking angels under YHVH are members of the Herald and Seraph races, like the Four Archangels, Metatron, the Face of God, Satan the Accuser and Mastema the Flatterer.
  • City of Adventure: A staple of the series! Tokyo Is the Center of the Universe, literally, but there's enough magic for everyone!
  • Changing of the Guard:
    • While the demons generally remain the same, the original Shin Megami Tensei series always features a new main cast with each sequel.
    • Similarly, each new numbered entry in the Persona series puts you in control of a new group of protagonists, with Spirit Advisor Igor the only constant.
  • Character Alignment - This plays a huge role in the Shin Megami Tensei series. Each monster is classed on the Law-Neutral-Chaos axis and the Light-Neutral-Dark axis. The former is the important one: monsters that are Chaotic will refuse to join you if the main character is Lawful and vice-versa. The alignment of the main character is determined by the type of monsters he summons (e.g. Lawful creatures will move your alignment towards Law), by his responses to philosophical questions asked at key points of the game and by whose dirty work (The Messians or the Gaians) he carries out. The ending of the game is determined by the final alignment of the main character. Interestingly, Neutrality is presented neither as the uncaring or balancing alignment, but rather one that focuses on individual choice and inner strength, as opposed to relying on outside power.
    • This works a bit differently in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey. You can recruit demons of other alignments regardless of your character's alignment, but you'll have a harder time recruiting demons of the opposite alignment as yours (for instance, trying to recruit a Law-aligned demon when you're Chaos-aligned). However, the Light-Neutral-Dark axis plays a part in which demons you encounter and which you can recruit; Light-aligned demons are never encountered on the field, except through enemy searches and boss battles, and they cannot be recruited; Dark-aligned demons will refuse to talk to you at all times, regardless of your Law-Neutral-Chaos alignment, unless you have an App that lets you talk to demons during a Full Moon, and even then it's a coin flip (whether they like the answer you give them—the correct answer being different every time—and after that, whether they give you items, Macca, or—even rarer—join you).
    • Megami Tensei I & II for the Famicom feature alignments along the axis of Good-Neutral-Evil.
    • Shin Megami Tensei I features an alignment system along the axis of both Light-Neutral-Dark and Law-Neutral-Chaos. It is the earliest known videogame to have an alignment system that directly affects the direction of the storyline and which of the Multiple Endings the player is given, through the choices and actions the player makes that alter the player character's alignment. Shin Megami Tensei II uses the same kind of alignment system.
    • In Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne the previous system of alignment is discarded in favor of three specific philosophies: Shijima (which is closest to Law but without the Knight Templar tendencies), Musubi (Neutral, focusing on individuality and freedom of choice) and Yosuga (Chaos with a heavy dose of the elitism that Law was previously known for).
      • However, Light-Neutral-Dark axis still exists in the form of Magatamas. The main character's title/family is defined by how many Magatamas of each alignment you have learned all skills from. Although it's mostly just a cosmetic change, there are three doors (one for each alignment) in the Labyrinth of Amala that will only open if you are on a specific alignment.
  • Characterization Marches On:
    • The Social Darwinist Chaos Ending from SMTI is originally seen as a valid enough choice, given the Black and Grey Morality of the series, but as the world in general becomes slightly less crapsack, it gets called out as evil far more explicitly; the supporter of its expy in Nocturne (though Reasons aren't based on alignments and actually follow God's plan) is the only person explicitly called evil and in Devil Survivor, it's virtually an It's a Wonderful Failure montage.
    • The original Neutral ending was a pro-human path that led to the destruction of both God and Lucifer (or their chief agents) and most of humanity in exchange for freeing the survivors from the meddling of higher powers (at least for a while). Later games, however, the series has softpedaled the omnicidal aspects and played up the humanist part, so "neutral" endings sometimes involve the restoration of the pre-apocalyptic state (so far as that's possible).
  • Character Magnetic Team - Many demons may approach you and outright offer to join you with no more than a few questions asked.
  • Character Portrait - More clearly seen in conversations in Persona games.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe - In Persona 2, rumors become reality.
  • Colon Cancer - A number of titles have more than one subtitle in their Western releases, such as the various "Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner X: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. _____" installments. An instance of Atlus' newsletter even provides the page quote.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience - Law is blue and white; Chaos is red and black.
    • Played With in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey: strike team has red on their uniforms (except the protagonist) and science has blue. Zelenin is science, Jimenez is strike team. Take a wild guess what factions they each support in the end. Oddly enough, the protagonist wears white (but won't necessarily be law) - and no one else does.
      • Which actually makes sense, because in this particular game, white corresponds to Neutral.
      • Extending on that, they also color-code Joint Project vs. Jack's Squad: your the Joint Project use the standard gold-ish Demonicas, and Jack's Squad use black ones. See above for what black tends to support. Also played with in that the Demons of Chaos hate the Squad for the way they treated them.
  • Combination Attack - In Digital Devil Saga 2, Persona 2, Persona 3, and Persona 4.
  • Composite Character: Alice is a composite of two separate Alices: Lewis Carroll's version, and an obscure Scandinavian myth about a girl who died young and now kills children who misbehave so she can make them into her friends.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard - And how! Generally shows up in two ways:
    • The Dragon Eye move, which gives all enemies extra turns, and demons you control never have the chance to learn it. It finally becomes learnable in Shin Megami Tensei IV, but as the single most expensive spell in the game, at a whopping 255 MP.
    • And physical skills, which are Cast From HP when you use them, but enemies can use them willy-nilly.
    • It's worth noting that these are not universal; it depends on the game. And, significantly, the computer does not cheat dice rolls, significant because almost every spell has a chance of inflicting a status effect.
  • Consummate Liar: A vital skill for any would-be Devil Summoners: learn to lie well, when, where and how.
  • Continuity Nod: Quite a few major characters in one game will show up as a Bonus Boss or Optional Party Member in a later title. Alice for instance, who served as an antagonist who wanted to kill you in Shin Megami Tensei, still regularly shows up complete with a skill called "Die For Me!" in newer games.
    • A character from the Tokyo Revelation manga/OVA appears in a cameo as an older character in Giten Megami Tensei, suggesting that the two are related. (And the world sadly still fell to demons).
  • Cool vs. Awesome: Angels vs. Demons is an understatement for the series. Since All Myths Are True, think of the possibilities.
  • Council of Angels - Notable in that, from SMT 2 onward, they practically become the cosmic Butt Monkeys of the franchise; in SMT 2 they're basically abandoned by God and are running Tokyo Millennium in a hilariously inept fashion and orchestrated the creation of the Messiah and crew in the first place, which blew up in their faces when Aleph carved their shit in; then, in Digital Devil Saga 2, they show up as bonus bosses - talking about the events of SMT 2, no less - except that now they've been put into mutated human bodies and hunger for the blood and flesh of man just like any other demon. You'd think they'd give the Big Man the finger after all that.
    • This is, of course, played straight in SMT 1, where they become quite powerful allies if you're on the Law path, and attempt to stop you if you're on any other path; Seraph Michael serves as the game's final (or, on Neutral, possible final), hardest boss in that case. Also played perfectly straight in Devil Survivor, where Remiel who serves Metatron and the Big Man himself are far less assholish than franchise standard and will help you out unless you're on on the blatantly chaotic routes.
    • In IV, they are the mysterious new rulers of the Eastern Kingdom of Mikado, who as the Law authorities of the game, plan to throw Tokyo into a black hole so it can never taint their shiny paradise. Eventually they fuse with Jonathan to summon Merkabah, an embodiment of God's will.
  • Crapsack World: Shin Megami Tensei I starts out a mild version of this, and gets a lot worse. Shin Megami Tensei II has this as the default state since it follows the Neutral Path of the first game, though it can either get worse or better. Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne goes the route of the first game, but can be reversed, or made even worse. Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey has the potential to become this, but can be averted, although the gameplay setting is basically this. The Persona games and Shin Megami Tensei IV are set in Crapsaccharine World setting that can be made a Crapsack World, and in the first half of the second game duology this actually does happen briefly in the ending, though the second half reverses this somewhat (though the fourth game lets you totally avert this in the true ending and actually improve the world setting from the game world default). Devil Survivor and Devil Survivor 2 can turn into this or be averted, depending on your choices.
  • Creepy Child - Louis Cypher in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, and Pharos in Persona 3.
    • Alice.
      "Won't you please die for me?"
  • Crossover: Dante shows up in Nocturne... and promptly attempts to kick your ass. Later on, though, you can talk him into signing on with you. In the second Updated Re-release of Nocturne, Raidou Kuzunoha appears instead, for all kinds of continuity wackiness.
  • Crossover Cosmology: Sure, you can summon Joan of Arc, Kali, Amaterasu, and Quetzalcoatl to beat the crap out of Lucifer, Loki, a Vampire, and Ra.
    • In Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon, bring an Asura into battle against a Mahakala. They'll have an interesting discussion about the fact that they're the same god, just from two different eras, then agree to fight it out to determine which is more deserving.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Typical after Nocturne, the press turn system makes almost every battle this for both sides, either you crush the enemies without even allowing them to attack you once, or they kill half your characters in a single turn.
  • Cute and Psycho: Many demons, like Pixie, Jack Frost or Alice, look extremely cute, but are also somewhat mentally unstable.
  • Cute Monster Girl - Majority of the female demons (aka the Succubi). Not all of them, though.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: A major offender of this trope. To counter the Crapsack World, you have the option to ally with The Dark Side in order to produce a peaceful world. Devil Survivor stands out for one of it's endings running on this trope.
  • Deconstructor Fleet - A very odd case, in that they tear apart every trope related to Mons... while still being the Trope Maker.
    • Devil Survivor does this the most, showing what would really happen in your typical Mons series when random bystanders (including children) suddenly gain the ability to command powerful demons. The answer: VERY BAD THINGS.
  • Degraded Boss - Former bosses may return as Elite Mooks. This may cost them their best moves, but occasionally they also wind up being recruitable.
  • Determinator - You ain't gonna last long without some serious spine.
  • Demonic Possession - In Devil Survivor, Amane is possessed by not only Remiel, an angel, but Jezebel, a demon.
    • Aradia did it first in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne. Only, she's... uh... a goddess. A fake goddess. It's kinda complicated.
    • And Nemissa did it before either in Soul Hackers. Kinda subverted in that she leaves when she realizes it's necessary. And the possessee still has pretty much control over herself, limiting how much damage Nemissa can do. Later, Spooky is taken over by Satanael, who later decides to take on the party... by blowing his way out of the victim's body. And he doesn't make it all the way out.
    • Before Devil Survivor but after Nocturne, the Four Seraphs and Metatron joined in, converting five poor saps into their physical bodies through the Demon Virus and obliterating their memories and personalities, making it a horrific combo between Type 1 and 2.
    • The Heroine in Shin Megami Tensei I is possessed by a whole lot of demons when you find her the second time, as you have to enter her psyche and clear out the ringleader (the spider Arachne) in order to save her. Naturally you burst in on Arachne just as she's about to take full control of the girl.
  • Demon Lords and Archdevils - A fair bit of less than nice guys from mythology (Surt, Loki, Beelzebub, Mara, Arioch) have made their niche.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything - What makes the Bonus Bosses so difficult is this. Each Bonus Boss has some kind of anti-cheese feature built into them so you have to fight them in a "fair" fight. Otherwise, expect them to either give unavoidable 9999 damage to you or, in some battle systems such as the Press Turn system, spam powerful (and by powerful, we mean Megidolaon is the weakest possible) Almighty moves each turn.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu? - As most games are Fantasy Kitchen Sinks with Dialogue Trees, you'll usually have one or two chances to taunt or insult omnipotent gods and monsters.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu? - Many MegaTen games end with mere humans defeating omnipotent gods. Cthulhu itself is also usually a Random Encounter, so you can also punch out an Eldritch Abomination repeatedly!
  • Disc One Nuke - Exploiting random demon or skill mutations or even just knowing which demon to level up to cover certain weaknesses in many of the games' fusion and level-up systems can net you high level skills or fairly powerful demons extremely early in a playthrough.
  • Divine Conflict: In the series (which also includes the Devil Summoner series), the protagonists get involved in conflicts between either gods and demons or gods against the human race. This is usually due to Humans Are Bastards or Gaia's Vengeance.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: YHVH loves having these. YHVH might be the leader of the forces of Law, but He only shows up to fight in His true form in Megami Tensei II and Shin Megami Tensei II.
    • Megami Tensei II: Satan/Mr. Suzuki
    • Shin Megami Tensei: Michael
    • Shin Megami Tensei II: Satan/Zayin again. Michael thinks he's remained this, but not this time.
    • Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne: Kagutsuchi for the main game, Metatron for the Labyrinth of Amala.
    • Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey: The Three Wise Men. Maybe.
    • Shin Megami Tensei IV: Either Gabriel, who later becomes a part of Merkabah, or Mastema, though if it is Mastema, then YHVH is actually good this time and Gabriel/Merkabah is the Big Bad for Law. In Blasted Tokyo, it's Pluto and, later, the Ancient of Days.
  • Dolled-Up Installment - Minor example in the US releases: the Persona / Devil Survivor / Digital Devil Saga / Devil Summoner / etc games, while technically not part of the Shin Megami Tensei series proper, were all released overseas under that title anyway, presumably because the series needs whatever name recognition it can get on this side of the pond.
    • Eventually averted with Catherine, Persona 4 Arena and Persona 4: Golden. Despite having similar themes/characters/gameplay elements/staff/etc as previously dolled-up spinoff games, they were all released outside Japan without the Shin Megami Tensei moniker tacked on.
  • Doppelgänger, a Dark-Chaos Demon that can be fused in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey. It appears as a shadowy, grinning version of The Protagonist.
    • Doppelgänger Spin - Used in both Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne (where you can use the shadow cast by a full moon to suss out the real one and Digital Devil Saga (which you can suss out the real one with the help of your Waif Prophet).
      • In Persona 2, you can do this by attempting to run. The camera will then FOCUS ON THE REAL ONE as she taunts you. Oops...
  • Double Entendre: Mara lives to make subtle and not-so-subtle dick jokes. Even his stats are a double entendre in some games (Persona 3 Mara, for example, belongs to the Tower arcana, is weak to ice, and has the strongest pierce-type attack in the game.)
  • Dueling Messiahs: You are always free to choose which faction you wish to support.
  • Dungeon Crawler: The early games are classic examples of dungeon crawlers from the first-person perspective. Later games have elements that would be used in the third-person perspective.
  • Enemy Within: In Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers, the timid Hitomi gets possessed by demonic Dark Action Girl Nemissa, and they immediately go on a shopping spree for black leather. In Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army, Kaya is cursed to be possessed by a demon, but actually gets taken over by a future Raidou Kuzunoha from the SMT timeline. Happens somewhat more literally in Persona 3 with the members of Strega; if they don't take inhibitor drugs, they'll lose control of their Personas. What this would entail is demonstrated by Chidori about halfway through the game, wherein her Persona attempts to strangle her during withdrawal.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending - The good endings with no horrific effects on humanity and life itself are always the hardest to get. Assuming there is one.
  • Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: Played straight and averted. Usually, basic elemental types (ie one's that specialize in only one element) usually have a weakness to the opposing element (ice vs. fire, electricity vs. wind, light vs. dark). However, at higher levels, demons usually have a variety of weaknesses and strengths (ex. Black Frost, despite being a Jack Frost, has strengths against both ice AND fire). This results in bosses having a bit of trial-and-error as you have to test out each type to see what works and what doesn't.
    • Some games (Devil Survivor in particular) outright show you how the enemies are affected by every element, usually as if to say "This is my hand, try and beat it." And every game shows you how your own demons' element tables, which are the same for every demon of that type.
  • Elemental Tiers: Sometimes there are the 'Element' race. They always have Erthys as the weakest, then Aeros, then Aquans, and Flaemis with the highest level. Sometimes they are followed by Paracelsus' elementals, but the element order stays the same, with Gnome as the weakest, followed by Syplh, Undine, and Salamander. Not that their levels matter much, since they're usually fusion fodder.
  • Element Number Five - Almighty. It's an unavoidable, ultimate element that ignores defensive measures. Final bosses, late-game allies, bonus bosses, and the like all use this. Violating rules with bonus bosses results in the game giving you 9999 damage or a nonstop barrage of attacks with this element.
  • Elite Tweak - No demon is perfect. But every demon can be perfected.
  • The End of the World as We Know It - If the world hasn't already ended before the game started, then it's about to. Nocturne starts off with everyone being destroyed. There are only five humans left alive (not including yourself!) after the first 30 minutes of the game.
  • "End of the World" Special - Power and how you choose to use it is one of the big themes of the series.
  • Every Man Has His Price - Mostly. Most demons will very willingly sell themselves with some crafty negotiation. Some races, though, will never see this as an option.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You - Everything. We're not joking here, people.
  • Eviler Than Thou - All three "main" Shin Megami Tensei games have everyone trying to one-up each other.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy - Learn the lesson or suffer. It's perfectly possible to gain immense power at little or no effort. On the other hand, the price makes it an iffy choice at best.
  • Evil Makeover - Word of advice: don't get too attached to anyone.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Order Versus Chaos. Messiah versus Gaia. YHVH versus Lucifer. The big question is who, if any, will you side with?
  • Excited Title! Two-Part Episode Name!: In Persona 3, the Show Within a Show Phoenix Ranger Featherman R sports these kinds of titles, probably to increase the cheesiness factor. It has been around since Persona 2, after all.
  • Expy: The Djinn enemy is a carbon copy of Genie from Aladdin.
  • The Fair Folk - Many demons have their designs based on these, as well as their personalities. Shin Megami Tensei games like to remind you every so often that you are definitely not dealing with human beings.
  • Fairy Sexy - Pixie.
    • Titania, Hua Po, and Sylph deserve mention as well.
  • Fallen Angel - Many. Lucifer, the entire Ars Goetia, Grigori, Mithras and others are this to a greater or lesser degree. Kazfiel is unique in that he still is law and part of the Seraph/Divine races while Samael switches between Law and Chaos since his true alignment is a mystery.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink - More notably explored in Shin Megami Tensei I and Shin Megami Tensei II, with the various factions and alliances everyone pulls in the road to ultimate power, though Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey is also a very good example with the Mothers and the demon lords.
  • Fate Worse Than Death - These are not happy games. And the suffering is not restricted to the bad guys. Or bad endings.
  • Fiction as Cover-Up: Many MegaTen fans take Persona 4's mention of a Raidou Kuzunoha movie as this. However, it's solely a product of the localization; in the original Japanese version, the line was actually a reference to both the Kosuke Kindaichi mystery novels and the Kindaichi Case Files manga/anime/live-action adaptations.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare - Even the greatest and mightiest of warriors and demons came from somewhere.
  • Full-Circle Revolution - Shin Megami Tensei IV sadly notes that it really doesn't matter whether you choose Law or Chaos; eventually, a new guy who longs for whatever it is that you gave up will turn up, dethrone you, and kick back everything you made back into nothing. It's pretty much the reason Order Versus Chaos can never end.
  • Functional Magic - Comes in various flavors, depending on each game's mechanics and the demon involved.
  • Fusion Dance - Demons/Personas as a rule either level exceedingly slowly or simply do not have the necessary gumption to last for long given the brutal form of Sorting Algorithm of Evil the games tend to favor. So the series has, as noted above, a fusion system in which two or more participant demons are merged into a single one, allowing the resulting demon to inherit better stats and moves they would not have otherwise learned from their "parents". Most of the time, these take place in specialized places (the Cathedral of Shadows (a classic mainstay of the series), the Gouma-Den, the Velvet Room). However, there are a number of occasions in which a Demon Fusion Program has been used with compatible portable technology to fuse demons in the field (with the Demonica battlesuit, as a cellphone app, and with the COMP).
    • Persona games until 3 have a Fusion System based on collecting base Persona cards from random battles and using those to create stronger Personas. Of note, too; both demons in the main series and Personas occasionally demonstrate an interest borne out of curiosity or powerlust in fusion. The imagery used in Shin Megami Tensei Imagine suggests the fused demons are outright killed in fusion, but in other media it looks more like they unravel and the pieces fuse together.
    • Mitama Fusions are used solely to power up a demon by increasing its stats or to impart specific moves to it, and do not change the demon.
    • Elemental Fusions move a demon up or down the ranks of its race. Stronger Elements can move a demon up to two ranks above.
    • Sacrificial Fusions in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne involve two demons and a sacrifice. The resulting demons inherit even better stats than if fused normally and can receive moves from all three participants. There are also some demons that can only be created this way.
    • Special Fusions in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey always involve three or more demons. The recipes are fixed and cannot accept similar substitutes.
    • Triangle, Cross, Pentacle and Hexagram Spread Fusions are also present in the latter Persona games. Persona 4 even has an example of Dodecagon Fusion.
    • Aside from inter-demon fusion, the trope can also be applied in certain games when demons can be fused into various forms of weaponry, sich as the first two games of the main franchise. Persona 3 has the Weapon Fusion system, in which new armaments can be created by fusing Personas into Nihil weapons. Both Raidou games feature demon forging, though only the first involves actually fusing the demon with the blade.
    • Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey explores this trope's dark, dark places - the Evil Counterpart of the Investigation Project, Jack's Squad, never got the transmission of the series' signature fusion program or demon summoning program. So they just made do with what they had - instead of keeping their demons in their Demonicas, they just locked and trussed them in cells, and for fusion, they tore them to pieces and started checking what clicked with what. It's little surprise their results mostly involve Body Horror abominations.
  • Gag Penis - Used frequently in many of the demons. Witness the Mara, Pendragon and, of all things, Cthulhu.
    • Mishaguji's head.
    • The Incubus, who seems to find every woman and female demon in the game sexy. It's his job, after all.
    • Just look at Ym.
  • Gaiden Game - Shin Megami Tensei If and Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey for the main series. Devil Survivor and the original Persona also started as gaiden games under the Megami Ibunroku / Alternate Tales of the Goddess moniker, before developing into full fledged spinoff series of their own.
  • Game Over Man: Several games, such as Megami Tensei II, Shin Megami Tensei I, and Shin Megami Tensei IV have Charon, the ferryman to the afterlife, greeting you upon death. In some games he will offer to bring you back to life if you have the Macca or Play Coins to pay his offer.
  • Gateless Ghetto
  • Global Currency - Macca in most of them, usually games not set in modern day Japan.
  • Global Currency Exception - Gemstones. Special traders pop every now and then and sell rare items in exchange for gems you may be given as gifts or as battle spoils, and there is no way to just pay regular money for it. Persona 3 has the antique shop owner, who offers Persona-boosting items and Social Links-related paraphernalia, and Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne has the Gem Trader, who sells a wide selection of items and even stat-boosting demons. Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon has Case Files requesting gems, and they can be used in fusion to power up the resulting demon.
  • God - Shows up in Megami Tensei II as the True Final Boss, Shin Megami Tensei II as the final boss, and (arguably) again in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne as the final boss. See directly below.
    • Brahman is God in Digital Devil Saga, Polaris and the administrators that come before or after him have a similar role God's in Devil Survivor 2, and Hoshigami/Starhair is the God of the Stars in the Devil Children series who created that universe.
  • God And Satan And Squid Are Jerks - God is the embodiment of Law and Tyranny. Lucifer embodies Anarchy and Rebellion. Neither is a particularly nice guy. More interestingly, though, neither Nyarlathotep nor Philemon are quite nice themselves.
  • God Is Evil - Though the creators have said that he's not the "ultimate source of evil", having him as the final boss in more than one game tends to raise a few eyebrows.
    • Indeed, many of the game seem to indicate that Lucifer / Chaos is the best choice to make, since almost always YHVH and the angels have the policy of Kill 'em All and start over whenever things look like they're getting out of hand. Even when you kill God, he usually gives a speech along the lines of "As long as humanity is too weak to look for their own answers, their weakness will create a belief in me that brings me back to life again and again and again! MWAHAHAAH!"
      • At least in the games for SNES (in which the Law-Neutral-Chaos system possibly plays the most prominent role) Chaos is not shown as the best choice. For example, in the original Shin Megami Tensei many traditionally heroic choices (choosing to give money to the beggar, choosing to spare the life of local dictator after defeating him and his demon in battle, choosing to save the female protagonist in the dream despite the apparent risks posed by armed guards) tend to be considered Lawful decisions. Also, one of the downsides of pure Chaos is the possibility of sufficiently strong and ruthless individual/party becoming an oppressor (as shown in the case of Ozawa in the world After the End). Ironically, the whole "might makes right" issue may be one of the main reasons behind YHVH's position in the continuity of Shin Megami Tensei I-II and Shin Megami Tensei: IMAGINE. Also, the depiction of Lucifer in Nocturne/Lucifer's Call may be too ambiguous to be considered either the best or the worst possible choice. One of several games in the series where Lucifer is shown clearly in the positive light is the second game in the series, Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei II note  for Famicom/NES.
    • It's also worth noting that ever since the franchise started picking up lots of steam in America (to the point that Persona games sell nearly as well in the States as they do in Japan), this has been dialed back significantly with every successive game since Nocturne, to the point that in the recent Devil Survivor, God and his top angels are actually decidedly in the protagonist's camp (unless he decides to become a demon lord himself or just tries to run away from his responsibilities). The rest of the angels are still massive asshats, but Remiel and Metatron (and by extension, their boss) are far more supportive of the player and genuinely want what's best for humanity. This is all presumably to better match up with the Western view of God not being a ceaseless jerk.
      • Not quite. While God is a much better person in Devil Survivor, Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey discreetly returned to this with the Demiurge sidequest. Not naming him God or YHVH made this fly over many's heads, but compare the Gnostic conception of the Demiurge (obsessive desire for worship, insistence in being the sole true deity, meddling with mortals to ensure its continued dominance) with YHVH's behavior... without mentioning the fact the Updated Re-release of Devil Survivor cast Him into a much more ambiguous light by revealing he set the pieces to the Cain and Abel scenario with the express purpose of creating the world's first martyr... and the first murderer.
    • More recent games have also begun to imply that the fact YHVH is such a dick is a symptom of something going terribly wrong with the universe, not a cause.
    • And with Shin Megami Tensei IV outright stating that the series occurs over multiple alternate universes, all of these interpretations of God are true. This is because YHVH (and Nocturne's Kagutsuchi, and Strange Journey's Demiurge) are aspects of The Creator, spread throughout all the alternate dimensions.
  • Gods Need Prayer Badly: The demons, angels, monsters, and spirits only exist in many of the games because people remember and believe in them. Oddly, if the supernatural creatures believe hard enough, they create fake duplicates of other supernatural entities. This is more clearly seen in Shin Megami Tensei II, with the False YHVH fought after the death of the Archangels.
    • This has some interesting bearing in the game. In general, the more people in Real Life that believe in a particular god/demon/angel/etc., the stronger they are in game. God, Lucifer, and the Archangels Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel are obvious examples, but Shiva and Vishnu, both primary gods in Hindu (which remains one of the oldest active religions in the world) are also among the strongest. Exceptions do exist though, like Metatron (less than one quarter of one percent of the world's population are Jewish) being among the strongest.
    • The Persona games use this to explain why various incarnations of death and madness are ready to end the world... they're doing it because humanity (or sometimes a few select individuals) secretly want them to. If not for that, those Eldritch Abominations would be completely harmless.
  • Golden Mean Fallacy: Neutrality has a friggin' lot of flaws. People get hurt. Everything just goes back to how it was. Nobody is denying it. It's just that the others are worse. This may be why Neutral endings are now mostly now seen as the Golden Endings.
  • Good Is Boring - Often played relatively straight in the earlier games - things got interesting if you went hard for one side or another. Later games played with the idea somewhat, though.
  • Grandfather Clause: The games are based around the idea that you are the only person who knows what is right and wrong. To convey this, there is almost always a Silent Protagonist as the MC. Where this trope comes in is the fact that even in games where they are fully voiced only the MC is silent. The adaptations are the only ones to avert this, since it would be extremely awkward to watch an action anime where only grunts are given and no conversation elsewhere.
  • Guardian Entity - Masakado for Tokyo.
  • Guide Dang It - If you want to get certain skills on certain demons, you WILL need to consult several fusion charts and skill charts (doing it the old fashioned way of chart-making is practically a Self-Imposed Challenge).
  • Half-Human Hybrid - Possible with compatible Merging Machine protocols. Still, very much not recommended.
  • Harder Than Hard - Maniac mode in the modern games. It's the subtitle of the Updated Re-release of Nocturne.
  • Happiness in Slavery - No. You can order demons whatever you want, but they will hate you if you cross certain lines. Loyalty in Soul Hackers works alongside the same lines; demons have an affinity for certain attacks; allowing them to use it will increase their loyalty, telling them to use moves they hate will reduce it. The National Defense Divinities loathe both the Ashura-Kai and the Ring of Gaea, and are overjoyed at their own destruction, so the damn fools won't get to use them any more as their mooks.
  • Hello, Insert Name Here - Most of the protagonists in the series are nameless until you name them.
  • Hell on Earth - Nocturne and Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey.
  • Heroic Mime - The main protagonists are almost always one of these. Which made Persona 2 quite entertaining considering that the protagonists of Innocent Sin and Eternal Punishment only have dialogue in the game they're not starring in.
    • Some games work skillfully around this. In Digital Devil Saga, Serph is a Heroic Mime because he's based on the understanding Sera had on the real Serph. That is to say, she knew nothing about the real Serph. In Persona 3 and 4, the protagonists' arcanas are The Fool. One aspect of The Fool is chaos and creativity; in short, this means they are free to choose any personality they want.
  • Hobbes Was Right: The neutral path essentially states this in the ending.
  • Holy Hand Grenade - "Hama" type spells; typically One-Hit Kill type spells.
  • Horsemen of the Apocalypse - The Biblical four (White Rider, Red Rider, Black Rider, and Pale Rider) are a fixture throughout the series along with a couple other figures from the Book of Revelation, serving as Bonus Bosses and potentially allied demons, if you can beat them. They're often hard to find and always hard to beat.
  • Humanity on Trial - Persona 2, Persona 4, Devil Survivor, and Devil Survivor 2. Sometimes we deserve to be tried.
  • Human Resources - Magnetite/Magatsuhi/Red is an incredibly useful substance for dealing with demons, as it tastes great to them, even better than human flesh. However, no matter how you call it, it's actually refined from human brains/souls. Raidou mostly generates and uses his own to offer to his demonic contracts, but other uses have demons either farming it from humans/humanoid facsimiles, or humans using captured POWs, captured civilians/slaves and children to use their conditioned neurological tissue to harvest it. In the last case they also used a enslaved demon to help produce them better. Said demon being none other than a Magatsuhi from Japanese lore.
  • Humans Are Flawed - A very important part of the Order Versus Chaos conflict. After all, both sides are only trying to help... each in their own way.
  • Hurricane of Puns - Mara. Good god, Mara.note 
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place - But you will wind up going there anyway. Even if it's the stuff of your darkest nightmares.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun - Ja-aku Frost (Woolseyed but Lost in Translation as Black Frost), the Superpowered Evil Side of resident Mascot Mook Jack Frost. "Ja-aku" (邪悪) means "evil" and also a transliteration of Jack.
  • Inexplicably Identical Individuals - Though some games at least have the decency to at least put some color variations.
  • Infallible Babble - Becomes an actual plot point in Persona 2, where spreading rumors actually causes those rumors to become reality.
  • Infernal Paradise - Utopia has that name for a reason.
  • Inherent in the System - Try as you might. Whatever you do is at best creating sand castles.
  • Infinity+1 Sword - Many ultimate Game Breaker abilities and equipment require a lot of work to get.
  • Intercontinuity Crossover - Quite a few games have overtly featured characters from a different continuity in a major role.
  • It Is Beyond Saving - You will be presented arguments to convince you any given faction is responsible for this. Who you believe, of course, is your business and no one else's.
  • It's All Upstairs from Here - In almost every single game.
  • Jesus Taboo - For it's use of nearly every mythological character, the closest the series gets to Jesus is in Persona 3 as a representation of the Messianic Archetype as a whole. Admittedly YHVH and his dragon lean closer to the view Judaism has on the two (except for the "evil" bit), though they employ catholic arch-angels.
    • Aleph from Shin Megami Tensei II was made to be the expy of Jesus, and they even made sure he had a virgin mother.
    • Lyrics in Nocturne's boss theme mention a sacrificing the son of God.
    • The demon Agony represents a long-haired, visibly wounded man bound by barbed wire to a large wooden cross. However, comprehensively, it only appeared in the first Devil Summoner game, which has never been translated or even gotten out of Japan.
  • Karma Meter - "Your mother has been possessed by a demon and pleads with you to end her suffering. Do you kill her?" If "yes", you respect her wishes, you go Chaos. If "no", you respect societal taboos of not killing, you go Law.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down - The mechanics of each game tend to give out various bonuses for hitting enemy weaknesses or landing Critical Hits, such as Extra Press Turns or a free Almighty attack.
  • Knight Templar - Pretty much everyone aligned with Law, Remiel and Amane from Devil Survivor and Mastema in Shin Megami Tensei IV being the exceptions.
  • Late to the Party: Meta example: the Persona series has normally been late to the system it was intended to be on. It even averages to a year after the system has reached the end of its life cycle.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo - Jack Frost in other series. In SMT 2, "Mr. Thriller" aka Michael Jackson can be met dancing in a disco and talking about how much he loves toys and children. You can also fight and recruit Captain Ersatz versions of Beetlejuice (Betelgeuse) and Christine (Chris The Car).
    • In the first 2 Shin Megami Tensei games, you're given the Demon Summoning Program by a wheelchair-bound man with glasses and gray hair. He calls himself "Steven". Any resemblance to a famous scientist is surely coincidental.
  • The Legions of Hell: They apparently have been waiting for their chance to rise again for a very long time. Almost every game depicts the seal being broken.
  • Les Collaborateurs: Some of The Old Gods were spared the relentless demonization campaign the Great Will enacted to gather as many worshippers as he could. Unsurprisingly, many of these were added to the Law faction.
  • Light Is Good/Dark Is Evil - Played with: The light-dark alignment axis refers to a given demon's typical depiction in its originating myths, not necessarily how they actually are.
  • Lighter and Softer -
  • Limited Move Arsenal - Most MegaTen games give your party members a limited number of skill slots, and force them to permanently forget old skills to make room for new ones. Digital Devil Saga and humans in Devil Survivor do have the option to re-equip old abilities from a skill pool though.
  • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Inverted in most SMT games since the PlayStation 2 era. Magic is far more useful at lower levels than physical attacks, as it can be used to exploit enemies' elemental weaknesses. However, higher-level physical skills that give you Armor Piercing Attacks, more Critical Hits and Counter Attack abilities can make a late game physical build much deadlier than a magic one, especially once you begin encountering tougher enemies with few or no elemental weaknesses.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Most games in the franchise have hundreds upon hundreds of recruitable party members.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Nocturne believes so. Both resident loners wind up as poster kids for Body Horror. A natural offshoot of Persona's The Power of Friendship beliefs.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: The residents of Arcadia think they live in a cozy paradise, but they're all hooked up to machines.
    • Arcadia was a prototype for the Thousand Year Kingdom, if YHVH had his way, all the humans worshiping him would share the same fate as those in Arcadia. It is even worse on the Law route as the Megiddo Arc kills off all life on earth, even those in Arcadia.
  • Louis Cypher - Shows up in all the mainline Shin Megami Tensei games, and Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon. Loki takes the schtick and runs with it in Devil Survivor.
  • Lunacy - The waxing and waning of the moon is a key gameplay feature in every game. The fuller the moon is, the more damage your attacks do, the more likely an accident is to occur during fusion, and the crazier the monsters act. During a full moon they're practically drunk off those moonbeams, which makes for entertaining conversation. There are also some abilities that are more or less effective depending on the phase of the moon. Certain games have their own quirks:
    • Persona 3 has important storyline events (the attack of the Greater Shadows) occur during a full moon.
    • There's a period of time in the game Shin Megami Tensei where the main character would take damage during a full moon. This is because of his psychic link to the Heroine, whose reincarnated self is currently undergoing torture from a demon that has invaded her mind. The full moon makes him feel her pain. This is solved by rescuing her.
    • In Digital Devil Saga, there's a 50% chance during every new moon- excuse us, MIN Solar Noise that your characters will be cured of any ailments that they are suffering from. Also, the selling price of Cells is at its highest during MAX Solar Noise. In the sequel, Digital Devil Saga 2, there is a chance during 7/8 or MAX Solar Noise- sorry, Solar Data that you will enter battle in Berserk Form.
    • You can guarantee that you get the best items from Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne's Mystical Chests by opening them during a full Kagutsuchi phase. The drop rate of Gems is also highest at this point. The moon does not appear in Nocturne because, along with the rest of the world, it has been destroyed. What the game tracks, instead, is the brightening and darkening of Kagutsuchi. Hence, Nocturne is one of the few games with a good reason for why the "moon"'s phase changes every few steps you take, as opposed to taking days to change phase.
    • One Sub App in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey lets you speak to demons during the Full Moon (something otherwise impossible). Because they're drunk on the moonlight, they don't really know what they're saying, and will ask bizarre questions. You have a 50/50 chance of impressing them or pissing them off; impressing them can earn you rewards up to and including instantly recruiting them - this is the only way to recruit Dark demons.
  • Mad Scientist - STEVEN, Dr. Mekata and Dr. Victor all qualify.
  • Mad Scientist Laboratory - Every single incarnation of the Gouma-Den.
  • The Magic Comes Back - Every game of the main series has this in some capacity. Explained in Shin Megami Tensei I by Mother Echidna as a result of the demons returning from the banishment imposed by YHVH. They're not leaving again without a fight.
  • Magic from Technology - Devil Summoners throughout the franchise usually carry around a device —arm-mounted COMPs in the original games, GUMPs in the Devil Summoner subseries, Nintendo DS-shaped COMPs in Devil Survivor, the Demonica in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey— that runs the Demon Summoning Program and allows the user to summon and control his or her Mons. And in Devil Survivor, it outright gives the user access to magic spells of his/her own.
  • Magic Is Rare; Health Is Cheap: As an extension of this, there are skills that cast from MP and those that Cast from Hit Points. The latter can put you in danger, but are more economical since HP is easier to recover than PP.
  • Market-Based Title - In the West, from Nocturne onwards the games have been branded under the Shin Megami Tensei label. In Japan, though every game is considered a MegaTen title they aren't marketed as such.
  • Mark of the Beast - Tatsuya's brand in Persona 2 and the Demi-Fiend's tattoos in Nocturne.
  • Mascot Mook - Jack Frost. He's even the official mascot of Atlus itself, making this a literal example of the trope.
  • Mechanical Lifeforms - The hardiest and most powerful Angels. Being obsessive creatures of Law, this makes it a case of Fridge Brilliance.
  • Mercy Rewarded - In some games, if you have almost wiped out an enemy team, with only one enemy remaining, he can throw in the towel and beg for mercy. Grant it, and he can either leave with no more fuss, demonstrate his thanks with some trinket or cash, decide you're cool enough to sign up with, or invoke I Surrender, Suckers and go for a last stab.
  • Merged Reality - Persona 2: Innocent Sin (though it doesn't exactly work, setting up the sequel).
  • Merging Machine - Jakyou Manors/The Velvet Room
  • Metal Slime - The Omoikane in Digital Devil Saga 1 & 2. The Golden Shadows in Personas 3 and 4.
  • Mons - The Trope Maker. Nearly every game serves as a Darker and Edgier occult Deconstruction of Mons, even though the franchise predates Trope Codifier Pokémon by ten years. This also makes Mons itself an Unbuilt Trope.
  • Monster Compendium - The Demonic Compendium is a very important part in almost all of these games, allowing you not only to view the stats of all the demons you've ever registered in it, but also serves as a repository of information, with tons of lore for each demon (all of it perfectly valid and backed by a lot of literature in the artbooks) and the ability to resummon those you've fused away for a fee. The Persona Compendium from Persona 3 and beyond serves the same purpose.
  • Monster Lord - The Maoh, or Tyrant, demon race.
  • Mouth of Sauron - Metatron for YHVH, Beelzebub for Lucifer. Igor and Kandori Takahisa fill the role to a degree for Philemon and Nyarlathotep.
  • Multi Boobage - Mostly played for Fan Disservice, like Satan, Diana, or Tiamat.
  • Multiple Endings - Many of the games change the ending based on factors such as your alignment or other choices you made in the plot. Of course, the happier ones are harder to get.
  • The Multiverse - Nocturne mentions in the bonus dungeon that the current game's world is just one out of billions of possibilities due to the world constantly being destroyed and remade. These other worlds may be the various sub series.
    • There are other hints at this as well, such as the seraphs showing up in Digital Devil Saga 2... and explicitly talking about the events of SMT 2 (granted, this went over the heads of many new fans of the franchise) or Raidou Kuzunoha being referenced directly in Persona 4 (It's a product of the translation though). Never mind Hiriji in general in Nocturne - they never come out and say it directly but there's a lot of implication that he's SMT 2's deicide-riffic hero.
      • Naturally, this all leads to lots of Epileptic Trees about just how the multiverse fits together and what could be coming next. The Persona universe, for example, is rather overdue for seraphs and Messian/Law asshats at this point, since they've already conquered Chaos and the two negative sides of Neutrality in Nihil-As-Death and Nihil-As-Ignorance.
    • Then, of course, there's the chance that all this craziness may be occurring in the same universe as Devil May Cry, courtesy of Nocturne. With Dante's replacement by Raidou in the newest re-release of Nocturne, though, the canonicity of Dante's appearance is somewhat questionable.
  • My Rules Are Not Your Rules - No matter which game it is: if an enemy uses physical attacks which normally would cost it HP, he won't have to pay the price.
    • Not true in the Devil Survivor series, since enemy stats are displayed "face-up" to the player.
    • Also not true in IMAGINE, where only demons with a specific feature null HP costs (some of which, such as Hecatoncheires, can be used by players). Most, if not all, bosses have this feature, though. This also turns some boss-like enemies such as Hell Biker (from the 39th floor of the Denshi Kairo special dungeon) rather funny to fight when it starts spending more HP than the player is actually causing him.
    • The only way to deny enemy demons the ability to abuse this is getting their HP lower than the cost of the attack: even though they don't pay the cost, they still have to have enough to pay it for it to work.
  • Mythology Gag - Cerberus is usually portrayed in the series with one head because that's how he was described in the original Digital Devil Story novel. Boomerangs back to accuracy in Persona 3, doubling as a series in-joke.
  • Named Weapons - Very often you will have the chance to collect some legendary weaponry.
    • Persona 3 FES takes it further with Weapon Fusion. You can find "Void," "Nihil," or "Origin" weapons which you can slap a Persona on to in order to create swords or spears with very good stats and additional effects. But if you use a Persona whose weapon is well-known by itself, then whatever base weapon you use, regardless of type (knives, bows, etc.) will become this legendary weapon. For instance, fusing Odin and obtaining Gungnir, Thor and Mjolnir, Shiva and Pinaka, Cú Chulainn and Gae Bolg, Siegfried and Balmung...
  • Neutrality Backlash - Neither Law nor Chaos likes it when you decide to go for Neutral.
  • Neutral No Longer - Very often, events will conspire to force you to take a side. Neutrality is a luxury you can't always afford.
  • New Game+ - Most of the recent games include extra content only available on a second run.
    • No Damage Run: The introduction of "Maniac" mode in the Persona series requires the player to accomplish all goals in one shot, with no data carried over to a new game.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero - Happens with some regularity, though probably the most nightmarish instance comes from a single quote in the Akarana Corridor: "The Ambassador has launched the ICBMs!"
  • Non-Elemental - Almighty. One of the reasons why it's impossible to defend oneself against any attacks of this attribute.
  • No Points for Neutrality - Averted. Neutral is one of the three alignment factions; while Law represents YHVH and angels, and Chaos represents Lucifer and demons, Neutral represents Humanity, a force not inherently bound by Law's rules or Chaos's machinations. This is why humans are so important to both sides.
  • No Sell - Many enemies will have immunities stacked up to ungodly levels. Save up enough money, experience and level up the right demons to Elite Tweak your own, though rarely to enemy levels. Demons have very wide resistance variations, so some demons may come off as counters for other, more troublesome demons. Though the games permit enough skill customization so that enough effort can effectively render any glaring weakness moot, the games being Nintendo Hard means that, of course, some bosses will still make your life hell unless you completely and utterly overpower them, and sometimes even that is not enough. A prime example is the final boss of Persona 3, who has an action that will completely No Sell literally everything you can throw at it until it decides it has had enough fun staring at you with that Slasher Smile.
    • The scripted fight that ends the game, however, has our voiceless protagonist gain enough power to No Sell death itself.
    • Even worse with this, however, is Beldr from Devil Survivor. Even on a New Game+, everything you throw at him will fail, all the time, except his lone Weaksauce Weakness, getting punched in the face with a cellphone strap. This essentially makes every single spell and every single character in your entire team useless, except for the "Devil's Fuge" attack which replaces the main character's physical attack. Good luck. A lesser example from the same game is the Battle Aura auto skill, which nullifies all attacks that deal less than 50 damage.
    • And Devil Survivor 2 gives us Benetnasch wo No Sells EVERYTHING your main characters can do and is only attackable by your demons. Yay, fun.
    • Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne has the Masakados Magatama, which not only gives a massive bonus to all stats, it will even include immunities allowing the Main Character to literally No Sell everything except for Almighty-type moves. This gets carried over to Digital Devil Saga, in which he appears as an excruciatingly difficult Bonus Boss - still having the same immunities.
    • Persona 3 has the Omnipotent Orb, an accessory that has that very same effect.
      • Persona 4 has it too, but it's much easier to just fuse a Helel that's immune to every element instead.
      • Pretty much every game in the series has Tetrakarn and Makarakarn, skills that are a one turn No Sell for physical and magical attacks, respectively.
    • As a rule of thumb, though, several types of Boss In Mooks Clothing in the series have a very nasty tendency to No Sell most conventional attacks. At best, they will be nulled. At worst, they will be repelled. Of course, given enough investment, you can have your private team of Olympus Mons capable of No Selling most enemy attacks as well.
    • Nocturne also gives an example of overcoming No Sells - in the True Demon Ending, you can get a rare skill named Pierce. This skill, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin, allows your physical attacks to slice past an enemy's defenses, hitting them full on instead of being lessened, nulled, or absorbed. Doesn't work when the enemy Repels Phys, though. Devil Survivor also has this skill, though it's much easier to get.
    • Shin Megami Tensei IV now has eight moves (four are passives) that can be used to punch past Strong, Null and Absorb each element: Lightning of God (learned by Uriel), Tornado of God (learned by Raphael), Hailstorm of God (learned by Gabriel), and Inferno of God (learned by Michael). The four passives allowing you to punch past elemental resistances, however, are all learned only by Aeshma. Aside from that, Sanat learsn Phys Pierce and Masakado's Shadow learns Pierce Gun, meaning all Pierce moves are exclusive to the DLC.
  • Nuke 'em: Almighty, again. In the cases where it is not shown as an attack made of pure light, the symbol for it is the standard Nuke symbol. This is not inaccurate.
  • Numbered Sequels - With the Devil Summoner franchise being the only exception.
  • Oddly Named Sequel - Though usually they explain what it's all about.
  • Olympus Mons - Several extremely powerful demons are able to be recruited or fused throughout the series, including top members of the Norse, Egyptian, Japanese pantheons and Outer Gods. And then there's the case of recruiting the Olympians themselves.
  • Once an Episode - Uptil the fourth game, once per Persona series game, there would be a massive in-story retcon that made it so that the amount of people who actually remembered/knew about the events of the game are minimal, if not completely gone.
    • The main series has this, too. For example, each numbered game has Beelzebub as a Bonus Boss.
  • One Game for the Price of Two - The Devil Children (Demi Kids for the two that came to the US) games. Also, Digital Devil Saga comes in two parts. Same with Persona 2.
    • Persona 2 initially averted this (somewhat) in the U.S. in that the only one that originally came westside was the second one, Eternal Punishment.
      • While Innocent Sin has now been released in the U.S. via the PSP port, Atlus still has yet to announce Eternal Punishment's PSP port for U.S. release. So the trope is both straight and averted, since you need two systems that are of different generations to play both games. And that's only if you can find Eternal Punishment.note 
  • One-Hit KO - Light and Darkness spells. They come in two orders each, one more likely to connect than the other. It is possible to find variations of them all which are capable of hitting all enemy targets, setting up for a Total Party Kill on either side.
  • One Steve Limit - You cannot have more than one of any given demon in your team. In Devil Survivor this only applies to certain demons, genereally unique individuals over species e.g. Thor and Odin.
  • Order Versus Chaos - A recurring theme. Law tends to be well-meaning but very Knight Templar about the whole thing. Chaos strongly emphasises freedom but in the form of a brutal Might Makes Right anarchy. Neutrality focuses on self-empowerment and the potential of humanity, as opposed to reliance on a greater force for guidance.
  • Original Generation - There are a handful of demons not directly taken from mythology. The most prominent examples are the Jack Frost variants, Black Frost, Raiho, Frost Ace and Demonee-Ho. Other examples include Hell Biker (based on the Hells Angels) and the titular Soulless Army of Raidou Kuzunoha VS The Soulless Army (which reappear in the sequel).
  • Organ Drops - In Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, this is an excellent way to grind for macca. Shin Megami Tensei IV has certain demons drop edible meats, though the trope is very much lessened from Strange Journey. Persona 3 has certain items you can take from Shadows' corpses.
  • Orochi - Usually a major boss in some of the games and is possible to fuse after beating him.
    • Though they refer to him by the full mythological version of his name "Yamata-No-Orochi".
  • Our Monsters Are Weird: Where can we even start with this one?
  • Panthera Awesome: Ose and Flauros.
  • Pinball Spinoff: Oddly enough, a cell phone game only released in Japan.
  • Point of No Return - Annoyingly done in the first few games; more modern games tend to be more forgiving.
    • While annoying, it's done with style twice in SMT1: the first time is when Ambassador Thorman nukes the hell out of Tokyo and your hero is sent to a corner of the Abyss to survive until he can return; the second time is when the Mesians flood the ruins of Tokyo to wash away all sin and coincidentally trap you in the massive final dungeon. Sadly, none of the other games that feature a Point of No Return managed to pull it off with quite the same panache.
    • Done in Devil Survivor on the Last Day and Majin Tensei II: Spiral Nemesis in each Time Period/Dimension
  • Post-Modern Magik - Ancient summoning rituals and spells? Who needs 'em when you can program them into a handy app for your cell?
  • The Power of Friendship - Especially prevalent in the later Persona games.
  • Powers as Programs - Fused demons or Personas may inherit skills the "parent" demons had. Learning to exploit this can lead to Disc One Nukes and Game Breakers. This is also a vital part in fusing for its ability to impart priceless immunities and strengths to new demons. Devil Survivor games amp this by literally allowing you to slap any powers you want on anyone, only restricting you with the spell's stat point requirement.
  • Power-Upgrading Deformation - Whenever you choose to blend demon and human in any way, expect this to be a likely result. Note that this doesn't happen to everyone though.
  • Practical Taunt - Most of the games have a "Taunt" spell, which increases enemy attack power while lowering their defense.
  • Previous Player-Character Cameo - A lot.
  • Psychotic Smirk - Tatsuya Sudou, a.k.a. King Leo in Persona 2: Innocent Sin and JOKER in the sequel Eternal Punishment.
  • Rage Against the Heavens - Frequent. Lucifer is usually the one that spearheads this movement. In Nocturne the Demi-fiend is now the one that leads it, if the True Demon ending is canon.
  • Rainbow Speak: Chronologically, Persona 2 was the first Persona game to use Rainbow Speak, only using it for rumors. Persona 3 has a variation: Words that show up as terms in the game's Dictionary are in blue, while otherwise-important words or phrases are red. P4 uses it sparingly, and it's been introduced to the PSP remake of the first Persona too, even though it was unnecessary.
  • Rare Candy: Incenses. They come for all stats, though, befitting the Nintendo Hard nature of the games, they are quite rare.
    • In both Persona 2 games, you can get All Incenses from Fenrirs, which increase all stats.
    • In Nocturne you can save-scum them by getting nine Lucky Tickets at the shop by buying stuff at 1000 macca intervals, save, and then buy at a tenth interval at the store. The owner will give you three boxes to choose from; sometimes they may have an incense inside, depending if you open it on a certain Kagutsuchi phase. You can also get Incenses from golden chests, also depending on Kagutsuchi phase.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Why Steven from Shin Megami Tensei I is alive in the sequel, which is set a hundred years later? He became a entity that exists beyond time and space. He reveals this in Shin Megami Tensei II where he explains why balance is needed between Law and Chaos, and even beyond that, he goes on to return in Shin Megami Tensei IV. Of course, how he did it is unknown.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech To YHVH in 2 and Mastema in Strange Journey
    • Majin Tensei has your doppelganger chew your ass out over just how many lives you've taken in the chaos path. The Hero curses himself in this ending as well.
  • Recurring Element: Jack Frost and his relatives.
  • Recurring Extra: The master of the Cathedral of Shadows and the owner of Rag's Shop.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Meta example: To contrast Devil Survivor's demonic red palette, Devil Survivor 2 uses angelic blue. Even the storylines are slightly different from each other, but their True Endings are on opposite sides.
  • Reforged into a Minion: Almost every boss and miniboss can be subject to this. Once you've killed them once, you have the right to summon them at an adequate level.
  • Refusing Paradise - It is possible to reject Law's paradise en lieu of working towards creating one.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: Machines that develop human thoughts and feelings are often featured in MegaTen games. This includes Aigis and Labrys in the Persona series, Rasputin from the Devil Summoner games, and the Innocents in IMAGINE.
  • Rule of Symbolism
  • Running Gag:
  • The Sacred Darkness: The Lady race features Black Maria, who is based off an interpretation of the Virgin Mary with black skin, and is stated to be a holy mother of the dark. Likewise, the demon Alciel, the "Black Sun", or "King of Gehenna" has added commentary in the Compendium saying darkness is a part of rebirth.
  • Sacrificial Revival Spell: In some entries in the series, the Recarmdra spell will revive all fallen party members at the cost of killing the caster.
  • Satan - Different forms of the Devil regularly show up over the series
    • The Book of Job Old Testament Satan serves as God's Dragon in Shin Megami Tensei II and Digital Devil Saga 2, and as a Judgement-class Persona in the Persona games.
    • The separate Lucifer serves leader of the forces of CHAOS in the SMT continuity, in direct opposition to God, and two different Persona in the Persona games.
  • Satan Is Good -
    • Lucifer is generally portrayed as an Affably Evil Anti-Villain far more likely to lend you a hand than the forces of God.
    • The completely separate Satan will also help you stop an Omnicidal Maniac God if you take the LAW path in SMT II.
  • Save Game Limits: You typically can only save at set points, such as Terminals. Shin Megami Tensei IV breaks tradition by letting you save anywhere.
  • School Uniforms are the New Black
  • Schmuck Bait - Atlus likes to bait you into taking silly risks. A notable example is before the Daisoujou fight in Nocturne. The boss uses powerful light and dark type (One-Hit Kill) attacks, but directly before the fight, the player has access to a magatama that boosts strength by 10, while making the player weak to light and dark attacks. With a stat cap of 40, naturally it seems like a good idea, but then you're promptly punished.
  • Secret A.I. Moves - Many. Part of The Dev Team Thinks of Everything.
    • One of the most notable comes in Nocturne and Digital Devil Saga in the form of two moves (Beast Eye and Dragon Eye) that gives the enemy free actions for a puny mana cost. For the most part, only bosses have it, and you can't learn it.
      • Not without cheating back anyways, Digital Devil Saga 1 has a cheat that allows you select any skill written in the code (whether it's in the game or not). Wanna bitchslap Hito-Shura? Break out Hunger Wave and pound away.
  • Self-Destructive Charge - Some enemies, if pushed, will try to invoke Taking You with Me through a massive explosion, sometimes even hurting their own allies in the process.
  • Sex Sells - Aeria started advertising the MMORPG with this using demons. To be fair, a few of the demons are attractive but others...
  • Shout-Out - The games reference to a huge amount of other creators' work and general culture from around the world.
  • Shown Their Work - The Demonic Compendium for every single game in the series, including spinoffs, contains an accurate overview of each demon's background and origin, and the sources pulled from are diverse to say the least. If you don't have a degree in mythological studies, playing through a bunch of the games and reading the entire Compendium for each would give you one hell of a head start.
  • Signature Move: Many. Notable in that they are only very rarely passable to other monsters / Personas through fusion inheritance, limiting you to using that specific demon if you really want to use the move.
    • Alice has the destructive "Die For Me!" attack - the deadliest Curse/Mudo-type One-Hit Kill move.
    • The equivalent Hama move ("Die For Me!" counts as Mudo) is "Samsara", traditionally possessed by Daisoujou.
    • Metatron has Fire of Sinai, a rain of Almighty-type holy fire.
    • Beelzebub has Death Flies, a swarm of, again, Almighty-type monstruous black flies that either fully devour you in one go or leave you half-eaten with very little hope to survive.
    • Huang Long has Celestial Ray. Huge Almighty damage and random Standard Status Effects.
    • Surt, the fire giant from Norse Mythology has his signature Fire spell Ragnarok. Sometimes, Loki, Thor and Odin join in the fun with Niflheim, Thunder Reign and Panta Rhei.
    • Mara and "Maralagidyne". Oh, yuck.
    • From Persona 2, we have these gems: Tatsuya/Apollo's Nova Kaiser, Eikichi/Hades' Bloody Honeymoon, Jun/Chronos' Cross Fortune, Lisa/Venus' Foamy Lover, Maya/Maia's Crescent Mirror, Baofu/Prometheus' Wiseman Snap, Katsuya/Hyperion's Justice Shot, and Ulala/Asteria's Twinkle Nebula.
    • Every Fiend has a signature move in Nocturne: Matador has Red Capote and Andalucia, Daisojou has Preach and Meditation, Hell Biker has Hell Exhaust and Hell Burner, White Rider has God's Bow, Red Rider has Terrorblade, Black Rider has Soul Divide, Pale Rider has Pestilence, the Harlot has Beast Roar and Trumpeter has Evil Melody and Holy Melody. Others examples are Skadi (Earthquake), Amaterasu (Godly Light), Dante (his entire moveset), Pazuzu (Wet Wind) Kurama Tengu (Starlight), Mada (Intoxicate), Valkyrie (Soul Recruit), Mithra (Death Pact) and Dionysius (Wine Party). Each of the Conception gods has at least one: Ahriman has Hell's Call and Apocalypse, Noah has Domination and Baal Avatar has Bael's Bane.
    • On a different angle, many of the Hito-Shura's exclusive attacks can be seen like this. Highlights include Freikugel, Magma Axis and Deadly Fury.
    • Many bosses have signature moves that are pretty relevant to the mythology behind them. Harihara has Chaturbuja, Vaikunta and Three Worlds (changed to Reincarnate in english), Brahman has Brahma Sutra and Izanami has Thousand Curses. For the Law and Chaos heroes, Jimenez and Zelenin have Left Hand and Right Hand respectively. Belial has Sodom's Fire/Fire of Gomorrah, and Nebiros has Necromancy, while Lilith has Temptation.
    • The Digital Devil Saga bosses have some of these. For instance, Hayagriva has Fire Storm and Skewer, Camazotz has the Guard ability and later on, Zotzilaha Bane, Usas has Seraph Lore, Rahu has Dragon Quake and Dragon Thrash, Cerberus has Pyriphlegethon, Varin Omega has Hunger Wave.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism - Mostly set on the further ends of Cynical. God is usually an evil bastard, everyone sane is trying to use you to further their personal goals (which you will inevitably fall for, whether you like it or not) and everything else is trying to kill you. The more idealistic settings (like Persona games) are usually A World Half Full, however. The series has gradually gotten more and more idealistic as time has gone by; in newer games, you really can Earn Your Happy Ending if you don't lose hope.
  • Soaperizing - Persona 3 and its sequel Persona 4, while still RPG's, add Dating Sim elements. These games are INSANELY popular, and Persona 3 was the mainstream English market introduction to the Shin Megami Tensei franchise.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance - Averted as far as genre goes. Whereas most RPG's use orchestral and symphonic music for their soundtracks, MegaTen uses rock and more modern sounds for its. Turns out to work pretty well considering MegaTen is usually in a modern setting or, at its worst, Cyberpunk.
  • Spell Levels: The series uses a basic form of suffixes and prefixes, but early games do not have an in-game manual for these. Learning to use them correctly is critical.
    • The main attack spells in the series are a slew of elements, commonly Ice (Bufu), Fire (Agi), Electricity (Zio) and Wind (Garu). There's also Force (Zan) (this one is used in the numbered main series games in place of Garu), Psychological (Psy), Nuclear (Frei), Earth (Magna/Tera), Gravity (Gry) and Water (Aqua). These basic elements have three tiers, basic (no suffix), medium (a variety of suffixes), and powerful (-dyne). Most of these can also have the Ma- prefix, which denotes that it hits the entire enemy party. Depending on the game's mechanics and the enemies at hand, this may or may not be desirable.
    • The basic One-Hit Kill spells, Hama (Light) and Mudo (Darkness) can also have the Ma- prefix, with or without the -on suffix, which denotes a better chance of hitting the enemy.
    • The basic healing spell, Dia, comes with two possible suffixes: -rama, more heal, and -rahan, full heal. The Ma- prefix comes back as Me-.
    • The basic buff and debuff spells are only suffixes and prefixes: Taru- is physical attacks, Maka- is magical attacks, Raku- is defense, Sama- is magical defense, Suku- is speed, and De- removes stat changes. -kaja stands for buffs, -unda or -nda are debuffs. Depending on the mechanics of the game, they may or may not affect the entire party. If the latter is true, however, they also make use of the Ma- prefix.
    • The basic Almighty attack is Megido, and it comes with two suffixes: -la (run for your life) and -laon (prepare for complete obliteration). Still, there are even deadlier Almighty spells, such as Black Viper or Morning Star. However, the only one that retains the naming convention, the most obscenely overpowered of them all, is Lucifer's exclusive Megidoladyne.
    • -karn are one-time Reflect moves, Tetra- being any physical, and Makara- being any magical excluding Almighty and Standard Status Effects. Whether used as an item or as a move, it may affect only the user or the entire party depending on the game's mechanics. Both the demons with the move and the items are few and far between, and very expensive all around.
    • Beyond this, there are a number of special attacks with other names. Still, those are the basics.
  • Spiritual Successor: There's a Konami-made smartphone game in Japan called "Dragon Collection" that's immensely popular. Its stable of monster cards is, shall we say suspiciously similar to the Shin Megami Tensei cast, and the old Devil Children spinoffs in particular.
  • Standard Status Effects - Almost all standard effects are present, as normal spells or physical attacks capable of additionally inflicting these. Chains of these are possible, leading to easy Game Breakers.
  • Story Branch Favoritism: Where themes of Law vs Chaos are concerned, the Neutral endings where humanity takes a stand and does not commit to a specific faction, are considered to be the best endings from the creator perspective. To say the least the alternative endings are not that desirable...
  • Story Branching: A number of Shin Megami Tensei games have branching paths where you choose between Law, Chaos, or Neutral allegiance. Some, like Nocturne and the Devil Survivor series, have more choices beyond these classic three paths.
  • Stripperiffic - Many female demons are outright Ms. Fanservice.
    • Many male demons are guilty of providing Fanservice this way too.
  • Summon Magic - Arguably how COMPs function in Shin Megami Tensei I, the Personas in the Persona series, Naomi's spells in Soul Hackers, the Demon Summoning Program in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, the Nicaea app in Devil Survivor 2...
  • Summoning Ritual - Shown occasionally. Mekata's ruined ritual in Shin Megami Tensei II, Mara's summoning in Nocturne and the Seraph summoning in Strange Journey are some examples. Taken into a broader context, the series' summoning and fusion technology is this ever since the first Digital Devil Story, as you are tributing lesser demons in exchange for a more powerful one turning up to serve you. When viewed like this, it's little surprise hexagrams (traditional summoning emblems) have been used as the series' brand logos.
  • Supernaturally Delicious and Nutritious: Again, Red, Magatsuhi, Magnetite. All of them are largely the same. Digital Devil Saga put its own spin on this concerning Magnetite and mentions all things have the substance in them and that living creatures eat each other to obtain Magnetite and survive. Humans and Demons require the most Magnetite to survive, so they have to eat far more, which is why Demons eat other demons/humans since they have the most Magnetite.
  • Superpower Meltdown - One of the many reasons for which human/demon fusions are considered to be temporary Emergency Transformations at best.
  • Taken for Granite - A recurring ailment, and a continuous source of Nightmare Fuel in Digital Devil Saga, where the vast majority of Humanity is now a huge statuary.
  • Talking the Monster to Death - The standard method of recruitment in MegaTen games, though bribery, flattery and sometimes even dancing can play a part.
  • Tarot Motifs - The Persona series, where every Persona is linked to one of the Major Arcana, which dictates how well each character can use its abilities.
    • In Persona and Persona 2, there are even a handful associated with the minor arcana.
  • Tautological Templar: All three sides (Law, Neutral and Chaos) want to help, want only the best for Mankind. Only Neutral more or less realizes it may not be perfect.
  • Teleporters and Transporters - The series proper began with a teleportation experiment gone wrong, in which a demon was accidentally dragged to the mortal realm.
  • Theme Naming: The above-mentioned Spell Levels.
  • There Are No Therapists - One of the main reasons of why The Power of Friendship is so necessary.
  • There Can Be Only One - The others are still not gonna let you steal "their" thunder, though.
  • Timed Mission - Two of the three Towers in Persona 's Snow Queen Quest. The final DLC battle against Masakado in IV
  • Tokyo Is the Center of the Universe - In at least two games.
    • A warped version of Tokyo was the entire game world in Nocturne.
    • Devil Survivor begins with Tokyo being locked down, and you never get the chance to escape.
  • Transhuman Treachery: The vast amount of demon-human hybrids created by Fusion Dance present in the series are so blinded by their new powers they start allowing their ego and fanaticism to taint their judgment very quickly. There is very little if any mental deterioration, they just get drunk on power and proceed to jump off the slippery slope. After a while, their best answer to any problem is to blast the hell out of it.
  • Trauma Inn - Present in most games. But incredibly likely to make you bleed Macca (or Yen, depending on the game) at an accelerated pace, in any form.
  • Traumatic Superpower Awakening - A much-forgotten lesson from Persona games - you need to be broken to have a Persona in the first place. It's not a random superpower you can get, it's a shield to protect you. It's more clearly seen in the Persona 2 duology, where two Personas are forcefully awoken by the Araya Shrine incident. Arguably, it comes back with a vengeance in Persona 3 — as one character notes, you'd have to be a little messed up to fire a gun-like object at your own head. Repeatedly.
  • Trope Maker: The first game series with recruitable monsters.
  • True Companions - "We're comrades."
    • This trope becomes a major plot point and gameplay element for the third and fourth Persona games. Making friends gives you actual power.
  • Ultimate Blacksmith: Fusion masters (the Master of the Cathedral of Shadows and Dr. Victor) have a good claim to the title due to the sheer quality of the weaponry they provide.
  • Unbuilt Trope: Often referred to as a Darker and Edgier Pokémon, but in reality it's more like Pokémon is a Lighter and Softer MegaTen.
  • The Unfettered - The Gaians, and Lucifer by extension.
  • Unicorn: Appears as a recruitable demon/Persona.
  • Unified Naming System: It is very common to see the recruitable monsters referred to as "demons". Why? In the earlier games, they were referred to as "demons" collectively despite this including angels, gods, and what else was in the games. The name stuck since it is easier to refer to them as demons rather than their individual classification, which is at least ten.
  • Urban Legend - A core concept of Persona 2 and the beginning of Persona 4. Some enemy demons in the former are urban legends in Japan.
  • Useless Useful Spell - Completely and utterly averted. Debuff/buff abilities can determine whether you win or lose a fight and the instant death spells are actually damn useful.
    • In fact, if your enemy happens to be weak to death/expel, the various death spells are pretty much a guaranteed kill (and are in fact the easiest way to kill certain otherwise-nigh-invincible mooks). Otherwise you still get a 1-in-3 hit rate that you can boost.
    • And debuff success rates are affected by Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors (where applicable), which is useful at early levels.
    • And Standard Status Effects are a perfectly valid and abusable tactic, being capable of turning a wave of Demonic Spiders into a guaranteed Epic Fail.
  • Verbal Tic - A number of demons exhibit distinct speech characteristics: some are intelligent and eloquent, others are thuggish and direct, some SPEAK IN ALL CAPS and some in ToRGo sPEeCh. And then there's the ver-hee recognizable speech pattern of Jack Frost and his fell-ho Jacks and Frosts, hee-ho!
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon - The best example of this: the final dungeon of Digital Devil Saga 2 takes place in The Sun.
  • Vicious Cycle - Oh, yes. The Conception, the Schwartzwelt, and the rise and fall of many of the series' gods and spirits.
  • Visual Pun - Many of the demons and monsters in this series have designs in this manner, the most infamous one is Mara.
  • Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World: In the early SMT games, later to be revived as a story device in the Persona series.
  • We Cannot Go On Without You - A frustratingly high number of these games will give you a game over if your main character gets knocked out, regardless of whether this should make sense in all of them or not. Mudo and Hama spells are particularly devastating in that respect as some of the games give the player almost no recourse against them early on.
  • Weird Currency: Macca in most games, as it's revealed in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey and Shin Megami Tensei IMAGINE that, despite looking like slightly odd coins stamped in a metal similar to bronze, it's actually a form of Pure Energy edible to demons. Lucifer's subordinate Lucifuge Rofocale is apparently in charge of the minting process.
  • Weird Moon:
    • In most games that feature moon phases, the moon goes through sixteen different phases, and advances through each phase every few steps you take.
    • Persona 3 plays the moon phases more realistically, using actual moon phase data for 2009 and 2010 rather than the traditional mechanic of going through the entire cycle in a matter of a few minutes. However, it has its own lunar oddities: during the Dark Hour, the moon is Nyx, the Big Bad of the game.
  • Wind is Green
  • With Us or Against Us - Most of the time, you will be forced against Law or Chaos factions if you choose their opposite, or both if you go Neutral. Given almost all of these games literally have the fate of the world hinging on choices made, it's logical they are not going to change their minds without some damn convincing gab.
  • What If? - Literally embodied a game called Shin Megami Tensei If. Beyond that, the Devil Summoner series is also based around a What If? - one which ties into the aforementioned game, which represents the branching point that leads to either the Devil Summoner/Persona continuity or main-series Shin Megami Tensei. If presents a what-if question... and Devil Summoner is the answer to it. On top of all this, the Raidou Kuzunoha prequel games in the Devil Summoner line provide a historical What If scenario, hinging, at least in part, on the Taisho period lasting longer than it did in our world.
  • What Is This Thing You Call Love? - Digital Devil Saga
  • World of Badass - Three options here. You start as a Bad Ass. You become a Badass. You die. Choose.
  • World of Ham - Every demon tries to out-ham each other. One could almost say power levels in this universe directly correlate to the demon's hamminess.
  • World of Silence - Traditional goal of Law. In Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne Hikawa (who caused the world to get so screwed up and become the Vortex World in the first place according to Lucifer) and his Reason of Shijima takes this role. In Persona 4 this is the kind of world Izanami thinks the apathetic humans want.
  • Yet Another Stupid Death: Many a gamer have been humbled after moments of hubris. Common ways of dying: getting back attacked and having your weaknesses exploited endlessly, getting hit by a Hama or Mudo spell, using the wrong skill at a crucial moment because you weren't paying enough attention, being able to always counter with a physical attack for ludicrous damage and then being glanced by a lowly demon that repels physical attacks.
  • Yin-Yang Bomb - The entire point of Devil Children: Book of Light and Book of Dark for the GBA.
    • Also, Naoto Shirogane has a Persona which uses both Hama and Mudo skills.
    • Daisoujou in Nocturne loves using Mahamaon/Mamudoon for instant game overs if you don't have some kind of protection. He also already starts with both Mahamaon and Mamudoon when you fuse him.
    • Persona 3 FES gives us Messiah, an explicit reference to, well, Jesus. Thanks to the personas required for the fusion and the inheritance rules, Messiah will inherit Die For Me!, which will actually be his most useful skill, despite an inherent weakness to darkness. Thanatos, the top Death-arcana persona, is weak to light but learns Mahamaon — presumably so the player can later have Messiah inherit it, but most delete it... and many plot twists later, the irony is delicious.
  • Youkai: Some of the demons in the series come from here.

Before you stand the paths of Law, Chaos, and every path in-between. Where will you head?
Sega SuperstarsUsefulNotes/Nintendo DSShin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey
ShantaeUsefulNotes/Wii UShovel Knight
Shining WindUsefulNotes/Play Station 2 Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne
Run SaberCreator/AtlusMegami Tensei II
Shadow HeartsHorror Video GamesSilent Hive
Shining WindTurnOfTheMillennium/Video GamesPersona 2
Shining WindEastern RPGMegami Tensei II
ShantaeUsefulNotes/Nintendo 3 DSShin Megami Tensei IV
Resident EvilTrope OverdosedShin Megami Tensei: Persona
Shining HeartsUsefulNotes/Play Station PortablePersona
Serial Experiments LainUsefulNotes/Play StationShin Megami Tensei I
RoboponMons SeriesDigital Devil Story
ShantaeUsefulNotes/The Eighth Generation of Console Video GamesDevil Survivor
Shining SeriesVideo Game Long RunnersSimCity
Shadow of the ColossusTropeNamers/Video GamesShivers
Shadow RealmsUrban FantasyShin Megami Tensei I
Shining Force IIIVideo Games of the 1990sMegami Tensei II
Shining SeriesFranchise IndexShin Megami Tensei: Persona
Sharin No KuniVisual NovelPersona 3
Shining ArkVideo Games of the 2010sDevil Survivor 2

alternative title(s): Mega Ten; Shin Megami Tensei; Shin Megami Tensei; Digital Devil Story Megami Tensei; Majin Tensei; Majin Tensei II Spiral Nemesis; Shin Megami Tensei Devil Summoner; Ronde; Demi Kids Book Of Ligh Andt Book Of Darkness
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