[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/FateZero_TVTropes_6779.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:350:''Top register from left to right (Masters)'': Uryuu Ryuunosuke, Waver Velvet, Tohsaka Tokiomi, Emiya Kiritsugu, Kayneth El-Melloi, Matou Kariya, Kotomine Kirei; ''Bottom circle, counterclockwise from upper left (Servants)'': Berserker, Archer, Lancer, Saber, Caster, Rider, Assassin.]]

->''"Let us tell the story of a certain man. The story of a man who [[WideEyedIdealist believed in his ideals]] [[WellIntentionedExtremist more than]] [[KnightTemplar anyone else]], [[FatalFlaw and by them was]] [[DespairEventHorizon driven to despair]]."''

There exists a [[TheLifestream plane beyond human conception]], within which resides the Throne of Heroes. Here, the souls of both [[DesignatedHero famous]] (and [[DesignatedVillain infamous]]) individuals throughout history are stored and recorded, to be used as eternal guardians of mankind. The definition of "hero" is broad--[[AntiHero even the most ruthless and heartless may have benefited the greater good]] in the end.

Centuries ago, three families of magi -- the Einzbern, Makiri, and Tohsaka -- conducted [[AncientConspiracy a dark and bloody ritual]]; Heaven's Feel, the Holy Grail War of Fuyuki. A [[MeleeATrois battle between seven magi]], competing for a chance to wish upon a "Holy Grail", the 726th such artifact branded by TheChurch. [[SummoningRitual Heroic Spirits from the Throne are summoned]] and bound to the material world, becoming "Servants" to their summoning "Masters". To keep their true names hidden, the seven Servants are sorted into one of seven Classes: Saber, Archer, Lancer, Rider, Caster, Berserker, and Assassin. In addition, each Servant is armed with the mysteries that symbolize their legend and embody their fame -- Noble Phantasms, legendary armaments and abilities.

As each Servant falls, the [[MacGuffin Holy Grail]] receives their power, [[ThereCanBeOnlyOne until only one remains]] and the Grail is able to manifest in the physical world to grant the winners' wishes.

''Fate/Zero'' is the story of the Fourth Holy Grail War.

[[AntiHero Kiritsugu Emiya]] grew up wanting to be a hero who could save anyone and everyone... but he learned the hard way that for every person he saved, another had to die. The only way to be a hero was to act [[TheNeedsOfTheMany for the good of all humanity]]; to destroy the factor that would destroy even more humans in turn if left unchecked. And if that factor was humanity itself, then [[NecessarilyEvil he would kill every single one who threatened the peace of another]]. Despised, feared, branded as a murderer, a contract killer, a hitman -- still he goes on, [[IDidWhatIHadToDo believing that this is the best way to serve humanity]].

Due to his immense skill, Kiritsugu is adopted by the Einzbern as an honorary family member. However, the Einzberns' real motive is to send him to Fuyuki City, his old home, to participate in the Fourth Heaven's Feel on their behalf. Despite finding love and happiness with his new family -- his wife, Irisviel, and their daughter, Ilya -- he knows the battle isn't over. As one of the seven Masters, he must return to Japan to obtain the Holy Grail of Fuyuki for the Einzbern family.

''Fate/Zero'' is a collaboration, a series of four illustrated novels written by Creator/GenUrobuchi (of Creator/{{Nitroplus}} fame) and illustrated by Takashi Takeuchi of [[Franchise/{{Nasuverse}} Type Moon]], under the direction of Kinoko Nasu. Set in the Franchise/{{Nasuverse}}, it is the prequel to acclaimed VisualNovel ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight''. The first volume was released in December 2006 and the last was released in December 2007. It was first adapted into a Drama CD, with music by ZIZZ Studio (composers for the majority of Creator/{{Nitroplus}} works). A manga adaptation began serialization in February 2011, and a TV series (by Creator/{{ufotable}} of ''LightNovel/KaraNoKyoukai'' fame, with music by Creator/YukiKajiura, and starring the Drama CD cast) aired its first season in [[Fall2011Anime Fall 2011]] and concluded in [[Spring2012Anime Spring 2012]].

The anime was streamed for free with subtitles in eight different languages by Aniplex on [[Website/NicoNicoDouga Nico Nico]] as it aired. The episodes are available on [[http://www.crunchyroll.com/fate-zero Crunchyroll.]]

The English dub by Creator/AniplexUSA, Creator/VIZMedia's and Creator/NeonAlley service is currently available on Netflix.

!!Since this is a prequel series to ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight'', expect major {{Late Arrival Spoiler}}s for that series as well, as ''Fate/Zero'' ends with a ForegoneConclusion. Administrivia/YouHaveBeenWarned.
----
!!These books provide examples of:
* AdaptationalAttractiveness: Kariya isn't going to land any modeling gigs any time soon, but the BodyHorror inflicted on his body by the worms in the anime looks like a bad skin rash in comparison to his appearance in the light novels, where he resembles Two-Face from ''{{Franchise/Batman}}''.
* AdaptationExpansion: At one point, one of Rin's friends is kidnapped by Uryuu and Caster. Not realizing the danger, Rin decides to go look for her. In the book, Rin nearly enters their lair before being attacked by one of Caster's monsters; Kariya rescues her and takes her home. In the anime, Rin enters their lair, confronts Uryuu, and actually manages to break Caster's hypnosis on the children before going back outside and getting attacked by a monster, where Kariya rescues her as in the book. [[SparedByTheAdaptation Rin's successful intervention in the anime means that all the children are rescued and return home; the same can't be said for the book.]]
* AdaptationExplanationExtrication: While we get the gist on the anime's own merits, it leaves out a lot of Gilgamesh's reason for obssessing over Saber, mainly because she reminded him of his DeadSidekick Enkidu, who was the hero's MoralityChain in life.
* AdultFear:
** Ryuunosuke and Caster are '''serial child murderers''' who like to give their victims a HopeSpot before brutally killing them. The collateral damage risks breaking the {{Masquerade}} and becomes so severe that a reward is offered to whoever can kill Caster first, putting the entire war on hold until then. Cue nearly everyone doing an EnemyMine to take these two down. Really, REALLY helped by [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilles_de_Rais who *this* Caster really is]].
** Losing one's family: [[spoiler:By the end of the story, Kiritsugu has lost his wife, Irisviel, and daughter, Ilya, as well as his mistress and close friend, Maiya.]]
** Betrayal by friends and allies: [[spoiler:Kirei]] backstabs his supposed master, [[spoiler:Tokiomi]].
** Having the love of your life hate you and tell you that you aren't capable of loving happens to [[spoiler:Kariya and Kiritsugu]].
* AesopCollateralDamage: [[spoiler: Kiritsugu]] learns that [[KnightTemplar one man living by and cultivating the best intention imaginable]] isn't justification for its realization in this life, [[spoiler: and the lesson comes at the price of over 300 people either burning alive or dying from wounds made by falling debris, as the Grail - being the fulness of desire itself - rejects him by his decision to reject it, and allows the desire of the self-unaware Kirei to be granted instead]].
* AGodAmI: Gilgamesh considers the whole world his garden and considers the other Heroic Spirits, including KingArthur and UsefulNotes/AlexanderTheGreat, as peons and false kings compared to him. He is partially justified in-universe by his status as the first Heroic Spirit and "King of Heroes," and by the fact that his power does, in fact, dwarf that of all the other Heroic Spirits.
* AlasPoorVillain:
** [[spoiler:Caster having a hallucination of Jeanne d'Arc]] reaching out to him while smiling and [[MyGodWhatHaveIDone realizing]] just what kind of monster he has become before dying.
** There is also [[spoiler:Kayneth's]] death. [[spoiler:After agreeing to quit the war, he is summarily executed by Kiritsugu alongside his fiancee through use of a loophole. Because Kiritsugu cannot pull the trigger himself, he even has to bleed and beg for death on the ground until a disgusted Saber has to perform a MercyKill.]]
* AllLoveIsUnrequited: Most of it, anyway.
** Kariya has loved Aoi, who is both oblivious and married, since they were both young.
** Maiya has feelings for Kiritsugu, but acknowledges that Irisviel is the woman he loves. She's still TheMistress, but only because of Kiritsugu's masochistic need to "practice" betraying his wife for the grail.
** Caster ''might'' count, since his "Jeanne" doesn't respond to his feelings largely because she's ''not'' Jeanne. The specifics of Gilles' feelings before Jeanne's death is currently unclear.
** In the backstory, Kirei's wife Claudia was devoted to a man who was literally incapable of loving her.
** Kayneth loves Sola-Ui and does whatever he can to make the best of their ArrangedMarriage. Sola-Ui becomes obsessed with Lancer, who's summoned as Kayneth's Servant. And if [[UndyingLoyalty loyalty]] is a type of love, Lancer rejects Sola because he's devoted to his Master Kayneth, despite receiving only disdain ([[KickTheDog at best]]) in return.
** Averted with Kiritsugu and Irisviel. [[spoiler: Until she dies.]]
** Gilgamesh (according to the graphic novel anyway) has only ever loved Saber (or at least is obssessed with her) but she rebuffs him at every oppurtunity.
* AllMythsAreTrue:
** Heroes of history and legend are enshrined as Heroic Spirits, eligible to be summoned as super-powerful Servants in the war.
** Armaments and abilities which are symbolic of the legend (for example, KingArthur and Excalibur) become the Noble Phantasms of the Servant.
* AllThereInTheManual:
** The original game, side material, information volumes, etc.
** Likewise, the details on the previous Grail Wars. The Third is mentioned as having taken place in UsefulNotes/WorldWarII, with [[ThoseWackyNazis Nazi]] [[{{Ghostapo}} agents]] getting in the way of the Grail.
** The Servants' actual physical parameters, powers, and skills are all listed in their [[RPGMechanicsVerse character sheets]].
* AnachronicOrder: The second episode detailing Kiritsugu's backstory freely hops between him as a child and him as a young man.
* AncientConspiracy: The true purpose of the Heaven's Feel ritual is to [[spoiler:recreate the Third Magic, the eponymous Heaven's Feel, which deals with immortality of the soul]].
* AnimalEspionage: Kiritsugu Emiya at a few points uses bat familiars with cameras rigged to their chests for recon, [[PostModernMagik because the cameras (not being alive) can see through the illusion spell of other Mages]].
* AnimeCatholicism: Certain high-ranking members of the Church are quite young, married with children, [[ChurchMilitant demon-hunting warriors]], and fluent in Japanese.
* AnyoneCanDie: Every other Servant ''must'' die to power the Grail so it can grant the victor's wish. ThereCanBeOnlyOne, after all.
* ArtifactOfDoom: The [[spoiler: Holy Grail.]]
* ArtificialHuman: A homunculus is used as the vessel of the Holy Grail.
* BadassArmy: Rider's Noble Phantasm can materialize the army he led in life as [[spoiler:Alexander the Great]], ''every member'' of which is a Heroic Spirit.
** [[spoiler: Not that this helps them fight Archer, who kills them all effortlessly.]]
* BadassBaritone: Tokiomi Tohsaka, Kiritsugu Emiya, and Kirei Kotomine
* BadassCape:
** Rider, but his design is just {{badass}} in general. [[http://otakuism.animeblogger.net/wp-content/uploads/2007/04/zeroiskandar.jpg Just look at the guy!]]
** Gilgamesh has a badass red cape as well, though the upper half of it is inside his armor.
* BadassFamily: The Einzberns and the Tohsakas. The Matous kinda counted, before all their magic disappeared.
* BadassInANiceSuit: Being the hitman he is, Kiritsugu certainly looks the part of a professional, but the real standout is Saber in her black suit.
* BadassLongcoat: Kiritsugu wears one.
* TheBadGuyWins: [[spoiler:Kirei]] and his Servant [[spoiler:Gilgamesh]] are the last pair standing at the end of the Holy Grail War. They also get their wish for destruction, albeit not on the scale they would hope for.
* BaitAndSwitchCredits: The opening sequence features a clip where Saber faces off with Assassin. In the story proper, these two never come to blows.
* BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor: [[spoiler:As Kiritsugu learns, the Holy Grail has been corrupted to work on this principle: any wish made on it will be granted through destruction and suffering. Kiritsugu wants the Holy Grail in order to grant world peace, but when he finally has the chance to make his wish the corrupted Grail explains how it intends to grant it: by ''killing off all of mankind but Kiritsugu and his daughter'', because Humans would always fight. Then it's subverted when Kiritsugu [[ScrewDestiny destroys the Grail]].]]
* BeeBeeGun: Used as a vampire infection vector by Odd Vořák, a Dead Apostle magus in Kiritsugu's backstory.
* BeenThereShapedHistory: All of the Servants are, by definition of their nature as Heroic Spirits, people who are well-known for the historical events they were a part of in life before being summoned by the Masters.
* BigDamnHeroes: Several. Rider is a favorite for it. Even Gilgamesh gets one, [[spoiler: saving Saber from Berserker during the fight with Caster's monster.]] But he was [[IWasJustPassingThrough mad at Berserker...]]
* BigNo: [[spoiler:Saber, as she's forced to swing down Excalibur on the Grail.]]
* BittersweetEnding: The Einzbern Consultation Room [=OVAs=] end with [[spoiler:Taiga being separated from Irisviel, but not before Irisviel gives her the Einzbern Dojo sign. Taiga wakes up and begins wondering if her time in the dojo with Irisviel was AllJustADream. Taiga discovers that she still has the sign, and although she'll never see Irisviel again, decides to start working towards teaching people how to overcome any and all [[VisualNovel/FateStayNight "Bad Ends"]].]]
* BlackAndGrayMorality: The only "white" moral characters are [[ChildrenAreInnocent children]]: Ilya, Rin, and the children Caster and his Master have a habit of kidnapping and subjecting to a FateWorseThanDeath.
** With a single surprisingly successful subversion, considering just how dark and cynical the series is. Saber, the styled "King of Knights", remains steadfastly honorable in all her engagements (even going so far as to cripple herself needlessly because she felt it fair), is willing to go to great risk to [[NeverHurtAnInnocent protect the innocent]], disobeying the commands of her own Master and strategic sense, and is [[BattleButler uncompromisingly loyal]] [[LadyAndKnight to Irisiviel]]. All of this occurs in spite of her ideals being [[EvilGloating openly mocked]], [[TheReasonYouSuckSpeech mercilessly rebuked]], coming face-to-face with [[spoiler:the [[MyGreatestFailure greatest failure]] of [[MistreatmentInducedBetrayal her code]] ([[WeUsedToBeFriends Lancelot]])]], and being forced by bad luck and fate to work with a person who most [[SillyRabbitIdealismIsForKids personifies her]] [[CombatPragmatist ideals]] [[KnightInSourArmor deconstructed]]. For Saber, the battle to retain her ideals amongst such BlackAndGrayMorality is just as real as the war itself. Of course, seeing [[KingArthur who she really is]], it's to be expected.
* BlandNameProduct: There's a "Ramasonic" brand Jumbotron in Episode 12 of the anime.
* BloodFromTheMouth: Several characters get this when they are severely injured, sometimes before they die.
* BloodierAndGorier: The manga adaptation makes full use of its run in a genuine {{Seinen}} magazine, some of the explicit brutal things narrated in the novels (but not heavily shown in the anime, just implied) like Uryuu and Caster's "fun" times of torture and general sickening actions, are shown ''in great detail'' page-by-page in the manga; in fact, it is taken UpToEleven via AdaptationExpansion by giving ''more background'' on what Uryuu likes to do with his victims, as well as graphically portraying young Sakura's brutal rape by the Matou Crest Worms.
* CallForward[=/=]{{Foreshadowing}}: Interestingly, this one was entirely ''by accident'', as ''VisualNovel/FateHollowAtaraxia'' wasn't fully planned out at that stage, but somehow, Gen Urobuchi was able to get the mechanics behind [[spoiler:Avenger/Angra Mainyu's method of "possession" ''entirely by chance''.]] Nasu and Takeuchi found the coincidence kinda freaky.
* CallingYourAttacks: If a Noble Phantasm has to be manually activated, its "true name" must be called. Doesn't apply for those that are always active.
* TheCameo:
** Episode 18 of the anime highlights Kiritsugu's backstory where his childhood friend Shirley [[spoiler:inadvertently causes an epidemic of [[OurVampiresAreDifferent Dead Apostles]] on their island.]] Among the responding magi sent by the Magus Association is fire magus [[LightNovel/KaraNoKyoukai Cornelius Alba]].
** In the last episode of the anime, a high school girl is shown in the background waving a shinai around. That's most likely Taiga Fujimura, a supporting character from ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight''.
* CastFullOfPrettyBoys: Not totally surprising, considering outside of Saber and Irisviel all the major characters are male. Lancer, Gilgamesh, Waver, and Ryuunosuke stand out as particularly {{Bishonen}}, although Kiritsugu and Kirei are no slouches in the MrFanservice department. Pretty much all of the Masters and Servants have their devoted EstrogenBrigade, even [[{{Gonk}} Caster]] and ''especially'' [[TheWoobie Kariya]].
* CheatersNeverProsper: The only Master who ''doesn't'' cheat over the course of the War is Waver (Kirei cheats by seeking sanctuary under false pretenses. Ryuunosuke breaks the rule about preserving the Masquerade. Everyone else breaks the rule about not fighting each other until Caster is beaten). Although Waver doesn't win the war, he does survive it, and is indisputably better off at the end of the War than he was at the beginning, which is more than can be said about Kirei and Kiritsugu, the only other two who are even still alive.
* ChekhovsGun: The magic circle Irisviel and Saber draw in the shed of the operations base Kiritsugu provided them [[spoiler:will end up saving Shirou's skin from Lancer [[VisualNovel/FateStayNight ten years later]] by serving as the summoning circle for Saber]].
* ChekhovsSkill: During Kiritsugu's first scene after coming to Fuyuki City, he practices reloading his Thompson Contender, noting that the process takes about two seconds. [[spoiler: This speed is put to the test during his final battle with Kirei, where on two occasions he needs to reload the gun before his opponent can get back into melee range.]]
* ClapYourHandsIfYouBelieve: Belief is a powerful weapon in {{Nasuverse}}; the more people believe in something, the more power it has. Accordingly, the more well-known the legend, the more powerful the Servant. However, the older the mystery is, the more powerful it is, which offsets if it is not as famous.
* CliffHanger: The first season of the anime ends as Saber, Rider, and Lancer are about to engage Caster and his Cthulhu knockoff, leaving them hanging until the second season picks up where it left off.
* CombatPragmatist: Kiritsugu specializes in killing mages, and he does not fight by their rules. This means that he will use modern weapons, misdirection, hostage taking, and lying to get his way. Kirei comes in a close second, since he figures out a way to abuse the rules and similarly lacks compunction about going after his opponent's loved ones.
* ConservationOfNinjutsu:
** Averted during the fight between [[spoiler:Assassin and Rider]].
** Played straight with the Assassins. They had to split the power and combat prowess of the regular Assassin-class Servant[[note]](which is the weakest Servant class to begin with)[[/note]] between all personas somewhat equally.
* ConspicuousCG: In the anime.
** Various examples of architecture, vehicles, attack effects, and Berserker in general.
** The odd organic character/creature, including Matou's worms in Episode 1, the tentacles in Episode 2, and Saber in certain shots during Episodes 22 and 23.
* ContinuityNod: Since this takes place just ten years before ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight'', far too many to list. Let's just say that many events in the Fourth Grail War have consequences for the Fifth.
* CoolVersusAwesome:
** Episode 14 features [[spoiler:Ancient Indian flying machine]] vs. [[spoiler:Possessed F-15 fighter jet-turned-Noble Phantasm]].
** The Finale features [[spoiler:A SinisterMinister with throwing swords, command seals, and superhuman kung-fu (Kirei) versus a BadassLongcoat-wearing assassin with a HandCannon, HealingFactor, and time manipulation powers]]. At the same time, we have [[spoiler:King Arthur versus Sir Lancelot]].
* TheCorruption: The blackness flowing from the corrupted Grail, a manifestation of "all the world's evil".
* CrazyPrepared: Kiritsugu (he... really took a lot of things into account, to say the least) and Kotomine (seriously? Kevlar-reinforced priests' robes?).
* CurbStompBattle:
** Tokiomi vs. Kariya is ''very'' one-sided. One is a man who has spent a lifetime diligently learning to master the secrets of magic. The other is a runaway who had just one year to prepare with forbidden magecraft implanted in him by his sadistic ancestor that his body can hardly take, and who is too berserk with pain and rage to use even that properly. Tokiomi hardly has to lift a finger to defend against all the swarms of bugs that Kariya can muster, and then send him falling from the roof engulfed in flames.
** [[spoiler:Rider vs. Assassin]]. Cue [[spoiler:[[BadassArmy Ionioi Hetairoi: Army of the King]]]], and the fight becomes such a ridiculously one-sided slaughter that the author ''doesn't even bother describing it.''
** Any fight Gilgamesh participates in could be this if he took any of the other servants seriously (not that he has to, seeing as he's easily one of the most powerful things in the Nasuverse, including ORT, Ado Edem and Archetype Earth). It only actually happens, though, when he deems [[spoiler:Rider]] worthy of his judgment and pulls out a couple of stops. Creator/Gen Urobuchi says that he could single-handedly end the fourth Holy Grail War ''in a single night'' if he bothered to go full out.
* DarkerAndEdgier: Lampshaded in the authors' notes section, and in commparison with its intended successor, ''Anime/FateStayNight''. While FSN translates the base elements of the original eroge game into its narrative ([[spoiler: i.e., two Masters attempting to kill TheProtagonist at the outset culminates in their disqualification from the Grail War and in their living with TheProtagonist in competition with each other for his love]]), FZ is a pure plot of support and setup, specifically dealing women and children (of which, in FSN, two of the Masters are both) [[CruelAndUnusualDeath the worst]] [[AndIMustScream fates]] [[ColdBloodedTorture within]] [[EatenAlive its narrative]].
* DeathFromAbove: The anime has Gilgamesh raining down his Noble Phantasms from the sky like beams of shining light, invoking the image of a god passing judgement on the unworthy.
* DeathSeeker: [[spoiler:Ryuunosuke]] without realizing it. [[spoiler:He is a serial killer specializing in children, because he finds spewn organs and blood beautiful. Only after Kiritsugu shoots him through the chest does he realize that the perfect, beautiful blood and organs he had been searching for all along were his own.]]
* {{Deconstruction}}: What does it really take to be a [[IdealHero hero of justice]], and [[ShootTheDog just how far would you be willing to go]] to find out?
* DepletedPhlebotinumShells: Kiritsugu's Origin Bullets contain ''his own'' powdered ribs, which he uses sparingly with his Contender. Because each bullet contains Kiritsugu's origin of severing and binding, a bullet used on a magus will irreparably ruin their magic circuits. Most targets are permanently crippled or killed by what this does to their body.
* DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything:
** The anime version of the scene where [[spoiler:Kariya strangles Aoi]] manages to summon implications of rape by the way of their relative positioning, the way she struggles, putting attention to their ragged breathing and placing his knee between her legs.
** The entire subplot between Gilgamesh and Kotomine, in which [[TheVamp Gilgamesh]] attempts to be a ClosetKey to get Kotomine to fall prey to his carnal urges. Granted, the closet here turns out to be of ''morality'', but the point is illustrated through the use of metaphorical SexIsEvilAndIAmHorny undertones.
* DoomedByCanon: Pointed out early on that you probably don't want to get too attached to anyone. [[spoiler:By the end, the only people left from the main cast are Kiritsugu, Kirei, Waver Velvet, Gilgamesh, and Saber, and after the [[VisualNovel/FateStayNight FIFTH Holy Grail War]], Waver is the last remnant of ''Fate/Zero'' who is guaranteed to survive.]]
* DownerEnding:
** Kiritsugu sacrifices [[spoiler:his wife and trusted partner to achieve his goal of world peace, only to find that the Grail is corrupted. He orders Saber to destroy it, causing its contents to spill out into the town and kill hundreds of civilians. To Kiritsugu's Einzbern sponsors, this apparent betrayal permanently costs him access to his daughter, leaving her to be raised as a weapon for the next war. Furthermore, his arch-nemesis Kirei survives, and outlives him to threaten his son (and daughter) in the next war. Kariya dies having failed to save Sakura, serving only as a nightmarish reminder of what happens to those who disobey her grandfather. Sakura remains with the Matou family, enduring experimentation and sexual abuse over the next decade. Rin is orphaned and mostly unaware of her sister's situation so they never reconnect. Major villain Gilgamesh also survives; his exposure to the Grail's corruption leaves him with a permanent body and slight insanity. As for Kiritsugu, he is cursed by the Grail, gradually losing his powers and senses until he dies several years later. The damaged and corrupted Grail, which has failed to grant a wish yet ''again'', reactivates a mere ten years later despite Kiritsugu's efforts to sabotage Fuyuki City's ley lines. To top it all off, Rin's mother, Aoi, ends up wheelchair bound and brain-damaged due to the oxygen deprivation she suffered from being strangled by Kariya, not understanding what her husband being dead truly means, and being reduced to someone her daughter must care for.]]
* DualWielding: Diarmuid uses dual ''spears'', though not always at the same time. The Black Knight's tendency to grab whatever is on hand also leads to this, and at one point he dual-wields [[spoiler:sub-machine guns]]!
** During his climactic fight against [[spoiler:Kirei]], Kiritsugu dual-wields his Calico and Contender [[spoiler:until he runs out of ammo for the former]]. It's also presented in a fairly realistic manner, with Kiritsugu firing one gun at a time, and switching hands depending on what he wants to do; the Calico for broad sprays to keep his opponent occupied, and his Contender for precision work and firepower.
* DungeonBypass: Kayneth El-Melloi Archibald is in the thirty-second floor of a hotel--his bounded field covers ''twenty-four'' floors (even going over the drainage pipes), there are three magical furnaces for his use, and he has ten summoned evil spirits and apparitions--a magus's veritable fortress. How does Kiritsugu deal with this? [[spoiler:Apply a small amount of C4 to the supports and bring the entire place down.]]
* DyingDream: [[spoiler:Irisviel]] has [[NightmareDreams an extremely creepy one]].
* DyingMomentOfAwesome: [[spoiler: Alexander the Great, a.k.a Rider]] dies the glorious, poetic, and fitting death of which he was historically deprived during the height of his achievement in his heroically-qualifying life.
* EldritchAbomination: Summoned by Caster in the form of tentacled monster hordes and a massive, Cthulhu-like beast. Normally, a magus only summons something of a certain level of strength or they can't control it, so at first the others don't understand... until they realize that Caster couldn't care less if the horror he summoned is under control or not.
** Then there's [[spoiler:Angra Mainyu, the conceptual entity corrupting the Holy Grail]]. When it just ''partially'' manifests, the thing appears as black mud that literally curses and burns everything in its path. [[spoiler:Which is what causes the Great Fuyuki Fire. ''If'' fully manifested, the thing will probably wipe humanity off the face of the Earth.]]
* EnemyMine: Crops up several times during the early part of the Holy Grail War. [[WorthyOpponent Saber and Lancer]] are the most common allies, and [[ConflictKiller Caster]] is the most common target.
* EpisodeZeroTheBeginning: This series is a prequel to ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight'', portraying events alluded to in the latter.
* EveryoneCallsHimBarkeep: Servants are referred to by their Class, even when their real names are revealed. Berserker, whose identity is hidden until the last novel, is dubbed the "Black Knight".
* ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin: There's a 24-hour hotel in Fuyuki called "24-Hour Hotel in Fuyuki."
* ExactWords: [[spoiler: "Killing you is impossible now... for ''me'', that is." Cue [[{{Sidekick}} Maiya]] gunning down Kayneth and Sola-Ui with a Steyr [=AUG=].]]
* FacelessGoons: Bluebeard's summoned tentacle-things from AnotherDimension, literally without faces.
* FaithHeelTurn: The novel explains how Kirei transitioned from an upstanding Executioner to the SinisterMinister seen in ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight''.
* {{Fanservice}}: The final episode has Gilgamesh stark naked during most of his conversation with Kirei. [[spoiler:It makes sense, though, since he was drenched in Angra Mainyu's corruption and his body is now flesh and blood as opposed to a spirit given bodily form by his master's mana.]]
* FatalFlaw: Almost every character has one key personality flaw, but most outwardly obvious are Kiritsugu's determination to ShootTheDog and sacrifice what he loves for ideals that turn out to be empty, and Arturia's belief that the fall of her country was her fault, and that she has to erase her mistake no matter what the cost to herself.
* FateWorseThanDeath:
** [[spoiler:Aoi after she suffers brain damage as a result of being strangled by Kariya. She is reduced to a state similar to that of a young child, unaware of her husband's death and still believing Sakura is living with them. To add onto it, Rin is forced to become her own mother's caretaker until her death, as she is the only mentally sound one still in the family.]]
** The children kidnapped by Caster and his Master are subjected to pungent emotional torment with [[ColdBloodedTorture physical torture and disfigurement]] almost universally accompanying it before they are murdered (this final act being painted [[EatenAlive with]] [[ImpaledWithExtremePrejudice several]] [[YourHeadAsplode different]] [[ChestBurster colours]].
* FemaleGaze: Episode 8 provides viewers with a lingering shot of Kirei's well-sculpted ass. And Kariya is naked in his dream in Episode 20, although what happens in the dream and what we see of him after he wakes up is pure FanDisservice.
* FiringOneHanded: Kiritsugu frequently one-hands both his .30-06 Thompson Contender and the Calico submachinegun, the latter on full-auto.
* FloweryElizabethanEnglish: Mostly LostInTranslation, but Rider's speech can smack of the Japanese equivalent of this at times, and it is pretty much the default mode of speech for Gilgamesh. Even native speakers of Japanese sometimes have trouble with following Gilgamesh's conversations, as he uses archaic versions of just about every noun and verb, even simple ones.
* ForegoneConclusion: The novels are written as a prequel to ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight''. A fairly early author's note warns that you really shouldn't be expecting a happy ending, and that the writer will probably have to kill his entire cast in order to fit his ending into the timeline established in the previous story.
* FunctionalMagic: ''Fate/Zero'' expands the {{Canon}} considerably regarding magecraft concepts.
* GameplayAndStoryIntegration: A strange version, considering that it's not a video game, but the novel still uses the stat sheets found in ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight''. Several of the passive skills and stats listed there have an effect on the plot, such as Saber's "Riding", Lancer's "Eye of the Mind (True)", Rider's "Divinity", Archer's "Independent Action" and Caster's "Mental Pollution".
* GenderFlip: KingArthur, teenage girl.
* GeneticMemory: Irisviel.
* GhostAmnesia: In one of the Einzbern Consultation Room shorts, the recently deceased [[spoiler: Lancer]] can't remember how he died. Zecchan initially convinces him that [[BlatantLies he died in a very heroic and fair duel.]]
* GoKartingWithBowser: Rider charges into Saber's castle without any prior warning... and invites Saber to go drinking with him and Gilgamesh. Somewhat subverted in that Gil has ulterior motives for visiting, and mostly just trolls Rider and Saber while is there anyway.
* GoryDiscretionShot: Caster's segments in the anime are heavily censored, at least in the regular broadcast. In the novel, the author goes into some description that's not too gory, but just enough to give an idea of [[FateWorseThanDeath what's happening to the children]]. The manga adaptation is not so kind, giving us full view of wacky contraptions like the "human umbrella".
* GratuitousEnglish: And [[AltumVidetur Latin]], and in the first episode of the anime, ''Armenian''.
* GratuitousGerman: At one point Rin opens one of her father's grimoires, which angrily chants German at her.
* GreaterScopeVillain:
** Ultimately, [[spoiler:the Grail itself, corrupted by Angra Mainyu]].
** In the long term, [[spoiler:Matou Zouken]], who bides his time and maintains his quiet participation in the Holy Grail War until its final iteration in [[VisualNovel/FateStayNight ten years]].
* GunsAkimbo: Kiritsugu dual-wields his Contender and Calico. [[spoiler: Also Berserker later, with two ''[=MP5=] submachine guns''.]]
* GunsAreWorthless: Played with. Magi tend to disdain technology and consider it inferior to magic, to the point that they almost never bother defending against it. Kiritsugu exploits this complacency to great effect, using guns, mines, missile launchers, and demolitions to take out his targets.
** However, Kayneth's liquid metal artifact protects him from Claymore mines, a skyscraper collapsing around him, and automatic fire at point-blank range, while Kirei [[DodgeTheBullet outright dodges bullets]], and when he isn't, he parries them with his Black Keys.
** Firearms, just like anything non-spiritual, are completely ineffective against Servants.
* GunPorn: Gen Urobuchi gave a whole lot of detail to the weapons that Kiritsugu uses. To wit, Kiritsugu's weapons are a Calico M950 sub-machine gun, a Walter [=WA2000=] sniper rifle (with night scope and heat vision sensors), and his Mystic Code the [[HandCannon Thompson Contender]], customized with his [[DepletedPhlebotinumShells Origin Bullets]]. The anime also shows other weapons in a couple of [[LockAndLoadMontage lock-and-load montages]].
* GunsVsSwords: [[PlayingWithATrope Exagerrated and deconstructed]] during Kirei and Kiritsugu's first and last confrontation: Kirei commences the fight with six of his twenty Black Keys (throwing swords), and Kiritsugu responds with one shot from his [[HandCannon Contender]], using his Calico as support. [[spoiler: By the last bout, Kirei's Black Keys are being thrown at and making contact with Kiritsugu faster than Kiritsugu can reload and fire his Contender, [[PlayingWithATrope finally subverting the trope.]]]]
* HermeticMagic: See "Functional Magic".
* HighAltitudeBattle: The absolutely glorious battle between [[spoiler:Gilgamesh and Berserker]] near the end of the war is this.
* HopeSpot: Caster deliberately gives one to children before killing them.
* IHaveYourWife: Kiritsugu and Maiya ''successfully'' pull this off in a way that would make any villain proud.
* ImmortalityImmorality: Kiritsugu's dad can make plants immortal! [[TemptingFate Just think of the possibilities if the same potion worked on humans!]] [[spoiler: Side effects may include [[OurVampiresAreDifferent vampirism.]]]]
* ImmuneToBullets: Servants in general, except when Berserker [[UpToEleven turns the bullets into Noble Phantasms]]. Kayneth's Mystic Code initially had the same effect, but Kiritsugu managed to get around that pesky problem.
* ImprobableWeaponUser: Berserker, one of whose abilities is to transform whatever he picks up into a Noble Phantasm, be it the discarded Noble Phantasms of other Servants, or pieces of a sliced-apart telephone pole. At one point, he even uses [[spoiler:an ''F-15J'' from the JASDF investigating a massive fight between the Servants. When the jet crashes, [[RuleOfCool he rips off the entire M61 Vulcan unit and fires from the hip. In mid-air.]]]]
* InfantImmortality: Averted: [[spoiler: Caster and Ryunosuke are serial child-murderers]].
* InfoDump: Occasionally the audience is treated to large chunks of explanation in one sitting so that they'll understand. For example, episode One of the anime is longer to accommodate all the discussion of the rules of magic and of the Holy Grail War.
* IronicEcho: In the third book, Saber in the narration admits to herself that Kiritsugu is the most suitable Master to receive the Holy Grail (upon realization of how [[WellIntentionedExtremist despite his methods]], [[WideEyedIdealist his wish and intention for world peace is genuine]]). In the fourth book, [[spoiler:Angra Mainyu ([[DemonicPossession in the shape of Irisviel]])]] says this exact thing to him... and this line takes a ''much'' darker meaning in this context as it refers to [[spoiler:his method of saving people by killing other people, because the tainted Grail's method of granting wishes is likewise destruction and murder.]]
* ItHasBeenAnHonor: Saber and Lancer have great respect for each other as fellow knights of chivalry, and part this way at the end of the first round of their duel. Also, Gilgamesh (Archer) and Iskandar (Rider) part this way when [[spoiler:Rider dies]]. Indeed, Gilgamesh's attitude and parting words to Iskandar convey exponentially more respect than he's shown to anyone up to that point.
* JapaneseChristian: The Tohsaka clan were historically secret Christians, though it's unknown whether Tokiomi keeps the faith.
* JediMindTrick: Made more explicit in the novel, when it was explained how [[spoiler:Kiritsugu convinces the bellboy that he was Kayneth and that he and Kayneth's wife Sola-Ui have already left the hotel]].
* KarmaHoudini: Ryuunosuke, in a sense. [[spoiler:He gets killed by Kiritsugu, but he is so thrilled at the sight of his own blood that it doesn't really feel like actual punishment. It is stated in the novel that he dies with a smile of total bliss.]]
* [[KillThemAll Killed Them All]] [[KilledOffForReal For Real]]: [[spoiler:Averted with Kirei, Gilgamesh, Waver, and practically all other characters who had major roles in FSN]].
* LampshadeHanging: From the Einzbern Consultation Room specials: "You probably think Assassin is just there to get killed."
* LaserHallway:
** In the anime, the wards around the Tohsaka estate, despite being more like invisible rotating cages of magic, invoke all the contortions and careful maneuvers that come along with this trope when Assassin infiltrates them.
** Kayneth claims an entire hotel floor as his base and laces it with an absurd number of traps and wards. [[spoiler:So Kiritsugu [[StuffBlowingUp levels the entire building]] instead.]]
* LeaningOnTheFourthWall: Caster and Ryuunosuke's discussion on the nature of God. It appears that GenUrobuchi is aware of his reputation.
* LighterAndSofter:
** The anime works hard to avert this, like soft blurring or making clever use of camera focus on the most questionable scenes, but there are some things that just couldn't be shown in great detail. Uryuu and Caster's moments with their victims are the most notable examples, since the most sickening lines in the novels did not make its way to the anime.
** The Einzbern Consultation Room [=OVAs=], on the other hand, are designed to be sweet moe goodness to counter the very dark and horrifying narrative. Zecchan even somewhat invokes this, saying that they should "pretend all that Urobuchi-style stuff never happened".
** ''Fate/Zero'' itself, while cynical and dark enough to compete with ''Heaven's Feel'', is rather light on the horror elements when compared to its parent work.
* LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters: One overseer, seven Masters, seven Servants, various assistants, and family members create an EnsembleCast.
* LostInTranslation: The way Gilgamesh [[JapanesePronouns addressed]] [[WorthyOpponent Rider]] in their last confrontation was a [[SugarWiki/HeartwarmingMoments heartwarming moment]] that doubled as a PetTheDog moment... for Japanese audiences, at least.
* LovecraftLite: Caster summons {{EldritchAbomination}}s, but they are mainly used to highlight his existing insanity and lack of control rather than inflicting any visible effect on the world or other characters.
* MaleGaze: During the Einzbern Consultation Room, Irisviel adjusts her kimono in such a way as to [[{{Gainaxing}} titillate]] male viewers.
* {{Masquerade}}: Enforced by the Magic Association and the Church, who are responsible for manipulating the media and covering up evidence of the war to prevent it from spilling over into everyday life. It is uncommon for Masters to fight in broad daylight, for the same reason.
* MaximumHPReduction: Lancer's Gáe Buidhe places a curse on whomever it wounds, making a WoundThatWillNotHeal. When asked to define this [[RPGMechanicsVerse in gaming terms]], WordOfGod said that its effect would be basically this trope. Also, Emiya Kiritsugu was cursed by the contents of the [[LightIsNotGood Holy]] [[ArtifactOfDoom Grail]], which was the ultimate cause of his demise, as it drained his life force slowly but steadily.
* MaybeMagicMaybeMundane: Sola-ui ought to be magically powerful enough to resist Lancer's Love Spot, but she falls in love with him all the same. Whether she failed to resist the Love Spot's power, did resist it but fell in love with Lancer legitimately, or some blend of the two is never explained.
* MeaningfulName: Alimango Island. If you know the meaning of Alimango (Crab), then you're either someone who's fluent with Tagalog or someone with Philippine roots.
* MindcontrolEyes: Caster makes Ryuunosuke a bracelet that allows him to easily abduct children; the effects of the enchantment naturally involve this trope.
* MistakenForBadass: In the novels, Kiritsugu is impressed by Waver's choice of home base. Appropriating an anonymous home in the middle of nowhere and mind-controlling two disposable pawns to gain their assistance shows a level of ruthlessness and dedication to secrecy that the Magus Killer cannot help but appreciate. The fact that Waver just didn't possess the resources to do any better never even occurs to him. Fortunately Kiritsugu is not staking out the house when the delivery truck arrives with a package for "Mr. Iskandar, King of Conquerers", so his impression of Waver's tactical ability remains positive.
* MoodDissonance: In the anime, Kirei recites [[http://www.esvbible.org/Psalm+23/ Psalm 23]], a psalm expressing peace and trust in Divine guidance and protection as scenes play ([[spoiler:Waver crying ManlyTears after being spared by Gilgamesh, Saber getting a NoHoldsBarredBeatdown from Berserker, Kariya in agony, and, with "In the presence of my enemies you prepare a table for me...", Irisviel's corpse laid down on a table one floor above where he will be fighting Kiritsugu]]) at the end of the episode. In particular, the line "My cup overflows" in the psalm is supposed to refer to an abundance of blessings, but the camera focuses on a cup that's [[spoiler:overflowing with curses.]]
* MoreThanMindControl: Waver hypnotizes the Mackenzies into thinking he's their grandson. Later, Glen mentions that he knows Waver isn't related to them, but he's a nice young man and they enjoy his company.
* NoCelebritiesWereHarmed: Ryuunosuke is somewhat similar to François Prelati, Gilles de Rais' historical partner in crime and [[HoYay possible lover]]. Much like Ryuunosuke, Prelati was young, good-looking and deeply amoral. What makes them different is the fact that Prelati was a liar who manipulated Gilles for his own benefit, whereas Ryuunosuke's affection for Caster appears to be completely sincere.
* NiceJobBreakingItHero:
** [[spoiler:In the finale, Kiritsugu barely fails to kill Kirei, who outlives him to eventually to become the nemesis of Kiritsugu's son. He commands Saber to destroy the corrupted Grail, which only results in its contents spilling out into the town and causing an inferno that kills hundreds of civilians. The damaged and corrupted Grail is unable to grant a wish to the victor, causing it to reactivate prematurely a mere ten years later.]] See DownerEnding for even more fun details.
** In Kiritsugu's backstory, the vampire Odd Vořák is easily dispatched by Natalia... releasing all of the [[BeeBeeGun bees]] he was hiding within his body and turning the entire plane cabin into a bloodbath. Kiritsugu is then forced to shoot down the plane with his mentor/mother figure on it to prevent the monsters from [[ZombieApocalypse reaching the civilian population]].
* NightVisionGoggles: Kiritsugu uses the thermal scope on his rifle to observe Masters who, because of their [[SuperpowerfulGenetics Magic Circuits]], have a different heat signature.
* TheNineties: The Fourth Grail War is set sometime in the 1990s. A mention of [[UsefulNotes/BillClinton a certain U.S. President]] places the story at 1994 or later.
* OffModel: The largest complaint for episode 11 of the anime, due in large part to most of the budget going into animating [[spoiler:Ionioi Hetairoi]].
* TheOnlyOneAllowedToDefeatYou:
** Claimed by Lancer as he saves Saber from Caster's monsters.
** Gilgamesh stating that he will be the one to defeat Rider during the Banquet of Kings. [[spoiler:He makes good on his word.]]
* OurVampiresAreDifferent: Kiritsugu's past, featuring [[VisualNovel/{{Tsukihime}} Dead Apostles]].
* OutOfFocus: The sheer number of {{SpotlightStealingSquad}}s means that protagonist Kiritsugu spends at least half of the novel offscreen.
* ParentalAbandonment: Tokiomi towards Sakura and [[spoiler:Kiritsugu and Irisviel towards Ilya]].
* PassThePopcorn: A fairly low-key example. During a dramatic scene where [[spoiler: Kariya goes insane and nearly kills Aoi]], Gilgamesh and Kotomine are enjoying the scene from a distance while drinking wine.
* PlaceOfPower: Ley lines intersect in Fuyuki, making it possible to hold the Heaven's Feel ritual here.
* PlayingTheHeartStrings: ''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZwK3kTqVQo&fmt=18 Dream of Eternity]]'', which in the Drama CD plays [[spoiler:as Alexander dies]].
* PoliticallyIncorrectHero: Saber suspects that Kiritsugu won't interact with her because she turned out to be a different gender than expected of King Arthur. In reality, Kiritsugu knows that he and his chivalrous Servant have an extreme philosophical divide, so he chooses not to operate alongside her.
* PowerBornOfMadness: Berserker Servants get the Mad Enhancement skill, which increases their power at the cost of their reasoning. The Black Knight is notable for retaining his ability to fight skillfully despite its effects. Caster also has a Mental Pollution skill, where his madness prevents others from mentally influencing him but this never really comes into play.
* PoorCommunicationKills:
** If Kariya and Tokiomi had been able to put aside their mutual hatred for long enough to explain ''why'' they felt as they do, or if Aoi and Kariya had bothered to talk about their situation ''at all'', then [[spoiler:Aoi's brain damage]] and Sakura's [[spoiler:eleven years of torture]] could perhaps have been prevented.
** While they at least TRY to talk in Volume Three, they have no ability to understand each other.
** One might wonder exactly what Tokiomi's reaction might have been had Kariya actually told him exactly why he was fighting.
* PowerGlows: In particular, Excalibur being charged (the sword converts {{Mana}} into light).
* PowerLevels: As with ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight'', character sheets of Servants quantify and list their abilities and tools.
* PreOrderBonus: In-universe example. Rider's T-shirt is a pre-order bonus for a video game.
* {{Prequel}}: To ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight''.
* [[{{Mana}} Prana]]: One of the main weaknesses of Servants is that they must have mana to continue existing; since they're technically dead, they are not "a part of the World", so the World itself will try to crush this contradiction.
* ProductPlacement: PlayedForLaughs in the Einzbern Consultation Room OVAs. Taiga's questions about the Servants at one point basically sum up to "Buy the novels to learn more, in stores now!"
* PurpleProse: Invoked by Tokiomi in a lame attempt to kiss up to Archer and get him to take out Caster:
-->'''Tokiomi:''' "King, that monster is a destructive pest that tears apart your gardens. I implore you to execute it."\\
'''Archer:''' "That would be a gardener's work. Or, Tokiomi, do you dare imply that my Noble Phantasm is nothing more than a gardener's shovel?"
* RareGuns: A [=WA2000=][[note]]only 176 were ever made, most of which are in private collections[[/note]]with thermal ''and'' night-vision scopes; none of the characters mention how these guns were smuggled into ''Japan'', of all places.
* RaysFromHeaven: They fall on a mourning Saber in her standby pocket dimension (a hill in a battlefield, completely covered in corpses) as Shirou declares his intent to fulfill Kiritsugu's dream of becoming a hero and Saber declares her determination to acquire the Holy Grail, symbolizing hope for her[[spoiler:/their]] success in [[Anime/FateStayNightUnlimitedBladeWorks the next Grail War]].
* ReadTheFinePrint: The geis Kiritsugu drew up [[spoiler:in exchange for Kayneth killing his own Servent]] prohibits him from ever killing/harming or acting with intent to kill/harm [[spoiler:Kayneth or Sola-Ui. However, his assistant Maiya can still kill them in his stead.]]
* TheReasonYouSuckSpeech:
** [[{{Ubermensch}} Rider]] delivers a particularly brutal one to Saber, concerning the destruction of her kingdom and the people she saved, her entire identity and her moral code, and her ideal of what a "king" should be.
** Kiritsugu's speech against Saber qualifies as well, see WarIsHell below or the quotes page.
* RecurringRiff: Melodies from ''Point Zero'' and ''Let The Stars Fall Down'' pop up all over the soundtrack.
* {{Roboteching}}: Both Berserker and Archer's projectiles during their dogfight.
* RPGMechanicsVerse: Dates back to ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight''. Servants have "character sheets" that are visible to masters, describing their attributes in terms such as "STR/CON/AGI" and "Class Skills", and quantifying the power of attacks and weapons. This is a remnant of the creator's early attempts to create a strategy RPG.
* RuleOfCool: Saber rides a magically armored motorcycle while chasing Rider, who is on a flying lightning chariot. They smash heavy items at each other with swords. Really.
* RuleOfDrama: In the ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight'' anime adaptations, Gilgamesh simply pulls Ea out of a random portal in the Gate of Babylon. In the anime of ''Fate/Zero'', where he's engaging in an epic battle at the time, he opens a portal to retrieve the key to undo the elaborate lock Ea is under.
* RuleOfSymbolism:
** The crashing of Oceanus' waves was the beating of Rider's own heart. One may take this as a metaphor that one should spend one's life doing what one loves, or that the journey is its own reward.
** Wine is used to symbolize desire. Gilgamesh mentions Tokiomi has more than Kirei but Kirei's wines that he never drinks are of higher quality, symbolizing how Tokiomi has more he enjoys (his family, magecraft, his friendship with Father Risei) but Kirei has deeper desires (EvilFeelsGood) and doesn't partake of them.
* SceneryPorn: In the anime, no expense was too high, best described by one reviewer as "...a budget big enough to buy Belgium." This gives the anime some of the best art and animation in the entire industry, and the Blu-Ray 1080p editions just laugh at attempts to match them. [[http://fuckyeahanimescenery.tumblr.com/image/23432632762 Take]] [[http://fuckyeahanimescenery.tumblr.com/image/23375464568 a]] [[http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m49x97XA5P1rpby4qo1_500.gif look]]
* ScreamingWarrior:
** Rider's battle yodel when charging his chariot over something. Which, surprisingly, is [[ShownTheirWork an actual Ancient Greek warcry]].
** Berserker never speaks [[spoiler:until his helmet comes off]], only roars.
* SelfDeprecation: In the Einzbern Consultation Room specials, Disciple Zero attempts to reassure Lancer that there would be no "[[Creator/GenUrobuchi Urobuchi]]-type drama". The ''Fate/Zero'' novel was written by Gen Urobuchi himself.
* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism: Heavily cynical. A considerable amount of plot demonstrates idealistic characters having their principles challenged or even shattered.
* ShootTheHostage: [[spoiler:Kiritsugu takes El-Melloi's fiancée hostage, but signs a magical contract that should he harm either of them, he will lose all his magecraft. El-Melloi agrees to Kiritsugu's terms, then prepares to leave the city with her while they're both alive. Then Maiya shows up with an [[MoreDakka assault rifle.]]]]
* ShootTheDog:
** [[spoiler:Kiritsugu is forced to shoot down the plane Natalia is in since it is infested with ghouls that could cause innumerable casualties if the plane managed to land in New York City.]]
** [[spoiler: He shoots ''his own father'' after finding out his immortality research turns people into [[OurVampiresAreDifferent Dead Apostles]]]]
* ShoutOut:
** The "Einzbern Consultation Room" specials from the DVD are basically a huge ShoutOut to the [[HaveANiceDeath Tiger Dojo corners]] from ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight'', complete with role reversal with Irisviel as the "teacher" and a teenage amnesiac Taiga as the "student". The segments contain a few other [[ShoutOut Shout Outs]]:
*** "There are ''LightNovel/{{DDD}}'' circumstances behind that, so I'm sorry."
*** [[LightNovel/KaraNoKyoukai Alba]]'s silhouette can be seen when Iri talks about mages in the {{Nasuverse}}. His [[spoiler: [[TheCameo brief appearance at Alimango Island]] as a magus sent to torch the area mentioned above also counts]].
*** Some of the explanations about the world and Holy Grail War are set to ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark''-style illustrations.
** Caster's vision of [[UsefulNotes/JoanOfArc Jeanne D'Arc]] is the exact same design from ''LightNovel/FateApocrypha''.
** Caster's invocation to summon an EldritchAbomination in episode 2 is "[[CthulhuMythos Cthulhu fhtagn]]", he's referred to as a [[Literature/TheShadowOverInnsmouth Deep One]] in the "Einzbern Consultation Room" specials, and his Noble Phantasm, [[TomeOfEldritchLore Prelati's Spellbook: Text of the Sunken Spiraled City]], is implied to be a copy of the Necronomicon itself since it's made from human skin, has a screaming face on the cover, and is also known as the R'lyeh Text.
** Natalia smokes the same extremely rare brand of cigarettes that [[LightNovel/KaraNoKyoukai Touko]] does.
** ''Fate/Zero Materials'' notes that, after the war, Kayneth's Volumen Hydragyrum was tweaked a bit [[spoiler:by Waver]] so it could assume the role of a household servant. The only problem is, thanks to being exposed to [[Film/TheTerminator a certain film]], it occasionally goes berserk while insisting it's a killer robot from the future.
** In Episode 14, the two F-15J pilots flying in to investigate Caster's monster trade some banter on how [[GenreSavvy if they were in a kaiju movie, they'd be dead.]] One of them remarks that they would just [[RedShirtArmy be there to die]] before the [[Franchise/UltraSeries "Giant of Light"]] shows up to kill it.
** Some of [[http://typemoon.wikia.com/wiki/Gate_of_Babylon?file=Gobweapons.png the weapons]] in Gate of Babylon are identical to ornamental pieces sold by [[http://www.kitrae.net/fantasy/ Kit Rae]] and [[http://www.unitedcutlery.com/Category.aspx?cat=SM United Cutlery]]. This fits somewhat, since they're all ''supposed'' to be {{Impossibly Cool Weapon}}s.
* ShownTheirWork:
** In the anime's first ending, the Servants are depicted in scenes that are based on actual paintings or sculptures of their historical counterparts.
** Many details of the Servants' legends had to have required substantial research, ArtisticLicense notwithstanding.
* SinisterGeometry: The summoning of [[http://imgur.com/a/WX7BK Ea]], Archer's ultimate weapon.
* SoundtrackDissonance: "Starlit Faith", from the ''Return to Zero'' soundtrack album, [[http://www.justsomelyrics.com/2126047/Watanabe-Kazuhiro-Starlit-Faith-Lyrics reads]] and [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0DylPp5E6A&feature=plcp sounds]] like a rock ballad about finding one's way to one's loved one. One could be forgiven for hearing this and not guessing that the setting of the soundtrack overflows in GRIMDARK-ness...
* SparedByTheAdaptation: See AdaptationExpansion.
* SpiritedCompetitor: Saber and Lancer's duel is shaded with this.
* SpoilerOpening:
** The anime's second opening shows the [[spoiler:Grail corruption leaking from Irisviel's orifices]] and later implies that she will die.
** The first ending makes [[spoiler:Berserker's]] identity fairly obvious after his first appearance shows [[spoiler:he knows Arturia]].
* SpotlightStealingSquad: The omniscient third-person narration gives plenty of opportunities for protagonist Kiritsugu to be OutOfFocus.
** Team Rider in particular gets plenty of screen time and character development.
** Irisviel and Saber have a more normal Master-Servant relationship than the actual pair.
** GenUrobuchi's favorite characters, Gilgamesh and Kirei; in an interview [[WordofGod Urobuchi]] stated that he wrote ''Fate/Zero'' mainly for Kirei.
* SquishyWizard: Subverted in the {{Nasuverse}} in general; magi can use Reinforcement and other physical spells to boost their bodies to the limits of human capability, in addition to the physical and martial arts training that most modern magi undergo.
* SummoningRitual: The method by which each Servant is brought into the world.
* SupernormalBindings: One of Archer's Noble Phantasms is Enkidu, a special chain that was created to restrain the gods, its strength is proportional to the divinity of their opponent, so while it can easily overpower gods, when used against normal person, it simply acts as a tough chain.
* SuperReflexes:
** Kiritsugu has a spell called "Innate Time Control" that he uses to control the flow of time within his own body.
** Kirei dodges bullets.
* SurprisinglyGoodEnglish:
** Besides ''"Starlit Faith"'' above, the ''Return to Zero'' album also contains ''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FA3b9wSC4GU "Beginning Oath"]]''. Both also qualify as CrowningMusicOfAwesome.
** Kiritsugu's dossiers on the other Masters are shown in the anime to be in clear English.
** Not to mention Kirei's prayer in the last episode, which, while a little stilted, is perfectly clear English, and in Jouji Nakata's voice, downright creepy.
* [[SurprisinglyGoodEnglish Surprisingly Good German]]:
** Zigzagged. The voice actor seems to know enough pronunciation to approximate proper German (making it a huge improvement over Rin or Archer), but the grammar is still gibberish.
** Natalia's fax messages are in passable German. {{Creator/ShowHayami}} also gets to recite a spell in German.
%%* TalkingIsAFreeAction
* TearsOfBlood: [[spoiler:Lancer]] begins to cry these after he's [[spoiler:commanded to impale himself on his own spear]]. The blood stains his sclera red, giving him quite a demonic appearance in his death throes.
* TeleportSpam: In one anime scene, Gilgamesh prefers to simply teleport several times to dramatically appropriate areas of the room instead of walking around.
%%* ThereCanBeOnlyOne
* ThrowingYourSwordAlwaysWorks:
** Church Executors fight using the Black Keys, ''throwing swords'' held between the knuckles, in a [[{{Wolverine}} Wolverine]]-esque manner.
** To be fair, the swords are explicitly designed for throwing with their long length and weighting making it difficult to use as an actual sword. On top of this, it is stated in the novels that they require great skill to wield effectively and, despite it being the signature weapon of the Executors, few make them their WeaponOfChoice. Kirei is one of those few.
* TomeOfEldritchLore: Caster's Noble Phantasm, Prelati's Spellbook. Not only is its cover made of human skin, it's actually ''alive'' and Caster merely "commands" it. It summons [[EldritchAbomination Lovecraftian tentacle monsters]].
* TooDumbToLive:
** If a giant, sentient ball of mercury appears out of nowhere, you probably shouldn't shove your hand into it.
** Is that a gargantuan, tentacled monster in the river? Maybe I can get a better look if I fly closer to it!
* TraumaInducedAmnesia: Lancer shows up in an Einzbern Consultation Room special unable to recall anything that happened in [[spoiler:Episode 16]]. Zecchan encourages him to "pretend that none of that [[SignatureStyle Urobuchi-style]] stuff ever happened", but Irisviel won't let him off the hook that easily.
* WarIsHell: The focus of Kiritsugu's lamenting monologue in the third novel. He also [[TakeThat disparages]] [[WarIsGlorious heroes, their actions, and their legends]], which cause people to glorify war.
* WeaponOfChoice: Servants are armed with Noble Phantasms, the weapons or abilities that helped make them famous in life. Also, magi are generally armed with one or more "Mystic Codes" which are tools that are designed to be used with their Magecraft. Quite a few are designed specifically for combat.
* WhatTheHellHero: Saber, and to a lesser extent Irisviel, after Kiritsugu [[spoiler:has Kayneth and Sola-Ui executed after promising that ''he'' wouldn't harm them]].
* WholeEpisodeFlashback: Two episodes of season 2 are dedicated to Kiritsugu's backstory.
* WineIsClassy: Gilgamesh, being the arrogant king he is, is often shown drinking wine [[AGlassOfChianti to highlight this fact.]] His [[HyperspaceArsenal Gate of Babylon]] also [[MundaneUtility contains a high-class wine cellar]] with wine brewed by the gods themselves. This trope is about the only thing Gilgamesh shares with his summoner, as Tokiomi is also fond of red wine and is generally acknowledged as a particularly classy fellow.
* WizardingSchool: Waver Velvet is in training under the instruction of mages at Clock Tower at the start of the story.
* TheWorfEffect: Invoked by one of the fighter pilots sent against Caster's EldritchAbomination.
--> '''Pilot:''' If this were a monster movie, we'd be the first to go. You know, the ones who make the bad guy look tough.
* WorthyOpponent: How most Servants see each other, especially once learning their respective heroic identities.
** [[spoiler:Gilgamesh feels this way towards Rider, even awarding him with feelings of geniune admiration (in the light novel, at least) upon his death. Worth mentioning since this being Gilgamesh, who thinks of even the other heroic spirits as little more that mongrels, it is the most respect he has been shown to feel and possibly ever felt towards anyone not called Enkidu.]]
* WouldHurtAChild: Dear God, Caster!
** What Zouken does to five-year-old Sakura is beyond contempt.
* WoundThatWillNotHeal: Lancer's Gae Buidhe inflicts a curse on wounds so they won't heal, which is described as [[RPGMechanicsVerse akin to reducing maximum hit points (i.e. healing will have no effect, since Saber would be at "full HP" despite the wound). Saber gets afflicted by this early on due to a lapse in battle judgment]]. This becomes Saber's DramaPreservingHandicap until Volume 3, where [[spoiler:Saber, Lancer, and Rider team up to battle the EldritchAbomination that Caster set loose upon the city]]. Even then, during her rematch with Lancer, Saber fights Lancer using only her right hand.
* YouAreTooLate: [[spoiler:Poor, poor Sakura.]]
-->[[spoiler:'''Matou Zouken:'''There were terrible cries for the first three days, but by the fourth day, she was silent. Today, she was thrown at dawn in the worm storage to test how well she would last, but, ho ho, she endured it for half a day and is still breathing. What do you know, the Tohsaka material isn't defective.]]
* ZombieApocalypse: Or rather, [[spoiler: a ''[[OurVampiresAreDifferent Vampire]]'' Apocalypse happened on Kiritsugu's island home in his backstory.]]