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Shout Out: The King of Fighters
There are multiple Shout Outs to various Anime, Manga, and Toku present within the series. Here's the place for every Continuity Nod, Mythology Gag, No Celebrities Were Harmed, Captain Ersatz, Expy, and Shout-Out in The King of Fighters.

Characters and stuff introduced in The Rugal Saga ('94)

  • The creation of the Japan Team, their elemental powers, and their personalities are based off of the heroes from Getter Robo. This, in turn is a homage to a Japanese phrase of giving birth to fire (roughly translated as "lighting strikes the earth which sparks the flame").
  • Kyo's design is lifted straight from Ricky Jones, the main character of the early Neo Geo Beat 'em Up Mutation Nation. See here.
    • His striker (and prototype design), Syo Kirishima, was meant to resemble common fighting games martial artists (in terms of clothes) at the time.
    • Cosplayer Kyoko (Shingo's striker from 2000) is an in-universe nod to fangirls who love to cosplay as Kyo at conventions.
    • In Maximum Impact 2, he has an alternate costume that makes him resemble Yuki, the Original Generation male protagonist of Neo Geo Battle Coliseum.
    • Starting in Maximum Impact 2, there exists a separate version of Kyo known as Kyo Kusanagi Classic, who is garbed in Kyo's attire from The Orochi Saga (Normal)/The NESTS Chronicles (Another). He uses all of Kyo's moves from '94 to '98, as well as his Style 108 from '99 onward. Additionally, as a nod to the earlier KOF titles, his roll is his replaced by a sidestepping dodge (a la '94 and '95) and holding down the taunt button allows Kyo to charge up his meter (a la '94-'96, complete with the same charging pose).
    • One of his alternate color schemes in XIII is none other than Rock Howard. The activation of his Neo MAX is similar to his intro with Ryu in Capcom vs. SNK 2.
    • He has another color based on Rouga Zanma from Big Bang Age.
  • Benimaru Nikaido was modeled after Jean-Pierre Polnareff, in terms of appearance and personality. He is even jokingly called Polnareff by the dev team.
    • Shinkuu Katategoma, Handou Sandangeri, and Genei Hurricane moves are inspired by Hurricane Polymar. (Funnily enough, Kunihiko Yasui, the seiyuu of The Rival to Benimaru's best bud [i.e. Iori Yagami], is Polymar in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom.)
    • Other attacks have their namesakes in various anime and manga, including the Benimaru Collider/Corridor (Gunbuster), Elec-Trigger (Super Robot Red Baron), Flying Drill and Raijinken (Neo Human Casshern), and Iai Geri (Kako Teito: Ore wa Shubei!). (Daisuke Ono, the seiyuu of Nameless, voices Casshern in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom. See a trend here?)
  • Heidern is an Expy of Rolento and the God's Army Colonel.
    • He shares some physical characteristics with Brocken Jr. from Kinnikuman and even takes a few moves from him.
    • His character is based off of (if not an alternate version of) the commander of the Ikari Warriors from Ikari III: The Rescue.
    • His namesake is a character from Space Battleship Yamato.
    • In the XI backstory, Adel gives Heidern the nickname "Heidi", the eponymous protagonist of a German novel.
    • Stormbringer. That is all.
  • Ralf's Ikari Warriors appearance (used in XII with some alterations, which was originally meant to be used in '94) was stated to be based off of the titular hero of Rambo.
    • From KOF '96 to '98, his intro with Clark ("CROSS CHANGER!") mimics Choujin Sentai Jetman.
    • One of his outfits in Maximum Impact 2 is based of of Marco Rossi's from Metal Slug, complete with the wavy forelock of light brown hair.
  • Many of Clark's moves come from Kinnikuman, such as a variation of the Finishing Moves of The Hero of the final arc of the series: the Clark Spark. He has now the Clark Special, copying Robin Mask instead of King Muscle.
    • One of his alternate costumes in Maximum Impact 2 was modeled in the image of Tarma Roving from Metal Slug.
  • Ryo Sakazaki and Robert Garcia have win quotes in KOF 2002 against each other that reference Little Shop of Horrors.
    Ryo: "Seymour, you've been fed! Been dying to say that!"
    Robert: "I hope you're not the strongest! Feed me, Seymour!"
  • Robert Garcia is SNK's Alternate Company Equivalent to Ken Masters. Both are rich-out-their-ass playboys who are friendly rivals to their respective best friends, although Robert dresses like he's rich. Also, both of their styles emphasize stylish kicking. Of note is that Robert was introduced that way whereas Ken had developed this after Art of Fighting came out.
    • He was also visually modeled after Steven Seagal and Andy Garcia.
    • In 2000, his alternate striker is himself, but dressed like Capcom's Alternate Company Equivalent, Dan "The Man" Hibiki, who was conceived as a Take That to SNK. Note that their hair is already similar to begin with.
    • During the NESTS saga, two of his moves changed to look more and more like Guile's Sonic Boom and Flash Kick, to the point of being charge attacks as well.
    • His intro poses with Kensou in KOF '97 and '98 are a common Kansai shtick.
    Kensou: "Donnai de ka?" ("How's it going?")
    Robert: "Bochi bochi, denna." ("So-so, y'know?"/"Alright, I guess.")
  • Ryo is SNK's Alternate Company Equivalent to Ryu and Ken, at least at first.
    Ryo: "Kyokugenryu-ougi! ORAORAORAORAORA!!! Moratta!"
    • Ryo and Robert's taunts in XIII have them perform their charging poses from Art of Fighting and the pre-'99 KOF games, although this does nothing to their super meter. Robert also uses this animation before the final blow of his Ryuuko Ranbu EX DM.
  • Expect Takuma to throw in the occasional battle cry of "CHESTO!"
    • The upper portion of his new (if not somewhat goofy-looking) stance in XIII seems to be taken from Doppo Orochi. His Biruto Appa/Built Upper Neo MAX from the same game ends with a brutal chop similar to Akuma's Capcom vs. SNK-exclusive Misogi.
    • Like Ryo, he too gets a Shin Akuma-themed outfit in XIII.
    • Kyoukugenryu Karate in general is heavily based on Masutatsu Oyama's Kyokushin Karate.
  • Yuri's taunt in KOF '96 is "Anta baka?" (Asuka's Catch Phrase) and one of her winposes had her saying "Service, service" (like Misato).
    • One of her alternate color schemes in XIII that restores her braid also gives her a hue resembling Cammy.
      • She also pinches various moves from the Shotoclones: in '96, she gains the Tatsumaki Senpuukyaku, in '97, Sakura's Midarezakura (multiple uppercut super), in '98, the Shin Shouryuken (EX Yuri only), in 2001, the Shun Goku Satsu (with a 1/8 chance to inflict extra damage and copy Akuma's back-turning pose), in 2002 Unlimited Match, Ryu's Joudan Sokutou Geri ("Donkey Kick"), in 2003, the Denjin Hadouken (Ryu's chargeable electric fireball), and in XIII, Akuma's Demon Flip. In 2002-XI, she also borrows Chun-Li's vertical split kick; however, she gained her normal rushing uppercut (Yuri Chou Upper) as early as '95, one year before Sakura made it famous.
      • Her intro in 2001 also resembles Felicia's.
  • Word of God has likened Sie Kensou's powers to that of Koichi's in Babel II.
    • His XII/XIII outfit is the same one he wore back in Psycho Soldier.
    • The Psycho Soldier team's ending in XIII is a parody of Gatchaman, right down to the silly costumes worn by Kensou (Red), Athena (Blue), Bao (Yellow), and Momoko (Pink). The team even goes by the name of the Psycho Rangers (no, not them), complete with fans giving them a Super Sentai-esque naming scheme for the characters (i.e. Kensou = Psycho Red).
    • In XIII, his pre-fight conversation with Maxima references the Over 9000 meme from Dragon Ball Z.
  • Athena Asamiya was inspired by Saori aka Athena from Saint Seiya. She even has the same hair color and similar hairdo.
    • One of Athena's throws has her raise a finger into the air as her psychic powers toss the enemy skywards, this move is almost identical to Tackle's Electro-Wave Throw.
    • One of her edit team endings in KOF '97 had her wearing the bikini from the original Athena game.
    • From KOF '98 onward, the MAX version of her Shining Crystal Bit DM has her randomly appearing in the bikini as well.
    • One of her win poses also consists of a very Sailor Moon-ish pose: a V-for-victory sign and a wink.
    • The blue schoolgirl uniform she wears in XII and XIII (complete with pink hair) dates back to her origin game, Psycho Soldier.
  • XIII also adds a meter that keeps track of how many drinks Chin Gentsai has stomached, much like Shun Di.
  • XIII gives Andy a color scheme resembling Son Goku.
  • Terry's Rising Force HSDM in 2002 was taken from Rock Howard.
    • Terry's "Stand up!" finger point win pose (lifted from his older self in Garou: Mark of the Wolves) is evocative of one of Jotaro Kujo's signature poses, which can be seen in the games based on JoJo's.
    • Terry's battle intro against his brother in '98 is based on a gesture Kenshiro and Toki from Fist of the North Star made as a promise that Kenshiro wouldn't interfere in Toki's battle against Raoh.
  • One of Mai's color variations in Maximum Impact 2 is that of Cham Cham. In that same game, she borrows Andy's Chou Reppa Dan for her Level 3.
  • Brian Battler is an Expy of Johnny Maximum from World Heroes 2, who is also a heavy-hitting, aggressive power player. In fact, Brian's design was altered in order to differentiate him in terms of looks from Johnny, making this something of a Shout-Out as well.
  • Lucky Glauber's prototype design and fighting style were based on the character Hakim in the martial arts film, Game of Death. His later design might come from Dunk Dream/Street Hoop/Street Slam, a sports game for the Neo Geo made by Data East.
    • His default color scheme is the purple and gold, the same as the Los Angeles Lakers (the team that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played for). In KOF '98 his alternate color schemes are references to the Chicago Bulls, Seattle Supersonics, and San Antonio Spurs.
  • Don't confuse Heavy D! with the late rapper of the same name.
  • Choi is a Captain Ersatz of Freddy Krueger. An alternate version of him called "Cool Choi" resembles Freddy even more. Made funnier when a bonus illustration in KOF '98 involves Choi having an encounter with Freddy Krueger.
  • When speaking of Rugal's prized "trophies" there is one of note that is interesting. It's of a man with a familiar hairdo, a sleeveless shirt, with military fatigue pants and boots. Sadly this man is nameless, but he does have a rather eerie resemblance to a U.S. special forces officer named Guile. Apparently, the point of the resemblance was not lost since in Capcom vs. SNK the two have an intro of said "trophy" is standing between them and them destroying it.
    • There are also statues clearly meant to resemble Zangief, Akuma, and Fei Long. Clearly, Rugal really likes Street Fighter.
    • Given that SNK does enjoy having fun at Capcom's expense due to their competing fighters, this and the other tropes aboard the Blacknoah maybe part of a larger joke. Rugal is said to be attempting to become world's strongest fighter, now look at the sub-title of the first Street Fighter II...note , after all of that... Look at the collection. Now do the math.
  • Joe refers to himself as the Legend of Joe a couple of times in XIII.

Characters and stuff introduced in The Orochi Saga ('95-'98)

  • '96 and '97 contain numerous homages to the other hot property at the time, Neon Genesis Evangelion.
  • Iori's winquote against Chin in the English console localization of XIII seems to be a shout out to Botchamania of all things.
    Iori: "Everyone talks too much... at least die quietly."
    • Due to his moveset revision in XII, fans called Iori an expy of Mark of the Wolves's Freeman. Ironically, when Freeman first made his debut, he was called an expy of Iori.
    • Here's one that comes from not Iori himself, but his theme music. In the OST and AST versions of "Arashi no Saxophone" in KOF '95, its rearrangement for the home port of XI, and the AST version of "Cool Jam ~ Arashi no Saxophone 3" in '97, a female voice can be heard reciting, "221B Baker Street", the address of Sherlock Holmes. Curiously, the OST version of "Tsuchi o Hau Bass", the theme of the Women Fighters Team in '95, also features this voice clip.
  • Shermie is based off of Fujiko Mine from Lupin III. Given her flirtatious tendencies and her "assets," it's not hard to see the similarities.
    • Her Diamond Bust is an obvious play on the Diamond Dust, a flipping stunner invented by Japanese wrestler Masato Tanaka.
  • Leona's Rebel Spark Desperation Move is frame-for-frame identical to Kamen Rider Black RX's Revolcrash, except that Leona uses her bare hand instead of a Laser Blade.
    • Her V-Slasher is based on Voltes V's V-no-Jigiri. Again, she uses her bare hand instead of a sword.
    • And her jumping CD attack is Kamen Rider Black's Rider Kick; she even has a red energy aura around her feet during the move.
  • According to Word of God, Chizuru's design was inspired by Yoko Shiraki from Ashita no Joe. Both are long-and-dark-haired high-class young women who either help handle or handle directly venues related to fighting: Yoko sponsors a boxing gym with her grandfather, Chizuru organized the KOF tournament more than once.
  • Kyo's girlfriend Yuki is named after Japanese actress and ex Idol Singer Yuki Uchida. She's also the same celebrity that inspired none other than Heero Yuy.
  • Geese Howard seems to resemble King, the Final Boss of The Super Spy, something made a bit more obvious with the intro to Fatal Fury 3. He also looks like the Aussie from Jean-Claude Van Damme's Bloodsport.
  • Boyish, almost feminine looks? Super Speed? A deceptively cheerful personality? Chris is the second coming of Sojiro Seta.
  • Blue Mary was visually inspired by Android 18. She even had the Forehead of Doom in her debut; her head was shifted to more reasonable proportions by the time she entered KOF.
  • Mature appears to have been partially modeled in the likeness of Marilyn Monroe, even having a signature win pose heavily reminiscent of the Marilyn Maneuver.

Characters and stuff introduced in The NESTS Chronicles ('99-2002)

  • K9999 is pretty much Tetsuo with some Kusanagi DNA thrown in. He goes as far has having the same seiyuu, Nozomu Sasaki. This came full circle at a point, when Tetsuo's rival was Kusanagi, voiced by Kaneda's seiyuu, followed by them yelling at each other in their shared intro. Bear in mind where the quotes for this intro came. He indeed seems to have gone too far, as in The King of Fighters 2002: Unlimited Match he has been replaced by a very similar character called "Nameless."
  • Western Shout-Outs also exist. For example, Angel uses the Rock Bottom and People's Elbow in 2002. One of her win quotes is "Can you taste The Angel's extraordinary skill?", a play on The Rock's "If you smell what The Rock is cooking!"
    • The names of all of her moves are song titles from left-wing Japanese band Soul Flower Union.
  • Maxima is both an homage to the main character of the SNK Beat 'em Up Robo Army and an expy of Hary Ness from the obscure fighting game The Fallen Angels, whom his character designer worked on before joining SNK.
  • Vanessa's Champion Puncher DM is a flurry of high-speed punches, followed by a Dempsey Roll, and ending with a blistering uppercut.
    • Vanessa in general can be considered something of an Expy of Rick Strowd from Real Bout Fatal Fury 2. Not only are they both boxers, but in 2002 she gains a few of Rick's moves, namely his Hellion special and Gaia Gear DM. And as a bonus the name "Gaia Gear" itself is a reference to the story of the same name by Yoshiyuki Tomino.
  • May Lee's "Hero Mode" turns her into Kamen Rider.
  • Clone Zero is a living shout out to Han the Rasho from the Shura saga. His infamous Zero Fart special resembles a method of how Han dispatched a mook in the series. Some of his other special moves are named after techniques used by the Shura Generals in Fist of the North Star.
  • K''s Chain Drive DM may very well be influenced by this particular scene note  from a 1998 Marc Dacascos film coincidentally named Drive.
    • Similar to his buddy Maxima above, K' resembles Cool from The Fallen Angels/Daraku Tenshi. His "Another" striker in 2000 (his prototype design, often theorized to be what K' looked like before he had Kusanagi DNA implanted into his body) makes the comparison more apparent, with the two sharing reference poses.
    • His HSDM in 2002(UM)? (The) Crimson Star Road.
    • Although not a Bruce Lee Clone, one of K''s command normals (also shared with Kula) is the iconic one-inch punch. His Minute Spike could be seen as analogous to Bruce Lee's equally-famous flying kicks, complete with a yell that was more of a higher-pitched Kiai in earlier games.
  • The animal motifs associated with Kula's caretakers/maternal figures Diana and Foxy are respectively the butterfly and the bee.
    • Foxy herself is a tribute to Cutey Honey, possessing a similar sword, fighting style, manner of dress, and even the ability to change clothes in a flash. Her bio even notes that Foxy owns a honey factory.
  • Another possible nod to K' and Maxima's origins comes from Whip's bio in '99, which lists "Angels, the fallen" as one of her dislikes.
  • The sequence in 2000's ending where Kula flies into space and destroys the Zero Cannon references Tetsuo Shima doing the same thing with SOL. In both instances, the Kill Sat in question manages to fire once and decimate the target area before the aforementioned character dismantles it, though Kula loses her Robot Buddy, not her right arm and the damage to Southtown is far more widespread than that of Neo-Tokyo.
  • Whether it was intentional or not, Igniz seems like an expy of Palpatine (minus his facial appearance). The similarities are especially enforced by the fact that the battle against him occurs on a space station... Oh and did we mention that NESTS has an army of clones at its disposal, a few years before it appeared as a plot element in another film?
  • Seth looks like Boman Delgado.

Characters and stuff introduced in The Tales of Ash (2003-XIII)

  • Compare this promotional poster for XII to that of promotional artwork for Street Fighter Alpha 3. Specifically, notice the positions of Terry/Ryo and Ryu/Cody.
  • Ash has an intro with Kyo in Maximum Impact Regulation A that directly mimics Orochi Chris' intro.
  • Bonne Jenet is a pirate, there's the Bonne, and stalks a main character (Rock Howard in Mark of the Wolves and the Maximum Impact series). Yep, she seems to be SNK's matured version of Tron Bonne.
  • Gai Tendo and Ryo have a special intro pose in XI. This is because in Buriki One, Gai's debut game, an older Ryo appeared under the moniker of Mr. Karate II, which is also referenced in a special piece of artwork viewable upon beating the game with a team consisting of Ryo/Gai/Silber.
  • Gai himself is a Captain Ersatz of famed Japanese MMA fighter and wrestler, Kazushi Sakuraba. See here.
  • When Billy Kane faces Saiki in XIII, he thinks his opponent looks like some kind of monster, and wonders what would happen if he could catch 'em all, even wondering if he'll be considered an Elite Trainer, too.
  • One of Raiden's DMs in XIII is named Crazy Train.
    • Speaking of Raiden, he's an Expy of Vader.
    • In XIII one of his unmasked outfits is a replica of Terryman's. He even has the stars on the shoulders.
    • Raiden's Neo MAX in XIII is a super powerful Axe Bomber, which was Hulk Hogan's Finishing Move in Japan.
  • Beat XIII in Arcade Mode with Elisabeth, Mai and King. You'll get an illustration with a blatant shout-out to Rose of Versailles.
  • Should Duo Lon find himself up against Mr. Karate in XIII, the Hizoku assassin coolly tells the karateka that he's not terrified in the slightest because he doesn't fear the reaper.
  • Malin shouts "MAXIMUM MALIN!" as she performs her aerial Queen Bee DM.

Characters and stuff introduced in other games (Maximum Impact, Neowave, etc.)

  • Rock Howard is a Captain Ersatz of Kaede. Lampshaded in Maximum Impact, where Kaede is his alternate costume.
  • Makoto Mizoguchi is an Expy of Momotaro Tsurugi, the protagonist of Sakigake!! Otokojuku.
  • Duke is a Shout-Out to Kazuya Mishima and Jin Kazama, specifically their Devil forms. You can give him devil wings and devil horns in Maximum Impact.
    • Duke's Swivel Gun special is a modified version of Rugal's Genocide Cutter, complete with the Audible Sharpness.
    • During his Volanic Bomb Level 3, Duke shouts, "Up, up, and away!"
  • Does anyone else get an Eddy Gordo vibe from Soiree Meira's "Another" outfit? If the colors were to be inverted, you even get the same color scheme as Eddy's default colors.
  • Fio's namesake, as well as that of her teddy bear, is taken from the anime 3000 Leagues in Search of Mother.
  • In Maximum Impact Regulation A, Hyena has a new super that originally belonged to Oswald. It's his Joker LDM where he pins you in the corner and throws 52 razor sharp cards at you.
  • Jivatma is one to Krizalid in Maximum Impact Regulation A. He has a new super move where he shoots his arms out with blades on them and repeatedly stabs the opponent in the air. It looks similar to Krizalid's Desperate Overdrive SDM.
  • Lilly Kane's "Another" costume is modeled after Billy's original outfit from Fatal Fury and KOF '95.
    • One of her color variations for her default outfit is that of Hotaru Futaba from Garou: Mark of the Wolves. She also has an outfit homaging Snow White.
  • One of Nagase's desperation attacks is based on one of Hanzo Hattori's special grabs. Doubly funny since Hanzo himself is unlockable (in fact, Nagase's moveset is heavily lifted from Hanzo's).
  • Xiao Lon is a rather blatant copy of Hsien-Ko/Lei-Lei in appearance and fighting style. Even developers acknowledged that she was based on a jiang-shi.

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