Wiki Headlines
We've switched servers and will be updating the old code over the next couple months, meaning that several things might break. Please report issues here.

main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Video Game: Dead or Alive

Get ready, fight!

A big, bouncy 3D Fighting Game franchise akin to Tekken and Virtua Fighter. Even though the male fighters outnumber the female fighters by a slim margin, it's the women who are the real stars of the show.

The actual story is about the dealings of the sinister DOATEC corporation, who hold the Dead or Alive tournament as a front to finance the genetic research in creating the ultimate fighter. A runaway ninja named Kasumi gets tangled in the struggle, using the tournament as a means of escape and to look for her lost brother Hayate, and take revenge on her traitorous uncle, Raidou. Other characters enter the tournament for their own personal reasons, but all get sucked into DOATEC's larger scheme. Ayane, who is also looking for Hayate, is required to kill her half-sister Kasumi (as desertion from a ninja clan is punishable by death); Ryu Hayabusa (remember him?) is looking for him as well; Hayate is trying to recover the memories he lost after being experimented on by DOATEC; Zack's just doing it for the money; and it builds steam from there. Later on, the story shifts towards Helena Douglas, the daughter of the original leader of DOATEC, Fame Douglas, and the current heiress to the DOATEC chair. She plays a key role in the scheme of the real villain, Victor Donovan, who secretly aspires to control DOATEC from the shadows.

Of course, nobody plays the game for that. They play the game for... well, another reason.

Despite the vast quantities of Jiggle Physics, the game actually has a great deal of independent merit of its own, being much more fast-paced and kinetic than the 3D fighters that it competes with while remaining technical and reasonably well-balanced. It's generally considered in the top-tier of 3D fighting games, along with Virtua Fighter, Tekken and the Soul series.

After the fights, they tend to get together and play beach volleyball.

The character sheet is under construction. As is the official page for Dead or Alive 5.

Though sometimes shortened to DOA, not at all to be confused with the Film Noir D.O.A. (which is quite lacking in mostly visible breasts in comparison). Additional things that this should not be confused with can be found on Main.Dead Or Alive. For the viewer's inconvenience, the 2006 film adaptation of the games is titled DOA: Dead or Alive, instead. Also, the franchise should never be confused with the '80s group of the same name, who performed the memelicious "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)".


Get ready, tropes!

  • Action Girl: Every female character, obviously. In-story, Kasumi, Ayane, Christie and Helena are the predominant ones. Gameplay-wise, Tina is also one of the most successful females.
  • Advertising Campaigns: The beloved/infamous "She kicks high." commercial for Dead or Alive 3.
    (Scene: Two Gamers on a Couch.)
    Gamer 1: (nervous, interrupted by gameplay footage) Well, I - I only play it for the fighting. I appreciate the expansive... multi-tier environments, the 16 characters with the... the pixel shaded bump-mapping... (Gamer 2 giggles.) and the rich plot development. Seriously, why else would I play it? (Beat)
    Gamer 2: She kicks high.
    (Scene of Kasumi high-kicking an opponent.)
  • All Just a Dream: Kasumi's Dead or Alive 4 ending.
  • All There in the Manual: The PlayStation version of the original Dead or Alive contained nothing resembling a story. Not in the game, anyway. The backstory is told through rather tiny text written on the outer edges of the pages over the course of the entire instruction manual insert in the jewel case.
  • Amazing Technicolor Battlefield: vs. Omega/Genra.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: In the story mode for Dimensions, the first four chapters go over the events of the series from the point of view of the ninja characters. The fifth and final chapter re-tells the events from the second game on from Helena's perspective.
  • Anime Chinese Girl: Lei Fang.
  • Anti-Hero: Ayane and Bayman.
  • Armor-Piercing Slap: In Dimensions, we see 4 examples of this in the Chronicle mode cinematics. Considering this is a fighting game, the way the victims recoil in response looks kind of weird.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Jann Lee.
  • Art Evolution: In every game thanks to improving hardware, but Dead or Alive 5 takes the cake for now: special mention goes to the female characters, whose new designs look much less generic anime, with smaller eyes and less fanservice-y bodies, or maybe fanservice-y in a different way.
  • Artistic Age: Exploited; the localized games refuses to give away the ages of the characters who were minors: Kasumi, Ayane, Kokoro and Eliot. For the girls, this was due to the fact that they're exploited to extreme cases of Ms. Fanservice by wearing revealing to downright fetish clothing, and due to Values Dissonance in the West, it wouldn't stick well for 16-17 year olds to be seen this way. Done away with in 5, which explicitly takes place two years after Dead or Alive 4, so everyone is now 18 or older (although the game doesn't state the ages of the characters anymore). See the character pages for details.
    • In an interview, Tomonobu Itagaki explained that, while in the West it's seen acceptable in media to sexualize women from 18-20 years old, in Japan it's acceptable from 16-18 years old. However, for a lot of people, that explanation didn't cut it. For some, it made things even worse.
  • Badass Back: Ayane has a whole set of moves based on this, Kokoro has this as well.
    • Brad Wong also has quite a few backward attacks as well. Then again, it's all part of the Drunken Master style of fighting.
  • Badass Grandpa: Gen Fu.
  • Badass Normal: Regular old teenagers who fight for fun can hold their own against ninjas, mystical superpowered beings and a genetically altered interdimensional clone of one of aforementioned ninjas.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Both played straight and averted with the female fighters, depending on the game.
  • Battle Butler: Christie, to Helena in 3.
  • Battle in the Rain
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Played straight in the first four titles, but averted in Dead or Alive 5, where everyone becomes relatively dirty and grimy by the time the fight's over and stays that way for the rest of the match; of course, the player can turn that detail off in the options.
  • Between My Legs: Christie's ending in Dead or Alive 4.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Gen Fu is really a sweet old man. But if you cross him, watch out.
    • The same goes for Kasumi, Kokoro and Eliot.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Zack in Helena's Dead or Alive 4 ending.
    • Ryu in Dimensions during Kasumi vs. Kasumi Alpha and Ayane & Hayate vs. Omega.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Characters give and take some pretty severe beatings with nothing to show for it. Unsurprising, given the aim.
  • Boobs of Steel: Even by Dead or Alive standards, Tina's boobs are huge and she's also physically the strongest girl in the game.
    • DOA 5 Ultimate gives us Rachel, who's not only strong canon-wise, but is also arguably one of the best characters in the game.
  • Boss Rush: Arcade course 6 in Dimensions plays like one of these, culminating with a battle against a Secret Character on a Secret Stage.
  • Bowdlerization: In Dimensions, Ayame's flashback to being raped by Raidou doesn't have the sideboob shot that originally appeared in the Dead or Alive 2: Ultimate intro movie.
  • Brainwashed: Ein, who after being dumped by the villains is revealed to be Hayate, Kasumi's brother and Ayane's half-brother.
    • Genra in Dead or Alive 3. Though Dimensions revealed he was just evil.
    • Ayane in Dimensions.
  • Brawn Hilda: Spartan-458.
  • Breakout Character: Ryu Hayabusa, who at the time of the original Dead or Alive, was a mere classic character that hadn't been seen for years; simply put, a Guest Fighter for old timers. Come the revival of the Ninja Gaiden series in 2004, Ryu's popularity soared. This success would be passed (or give it back) to Dead or Alive itself. Now, Ryu is heavily integrated to the plot, to the point of arguably being a main character himself.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: For a given value of victory. Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 has you unlock clothing for the girls while you play it which serves no other function in order to make the already fanservicy sandbox-game more fanservicy. Too lazy to work for your fap? You can buy a girl's complete set using real-world money. Oh, and all of this only lasts until you reset the game's save slot, of which it only has one. So restarting the game on that particular account meant having blown your cash for nothing.
  • Bruce Lee Clone: Jann Lee.
    • Considering Jann is an Ascended Fanboy of Lee, it makes perfect sense.
    • Dead or Aive 5: Ultimate adds up another that doesn't look like Bruce Lee: Jacky Bryant from Virtua Fighter.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Hitomi is Japanese with a German father; Kokoro is the child of DOA sponsor Fame Douglas and a Japanese geisha.
  • Cain and Abel: Ayane and Kasumi.
  • Canon Immigrant:
    • Spartan-458, who was somehow allowed into the Dead or Alive and Halo canon via Applied Phlebotinum Time Travel. Also notable as she was not only the first female Spartan to be depicted in a video game, but the first Spartan ever seen on the Xbox 360 (Halo 3 was released a year later).
    • Rio of Rio -Rainbow Gate!- was added to Dead or Alive Paradise as both a dealer in the casino and a unlockable character. She originated as the mascot of the Super Blackjack series of Pachi-slo games (a slot machine designed to bypass Japanese laws against gambling). Also, Tecmo co-developed the Super Blackjack series with pachi-slo maker Net.
    • Irene Lew from Ninja Gaiden finally made her long awaited, but sadly non-playable, appearance in 'Dimensions'.
    • Similar to Ryu's crossover, Momiji from Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword and Rachel from Ninja Gaiden enter the fray with Dead or Alive 5: Ultimate as canonical characters.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Pretty much the entire cast seeing as how they can take on Ninja Gaiden tier super ninjas. Jann Lee gets special mention for punching out a T-Rex onscreen.
  • Cherry Blossoms: Kasumi's motif.
  • Chick Magnet: Zack, who buys an island that sets the tone for the Xtreme side-series. Why does he do it? Because he can.
  • Combos
  • Comic-Book Time: For the first four games. As of 5, the cast has all officially aged two years.
  • Confusion Fu: Brad Wong.
  • Contract on the Hitman: Kasumi; from the third game onward, Bayman.
  • Continuity Snarl: Ryu Hayubusa's timeline in regards to the NES games, making it unclear when they happened and what his exact relationship with Irene Lew is.
  • Counter Attack: If it's not the copious fanservice, this is what the series is most well known for. The game places heavy emphasis in attack interception and reversing an opponent's offense.
  • Cute Bruiser: Most of the females use Waif-Fu except for Tina Armstrong who is pro wrestler, Hitomi who uses karate and Mila who is a MMA fighter that looks and fights just like real life cute bruiser Gina Carano and the aggressive Rachel.
  • Dark Is Not Evil/Light Is Not Good: Mainly the ninjas cast of character(the good ones) especially in Dead or Alive 5 while the bad guys Victor Donovan and Christie are dressed in white and Kasumi, Ayane, Hayate and Hayabusa are all dressed in black.
  • Dating Sim: The Xtreme games are easily the best-known Dating Sim to the non-Japanese gaming market (and most people don't even know that's what they are).
  • Demoted to Extra: The "Chronicle" mode in Dimensions manages to include every major fighter from the entire series, but many characters only appear in one or two scenes. Some of the females have even been demoted to little more than Ms. Fanservice.
  • Dirty Old Man: The player can do this by putting their age up to the maximum to increases the Jiggle Physics. Also Brad Wong in-story.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Lei Fang to an unlucky(?) old man in her Dead or Alive 4 ending.
  • Drunken Master: Brad Wong.
  • Eagleland: Tina and Bass (a mixture of both types). Possibly Probably Zack too.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The original Dead or Alive featured ring outs and limited 3D movement. The edge of the ring would explode if you landed on it but otherwise the game was a very different beast from what followed. The rest of the series takes place in very real world-esque environments full of obstacles and uneven surfaces. There are walls and you can be knocked off of areas into lower areas (so no ring outs).
  • Earn Your Fun: Dead or Alive 5 challenges the hardcore among the hardcore players if they want to unlock 3 extremely skimpy swimsuits for Tina, Christie and Lisa; the game features a whopping total of 8 levels of difficulty: Rookie, Easy, Normal, Hard, Champ, True Fighter, Master and Legend, with the last three being unlocked after the preceding difficulty is beaten; rest assured that your average player canít go through Hard without losing continues, if you want those rare swimsuits you must mow through Legend (4 difficulties beyond Hard) without losing a single continue on Arcade for Tinaís, Time Attack for Christieís and on Survival for Lisaís. Simply put, itís a nightmare to get these pieces of clothing for the girls. The computer on Legend is on an whole new level of reading and countering any attack the player tries to connect. Just beating this mode is a chore, but beating it without losing continues is absurd, and thatís not enough. Even though the task on Arcade and Time Attack is already beyond insane to complete, at the end of the day is just 8 Stages each. On Survival though, itís 100 Stages. So yeah, even some of the most hardcore players stop at Tina and Christieís swimsuits.
    • Luckily it can be avoided by playing 200 online matches.
  • Even Bad Girls Love Their Adopted Fathers: Ayane; see Manly Tears below.
    • She also shows a more tender and emotional side around her mother in Dimensions.
  • Excuse Plot: Xtreme Beach Volleyball.
  • Expy: Bass and Zack are clearly based on Hulk Hogan and Dennis Rodman, respectively. Why a basketball player is the basis for a character in a fighting game is a good question, until you remember that Rodman was a professional wrestler for a brief period.
  • Fanservice: "She kicks high", indeed. The only female character who avoids this is Nicole, the Distaff Counterpart of Halo's Master Chief. She still has a smoking hot body under the power armour, since her measurements are B49" W30" H41".
  • Fanservice Pack: Irene Lew (confirmed to be Sonia from NG2 in Dimensions sure has changed compared to her rather plain original design; now she's a Miss Universe like every other woman Team Ninja has ever modeled in 3D.
  • The Faceless: Miyako, Kokoro's mother. It's averted in Dead or Alive 5's story mode.
    • Victor Donovan in Dimensions. The only time the camera focuses on the front of his face is when he puts on Omega's mask.
  • Free Floor Fighting: Quite a few arenas have sections where you can knock your opponent into another area, like off balconies, down stairwells, or through walls.
  • Friendly, Playful Dolphin: Helena swims with a dolphin in her ending cinematic from the third game.
  • Gaiden Game: The two Xtreme Beach Volleyball games dispense entirely with the male combatants and put the women on an island with volleyball nets and the skimpiest bikinis known to man. The Dead or Alive series itself qualifies as this for the newer Ninja Gaiden series.
  • Gainaxing: Dead or Alive's shtick since the first game, but in Dead or Alive Xtreme 2, each breast has its own physics, meaning both can jiggle independently. It look as ridiculous as it sounds. Taken one step further in Dead or Alive 5 when you can invoke this trait.
  • Genre Shift: In Xtreme Beach Volleyball; guess what they do instead of fighting...
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: Ryu impersonates Mr. Noah in Dimensions and delivers a backhand slap to Kasumi in an attempt to stop her from searching for Hayate.
    • Also Hayate while being offended by some of Ayane's accusations toward Kasumi.
  • Giant Waist Ribbon: Ayane, a.k.a. "The Giftwrapped Ninja".
  • Good Is Not Soft: Kasumi. Nicest character in the series? Check. Lethal fighting skills? Check. Seeks to kill Raidou after he attacked her brother? Oh check.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: Again, Xtreme Beach Volleyball: they love playing with their enemies. It's even possible for you to play as Christie and get Helena to be your volleyball partner if you give her enough dolphin-related merchandise, completely ignoring the fact that you killed her mother (although to be fair, Xtreme Beach Volleyball was before Dead or Alive 4, which is where Helena learned that information).
    • Though Xtreme 2 takes place after the reveal in Dead or Alive 4.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Fairly mild variation. If the player, as Ayane, beats Kasumi in Dead or Alive 2's story mode, she either leaves Kasumi for dead in the snow (the camera just focusing on Ayane as she glares down before muttering "...traitor") or finishes her off with a jutsu of some description, cutting away just as Ayane finishes "casting" it. Either way, you never see a corpse.
    • Zigzaged by Hayate's ending in Dead or Alive 4. It opens with him violently slicing a mook in half. However, for the rest of the scene, the Jitter Cam is so intense that you can't really see much more than a few splashes of blood.
  • Grapple Move: Every character had a front throw and a crouching throw, a back throw and back crouching throw. Some characters had chain throws. There are also wall throws and environmental throws.
  • Gratuitous English: In the first Xtreme game, Japanese is the only language available (save for Zack). Most of the time, the girls speak in Japanese (despite their nationality), but during matches you can hear them say random English phrases like "Nice spike!", "Nice serve!", and "Nice block!"
  • Guest Fighter: Nicole, a female Spartan soldier, is playable in Dead or Alive 4 and Virtua Fighters Akira Yuki, Pai Chan, and Sarah Bryant joined the fray in 5. 5: Ultimate then adds up Sarah's brother, Jacky Bryant.
  • Heroic Bastard: Ayane eventually fits this, as she's the product of the first game's Raidou raping the mother of Hayate and Kasumi. She's a female bastard, by the way, because her sister killed Raidou.
  • Highly-Visible Ninja: All four of them. Hayate frankly admits to Hitomi that he and Ayane are shinobi in Dimensions and the pair also have a lengthy conversation/sparring session with Gen Fu and Eliot in the following scene, wearing full ninja gear. They apparently have no care for surreptitiousness whilst in public.
  • Home Version Soundtrack Replacement: While Aerosmith songs were used as themes for Dead or Alive 3, 2: Ultimate and 4, their FMVs that were re-purposed as cutscenes in Dimensions replace the songs with completely different instrumental pieces.
  • Husky Russkie: Bayman.
  • Identity Amnesia: Ein (who is really Hayate) in 2 and Rig in 5.
  • Instant Awesome, Just Add Ninja: Kasumi? Ayane? Ryu? Hayate? Hell yeah this fits.
    • The developer is called Team Ninja, what'd you expect???
  • Intercontinuity Crossover: Nicole's story in Dead or Alive 4 suggests that the Halo series (or at least its semi-canon I Love Bees incarnation) occurs in Dead or Alive's far future.
    • Ryu Hayabusa, the star of original NES Ninja Gaiden games, exists in the Dead or Alive world. Ayane, a ninja who first appeared in the original Dead or Alive, returns the favor by appearing in Team Ninja's Ninja Gaiden games, which established that the Ninja Gaiden continuity is shared with Dead or Alive's. She's soon followed by Kasumi, and the characters who first appeared in Team Ninja's Ninja Gaiden games (Rachel and Momiji) crossed over into the Dead or Alive universe in DOA 5. Finally, Irene Lew, Ryu's Love Interest from the NES trilogy, was fully established in Dimensions to exist in both Team Ninja's Ninja Gaiden (where she was under the alias "Sonia") and Dead or Alive as well.
    • A trailer for Dimensions seems to suggest that the Metroid games possibly take place in the same universe as well, thus making Haloid's existence Hilarious in Hindsight.
    • DOA5 carries on the tradition with Virtua Fighter characters Akira Yuki, Sarah Bryant and Pai Chan.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Ayane appears ready to commit suicide, preparing to plunge a kunai into her throat while believing that Hayate hates her until her mother walks in on her. Helena also in 4; luckily Zack saves her.
  • Jiggle Physics: Not only is the series sold on it, but the series takes the ball, and runs with it. While the fighting game genre has plenty of examples of large breasts, this series is often deemed the queen of Hotter and Sexier in fighting games. The Xtreme Beach Volleyball series helps.
    • Not to mention the fact that original Dead or Alive was the first 3D game ever to have jiggle physics.
    • Dead or Alive 5 Plus for the PlayStation Vita takes this to ridiculous levels with its new "Touch Play" feature: if your own character is female, after winning a game and your character does her winpose, flicking the screen will jiggle her breasts, a feature somewhat similar to that of Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2.
    • And now Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate for the Playstation3 directly takes after Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 once you activate the "OMG" option in the "Breast Motion" settings. While in-game after selecting any female character, just jiggle the controller and gaze at the results.
  • Lady of War: Helena, Lei Fang and Kokoro.
  • Large Ham: Tengu.
    • Special mention towards Bass, too. "YOU BETTER EAT! EAT SOME MEAT!"
    • Zack, of course.
    • Tina as well.
    • Akira, he gets special sound effects and camera angles to emphasize his hamminess.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Literally in Dead or Alive Xtreme 2. You have to get 9 Jackpots to earn a Secret Ticket, which makes your character perform a poledance. The problem is, the machine you have to get the 9 Jackpots on is notorious for taking away anywhere between 100-500 times what you bet.
  • Made of Iron: Everyone. Thrown down some steps? Knocked off a multi-story building or a hundred meters tall mountain? Blown up? Meh, just keep on fighting like nothing happened. Even by fighting game standards, some of the damage the fighters can sustain is ridiculous. It's even more absurd in 5. Run over by a tiger? Hit head-on by a derailed train? Rocket to the face? No problem. Been sent flying towards a chopper? Guess which one goes down?
  • Manly Tears: Ayane's Dead or Alive 3 ending.
  • Martial Arts and Crafts: Downplayed in that everyone practises a real style with realistic possibilities and limits. Turned on its head in that everyone is Made of Iron. The only exagerations that are noticable are the Ninja styles (of course).
  • Meaningful Name: Dead or Alive is so named as it was an All or Nothing effort to get Tecmo out of the red, similar to another video game series.
  • Mega Corp.: The Dead or Alive Tournament Executive Committee, or "DOATEC". They have their hands in a variety of over-the-table industries like weapon development but the corrupt command of Victor Donovan pushes them into more unethical areas, such as bio-engineering.
  • Mistaken for Murderer: Helena is convinced that Ayane was the assassin that killed her mother, but it later turns out that Christie did it, and she was sent to kill Helena, as well.
  • Mistaken Identity: The end of the E3 2012 trailer for Dead or Alive 5 has Zack praising Tina, who is practicing blows on a punching bag only to get put into a headlock by the real Tina. The "Tina" he was talking to is revealed to be Sarah Bryant. The same event also happens in Dead or Alive 5's Story Mode when Sara is introduced.
  • Mood Whiplash: Anything having to do with Zack. This is especially true with his ending in Dead or Alive 3, which was out-and-out slapstick. Dimensions has him coming in as comic relief at times in the more serious and ninja-focused Chronicle mode.
  • Moral Myopia: The whole situation with Kasumi and the Mugen Tenshin Clan has shades of this. Raidou had raped Kasumi's mother, stole the Torn Sky Blast, and broke Hayate's spine and put him in a coma, and the Mugen Tenshin decided not to bother going after him, whereas Kasumi decided to pursue Raidou herself because no one else would and is immediately branded a traitor and marked for death.
  • Moveset Clone: Bayman and Leon. Tengu and Nyotengu.
  • Ms. Fanservice: While any girl can fit this for individual taste, the series does seem to favor Kasumi in terms of fanservice. She and Christie are the only two characters to actually be seen fully nude in the series.
    • In-game, Tina would be the character that plays the part more straight. She behaves flirty all the time, her winposes are very sensual and has arguably the most provocative costumes in the game.
      • Also Christie and Lisa, particularly their special swimsuit. There a reason why is so hard to get.
    • Averted by Spartan-458. Though, she provided fans another kind of squee.
  • Mythology Gag: In Dimensions, Irene Lew, Ryu's Love Interest from the original NES trilogy, appears as his CIA contact during the story mode cutscenes. Hayate and Ayane both wonder if something is going on between them.
  • Ninja: A lot of the cast.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Zack = Dennis Rodman. Which became funnier when Rodman himself voiced Zack in Xtreme Beach Volleyball.
  • Not Just a Tournament: Fame Douglas envisioned the Dead or Alive World Combat Championship (the flagship operation of the Dead or Alive Tournament Executive Committee, hence its name) to be a mere tournament but with his death, the tournament became a proving ground for the malicious science of Victor Donovan's experiments.
  • Odd Friendship: Especially in tag matches, where characters who don't normally interact or have opposing goals get along fairly well. It's mildly surprising to see Bayman get along with folks like Bass and Zack. It's a bit more evident with the female characters, especially with Kasumi.
  • The Ojou: Helena.
  • Old Master: Gen Fu.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Christie is psychotically devoted to protecting Helena, so she can kill her herself.
  • Only Six Faces: Despite being the focus of the cast, the female characters have very identical facial and body structures. If it weren't for their varied hairstyles and eye colors, you wouldn't be able to tell them apart.
    • This got some attention in 5. Ayane, Kasumi, Hitomi and Christie, while as well endowed as ever, have distinct enough facial features.
  • Ornamental Weapon: None of the ninjas use their swords except in cutscenes. Averted with Omega and once you've fought him, you'll understand why other characters can't.
    • Bayman doesn't use his gun, knife, grenades or who knows what hidden weapons he keeps on him.
      • Justified as most fights in the series are part of a formal hand-to-hand tournament that most likely forbids the use of weapons.
    • Averted with Nicole, who uses plasma grenades.
  • Overlord Jr.: Rig.
  • Panty Fighter: Kasumi.
  • Perpetually Shiny Bodies
    • Averted in Dead or Alive 5 where the fighters sweat and get dirty, though this can be toggled in the options menu.
  • Parrot Expo What: This dialogue from Dimensions.
    Ayane: How could karate stand against the Hajin-mon sect of Mugen Tenshin?
    Hitomi: Hajin-in the what now?
  • Professional Wrestling: Tina, Bass, and Lisa/La Mariposa.
    • Mila is an MMA fighter.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: Meja's 1996 single "How Crazy Are You?" becomes the theme song to the Xtreme Beach Volleyball games. Also, B*witched's "If it Don't Fit" plays during the opening demos.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Kasumi and Ayane.
  • Relationship Values In the Dead or Alive Extreme games, giving the other girls presents will make them more likely to partner up with youÖ Provided you give them something they like. Some items, like all stripperiffic swimsuits, will make them less likely to partner up with you.
  • Revenue Enhancing Devices: Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate has new outfits pimped every week, pimped as in they are mainly fetish wear for the female fighters. To play the game at all requires constant updates and downloading all the costume catalogs for it to work regardless of whether or not any of the DLC is purchased.
  • The Rival: Ayane/Kasumi, Lei Fang/Jann Lee, Hayabusa/Hayate, Leon/Bayman.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Helena. She wants it because Ayane went on one to stop Helena from going after ninja, which resulted in her mother being killed. Kasumi willfully incurs the wrath of becoming a renegade shinobi by going on one of these after a fight between Raidou and Hayate.
    • Pretty much the plot of Dead or Alive 4 with the ninjas.
  • Rule of Cool: When the Dead or Alive 4 ending movies aren't shameless fanservice, they are this. Is there something cooler than blowing up a tower while playing an electric guitar on a skateboard?
    • Dead or Alive 5's gameplay in general is this. How else can you justify someone surviving from being launched off a building into traffic causing a massive explosion and then getting up unfazed?
  • Sequel Hook: Dimensions has one at the end of the Chronicle mode.
    • The ending of Dead or Alive 5 has this as well.
  • Set Swords to Stun: Everybody in this series should be dead.
    • Bayman is a particular offender, with his Sambo. Sambo is a Russian martial art that specifically targets joints, so whenever our favorite mercenary gets a hold of another character, they should be losing functionality in their limbs.
  • Shaped Like Itself: The English version for the second game featured Lei Fang saying "Good feels good!"
  • Shirtless Scene: Some of the male characters have costumes that are shirtless.
  • Shout-Out: In the opening, you could see a billboard that has the cast of Puella Magi Madoka Magica.
  • Smoke Out: Kasumi can do this with cherry blossom petals, Ayane with iris petals. Ryu smokes out with leaves, Hayate with raven feathers.
  • Some Dexterity Required: While a given for the fighting game genre, Hayabusa, Hayate, and the playable bosses in Dimensions posses combo throws that, while devastating (knocking off as much as a quarter of the health bar when pulled off), are done in sequences, requiring precise timing and inhuman precision with D-pad rolling.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: The female fighters in the series fit this to a T. They are featured so prominently throughout the main series and the male-less Xtreme spin-off that some people are surprised to learn that Dead or Alive actually has male characters.
  • SNK Boss: All of the final bosses appear to varying degrees, the worst being Kasumi Alpha-152 from Dead or Alive 4.
  • The Stinger: Victor Donovan is seen putting Omega's mask on his face after the credits of Chronicle mode in Dimensions.
    • The ending of Dead or Alive 5 reveals that Rig is Victor Donovan's son and together they had plotted the events of the story.
  • Stripperiffic: Again, just about every female other than Nicole, who you can really only tell is female by her voice.
  • Super Soldier: The entire plot is driven by Victor Donovan's plans to create super soldiers by capturing ninjas and cloning them against their will.
  • Tangled Family Tree: Dimensions reveals that Raidou was Shinden's brother, making Ayane both the half-sister and cousin of Kasumi and Hayate.
  • Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors: Later games introduced the use of the Triangle system, wherein normal attacks were beaten by Holds, which were then beaten by Throws which were then beaten by normal attacks. Countering an attack with its superior will lead to a Hi Counter that deals more damage and stun.
  • Take That: Itagaki, Team Ninja's former lead designer, really doesn't like the Tekken series.
  • There Are No Therapists: Ayane and Helena have both attempted suicide. And Helena has (or had) more than enough money to afford professional help.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Jann Lee's backstory. He spent his childhood as a weak, bullied kid that can only escape the harsh reality by watching Bruce Lee films. Then he became an Ascended Fanboy. And the rest is history.
    • Kasumi is a gameplay example of this in Dead or Alive 4. Her move set got a deep upgrade, making her faster, more agile and overall more powerful, but without making her cheap nor broken. In other words, she evolves from a Jack of All Stats to more of a Lightning Bruiser, like the rest of the ninja characters.
    • Elliot from his past appearances to DOA 5, where he goes from a pretty able but doubtful guy to a confident, stonger fighter who is about to learn the final stage of his training.
  • Tsundere: Following the trend of their Red Oni, Blue Oni personalities, Ayane is a Type A and Kasumi a Type B.
  • Uncle Tomfoolery: Zack in Dead or Alive 4. Taken Up to Eleven in his ending, to cringe-worthy levels.
  • Updated Re-release: Happened a few times with the series.
    • The original game was revamped as Dead or Alive++, which included the extra characters from the PlayStation version and altered some of the mechanics. The PlayStation version itself had improved graphics and more characters over the arcade and Saturn releases.
    • DOA2: Hardcore is the PlayStation 2 version of Dead or Alive 2, which among other things brought back Bayman.
    • Dead or Alive: Ultimate is a double-pack of the original Dead or Alive and an updated version of the sequel (though Dead or Alive 2: Ultimate is significantly different, changing some of the gameplay mechnaics and adding Hitomi from Dead or Alive 3 that it's more of a Video Game Remake than a simple re-release).
    • Dead or Alive 5: Ultimate is this for Dead or Alive 5. It features Canon Immigrant Momiji from Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword, Leon (who wasn't in Dead or Alive 5), Ein, and another guest fighter from the Virtua Fighter series, Jacky Bryant. It also includes a fair amount of Dead or Alive 5's DLC as well as completely new costumes (in addition to more, Ultimate exclusive DLC). A "final"(?) version of the game is also in the pipeline for a 2015 release, entitled "Last Round", featuring additional stages and balance adjustments (as well as the inclusion of all of Ultimate's downloadable content, including characters).
  • Waif-Fu:
    • Taken to an egregious extreme. All female characters are skinny and look like models, yet are capable of blowing fighters twice their size across the arena in a few punches.
    • Dead or Alive 4 adds Eliot a skinny teenage boy who can kick anyone's ass as well, though he does practice a specific form of martial arts popular for having a lot of physical power without requiring beefy muscles.
  • We Don't Suck Anymore: Tecmo's promotion for 5 had a general campaign for players to actually take it seriously, explaining the tagline "I'm a Fighter".
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Helena threatened to shoot Kasumi dead just because of she was in her way, or more likely so that more likely DOATEC could no longer use her to create another Alpha-152.
  • World of Buxom: A staple of the series, though this aspect was toned down notably in Dead or Alive 5. There is still boatloads of fanservice, but there appears to be a slightly larger, more realistic variety of breast sizes.
    • The arcade version of Dead Or Alive 5 Ultimate now adds Marie Rose, a girl with a small bust into the mix.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: The Xtreme side-series.

DandelionDating SimDream C Club
Daytona USASega SaturnDeep Fear
Daytona USAArcade GameDonPachi
Dawn of ManaUsefulNotes/Play Station 2 Dead to Rights
Daytona USASega DreamcastDensha De Go
Corpse PartyNo Dub for YouDeath Smiles
DarkstalkersUsefulNotes/Play StationDeception

alternative title(s): Dead Or Alive
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy