Friends, School and Demons* The three key points of the Persona games, according to Word Of God
Death is not a hunter unbeknownst to its prey. One is always aware that it lies in wait. Though life is merely a journey to the grave, it must not be undertaken without hope. Only then will a traveler's story live on, cherished by those who bid him farewell.
Persona 3 is a Playstation2 Atlus-developedJRPGSpinoff of their popular Shin Megami Tensei series.Every night when the clock strikes midnight, a phenomenon called the "The Dark Hour" occurs. During this "hidden" hour of the day, Time Stands Still and normal humans are transmogrified into coffin-like objects. What's more, evil creatures called Shadows appear to prey on the minds of humans, inflicting a zombie-like condition commonly known as Apathy Syndrome.You are a New Transfer Student moving to a new town to transfer into Gekkoukan High School. Soon after settling into your new dormitory, you are discovered to have "the potential": the ability to remain as a human within the Dark Hour, and to fight the Shadows with a mysterious inner-power called "Persona". Recruited into the Specialized Extracurricular Execution Squad (SEES), a secret student society dedicated to fighting the Shadows, you now have to balance your school life, your social life and your new demon-hunting life.The game is split into two main sections: "Day" and "Dark Hour". During the "Day" sections, your main goal is to attend school and build up friendships with the people around you, known as "Social Links". As the strength of your Social Links increases, so do the power of the Personas that you can use in the "Dark Hour" section. When not attending school you can do other things like seeing movies, hanging out at the arcade or even getting a part-time job, which all increase your Academic, Charm and Courage stats so you can improve your Social Links further.The "Dark Hour" section is a dungeon-crawling RPG with random-generated dungeons and a turn-based battle system. Your main goal is to advance up the floors of Tartarus, a mysterious Evil Tower of Ominousness that only appears during the Dark Hour and seems to hold the key to the mystery of the Shadows. The battle system itself is called "1 More!", a stripped-down version of the Press Turn system from Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne and Digital Devil Saga. If you hit the elemental weakness of an enemy, you knock it down and are immediately awarded an additional action. Furthermore, knocking down all the enemies in the group allows you to perform an "All-Out Attack", which hits every enemy for major damage. However, the enemies are also awarded additional actions for knocking you down.The game was critically acclaimed, its Updated RereleasePersona 3 FES, even more so, and the game is credited with more or less single-handedly bringing Shin Megami Tensei into (relative) mainstream success in the West at last. The game spawned several incarnations and side products due to its immense popularity:
Persona 3 Portable: A Visual Novel-esque Video Game Remake released on the PSP, which incorporated many of the gameplay improvements featured in Persona 4* (such as the ability to Guard and directly control your party members), includes five difficulty levels (including the Harder Than Hard "Maniac" difficulty) and the option to choose a female protagonist, which changes your Social Links, dialogue options and relationships with previous characters. It also includes a few call-forwards to Persona 4, but lacks the "The Answer" chapter featured in FES.
A manga that details some of the events of the game and gave the main character the name of Minato Arisato.
Persona 4 Arena - A sequel to both Persona 4, as the name suggests, and to 3. It is a fighting game that features Aigis, Mitsuru, Akihiko, Elizabeth, and Labrys two years after the events of the game, in addition to the cast of 4.
announced with The Stinger at the end of the Persona 4: The Animation ~ Factor of Hope, with a cameo appearance by the Protagonist. A site with a teaser can be found here. For added bonus, look on the site during a full moon. The first movie is due out sometime in 2013. Just like Persona 4: The Animation gave its main character Canon Name 'Yu Narukami', the movie gave this game's Protagonist the Canon Name 'Makoto Yuuki'.
This game provides examples of:
Absurdly Powerful Student Council: Mitsuru is capable of creating student profiles out of thin air, covering up crimes and she's shown bossing around teachers on some occasions. This makes some sense, as Mitsuru's the heir of the company that owns the school.
All in a Row: Your party members will follow you everywhere in dungeons, and can be ordered to split up and search the area. They can even enter battles on their own, which you're then able to join to provide support.
All Therapists Are Muggles: The cast frequently go into a twisted, bloody version of their school where they are in danger of being killed by their repressed feelings and fight monsters by shooting themselves in the head with guns that fire psychological trauma. But since no therapist would believe them about the Dark Hour, they’re on their own.
All There in the Manual - Want to know where Nyx comes from, and how Mitsuru's motorcycle and the Evokers work? All of that's found in the Persona 3 fanbooks.
The Antichrist: Takaya at the end of the game, leading to his several Fan Nicknames. His only desire is to have the world die with him.
Anti Antichrist: After spending the last 10 years stuck in the protagonist, Ryoji/Pharos learned about The Powerof Friendship, and thus didn't really want to be the harbinger the Apocalypse. Too bad he doesn't get a choice in the matter.
Anti-Frustration Features: The original version of Persona 3 had a few questionable and highly annoying features that were removed in FES and P3P, largely because they just weren't logical to begin with and served only to hamper the player. For one, the weapon shop would only be open in the afternoon, not the evenings, so when you went to the mall in the evenings (the only location you could go to in the evenings, in fact!) it would sit there, closed, taunting you. Viewing the Sunday television shopping program would eat up precious time you could be spending on a Social Link. The "tired" mechanic was also revised in P3P so that you only get tired the next day rather than in the middle of the dungeon.
Anti-Grinding: As a way to limit your grinding, your characters will eventually grow tired within Tartarus as you keep winning battles, thus their aim will worsen and they will get hit more often. This is a good point to call it a night, but for the persistent, their characters will eventually go from "Tired" to "Sick", at which point, not only will they have a higher chance of eating a Critical Hit, any healing cast on them is less effective. As soon as you return to the entrance, any tired characters leave automatically. However, the day right before a Full Moon Boss, as a way to stop the game from potentially becoming Unwinnable, this feature is removed, allowing you to train all you want. Well, excepting November. It was slightly changed in Persona 3 Portable. Characters will mention being tired between battles, and Fuuka or Mitsuru will comment about how you must be getting tired, but the actual 'Tired' status won't kick in until the next day.
Persona 3: FES removed the "infinite stamina" bonus, making level grinding even more difficult. Your allies are much less likely to become tired after the first few months, but if they're rendered unconscious and not revived, they'll return to the dorm as soon as you return to the entrance — taking all equipment with them. Before you learn spells to revive allies (in battle or in the field), this is hugely annoying. Enter fight, watch two of your allies go down, finish fight, revive allies, return to the first floor to refill HP and SP, and repeat — at least until you run out of revival items. Don't even think about using Balm of Life outside of a boss battle, especially if the antique store has yet to reopen.
Anyone Can Die: Shinjiro Aragaki, Shuji Ikutsuki, Takeharu Kirijo, Jin Shirato, Chidori Yoshino and the Main Character all die by the end of the game. Although if you do certain things right on certain days in FES and Portable, Chidori will come back to life (although this is proven non-canon by The Answer) and it's possible to save Shinji in P3P when playing as the female character.
Apocalypse Cult: Toward the end, a doomsday cult heralding the appearance of Nyx to bring death to the world appears. Though it only exists behind the scenes, it is led by none other than Takaya.
Apocalyptic Log: The Documents found at the Tartarus barriers, in which an initially unknown writer describes the circumstances that created Tartarus. (It turns out to be the antique shop owner) The video log left by Yukari's father is a more explicit version, although it was doctored and edited to manipulate SEES' motivations for slaying Shadows. Fuuka recovers the real thing later on.
Arbitrary Skepticism: Out of universe example: one member of staff said he didn't want to create Aigis because a robot like her didn't exist in the modern world.
Arc Words: "Thou art I. And I am thou" and "Memento Mori".
Armor Is Useless: Armor is best used for its additional effects (like resisting your weakness) than its defense because your Persona's endurance stats and elemental resistances play a much larger role.
Artificial Brilliance: The friendly AI will learn which special attacks do and do not work on enemies and change their tactics accordingly. They can also be programmed to follow certain tactics, such as focusing on an enemy's weakness to make All-Out attacks much easier to set up.
Artificial Stupidity: That said, there's still a few issues with your allies' AI. Persona 3 Portable lets you take direct control over allies, eliminating this problem.
Whoever is in charge of healing will usually wait until someone has lost at least 20 to 30 percent of their hit points before healing them rather than keeping everyone at perfect health all the time. This may or may not be Artificial Brilliance, however, as blowing 20-40 SP to restore 70 HP out of 400+ is inefficient.
That said, if a character is set to "Act Freely" they will always choose to heal critically damaged units rather than attack... even if the enemy has 1 HP left, your entire party may decide to ignore it in order to do some minor healing.
Another common issue is one where an offensive ally whose turn comes before the healer uses his turn healing or providing a support item to an ally... immediately before the healer's turn, thus not only wasting precious resources, but even more precious attack turns. Full Assault will stop your offensive leaders from healing, but the trade-off is that they have a tendency to knock down one of two identical enemies and rather than knock down the other, they'll hit the "down" one again, restoring its ability to attack. Thanks, Akihiko. Knock Down will sometimes stop them from handing the enemy an advantage, but not always.
And then there's Mitsuru's obsession with Useless Useful Spells, though this tends to show up most when the enemy either blocks or shows no particular weakness to ice. Even if it has no critical weakness, she'll still try Marin Karin over an ice attack, while everyone else is using a high-level elemental spell to inflict damage.
If you designate anyone as Heal/Support while the party is in good health, results are mixed: characters with status buffs and debuffs will tend to cast them (Koromaru and Akihiko take the hint quite well), while characters without those skills will waste a significant number of spirit points casting an elemental break spell. This goes up to eleven when they cast the break spell on an enemy that's already had its HP shredded and will be killed immediately after their turn. Mitsuru and Yukari are particularly problematic in this regard. Sometimes, the best option is to put the AI on Full Assault and play the group's healer, which at least ensures that someone will keep the party alive long enough to see victory. Keeping yourself and at least one offensive player alive is sometimes the only way to win a boss battle, as wasting your turn attacking (no matter how much damage you cause) will leave you open to death on the boss's next attack.
Despite having "seen" the effects of certain spells on enemies, your allies will never exploit weaknesses or avoid strengths unless an enemy is scanned. And even after an enemy is scanned, they may perform an attack that damages one enemy even if it heals others.
Asleep For Days: The main character's awakening to their Persona ability puts him/her out for a week.
Asleep In Class: You're given the option to fall asleep in class. Doing so will improve your Condition, thereby letting you fight better in Tartarus, but in exchange you miss out on the potential Academics boost.
As Long as There Is Evil: Erebus is the embodiment of the despair and hatred in the collective unconscious of humanity, meaning it can never be truly killed until humanity itself is enlightened (something one of the heroes eventually sets out to accomplish).
Awesome, but Impractical: Be wary of elemental magic spells described as inflicting "severe" damage. Although they do more damage than -dyne spells, it's only by about 30%, and despite being single-target spells they tend to cost more SP than the all-targeting Ma-dyne spells, making them woefully inefficient.
The Spell Master skill cuts the SP cost in half, however.
Awesome Yet Practical: The Lucifer(Helel in FES and Portable) and Satan Fusion spell, Armageddon (at least until it was made considerably less practical in the remakes).
Badass Crew: SEES is a group specifically formed to confront Shadows.
Bad Moon Rising / Lunacy / Weird Moon: Shadow activity outside Tartarus is connected to the waxing and waning of the Moon; specifically, the most plot-relevant enemy Shadows appear on nights with full moons. Also, certain Persona attacks are more effective on New and Full Moons. And after the battle with Nyx Avatar, the Moon itself opens up to reveal that, in the Dark Hour at least, the Moon IS Nyx.
Bag of Spilling: You know all those Infinity+1 Swords, rare armors, and useful artifacts you picked up during The Journey? All gone in The Answer. Along with character levels being reset to around 20. Lampshaded by Ken and Akihiko, who liken it to studying for a test and forgetting everything immediately afterward. The weapons are presumably being stored outside the mystically sealed dorms.
The level thing is sort of an excuse to level grind again; one could not use a character for over a month in the Journey and he or she would still retain the same skills.
Battle Couple: The Protagonists and a fellow SEES member, if romanced.
Beach Episode: The Yakushima Island vacation, where the heroes meet Aigis. Noteworthy for "Operation Babe Hunt," in which the three guys embark on a nearly disastrous mission to pick up girls on the beach.
Become a Real Girl: Aigis becomes much more human towards the end, sometimes dropping her monotonous voice, and even crying. If you look closely in the final cutscene, Aigis has a human neck, hands, and her headphone thingies aren't there anymore, which means she also has ears. This is symbolic, because in The Answer, she is still a robot.
BFS: Sword and Giant-type shadows have broadswords that are about 3 feet across and over 7 feet long. Nyx Avatar also carries a remarkably long blade.
Big Bad: Nyx, though she doesn't really want to destroy the world.
Bigger Bad: Erebus, from The Answer, who most definitely does.
Big Eater: Elizabeth, who wonders why you stop eating after your seventh meal. The main character becomes this in the manga. The Gourmet King also counts.
Also, in Junpei's social link in the female protagonist's route, there is at least one dialogue option that leads to him commenting that the female protagonist eats a lot.
In a more realistic way, the Sports Team Manager (Strength Arcana) social link eats a bit after practice, and is mocked rather cruelly by other (presumably jealous) girls. You have the option of telling her she's looks great for bonus points. or telling her to take a few off
Bilingual Bonus: The Shirt of Chivalry becomes one in the english version. The characters on the back of each character are fairly descriptive or ironic in Shinjiro's case. The main character's "honourable man", Blood Knight Akihiko's is "fight", Ken's is grudge, Junpei's is color, but more likely "dirty minded", and Shinjiro's is "life".
Also, "Kimi no Kioku", the ending theme song, which elaborates on the game's ending sequence and foreshadows Aigis and the rest of the team's emotional development during "The Answer"). Since there are no subtitles, it's up to the player to find out what the song's about. Of course, with a fanbase as detail-oriented as the Western SMT one, all this can lead to a little frustration toward Atlus.
Strega means "witch" in Italian. One could argue that the Dark Hour is the Witching Hour.
Bishōnen: The Main Character, Akihiko, Ryoji, Theodore
Bittersweet Ending: While the MC and the rest of SEES do eventually manage to save the world from well, itself, none of their efforts will go recognized since no one else remembers what happened. This is especially heart-breaking since the MC sacrificed his (or her) soul so that they could seal away Nyx until humanity comes to terms with its fear of death, which probably won't happen for awhile, if at all.
Other examples are Cielo Mist (Sierra Mist), SoBay (SoBe), and Mad Bull (Red Bull).
Blessed with Suck: Strega's artificially-granted Personas require them to take drugs that shorten their lifespan in order to control it. Particularly Takaya, since rather than using an Evoker, he summons his via doubling over and clutching his head.
Book Ends: The first few days of the game have Yukari and Mitsuru telling you to go to bed, stating you must be tired. Cue to the end of the game after you beat Nyx where the game beats you over the head with text boxes and characters saying you look exhausted and that you need to go to bed.
Bottomless Bladder: Averted. Going to the bathroom isn't necessary, strictly speaking, but doing so has a chance of giving you a better Condition.
Bonus Boss: The Grim Reaper and, if you start a New Game Plus, Elizabeth. In Persona 3 Portable, Theodore can replace Elizabeth depending on choices at the start of the game. Additionally, it opens an entire roomful of bonus bosses during the final month, presided over by Margaret from Persona 4; most of these are harder variations on the Full Moon bosses with vastly increased stats and other limiting conditions for each fight. Defeat all of those, and you fight Margaret herself.
Break the Cutie: Yukari has this happen to her at Yakushima Island, and the same thing happens to Mitsuru. Yukari's the one to eventually snap Mitsuru out of it, since she's already gone through something similar.
Broken Bridge: You can't progress past certain floors throughout Tartarus until the necessary plot-related events occur.
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: One teacher constantly compares his lessons to the Sengoku Era and wears a Samurai helmet while teaching (that helmet belonged to Date Masamune and he's an obvious fanboy of him). The whole faculty is like this, to some extent, from your cake-addicted homeroom teacher to the magic-practicing school nurse.
But Thou Must: Many of the choices (and the story itself, for that matter) run on this principle.
Inverted in a minor conversation with an unnamed NPC who wants you to pass on a Christmas present to one of your teammates. Your options in that case are "No", "I refuse", or "Absolutely not".
Also inverted during the full moon in July. You have to refuse to give in to the Lovers telling you to act on your desires in order to advance the story.
Calling Your Attacks: An interesting version: the protagonists (particularly the Main Character) will sometimes call the names of their Personas (i.e. Orpheus, Io, etc.) before Evoking them; the actual attack names (like Bufu or Bash) are never once called.
Captain Ersatz: Koromaru is based on Hachiko, protecting the shrine his former owner worked at even after said owner's death.
Great Seal takes it Up to Eleven by making you give up all of your HP, thereby killing the Main Character.
Censor Steam: Inverted. It helps keep the guys hidden during the hot springs incident.
Central Theme: Memento Mori, a Latin phrase meaning "remember you'll die some day," is a recurring theme that appears again and again throughout the story. Almost all of the main cast and no few supporting characters have had some kind of personal experience with death, often in the form of dead parents or family members. Shinjiro takes a bullet for Ken partway through the game to redeem himself for accidentally killing Ken's mother. Chidori uses her persona's power to "emit life" and gives Junpei her life to revive him from a gunshot wound to the chest. She dies in the process. And finally the Protagonist makes a Heroic Sacrifice at the end to prevent the world from ending.
Chainmail Bikini: Surprisingly present, considering the modern setting of the game. Early in the game, players can find a set of female-only armor called the High Cut Armor (renamed to Battle Panties in the PSP re-release). It consists of shoulder-length gloves, thigh-high boots and... not much else, yet it has a higher defense stat than most armor at the time you get it. The female protagonist, Mitsuru, and Yukari can equip it, though the latter two are very reluctant to do so. Male party members are visibly shaken when the female protagonist tries to talk to them while wearing it. If the male party member happens to be her lover, they will get angry at her for wearing that outfit in public (namely around the other party members).
Chick Magnet: Every female social link can fall in love with the Main Character, including a second grader, an MMO player (who's actually the Main Character's homeroom teacher, and has fallen for him in real life as well), and a robot (it's complicated). And then there's Elizabeth. Her husband's joking aside, the elderly married bookstore owner seems to be the only exception. Akihiko is a Chick Magnet as well, albeit an unwilling one.
Classical Mythology: Quite a few; some allusions are relevant to the characters, some not so much. The more significant examples follow:
The protagonist's Persona, Orpheus. The greatest poet and lyre player of his day, Orpheus descended into Tartarus (the land of the dead) to rescue his beloved wife Eurydice from death, playing music so beautiful that it even charmed Hades and Persephone. He is eventually killed for, among other things, preaching against human sacrifice. All that remained of him was his head, which floated down the river Lesbos. In the game, all but his head is prosthetic.
The protagonist's ultimate Persona, Messiah.
Junpei's Persona, Hermes. The god of thieves, his job was to conduct the dead to Tartarus. He invented the dice and was considered very easy-going and pleasant company. His ascended Persona is Trismegistus, meaning thrice-great, who was the Greeks' and Egyptians' attempt of combining cultures. In this case, by combining the messenger gods, Hermes and Thoth.
Akihiko's Persona, Polydeuces. Better known as Pollux, he was the twin brother of Castor, and loved boxing so much he had his hands removed and replaced with iron ones. (Don't give Akihiko any ideas) Polydeuces was also granted immortality, whilst Castor was fated for death.
Shinjiro's Persona, Castor. He preferred wrestling to boxing. Together the twins are better known as the constellation Gemini.
Which makes Akihiko's ultimate Persona, Caesar, a little jarring when one considers the events that cause Polydeuces to evolve.
Mitsuru's Persona, Artemisia. The goddess of the hunt, she rode through the night in a silver chariot. Though considered aloof and cold, she was actually the patron goddess of young lovers. She was also known for being ruthless to any man who dared stumble upon her as she bathed. Namely, the hunter Actaion was turned into a stag and then devoured by his own hunting dogs, and Siproites was turned into woman.
Aegis. A shield made of goat-skin that, once it had the head of Medusa attached to it, became a powerful weapon.
Additionally, Aigis' initial Persona, Palladion, is a statue of Pallas Athena stolen from Troy and taken to Rome. A "palladium" has also come to mean anything that provides protection or safety. Obviously, foreshadows her future Persona as well as her desire to always protect the protagonist. Plus, the goddess Metis was the mother of Athena. Considering that Aigis did not obtain Athena until after developing emotions, and Metis is basically all the emotions that Aigis cast away in The Answer, Metis, in a way, did give birth to Athena.
Ken's Persona, Nemesis. One of the fates' sisters, her sibling Tyche represented arbitrary fortune while Nemesis represented the opposite: absolute justice. And she's a daughter of Nyx and as such represents a desire of death,
Koromaru's Persona, Cerberus. A three-headed dog who guarded the entrance to Tartarus. Orpheus charmed him to enter the land of the dead.
Fuuka's Persona, Lucia, is inspired by Saint Lucy, the patron saint of the blind. Without Fuuka, SEES basically would be blindly wandering in Tartarus. However, Fuuka's ascended Persona, Juno fits the trope just fine, her name interpreted as "she who warns/protects".
Yukari's ascended Persona, Isis, is - among many other titles - known as "she who knows the orphan", "she who seeks justice for the poor people", "she who seeks shelter for the weak people", and "she who seeks the righteousness in her people". She has also been known to be a powerful healer and user of magic. Plus Isis went to ridiculously great lengths to resurrect her deceased husband, and those who have played the Answer will know what this means.
Yukari's initial Persona is Io, which also explains why her ascended Persona is the only one of the group (aside from Ken's) not to be from Classical Mythology. Io ran away to Egypt where she became known as Isis.
Nyx. The dark-robed goddess of night who changed her mood often, and the mother of Hypnos and Thanatos.
And Erebus, Nyx's brother. The personification of darkness a possible father of Thanatos and Hypnos, and the land of the dead where souls must pass immediately after dying.
Takaya's Persona, Hypnos, is the god of sleep and the son of Nyx. And, well, starting a cult entirely devoted to Nyx and advocating death, essentially the eternal sleep, as salvation makes this seem fitting enough. Hypnos is also considered to be the god of false death. Compare that to the protagonist's Thanatos, Hypno's brother and the god of true death.
Jin's Persona, Moros, is the spirit of doom, and, in a sense, depression. He was the force which drove a man to his fate, and was another son of Nyx. Jin orchestrated the rise of the cult which pushed people to welcome their deaths.
Chidori's Persona, Medea. She was a witch who helped betray her people and helped Jason steal the golden fleece. This hints at her powers to restore life and her High Heel Face Turn.
Color Motif: The game itself has a recurring dark blue motif, probably foreshadowing the nature of the ending.
The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Physical skills, while powerful, are of very limited use because they have a far lower hit rate than your weapons. However, when enemies use said skills they have a high chance of hitting and causing criticals. The same goes for Dodge and Evade skills, which the game puts to sadistic use in The Answer.
Speaking of The Answer, during the two-on-two coliseum battles late into the game, your party members will use skills they ordinarily have no access to. Most egregious with YukariTakeba, who uses Primal Force of all things, the strongest physical move in the game.
Continuity Nod: Quite a few to the previous games and Persona 4. Their presence would normally lead one to assume the games are in the same continuity, but some difficulties, such as the lack of demons in the later two games, has lead to no little confusion among the fanbase as to whether the some or all of the games are in the same continuity, in an Alternate Continuity, represent one or more reboots of the continuity, or are completely unrelated with similar concepts. However, according to this surprisingly obscure interview with Persona 4's staff, the games do all take place in the same world.
The Kirijo Group used to be part of the Nanjo Group from Persona 1 and 2.
Word Of God states the butterflies are Philemon, who is still around in 3, just taking more of an observer role.
Igor and the Velvet Room appear, Igor with an identical appearance to his other appearances and in the same role, and the Velvet Room is as always blue, although it's appearance changes from installment to installment.
Characters from Persona 1 and 2 are referred to on the television in the lounge.
There are many references to Persona 2 in the aptly named MMORPG Innocent Sin, mostly related to Maya and Tatsuya.
Characters and locations from Persona 4 cameo in Persona 3 Portable:
The power outage which cancels Rise's appearance at Escapade is discussed during the Hermit full moon mission.
Yukiko, Inaba, and the Amagi Inn appear in the female protagonist's story, and Chie is mentioned.
Kashiwagi, a teacher in Persona 4, appears in the male protagonist's story.
Conveniently an Orphan: Almost every single person in SEES is missing at least one parent with Fuuka as the only apparent exception. Makes living together in a dorm and fighting Shadows easier. It's partly justified, since in several cases (notably those of Ken and the protagonist) the loss of their parents is directly linked to the same Dark-Hour-related incidents and issues that get them involved in the plot.
Cut and Paste Environments: One of the few big complaints about the game is that the randomly-generated floors in Tartarus tend to get repetitive after a while.
Corrupt Corporate Executive: Tanaka, who's gleefully amoral about the shopping channel he runs. Initially comes into play with the Kirijo Group, though the truth turns out to be more complicated than that.
Custom Uniform: Only two of the main characters (the Protagonist and Aigis) wear a "straight" school uniform (and even then Aigis wears the winter uniform even during the summer). The rest tend to alter theirs by adding their own custom "accessories" and / or foregoing the uniform jacket.
Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: Tanaka's threats in his attempt to keep the Protagonist from revealing that he's bilked him out of money. Said threats range in severity from uploading the Protagonist's picture to a dating site for convicts to ringing his doorbell every night at midnight *
Not that he'd be able to, what with the Dark Hour happening exactly at the stroke of midnight and the fact that the Protagonist lives in a dormitory
Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: Mitsuru in her social link, when, in a minor Moment Of Awesome, royally chews the piss out of her would-be fiance for insulting the protagonist and expresses her desire to be with him. Unsurprisingly, she makes a run for it upon realizing what she just said.
Die or Fly: This is the idea behind the Evokers—even though they're not real guns and don't actually fire anything, the act of putting something nearly identical to a gun to one's head and pulling the trigger is visceral enough to trigger the fight-or-flight survival instinct that causes a Persona to manifest. In a specific example of this trope, at the beginning of the game, the main character awakens his Persona abilities after being attacked by the first Full Moon Shadow.
Disappears into Light: What happens to the character involved with the Sun social link. The movie buff outside Screen Shot Movie Theater
Disc One Nuke: A "Quad elemental" Lilim can easily be fused by level 8, able to last for many times what its strength suggests. A similar combination for a quad elemental pale rider also exists and is obtainable by the time Lilim is outdated.
Disney Villain Death: An inversion, invoked by the Kirijo Group to explain Takeharu Kirijo's murder. The movie buff outside the Screen Shot Movie Theater even lampshades the inversion.
Let us finish this! It is the path of your choosing!!
Does This Remind You of Anything?: Several of the Persona designs have this in play, but it's difficult to see the Tower Arcana Persona called Mara as anything but a penis on wheels. If you have this Persona as your main when you visit the Velvet Room, Elizabeth even seems to comment on how masculine it seems... Theodore, on the other hand, does not approve, protesting that it isn't ladylike.
And how can we forget the method of summoning Personas?
The command console recording of Fuuka and her vibrating waist slimmer. Mitsuru comes by her room, wanting to have a word with her, but changes her mind after hearing the vibrations and Fuuka's high-pitched voice from the other side of the door.
Yes! I'm, I'm, cooooming now!
The whole creepy child inside the protagonist thing takes a whole new meaning when you flip his gender.
The Dragon: Nyx Avatar AKA Ryoji Mochizuki AKA Pharos, though he's unaware of it at first.
Dying Moment of Awesome: Pretty much every death in the game. Mitsuru's father especially, since he dragged Ikutsuki down with him.
Dude Looks Like a Lady: One of the women encountered during Operation Babe Hunt remarks on the protagonist's androgynous looks.
Dummied Out: There are at least three cut scenes that were dubbed into English hidden in the sound files of the FES disc. The first is one of Ms. Toriumi discussing your abscene for a week and her concern for your academics, the second is Yukari coming into your room to give you study guides Ms. Toriumi made for you, and the third is one of Junpei teasing the MC and Yukari about "shackin' under the same roof" and hinting at a secret of his own (joining SEES). Moreover, among the clips of the MC (AND Aigis) calling out their Persona's name, there are ones for each of the other character's Personas - Io, Isis, etc. Even Psyche, despite Metis only being available in The Answer, in which the protagonist is dead. These clips could just be there to prevent the game from crashing if one hacked in a Persona normally unusable. There are several analysis quotes from Mitsuru that hint at a different scenario of the rescue Fuuka mission. "Let's continue searching for Fuuka!" and "The specified area is up ahead!". It would seem Mitsuru was originally able to provide full support when you wandered into Tartarus via the gym and you wouldn't get seperated. There are also some quotes used for the battle against the Shadow Protagonist in the Answer for characters commenting on him using their first Persona, ie Junpei saying "Hey, nobody copies my Hermes!", hinting at a possible reverting to their first Persona in The Answer.
Earn Your Happy Ending: After everything the protagonist and his True Companions went through, and all the sacrifices they made, they saved the world. In a Mega Ten game. Then in The Answer, it turned out that there was even hope for the protagonist.
Ken can be found talking with Yukari and Junpei by the temple several months before he gains any plot importance.
In the PSP version, some guy with a unique portrait randomly appears at Club Escapade on the epilogue day of the game and goes on about various problems he has before stating "But this has nothing to do with your situation." in bright red text. This is Vincent, star of the Atlus game Catherine, which was in production at the time of P3P's release.
Easter Egg: Barring the protagonist, make a team entirely of girls, entirely of guys (either Akihiko, Junpei, and Ken, or Akihiko, Shinjiro and Ken - other combinations don't work), entirely of 2nd year students (Junpei, Yukari and Aigis), or of the original SEES members (Mitsuru, Akihiko, and Shinjiro) and talk to one of them in Tartarus; the team members will comment on the current party composition.
Similarly, put Akihiko and Ken together in a party with a female protagonist who's become lovers with both of them. Hilarity Ensues, compounded further if the fourth party member is Junpei.
Also, equip Mara as your persona and enter the Velvet Room and Elizabeth or Theodore will make an... interesting comment.
Easy Mode Mockery: In the PSP remake, the descriptions of the difficulty levels have subtle shades of this. Easy mode is passive-aggressively described as being for people who don't have time for tactical combat, as if the game is offended that you aren't playing it seriously. And the description for Normal difficulty implies if you aren't playing on at least that level you aren't enjoying the game at all.
Every Girl Is Cuter with Hair Decs: The female MC. They're even symbolic: The MC is consistently equated with the "Fool" arcana, which is card #0 among the Major Arcana. However, it's also called card #22. Guess what roman numerals her hair decorations look like?
Possibly unintentional, but the hair decorations also coincide with Persona 3 Portable being released in Japan 22 years after the original MegaTen title.
Face of a Thug: Takeharu Kirijo is a grim looking guy with an eyepatch and clearly makes some people like Junpei uneasy, but he's actually a pretty good guy. The first thing we see him talk about is lecturing Mitsuru on not being forthcoming with the other members of SEES regarding Tartarus, telling her that nothing about the situation is her fault and urging her to be more open and friendly with the group in general. The next thing he does is give them a lot of exposition himself with special attention paid to Yukari since her father was a researcher for the company.
Fanservice: In FES, the player can dress the female characters in a variety of provocative outfits, such as a maid's costume or a swimsuit. Although the males (including the MC) can wear swimsuits as well.
In the PSP version of the game you can dress yourself in these outfits when playing as the female lead, and the male NPCs react accordingly.
The female lead's path in the PSP version also alters the love motel sequence, so that instead of Yukari, it's Akihiko. In a towel. Yes please. Or Junpei if you prefer. His reaction is hilarious.
Also, in P3P, you can dress the guys up in butler outfits.
Fantasy Gun Control: The hero asks why they have to be armed with things like bows and swords. The weapons supplier points out they already carry something that looks like a gun, and it would be a very bad idea to get the two confused. Or at least he does in the Let's Play.
Fate Worse Than Death: Mitsuru's "Execution", which, as revealed in the manga, is supposedly being frozen alive and conscious by her Persona.
Festival Episode: Has two: The Summer Festival on August and the New Year's Festival on January 1st.
Fetch Quest: Most of Elizabeth's requests fall under this category. She'll usually demand X number of some item found from specific enemies. And some of them require you to hunt down the game's Metal Slime.
Ms. Toriumi has a character portrait, yet she's not important to the plot. She's not even one of your social links. Or so it seems.
Averted with Mr. Edogawa, whose only important act is explaining each of the Arcana. He has no importance to the plot at all.
For Want of a Nail: The Playstation Portable version flirts with what would have happened had the main character been female instead of male. Of course, the only thing she manages to do differently is indirectly save Shinjiro's life. Even then, he doesn't rejoin because he's in a coma for the rest of the game.
Four is Death: October 4th is not a good day. Shinjiro accidentally killed Ken's mother on October 4th of 2007; on October 4th of 2009, Ken plans to kill Shinjiro in revenge, only for Shinjiro to take a bullet for him instead.
On November 4th, Ikutsuki reveals his intention to end the world, and kills Mitsuru's father, only to die himself.
Additionally, the Full Moon Shadows begin to appear starting in April, the fourth month of the year.
Four Temperament Ensemble: The female leads fit this: Yukari is sanguine, Mitsuru is choleric, Fuuka is phlegmatic, and Aigis is melancholy.
Functional Magic: The school nurse, while acting as a substitute teacher, actually teaches classes on magic throughout history, including defining the meanings of the tarot cards which correspond to the social links. The lessons are actually startlingly accurate.
Junpei, in an Unstoppable Rage, blasts Jin and Takaya off their feet with a burst of fire and is implied to have wounded them. When you actually fight Jin later, he's immune to fire.
Chidori's Healing Factor is repeatedly mentioned and is a factor in gampelay; however, other characters have Personas with healing magic and that healing magic is never used to actually heal anyone who could stand to use it (an early example is Akihiko's bruised rib which keeps him from joining your party until a month or two into the game).
Genius Bruiser: Once your Academics reach level 6, the protagonist officially becomes a "Genius". They're probably also the one dishing out the most damage in Tartarus.
Gratuitous Japanese: Bebe, the foreign exchange student who mixes this in with what seems to be a French accent. In the Japanese version, his speech uses a lot of katakana implying odd stressing as well as using odd, archaic pronouns (referring to himself as "sessha" and tagging "-dono" when referring to the protagonist).
Gratuitous Spanish: Yes, the game uses this one, too. In the English version at least, one of Shinjiro's ending-battle quotes comes across as this. It's rather Bad Ass, too.
And also, a Shout Out from Aigis as a battle quote after she returns from her encounter with Ryoji.
Groundhog Day Loop: The "Time Skips" of the new chapter "The Answer" in Persona 3: FES. Also one of the popular fandom interpretations of the New Game Plus mechanic.
Guide Dang It: Maxing out all social links in one go for Orpheus Telos. Made slightly easier and slightly harder for the female protagonist's route as more social links are available at night but she has many links which have a tiny frame to max out.
The female protagonist's few romantic social links can be difficult to turn in that direction, especially in comparison to the male protagonist's automatic romances. Though Shinjiro's is often cited because one would not usually spend time with a social link after raising it to maximum, Akihiko deserves a mention because he requires multiple flags, and a single mistake will keep them friends only. For even more fun, it's possible to completely break that social link altogether.
Not even getting into Ryoji's link. Anyone who played the original P3 or FES would realize that he only shows up for a month and thus would want to take the opportunity to spend time with him whenever possible, but woe unto someone who thinks that, oh, they have plenty of time. It is very easy to make his link impossible to finish if you don't take, and accept, every chance to hang out with him.
The optional battle with Elizabeth/Theodore is impossible to win without exactly the right set-up of Personas and equipment, with absolutely nothing to indicate the restrictions on Personas. If you break one of the unsaid rules, you will immediately be hit with a Megidolan that does 9999 damage — and the player character's health caps at 999. There is a pattern to the attacks, if you even make it far enough to pick it out, but that doesn't make things much easier.
The attribute doors (Power, Magic, Endurance, Speed, and Luck) in Vision Quest are varying degrees of frustrating, with Endurance and Speed as the worst offenders.
Completing the Compendium. That requires maxing out every Social Link in one go for Orpheus Telos and figuring out the combinations for certain Personas so you can fuse MORE Personas. Then there are the key items you need from Elizabeth's quests, which can be Guide Dang It in itself.
Social Links are largely this, as it fits standard Dating Sim mechanics, including choosing the best response to advance the link and avoid hurting feelings, as well as choosing whom to spend time with wisely to avoid jealousy and other unfortunate episodes.
Harder Than Hard: Maniac in Portable. Enemies do double damage, enemy advantage rates are boosted even further compared to Hard and any benefits from New Game+ are lost as you start from scratch.
Easier Than Easy: Beginner in the same version. In an Atlus game, of all places.
Hard Work Hardly Works: This is averted when it comes to increasing your character's non-combat statistics. Before exams, you'll need to have studied quite regularly to get the most out of it, and one of the characters even tells you that studying a bit each day rather than just cramming will go further.
Hellhound: Although Cerberus appears in nearly every game in the MegaTen family, this is one of the few games where he actually looks like his mythological namesake: a three-headed hound. Naturally, his elemental affinities are Dark and Fire.
Hello, Insert Name Here: Officially nameless protagonist needs a name to be referred to by the non-voiced dialogue!
How We Got Here: The FES epilogue The Answer begins with an unexplained but fierce battle between Akihiko and Aigis, while Metis and Ken are seen fighting in the background. Much of the subsequent game is Aigis recounting the events that led up to what she obliquely calls "the incident".
Hurricane of Puns: One of Ikutsuki's hobbies is apparently coming up with bad puns to use in future conversations.
I Call Him "Mister Happy": Female variant. The B and J on the Priestess boss' breasts stand for Boaz and Jachin, two pillars in the biblical temple of Solomon. However, the two are reversed. Boaz is supposed to be on the left and Jachin on the right.
Perhaps in response to the fandom's preference, Shinjiro is this for the Female Protagonist in the drama CD. The music that plays when he comes out is even the music that plays during the lovers portions of social links.
Infallible Babble: In the beginning of the game, while you're being told things like "Time never waits, it delivers all to the same end," you're also told that the main character has one year. Even if you did read it in the beginning, the meaning you get from it would be painfully different from what actually happens.
There's a First Episode Spoiler in that the full moon counter is visible in the corner of the screen from the very beginning, even before the full moon has any significance whatsoever.
It's also easy to get suspicious of the game being almost over when after you beat the last full moon Shadow you still don't have a maxed Fool link, which is independent of your actions.
On the other hand, the game goes out of its way to avert this by adding useless information to the interface in order to make it consistent. Fuuka and her Persona have a full set of battle stats even though she never enters battle. Similarly, Shinjiro's Persona has a full set of skills he can learn as he levels, even though he'll die before learning most of them unless the player goes out of their way to level-grind him during the month of September.
Another aversion comes in hiding the true length of the game by the amount of learned skills. For cast members, you might underestimate how far they'll meaningfully progress but you later unlock the second form of the characters' personas, which opens spells further than they would otherwise have learned.
Irony: The bad ending is basically your (former) party members discussing the future, eventually deciding to celebrate it with a karaoke session. They're all about to die, along with the rest of the world, and no one knows this. At all. And it's all your fault.
Japanese Holidays: One Full Moon Shadow battle occurs on Tanabata, with an appropriate theme. Also, there are "holiday episodes" on certain dates, notably the New Year Festival (featuring SEES) and the Summer Festival and Christmas Eve (during which you have the option of going out with the girl you have the highest Social Link with/guy you are romantic with or Yukari and Fuuka).
Last Disrespects: During Shinji's service, you overhear two upperclassmen complaining about how they don't want to waste time sitting through it, and that he was probably 'just some punk'. One then asks your hero if he happened to know the guy, then dismisses the possibility, as you're just a junior.
Lawful Stupid: Mr. Ekoda, the classic literature teacher with seniority in Gekkoukan High. He does what he believes is in the best interest of the school and his students, which includes covering up the disappearance of Fuuka caused by bullies to save the bullies' reputation, 'and suspending Saori because of a gossip magazine's false story about her being promiscuous, and nearly suspending the main character, just for being her (only) friend. Mitsuru's punishment for him of the former act, and Miss Ounishi and Toriumi, his two kohai, brushing him off to support Saori's Moment Of Awesome wholeheartedly were definitely well deserved.
Level Grinding: The whole point of Tartarus, lampshaded frequently. Unless you level grind, the Full Moon Shadows will kill you. A somewhat justifiable point of contention with this game is that the game pretty much has the Dating Sim phase and the Level Grinding phase.
Losing The Team Spirit: Following the Protagonist's death, the group broke up into factions and started fighting each other, setting up the story for the Answer.
Lost Forever: Certain personas need keys to be acessed. Unfortunately, you must complete Elizabeth's requests for these items. While going on date with Elizabeth seems like an easy request, forgetting to claim your reward by the deadline not only ensures that you will not get that key, but also ensures that you will not be able to complete anymore of the Elizabeth Date quests. Ouch. There goes your 100% completion.
The Female protagonist has quite a few of these concerning Social Links, resulting in some very Guide Dang It moments.
Love Hotels: One Boss Battle takes place inside one. Ironically enough, it takes place on July 7th, the date of the Tanabata festival. Non-ironically, it involves the battle against the Lovers arcana.
Love Hurts: As demonstrated by The Answer, where Aigis and Yukari are both plagued by painful memories of the protagonist.
Love Interests: Any or all of five different girls (seven in FES). The PSP enhanced port adds male love interests for the female protagonist.
Love Makes You Crazy: Yukari and Mitsuru's attempt to win the key and go back in time to see the Main Character again even if it might undo their victory over Nyx and doom the world.
MacGuffin Melee: The Answer has one point where all of the main party members are fighting each other over their individual pieces of the Key of Time.
The Magnificent: The most powerful Persona of each Arcana is named with an appropriately badass-sounding epithet when the player unlocks them by completing the appropriate Social Link.
Manual Leader AI Party: You can choose your party's style of attacks (offensive, healing, general) but not control their actions directly. Portable changed this so you can choose to allow your allies to be controlled by AI or control them directly. It's still the default in Persona 3 Portable but you can switch to manual control.
Marathon Boss: The final boss, which consists of 13 "forms" (or, more accurately, 13 distinct attack patterns pertaining to a particular Arcanum, each with its own HP bar) with no breaks. 14, if you count the very first (Fool), but it doesn't attack you while in that one.
Meaningful Name: The tower is called Tartarus. There are Shadows coming from it, which are formed from the darkness of a person's heart, and they all center around Tartarus. The Persona that the MC starts with is called Orpheus. The main cast finds a humanoid robot called Aegisnote which is Greek for shield somewhere in the middle of the game, and then meets Metisnote Greek for prudence and wisdom in the epilogue. Have you heard of this before?
Meido: Each of the female characters has a Meido outfit. Mitsuru in particular, wearing the maid outfit, is sheer Fetish Fuel, and the line she gives when you ask her to put it on is almost Moe.
Metal Slime: The "Wealth Hand," the "Treasure Hand," and various other gold-plated "Hand" Shadows. Occasionally you can find a floor made of nothing but these, though the Reaper's arrival is cut to a quarter on those floors.
Messianic Archetype: The main character. Just to hammer the point home, his ultimate Persona is actually called "Messiah".
Mini-Game: After certain battles, there's a 3-card Monte (involving two to five cards instead) style card game where you can "win" a new Persona, a new weapon, gold, extra experience, a free healing (either for yourself or the entire party), and/or a visit from Death.
Also, the above-mentioned Hot Springs Episode, although the outcome only affects some incidental dialog which occurs shortly thereafter.
Mistaken for Masturbating: One of the video recordings shows Fuuka using a stomach slimmer that goes into overdrive, tickling her uncontrollably. At that moment Mitsuru knocks on Fuuka's door to hear the her panting and hurriedly shout "I'm cooooooming now!", complete with the vibrating sound in the background.
Moment Killer: Happens to the protagonist and Yukari at Yakushima Island (courtesy of Junpei, of course...).
Mood Whiplash: A few of the social links plots (Hierophant, most school activated ones) are fairly light.
More Friends, More Benefits: The social link system, of course. The romantic part of it also applies since you have to date all the girls to clear them. They can get jealous and reverse if you're not careful about how you do it.
Multiple Demographic Appeal: A major reason for the game's breakout success. The strategic battle system, stat management and extensive customization features appealed to the usual Atlus audience of hardcore RPG enthusiasts, the art style and setting appealed to anime fans, and the social sim element appealed to female players (so much so that the PSP Enhanced Remake introduced a new female main character and respective campaign).
My Sister Is Off Limits: Played with during the ending in March. If Kenji's link is maxed out in FES, he'll mention his sister will be attending Gekkoukan during the next year, and initially has no issue with the idea of the protagonist dating her (in fact, he says it'll keep her too busy to bother him). As soon as he realizes he'd potentially be the MC's brother-in-law, however, he takes the offer back.
Mythology Gag: Innocent Sin Online (and the accompanying player names Maya and Tatsuya) is one big Shout Out to the characters of Persona 2 and the locations in Persona (and was originally a Shout Out to Megami Tensei, the game that started it all). Also, several fusions (particularly the ones that Elizabeth requests) are those of key characters from other MegaTen games; Alice and Lilith, for example, were important characters in Shin Megami Tensei.
Early in the game, Junpei comments that rumors can't become real, which was a major plot point in Persona 2.
The TV set in the lounge is sometimes tuned into "Trish's Who's Who!" which apparently interviews notable people in the area. Though their names are never given, judging from the descriptions, these include several characters from Persona and Persona 2, serving as something of an epilogue to those characters. Trish herself is a reference to a fairy in all three games, though is obviously not the same character.
The One-Woman Wail appearing in "Aria of Soul" and "The Battle for Every Man's Soul" is inherited from Persona and Persona 2, where the aria was sung by Igor's assistant Belladonna, and is likely being used in this game as a reference to Nyx's usual MegaTen appearance—an opera diva.
Also: "The Battle for Every Man's Soul" is a rock remix of the first half of the first Persona's version of theme. While it uses rock instruments, the rhythm is mostly the same (compare this to this).
In the Updated Rerelease that's Portable, there's a few references to Persona 4. One that won't be apparent to many is the fact that Ken's favorite food is the exact same one as his fellow Justice Arcana Nanako.
Hyponos, Nemesis and Thanatos were boss fights of the Snow Queen quest in the orginal Persona. Now they are Personas of Takaya, Ken and the Protagonist respectivly.
Also, Takaya's design is similar to that of Hyponos' boss form.
New Transfer Student: Happens three times, with the first being the main character himself. The homeroom teacher even lampshades this on the third occurrence.
Necessary Fail: On the Male Protagonist's route, regardless of your choice, at rank nine the Moon will inevitably reverse. This is rectified shortly thereafter, though.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Yeah... funny story, turns out the Full Moon Shadows you've been killing the whole game were actually the only thing keeping the personification of Death itself from descending upon the world and obliterating all life. Whoops?
Strega is another group that fits this trope. Although initially they're only out to stop the main character from eliminating the Dark Hour (and thus the power of Persona, which both the heroes and Strega possess), as the true nature of the Shadow threat is revealed, they embrace the Fall, even going so far as to set up their own Cult to help bring it about.
Nintendo Hard: Hard Mode, which augments the enemies, gives them a random chance to go first when they shouldn't, and makes it near impossible to run. With the vastly increased damage and elemental weakness system, it's entirely possible for a higher level party to die before they can move if they are ambushed. Doubly so for Persona 3: FES: The Answer, which not only is locked on the Hard difficulty setting, but in addition to this it locks you out of the Persona Compendium, which means you cannot re-summon older Persona on demand to match enemies you are fighting. That being said, in the Answer, Personas level up faster than in the Journey.
Yukari: So you were behind it all?! You used both me and my father!
Ikutsuki: "Used" is such an ugly word...
No Export for You: Persona 3 Portable had been an example of this in Europe until April 2011. Aigis: The First Mission and Persona 3 Social, on the other hand, have only seen Japanese releases.
No Fair Cheating: If you try to use an Action Replay to get the Universe Persona earlier than the final battle, whoever is your Mission Control will express anger or shock — complete with English translation and voice acting!
Non-Standard Game Over: Several in The Answer. First off, when you die, instead of Igor's original speech to the main character about how death comes for everyone, eventually, you get a lecture about how the main character gave his life so you could live yours, but now that you've died, it was all a waste. Then, in the arena battles, if you die to the other PCs, instead of immediately dying, the other PCs give you a lecture about their decision on what to do with the time machine and then the narrator laments you not being able to find out a different path than the obvious two.
No Indoor Voice: Some of the Personas upon being fused have a case of this.
Not So Different: Shinjiro pretty much tells this to Ken when Ken tells Shinjiro that he's going to kill him to avenge his mother, who died when Shinjiro accidentally lost control of his persona. Shinjiro tells Ken that if he goes through with killing him, he'll become what Shinji was to him and regret it later on in life.
Also both think that the Female Protagonist should spend time with other people instead of them and in romance both are shocked that the protagonist would return their feelings. (Shinji is planning on dying and doesn't think he's worth it and Ken's Just a Kid and any kid would be surprised that a Precocious Crush is mutual. Both don't mind but Ken is rightfully nervous about it.)
Obfuscating Stupidity: Subverted with Ikutsuki. After The Reveal, it seems that all of his terrible jokes were just an act to throw off suspicion. However, a video of him in FES shows that he still makes those jokes when no one is around, and he finds them genuinely funny.
Ojou Ringlets: Mitsuru, up until junior high, as seen in FES's flashbacks. Even in high school, she keeps one loose curl
Panty Shot: Can be seen if the Female Protagonist stumbles during her attack, especially if she's wearing her summer clothes (Orange Cutsew).
Parental Abandonment: The main character, Akihiko and Shinjiro are all orphans, Yukari's mom is cold and unsupportive and her dad is dead, Junpei's dad is a drunk, Mitsuru's father is caring but distant and dies in the story, Fuuka's parents are excessively demanding and distant, Ken's mom is dead, and Koromaru's owner died. People with single parents don't even mention the other parent. The only person in the main cast who doesn't have this problem is Aigis because she's a robot.
Yet her creators all died 10 years prior to the Persona 3's events, so it still counts.
Peek-A-Bangs: Mitsuru and the Main Character. Latter has the Emo Bangs variety.
Personality Powers: Quite literally, since a Persona is a manifestation of its user's psyche. At one point, Akihiko notes that his Persona is weak against Mitsuru's favored element and wonders (uncomfortably) if that means something.
He does show the strongest reaction (both before and after) to Mitsuru's execution...
Phantom Zone: Though normal humans are unaware of anything that goes on in the Dark Hour, damage to buildings (and people) carries over into the real world, which is why SEES has to stop the Shadows rampaging outside of Tartarus.
Please Put Some Clothes On: Equipping the female protagonist with the "Battle Panties" and talking to her love interest while she's wearing them in Tartarus inevitably gets some form of this reaction. The bikini gets similarly amusing reactions.
Plotline Death: Shinjiro and Chidori both die in the course of the game.
Point of No Return: You are required to go to Tartarus on the final day, January 31. Once the Dark Hour comes on that day, you will not be able to exit Tartarus, even to stock up, sell your loot, or trade gems. As the Fated Day approaches, your characters remind you that you won't be able to leave once you enter.
Poor Communication Kills: Despite the Rule of Funny being in play, couldn't the guys have avoided execution at the hot springs if someone had just called out and said, "Don't come in yet!"?
Junpei mentions that that they could have told them it was a misunderstanding, then Akihiko mentions that Mitsuru would not have thought of it as an accident regardless and probably would have still have "executed" them.
Strega initially becomes SEES's enemy because they're told that the defeat of the twelve major arcana shadows will result in the end of Tartarus and the Dark Hour; they immediately assume that that also means the end of the power of Persona. Mitsuru and Aigis (at least) are both well aware that this isn't the case.
Post Victory Collapse: The main character collapses into a coma after his first battle against the Shadows. Don't get us started on the good ending, either.
The Power of Friendship: The Social Link system: the main character can form relationships called Social Links with significant people. Each one is associated with one of the Major Arcana and will power up Persona of the matching Tarot class when fused in the Velvet Room.
Not to mention that The Power Of Friendship literally empowers the Protagonist at the end, giving him a new Arcanum and allowing him to seal Nyx.
Power Of The God Hand: The single strongest Strike attack is named God Hand and depicted as a giant golden fist striking from the sky.
Rage Against the Mentor: Yukari calls out Mitsuru at one SEES meeting for hiding information about the Shadow threat from them. Mitsuru's reasoning: "It never seemed relevant." That and Mitsuru was still traumatized from being a guinea pig in the events that led to the present crisis. Junpei goes into a period of this after the main character leads several successful missions.
Ramen Slurp: Really loudly, whenever the characters are in ramen shops.
Rare Candy: The Incense cards you earn over the course of the game. Wand cards drawn in Shuffle Time also have a slight chance of increasing a random stat(s) instead of granting bonus EXP. Notably, incense card boosts carry over in fusion. In Portable, the Incense cards are replaced with Minor Arcana Royalty cards (Queen of Wands, King of Swords, etc.) which you do not use during Fusion, but any time you please on whatever Persona you have equipped.
Random Number God: If you're unlucky you'll be mercilessly killed by bosses by random chance, i. e., getting Mudo'd by the Intrepid Knight or charmed the whole battle by the 4th full moon boss. At higher difficulties, getting back attacked meant the protagonist getting attacked several times in a row and dying before you can do anything.
Recurring Riff: There are bits and pieces of "Burn My Dread" and "Memories of You" (the opening and ending themes) scattered everywhere in the soundtrack. The same is true in P3P's opening theme, "Soul Phrase", and most of the Protagonist's music.
Red Armband of Leadership - All members of SEES wear one when participating in "club activities" (even the dog). In addition, Student Council disciplinary officer Hidetoshi wears a yellow armband of leadership (yellow presumably to distinguish it from the red SEES armbands).
This trope is further played straight in the English version if the Male Protagonist enters into a relationship with Mitsuru since their respective voice actors, Yuri Lowenthal and Tara Platt, are married. Since Yuri Lowenthal also voices Ryoji, the scene where he hits on Mitsuru becomes even more hilarious.
School Club Front: The Specialized Extracurricular Execution Squad (known as SEES) is registered as a school club with Chairman Ikutsuki as its advisor, and members even stay in the same dorm. However, the true purpose of the "club" is to investigate the Shadows, Tartarus and the Dark Hour. All members possess the ability to summon a Persona, which is the only known weapon against the Shadows.
Sexy Discretion Shot: Whenever you max out with a girl, the camera fades to black and says "You spend a tender moment with her." In Portable, it's "You spend a long time with" them.
Sexy Man, Instant Harem: Early on, Akihiko asks you and Junpei to meet him at the police station...while surrounded by a group of (according to Junpei) very attractive girls. Humourously, Akihiko completely ignores them for the whole event, implying that he's used to this trope and even finds it rather annoying.
The female MC social link also takes this on, a bit: while he may find a lot of girls who are attracted to him, it's been a long time since he's found anyone who has affection for him...
Shielded Core Boss: The Hanged Man boss has its three statues. Sometimes the only hit you get on it is the All Out Attack after it falls as it regenerates them immediately after their destruction.
Ship Tease: Outside of the Social Links there's some between the MC and Yukari, the incident at the Love Hotel for one.
Shotacon: For the female protagonist, she needs max courage to open up the social link with Ken in order to ignore the public opinion of this. But you can make this relationship romantic and you still get to spend a long time with him when maxing the the link out, though you have to make something akin to a marriage promise to get it. Naturally, the English version edits out most of the references.
Shout Out: Things like the Cylon Tea (comes in 12 flavours), the Bauer Bar (gives you 24 hours of energy!) and Apathy Syndrome being postulated to be the curse of the local shrine god, along with many, many others. The game's brimming with shout outs to just about everything.
The way the Personas are evoked are quite similar to how Jotaro Kujo calls out his stand for the first time.
Aigis's gun Phalanx B2 is clearly based on Samus Aran'sArm Cannon, specifically in missile mode (and it seems to fire missiles to boot).
Nata Taishi's design is clearly based on Astro Boy.
The Very Top of tartarus where Nyx Avatar is fought highly resembles the top of Temen Ni Gru from Devil May Cry 3.
Showdown at High Noon: The gunfight between Takeharu Kirijo and Shuji Ikutsuki. Literally inverted in that it takes place during the Dark Hour, and thus at midnight. Subverted in that each man kills the other.
Also, the female protagonist's hair pins, at least in her battle model, spell out the Roman numerals "XXII" or 22, which, along with 0, is the number given for the Fool.
Also, Thanatos which might as well be Pharos/Ryoji instead of the Avatar of Nyx. Thanatos was the bringer of peaceful death and Ryoji's offer on December 31st can be seen as a way for the protagonists to accept the Fall/Death with relative ease.
Schrödinger's Gun: No matter which club you join, it'll be the only one which the corresponding Social Link character is already a member of.
Sitting on the Roof: Some Social Link stages have the characters go up to Gekkoukan High's rooftop for contemplation purposes.
Small Name, Big Ego: Subverted with Junpei; he actually comes to realize his status as one and suffers a major inferiority complex as a result.
So What Do We Do Now?: After defeating the 12 Shadows, the entire group experiences this and cannot be bothered to go to Tartarus for quite some time. This is not due to completion but rather the discovery your entire party was being used by Shuji Ikutski to bring The Fall. Mitsuru is gone for almost a month due to the death of her father.
Moreover, one of the main themes of The Answer is how the ex-SEES members are going to move on with their lives after the Main Character's Heroic Sacrifice.
Speak Ill of the Dead: After one of your True Companions dies, the school holds a memorial service. During this, you overhear some of the students talking shit about the recently deceased, and can choose to confront them.
Spoiler Opening: If you pay close attention to the words that flash up on the screen during the opening, you'll realize that the main character dies at the end of the game. In addition, there is a fair bit of Foreshadowing of the connection between the protagonist, Pharos and Ryoji, and the FES opening also reveals some of the Tournament Arc of The Answer.
The theme song lyrics also hint at the main character's death, with references to a "ticking clock."
The opening animation also includes an image of Shinjiro's death.
Again in Portable's unique opening. Both protagonists at the end are seen over a coffin and are about to use their evokers and the screen turns red when they shoot. Also some double imagery is seen with regards to October 4th. In one half of the screen Ken is calmly standing but in the other half, he's putting his evoker to his head and Shinjiro can be seen in an escalator behind him. Also in the "rapid montage" the group shot of SEES is sandwiched by the love interests in the group.
Early in the game, Aigis — for reasons she doesn't fully understand herself — seems to have an obsession with the main character, taking it to the point that she actually breaks into his dorm room to monitor him. We later find out that it's because ten years ago she sealed away the Cosmic Horror's herald inside his body. Her memories of the event were corrupted, which is why she can't explain her desire to be near him. Eventually, it winds up being played completely straight.
There's also an entertaining mini-saga that unfolds between two NPCs: at the start of the year, a girl is stalking a guy she has a massive crush on and slowly becomes repulsed by him. But while she's doing this, he's slowly falling in love with her. Within a month or two, he's the one stalking her. He finally asks her out at the end, gets turned down, and in the epilogue she's back to stalking him while he's disinterested.
Stupidity Is the Only Option: The only way to start the Devil Social Link is to pay the man clearly trying to rip you off 40,000 yen over a period of three visits. He even points this out after you pay the third time
Super Mode: Aigis's "Orgia Mode." Aigis and Metis in FES.
Supernatural Gold Eyes: Elizabeth and Theodore, who have only a nodding acquaintance with humanity. Their origins are never explained, but the use of golden eyes to mark someone's Shadow self in Persona 2 and Persona 4 has had some interesting implications.
In a similar vein, Takaya, who isn't a Shadow or a supernatural entity himself, but has supernatural powers nonetheless. Persona 4 also demonstrated that people possessed by their own Shadows exhibit this trait, possibly implying the same about him.
Be even warier if you come across a floor with no shadows and lots of rare golden chests. Death is likely to be around the next corner.
Tarot Motifs: Each Persona and each Shadow in the game is associated with a particular Arcana. Additionally, the game's protagonist can develop Social Links with other characters; each of these characters is also associated with a particular Arcana—the higher level a particular Social Link is, the more of a boost you'll get when fusing a Persona of that Arcana.
Take A Third Option: Aigis's decision in the PC arena battles in The Answer. Yukari and Mitsuru want to use the time key to go back and see the Main Character again, Akihiko and Ken want to respect the decisions the main character made, and Junpei and Koromaru want to beat the crap out of everyone until they listen to reason. Aigis takes a fourth option — to watch the miracle being performed so they can figure out what, exactly, the Main Character knew when he made his sacrifice.
Taking the Bullet: Shinjiro literally takes a bullet for Ken, after he had already been shot once.By a high caliber round, at that.
Teaser Equipment: Alternate clothing can be purchased from the police station early on. Sadly, by the time you'll be able to afford it, more effective armor is already available.
Theme Music Power-Up: In the opening scene of the game, the protagonist has his headphones on listening to the song Burn My Dread-Last Battle- while the audience only gets the muffled version that comes as a result. During the final sealing of Nyx, the song finally plays as the background music in its full glory to represent the fact that you will win this fight no matter what, though at the ultimate price.
Theme Naming: Igor and his assistants are named after characters in the novel Frankenstein.
Also the mythology used; in this game, most of the main characters' personas are derived from Greek Mythology.
Three Amigos: The main character, Junpei Iori, and Yukari Takeba.
Akihiko, Mitsuru, and Shinjiro were also the original founding members of SEES. Interesting enough, they're also the only two characters Mitsuru is on first name basis with as well.
Through His Stomach: Of the various gifts the protagonist can give to S.Links, the ones most guaranteed to go over well are the various homemade foods made at cooking club. Additionally, starting Koromaru's S.Link in the female protagonist's route involves feeding him.
Time Stands Still: Most of the "action" in the game takes place during the Dark Hour, a "hidden" hour between midnight and 12:01 accessible only to a select few (including Persona users). During this time, ordinary people are Transmogrified into coffins and unable to detect what goes on.
Time Travel: Prominently featured in Persona 3: FES, with numerous iterations.
Intangible Time Travel: Most of the "Doors of Time" only allow the party to view the event in question without being able to interact with it.
Portal To The Past: One of the "Doors of Time" leads to a past version of Paulownia Mall, allowing the team to buy supplies.
Temporal Paradox: At one point late in the game, Junpei voices the worry that by traveling back in time to see the Main Character one more time, they'll undo their defeat of Nyx in the previous time.
That Came Out Wrong: There's a scene at the beginning of the game where Yukari tells the main character: "Seriously, don't say anything about last night"—right in front of a very surprised Junpei (who is not yet a SEES member at this point). She was referring, of course, to the awkward first encounter at the dorm (which happened in the last few moments of the Dark Hour), but Junpei immediately latches onto the less innocent interpretation. Cue stereotypical reaction from Yukari when she realizes exactly what she said...
There's also the video recording of Fuuka, where she's wearing a vibrating stomach trimmer, in her bedroom, in order to get in shape for the Summer Trip. Unfortunately, the settings got stuck on high, leaving her disabled and in an uncontrollable laughing fit. Mitsuru knocks on her bedroom door and Fuuka yells "I'm coming", with the vibrating stomach-trimmer humming in the background. Cue a very awkward Mitsuru who quickly apologizes for bothering her and runs off again post-haste.
Timed Mission: In the second full moon event, the Boss Of The Month takes control of a monorail and traps the party inside, forcing you to fight your way through to the front and defeat said boss before the train crashes.
Tournament Arc: In The Answer, the splintered party members organize a short tournament to settle their differences. Naturally, the main character's faction winds up fighting everybody else, two at a time.
Trauma Conga Line: Think of Shinjiro, about what happened to him. And every single thing that he's gone through is actually very serious and manages to totally avoid going overboard, which is what makes it so incredibly awful.
SEES in general gets hit with this very hard. Especially later in the game, starting in October and ending in the Answer.
Troubling Unchildlike Behaviour: The imagery of children and teenagers committing mock-suicide is more than a little unsettling at first, is likely the single biggest reason behind the game's M rating in North America.
True Companions: As mentioned above. Surprisingly for a Shin Megami Tensei game, the Gekkoukan team is a very pure example of the trope. It's explicitly mentioned when they begin their Fool's Journey as SEES (Specialized Extracurricular Execution Squad) and their determination to fight a Cosmic Horror makes them change their name to Nyx Annihilation Team, empowered by the Judgement Arcana.
Tsundere: The MC's homeroom teacher, Ms. Toriumi, if the protagonist completes the Hermit S. Link. Upon discovering who "Tatsuya" is, she flips out, asks the MC out to dinner, then throws a dictionary at him.
Turns Red: A few bosses do this, but most notably, the Final Boss, on its last form, begins using a technique that grants it "Repel" status against everything (including the supposedly unblockable Almighty spells) for a few turns, and then the That One Attack, which... well, see above in the That One Attack entry.
Useless Useful Spell: Averted, as per Mega Ten fare; though some enemies (and all bosses) are immune or resistant to some, bad status effect skills and instant death spells are completely viable. A VERY lethal combination is a Fear inducing skill followed by Ghastly Wail, which will NEVER miss. Ever. Bonus points if you first use a skill that increases suceptibility to status effects. This makes boss encounters like Fortune & Strength even more anticlimax than they already are...
Video Game Caring Potential: Most of the social links involve helping each of the NPC's overcome their problems. Since the Female Protagonist in P3P has a new set of social links, including all the male members of SEES, the caring potential's practically doubled.
Wake Up Call Boss: The Hierophant. It's the first boss in the entire game that shows just how much status effects are going to fuck you over, having an attack that causes Fear against the part and following up with a party scaled physical attack, and if more than one character has Fear and you don't have Junpei with you, or you do have Junpei and he gets affected and skips his turn, it's going to cause some massive damage, as well as getting a guaranteed bonus turn in P3P. While there are harder bosses in the game, including before this one, it really is the first boss that shows just how insane some of the battles can get and how one turn can screw with your strategy.
Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World: The game's main premise in a nutshell. Mitsuru will often remind you that, as a student, your studies are every bit as important as your duties at SEES. Conversely, Yukari will complain about having exams so soon after a grueling plot-driven boss battle.
Warmup Boss: Arcana Magician, which simply looks the same as other generic Shadows (a blob with hands and a mask); it merely has more hands and masks. You get A Taste of Power when Orpheus briefly becomes Thanatos and shreds it effortlessly.
Wasted Song: Arguably a good chunk of the soundtrack, since several tracks are only played during specific full moon missions.
We Cannot Go On Without You: If the Protagonist kicks the bucket, the game is over. Although it's not apparent at first, it turns out there's a storyline reason for this: the Protagonist is the human vessel for the cosmic force of Death. If he were to be killed in battle, Death would be released, and all would be lost. This game is cheerful like that.
It even stays justified after Ryoji appears and reveals he's Death, because the Protagonist is the only one with the ability to seal away Nyx. If he dies before the (solo) final battle, the world is doomed because nothing can be done to stop the Fall.
Weird Moon: Like most of the SMT games, bad mojo brews when the moon is full. In Persona 3, which is unique in that it has a set amount of time before the world ends, there's a set number of full moons and each calls forth one or more extremely powerful Shadows themed after a specific Arcana of the Tarot (beginning with the Warmup Boss, The Magician.)
We Were Your Team: After the death of the MC, the remaining members of S.E.E.S. went their separate ways. The separation itself was not all that unusual: after all, the group no longer had a reason to exist and two of its members had just finished high school. However, during the events of The Answer in FES, it's made clear that the MC was the only person who could keep the group together and that everyone was devastated by his sudden and unexplained death. The void left behind by his departure not only ended up trapping the remaining members of S.E.E.S. in a Groundhog Day Loop, but also led them to fight among themselves.
Chances are that either way, he's dead. If Takaya wasn't killed by the collapse of Tartarus, then he would likely have been eventually killed by his Persona.
What You Are in the Dark: The choice regarding whether to kill Ryoji or try to fight Nyx ultimately comes down to this, since if the protagonist goes against the rest of the team's wishes and kills him, nobody will remember that it was ever even an issue.
The entire plot is very familar to those who've played Persona at least with the Snow Queen Quest. Nietzsche Wannabe who wants to bring about the end of the world through a sacrifice, check. Not to metion that the Snow Queen IS Nyx. Also the main aseop of the main game (Don't run away from your problems) is mirrored in Ken's Character Development.
The game is also very similar to the original four .hack games. In .hack, The Cursed Wave, a sentient computer virus, puts people into a vegetative state to herald the coming of 8 bosses who are parts of one big super boss, Morganna, who threatens to end the world. In Persona 3, The Shadows, sentient manifestations of the human psyche, put people into a vegetative state to herald the coming of 12 bosses who are parts of one big super boss, Death, who threatens to end the world via two bigger super bosses, Nyx and Erebus. There is also the appearance of an unrelated third party in both; .hack has Cubia, a downright Eldtrich Abomination, while Persona 3 has a group of Persona users called Strega who use Personas for pleasure and excitement. However, in .hack, Corbenik, the last of the eight bosses, is the Final Boss, while here, Corbenik's counterpart, the Hanged Man, is not. Afterwards, it is also revealed that Strega is connected to the plot, unlike Cubia, who was his own case. Even the gameplay is fairly similar, from the controlling of your party members through generic tactics and listening to their squeals of delight when they gain levels to the in-universe names for elements and types of spells, where Repth in the .hack universe becomes Dia. The social links can even be seen as extended, more central to the plot versions of the e-mails you could send your teammates in the .hack games.
Victory Guided Amnesia: Good ending version though. The members of SEES forget what they did as the Dark Hour erased. They lose their Character Development unless you max out their social link, and even then they've mostly forgotten the friendships they formed with the other team members. It's unclear if even the Protagonist remembers. However, everyone regains their memories on Graduation Day...just in time to find the hero die.*sniff*
The Woman Wearing The Queenly Mask: Mitsuru , especially in regards to her original motivations as a member of SEES She was obsessed with cleaning the mess created by her paternal grandfather when he tried to destroy the world , as she considered it her personal responsibility as both his granddaughter and as heir to the Kirijo Group.
Made especially apparent in her character's video recording: she reflects that her Impossibly Cool Clothes are all chosen for her by the family fashion consultant, and that, all other things being equal, she'd rather be wearing the same pink casual dresses Yukari wears.
Yakuza: The Kirijo Group, complete with a company-owned High School (that doubled as a Shadow research facility, a (presumably) company-owned hospital capable of holding its patients hostage without raising eyebrows, and access to military-grade weaponry, is either this or a very corrupt and powerful local corporation... And in Japan, there's usually very little to separate the former from the latter.
There's also officer Kurosawa's 'connections'... Which appear to have no problem giving a police officer access to lethal weaponry to sell off-the-counter to schoolchildren. It's vaguely implied that his 'connections' are Kirijo pulling strings, too.
An equivalent of this is in the Japanese version as well (it uses "nanji"), though the Japanese version isn't grammatically incorrect.
Year Outside, Hour Inside: Akihiko theorizes this about Tartarus, which only shows up during the Dark Hour. When Fuuka is trapped inside, she claims to have only been there for a few hours, when in reality she's been missing for several days.
You Killed My Father: A subdued version plays out as Yukari's convinced that the Kirijo Group is hiding the truth about her father's death, and she's spent the past few years trying to find out what really happened. Once she learns the answer, it doesn't help.
And the whole October 4th affair is that Shinjiro accidentally murdered Ken's mom when going after a shadow with his newly found Persona. Ken wasn't very happy about that.