Life is truth, and never a dream... All souls know this from birth... The truth is something that is chosen and grasped... Something discovered with one's vision and will. Only by gaining that does the seeker become truth himself, a cord that connects past and future.
Persona 4 is an Urban Fantasynote well, rural fantasy in this caseRole-Playing GameSpinoff of the popular Shin Megami TenseiJRPG franchise, made by Atlus.You are an Ordinary High-School Student moving to the rural town of Inaba for one year while your parents are abroad. Soon after you settle into your new home with your uncle and young cousin, a series of impossible murders begins to rock the sleepy town: victims who suddenly disappear, only for their bodies to be found hanging upside down from telephone poles with no obvious cause of death.Meanwhile, you decide to check out a new urban rumour called the "Midnight Channel": supposedly, if you stare into the screen of a switched-off television set at midnight when it is raining, an image will appear that shows your soulmate. When you do so, you discover a strange otherworld on the other side of the television screen, shrouded in a perpetual, oppressive fog.Someone or something is kidnapping innocent people and throwing them into this otherworld, where the monstrous Shadows that inhabit it will eventually kill them. Using a mysterious inner power called "Persona", you and your friends form an investigation team to rescue the kidnap victims before they are killed, and solve the mystery of who is responsible.Persona 4 takes place in the same universe as all the other Persona games, and begins almost exactly a year after the events of The Answer in Persona 3:FES. The game runs off the Persona 3 engine and even on the same console, but with some upgrades to the graphics and different game mechanics. Most of the Persona 3's main features return, including the popular Social Links and the calendar day system - just as in Persona 3, the game takes place within an entire school year.One major difference is that instead of the player climbing one long tower for much of the game's combat, the player instead enters the TV World and has access to multiple dungeons that unlock as the story progresses. Plotwise, the setting is rural versus the urban setting of Persona 3, which creates an entirely different feeling and plays against the game's main themes. Notably, some of the sexual overtones present in earlier Persona titles have returned in this one.The game has spawned a plethora of related works, including:
Persona 4: Golden: An extensive Playstation Vita Updated Re-release.note The remake features alternate costumes for characters, two new Social Links with Tohru Adachi and new character Marie, new enemies and areas to explore, new Ultimate Personas for the party, new gameplay mechanics in both the real world and in the Midnight Channel involving motorbikes, combination attacks between characters, a new Bad Ending, new events taking place during the December to March Time Skip, a new epilogue, and on top of all of that, a completely redone opening animation and new event cutscenes by Madhouse.
Persona 4: The Magician: A Spin-Off manga running in Persona Magazine and starring Yosuke Hanamura.
Persona × Detective: Naoto: A Light Novel featuring Naoto Shirogane investigating a new case outside of Inaba two years after the original story.
VisuaLive: Persona 4: A Japanese-only live stage production which ran from March 15 through March 20 of 2012 and roughly covered the first half of the game.
VisuaLive: Persona 4 Evolution: A sequel which roughly covers the second half of the game.
Persona 4 is considered by many to be one of the best JRPGs in recent memory, has won universal acclaim and many awards, and deftly followed up on the spur of interest caused by Persona 3 and cemented the SMT franchise's place in the Western gaming mainstream at last. It has also been called the Playstation 2's last great game, a very bold claim, but this excellent game is definitely a candidate for that.Also, unlike other Shin Megami Tensei games, it is so happy that its dominant Color Motif is bright yellow. Seriously, even comparing it to its immediate predecessor, Persona 4 is quite possibly the most upbeat and positive game about murder ever made. The Golden takes this Up to Eleven by having an opening that can only be compared to The Beatles.The original game is now available to download on the PlayStation Network
Added Alliterative Appeal: Yosuke describes Chihiro as "The most bewitching bespectacled beauty I've ever...beheld!" and even pauses briefly whilst he thinks of a word for "seen" that starts with the letter B.
The last victim of the kidnapper is your little cousin Nanako. Her father goes through absolute hell, alongside you.
You know how in Real Life, serial killers tend to be people the victims know, right? Well, the person pulling the strings here is none other than Tohru Adachi, Dojima's partner, who's visited the family on at least two occasions.
When making the choices that determine your ending, if you want to give in and punish her kidnapper? You will get the Bad Ending and Nanako will die. It's a really easy option and one that many newbies are likely to take, and then BAM. Kid is 100% dead, and you'll lose the chance to get her back. And this is amped up in Persona 4 The Golden: Adachi is actually one of your Social Links. So make the wrong decisions and Adachi not only gets a Karma Houdini, but he mocks you over it even when you're leaving Inaba. Happy "Accomplice" Ending, MC.
What, just the Protagonist? It may be less spectacular, but the interaction with Mrs. Hisano Kuroda touches pretty close on how awful it is to watch your spouse die before you, as well as the pain of old age and having a loved one suffer from memory loss. Yeah, Mr. Kuroda had Alzheimers, thank you. (Even if it's not treated by name).
If you make the right choices after the November dungeon, you find that Namatame also had it very rough. Not only was his whole life destroyed because of his affair, he also had to sit and watch two people, including his lover, dying right in front of him, helpless to do anything. And then, right after that, he was tricked into almost murdering several innocent people. No wonder everyone thought he was mentally unstable at the end of the game.
Subverted as of Golden, while Izanami of the TV world really is the goddess of Japan, Marie makes it clear that she, Ameno Sagiri and Kunino Sagiri, are manifestations of humanity's collective unconscious wish. You only get this tidbit if you maximize her Social Link and save her before earning the True Ending.
An Aesop: The lesson at the end of the game is that it's best to seek and face the truth, no matter how bad it is. Because by knowing the truth and accepting it, you can start to move on. The fog throughout the game is a metaphor for how most of humanity is more comfortable believing in convenient lies, because they're afraid to accept the truth.
The ability to "skip through" both animated cutscenes and dialogue sequences, particularly handy when starting a New Game+ or facing Kusano-Sagiri.
On a game over, restarting will allow the player to resume play on the same dungeon floor they died upon, rather than at their last save point.
When Fusing personas to create new ones, the player can choose manually which skills are passed on from the fusion, rather than needing to "reshuffle"note unselect and then reselect the component personas in order to re-decide what skills are randomly passed on. This make's Margaret's Social Link much easier to complete.
Rather than needing to try and "catch" persona cards during Shuffle Time, which requires a combination of perception, memory and reflexes, all of the useful cards are immediately displayed for the player and the player can then manually select which one they choose. As part of this, Shuffle Time also lost the Blank Cards (nothing, but chance of getting an Arcana Card in either the upright or reverse position) and X-cards (lose all items, experience and cash received from the fight) and regained the Minor Arcana Cardsnote EXP-boosting Wand, health & mana-restoring Cup, Skill Card-granting Sword and money-boosting Coin from Persona 3.
In a New Game+ on Golden, you can select anytime what the difficulty is going to be like. As in going to Settings and manually change how much or little you get EXP, money, how badly you take damage, etc.
The aforementioned "fast travel" method now allows a player to immediately skip up or down a level once they have found the stairs in a dungeon, making it easier to get around.
Weirdly, averted with The Golden; there are no longer save points/escape points to be found outside of the boss's chambers in the dungeons, making Goho-Ms much more necessary if the party isn't prepared for the final battle of a given dungeon.
Anti-Grinding: The stronger you get, the less EXP you get from fights. Your characters don't get "tired" like in P3, but eventually you'll simply run out of SP and run out of ways to recover outside of simply leaving the TV Worldnote Unlike P3, returning to the starting area does not recover your party's HP and SP (Although with The Golden, by the time you get to Nanako's dungeon you can easily grind endlessly, assuming you've maxed Rise's S. Link, which gives you HP and SP recovery at the end of every battle).
Apocalypse How: A downplayed version near the end as the fog covering Inaba makes the people more and more apathetic & erratic.
Shadows on the map will sometimes look like Persona 3's "Maya" series enemies, none of which appear in 4. The introductory cutscene to the game's first real fight makes it pretty clear that the Shadows can start out looking like the Maya enemies before transforming into their freaky battle shapes. That being said, none actually remain as a pathetic masked blob to go into battle.
Maxing out a S-link will note that you forged a bond that can not be broken. This was important in 3 where bonds that were not maxed would break after time, now it is mostly just congratulatory. Unless it's Ai's Social Link.
FSteakis now canon◊. Interestingly, it was a happy accident; in the original Japanese, "fusuteki" is used.
Yosuke getting stuck in the trash can, a minor scene in both the game and anime. The opening to Persona 4 Golden shows Yosuke dancing with a trashcan over his head.
Asshole Victim: Morooka doesn't do or say a single solitary pleasant or likeable thing throughout the entire game, but it doesn't justify murder.
Assimilation Plot: After the string-puller decides Adachi is the truest representation of humanity, the real world starts becoming engulfed in fog, so that everyone can become Shadows and can wander forever without suffering.
The Fox's healing leaves, which instantly heal your SP in a dungeon (and unlike in most other SMT games, SP recovery items can't be bought from stores normally), but cost a fortune until the higher ranks of the social linking. And by the time you reach these, you'll likely be in the loot-rich final dungeons, but your levels will be high enough that conserving SP won't be an issue anyway. So for the majority of the game, unless you can't afford to have a day passed, you're better off just leaving for the recovery.
Izanagi-No-Okami. If you decide to go through the True Ending to get him, you're in for a shock: He's a level 91 Persona, and he can't be registered into the Compendium. If you want to have in in later games, you'll have to level yourself up and amass all the Personas to make him.
The 3rd tier Persona abilities in Golden are mostly this. Yukiko's is the only one that gives a worthwhile skill.
Teddie's is Random Effect Spell that can affect your party, the enemy party or both, with a variety of effects ranging from full heal to random status effect.
Naoto's Shield of Justice provides one turn invincibility, and Chie's Dragon Hustle applies Heat Riser to the entire party, both extremely valuable effects, but both horrendously expensive (160 and 150 sp respectively), and Naoto and especially Chie both have very low sp totals and probably won't be able to cast more than once without wasting a turn giving them an sp recovery item.
Rise's instantly analyzes the weaknesses/resistances of all enemies, but an earlier skill already identifies when a character has an effective spell against an enemy and at the start of the battle she'll comment on an enemy's resistance even if you don't already know it, so really the only thing it's good for is saving a bit of time in the long run.
Yosuke's provides healing and an evasion/accuracy bonus, but the healing is far too weak by that point to be worth using in favor of Mediarahan or Salvation, even with the stat boost.
Kanji's can knock down and potentially cause dizzy on enemies. But it only works on Mooks, and is somewhat inaccurate besides (a trait shared with every other status effect spell).
The major theme of the game is that people naturally will cling to lies and falsehoods to avoid horrible truths about themselves and others. The fog of the TV world is symbolic of people's desires to live in ignorance and denial. The climax is interesting in that the protagonists don't deny that most people are like that—but they themselves are different and they'll fight to stop a world shrouded in fog even if it goes against what the rest of the planet wants.
A more personal version occurs in Golden if you were a cheating bastard throughout the game. On Valentine's Day, you have to turn down every girl (save Marie and possibly one other) and later accept her gift in person anyway. Each heartbroken girl (who believes herself to be your only girlfriend) asks you just what you're planning to do on Valentine's Day without her. You give all sorts of non-answers, but each of them have a feeling what's up. They just decide to ignore the subject and half-heartedly say that they trust you (wrongfully). Naoto's is the most cruel, as she says that she's a failure of a detective because there's a mystery in front of her that she doesn't want to solve because she already knows the truth is too awful. Consider the entire Aesop of the game, and this is even worse.
Bait-and-Switch Boss: When fighting Shadow Rise, Teddie steps in and defeats the boss for you — shortly before Shadow Teddie appears, and you have to fight him instead.
Batman Gambit: Partially deconstructed. Naoto's works, but Kanji is furious at her for taking that sort of risk and is not shy about letting her know. Some other members of the team are definitely impressed, though, especially given the amount of detail she's able to remember from her own kidnapping.
Beat Them at Their Own Game: A funny example: After Yosuke signs the girls up against their will for a beauty pageant, they respond by signing the protagonist, Yosuke, and Kanji up for the crossdressing pageant.
Beauty, Brains and Brawn: Rise/Yukiko (both have beautiful feminine looks and are extremely popular with males), Naoto (a professional detective who frequently serves as Ms. Exposition) and Chie (a tomboy who is skilled at kung-fu) respectively.
Beauty Equals Goodness: Zig-Zagged. Morooka, Hanako and Mitsuo are all characterized as rotten people in general, are basically the only people in the entire game who aren't considered attractive and don't come around to be better people. Adachi is a subversion, but that's the point; the player is supposed to trust him. Igor, on the other hand, has a hooked nose, bulging eyes and a cryptic personality that give him an Imp-like look, but he's the only supernatural entity in the entirety of the Mega Ten franchise to help you without an ulterior motive and not backstab you horribly.
Become a Real Boy: Late in the game, Teddie realizes that he is a Shadow himself, born of the desire to appeal to people, which is why he appears as a cute mascot bear. The party tells him that once he was granted a Persona, he developed the ego necessary to control it, which is why he was able to manifest in the "real world."
An individual's shadow goes into berserk mode with a "You're not me!".
Don't say anything to Kanji about him being "strange".
Hurting Nanako. Once Nanako is kidnapped, the entire party drops the jokes, and even suggesting to go to a different dungeon will result in glares. And when Nanako is thought to be dead... well, you better just hope you're not alone with Yosuke and Kanji in a room with a TV. The entire cast will have no mercy, and if you didn't get the good ending, then Namatame is killed by Yosuke and the gang pushing him into the TV. Don't fuck with Nanako.
Betty and Veronica: Yukiko and Rise, respectively. Both express strong desire for the Protagonist, Yukiko being shy and Rise being flirty.
Beware the Silly Ones: Some of the shadow selves can be quite goofy in their behavior, but they are FAR from harmless.
Bifauxnen: By mid-October, you find out about Naoto Shirogane.
Big Ball of Violence: The All-Out Attack. If you kill all the enemies in the process, you're rewarded with a skull mushroom cloud. In The Golden, once Rise joins the party and decides to randomly join in on the All-Out Attack, the skull mushroom cloud is colored pink and designed to look like her. You get this regardless of whether or not you kill the enemies.
Big Brother Instinct: The game gives numerous opportunities for the Protagonist/player to have this towards Nanako.
Kanji does one when Nanako tries the Christmas cake made by the girls before they could after she just got out of the hospital. Turns out, there was nothing to worry about.
While not really a big "no", Yosuke and Kanji both have these when Nanako appears to die. Yosuke screams "DAMN IT!!" and Kanji lets out a painful anguish cry and punches the wall as hard as he can.
Bile Fascination: In-universe example. Yosuke on the people who get excited over the murders:
They're like onlookers at a car crash. As long it's not happening to them, they're dying to get a closer look.
Bilingual Bonus: A surprisingly subtle one, from the Aiya Chinese Diner. "Aiya" is a Cantonese expression of displeasure or disappointment, and sure enough, the diner owner says this every time you don't finish the Rainy Day Special. It could be a Mythology Gag that's a Shout-Out to Lisa Silverman, who spouts lots of Catonese expressions - Aiya being one of her favourites.
Bishie Sparkle: Teddie has this effect upon becoming a human, and, of course, abuses it with the girls.
Bishōnen: Most of the principal male cast to a certain extent, but especially Teddie. Includes sparkle and drooling girls.
Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Subverted with Saki Konishi. The twisted Shopping District area in the TV world makes her come off this way... for about five minutes, until Yosuke's Shadow turns up, after which is becomes clear that while the echoes heard in the area were Saki's real feelings, they don't provide the full picture of her personality. Yosuke never once holds it against her, and though he accepts that she disliked him, he doesn't hesitate to describe her to others as a good person. It's something of a theme of all of the Shadow self confrontations that everyone has an ugly side to them, but that it doesn't define everything about them.
Adachi is a more straightforward example. More obvious in Golden when you see how his Social Link centers around him badmouthing an old lady whom mistook him for her son.
Blind Without 'Em: The fog inside the TV is nearly impossible to see through (though the Protagonist can see slightly better than the rest of them), so the main characters have to wear special glasses made by Teddie to see through it.
Each dungeon has a Bonus Boss which is available upon returning to it.
In addition, Izanami, Japanese goddess of Death and Rebirth is available in the game if you unlock the True Ending, as well as Margaret on your second playthrough (only if you unlocked the True Ending on the previous playthrough).
Kusumi-No-Ookami in Golden is an odd example in that she isn't necessary to finish the game, but once you gain access to her dungeon, you have to beat her.
Book Ends: When the Protagonist first arrives at Yasoinaba train station, he is alone and turned off by how boring his new home seems. When he leaves by the end of the game, he is surrounded by friends and sad to be going.
Getting the True Ending lets you fuse the Protagonist's ultimate Persona the next time through - except that it's a twelve-Persona fusion and it can't be registered in the Persona Compendium. Granted, it can learn all the highest elemental skills and their respective boosts, and its stats are insanely high, even for its level. Taking the time to level grind to use said persona can make beating Margaret and The Reaper extremely easy. Still a bragging rights reward nonetheless, as both the weapons and Persona cannot be transferred over to a New Game+, and you don't even keep your levels, so you have to grind to 91 all over again to get the Persona.
In Golden, Izanagi-No-Ookami, while still unstoreable and cost-prohibitive (therefore still falling into this trope) becomes a fair bit more useful. The most important change is his ability to actually Inherit skills (and being able to choose which ones get inherited this time around.) This lets him actually fill specific roles for the end-game bosses instead of simply being a trash-mob killer. He's also the only method of getting the Victory Cry skill card without relying on luck, which is obscenely useful for the Bonus Dungeon.
Pretty much everything that happens that isn't related to the murder plot, but especially the end of August and the whole month of October.
During your summer break, once you catch Mitsuo, there's over a whole month of time where everything seems fine and nothing at all happens until the plot picks up again once you've gone back to school.
The only thing of note that happens during October are exams and the Culture Festival, and the month before sees you rescuing Naoto, your last party member, and November brings Nanako getting kidnapped.
January ,except for one day in particular (Playable only in Golden, the original ends its free-roaming on December 24th) also has no major events in it, mostly being a chance to finish your Social Links and earn the 3rd-Tier Personas.
Several things mentioned in the original game as future plans (Yosuke's desire to own a motorbike & a possible trip to the beach, to name two examples) wind up occurring during the course of Golden.
Early in the game, Nanako asks if the weather forecaster "decides the weather", because when she says it'll be sunny, it always is. If you're playing Golden and you max out Marie's social link, then she becomes a weather forecaster in the True Ending and she actually can decide the weather.
Broken Record: The truth will be hammered into your head until it feels like a migraine. The game is very insistent that you pursue it.
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Several of the teachers have some odd quirks, such as giving lectures with handpuppets and dressing like Ancient Egyptians. It's not so extensive a list as the one from Gekkoukan High School, though.
At the end of the game, the protagonist leaves Inaba to return home (see Parental Abandonment example below). However, he does come back to Inaba twice, once during Golden Week and again in the summer of 2012.
In Golden, played straight with Marie if you maximize her S. Link.
But Thou Must: Somewhat improved from the previous game, but still there.
There are some actions that are listed as options, but you can't do them no matter how high your stats are. This includes holding the line against a barrage of buckets and watching as Ai is about to get slapped by a former boyfriend.
Played for Laughs near the end of the game in The Golden. Nanako makes a chocolate "creation" for you on Valentine's Day that consists of bell peppers, fermented squid, and coffee, amongst other things. Nanako looks at you expectantly, and the game states "You have NO options!"
But Wait, There's More!!: If you watch Tanaka's Amazing Commodities, you'll know that Tanaka does this without fail.
The class trip, which is basically a long list of locations from and references to Persona 3, some of them very obvious (Hi, Chihiro and Edogawa!) some of them not so obvious (They even reuse the background music for most locations, and the song playing in the nightclub should sound very familiar to anyone who watched the opening movie for FES...)
During the Answer in Persona 3 FES, you see that the police label Ken's mom's death by Shinjiro's Persona going out of control a drunk driving accident because the Kirijo group were quick to cover up the fact that two of their best SEES personnel had just accidentally killed a civilian. Now, alcohol doesn't get served at the club you're attending because of this event.
Also Teddie saying "Faster then expected.' while standing in the exact same spot Takaya was when he said that line.
Running around, you can tell that the game is -ripe- with these. The history teacher mentioned in Bunny-Ears Lawyer who wears ancient Egyptian headware, Ms. Sofue, complains about her brother, who apparently dresses up in samurai gear - said teacher is actually Mr. Ono, the history teacher from the school in Persona 3.
Rise will mention she had a secret show at the nightclub 2 years ago, but the power went out, most likely due to the Hermit Full Moon boss. Shinjiro in 3 even mentioned a show that got cancelled back then.
In Kanji's social link, there is a reference to a pink alligator from a storybook. Akinari, one of the social links from Persona 3, wrote a story about a pink alligator. Nanako is also seen reading Akinari's book in one scene.
You'd only recognize this example if you played Persona 3 and made a habit of turning on the TV in the dorm room, but when Nanako does her report on the platypus and asks you which gender is venomous, it's supposed to remind you of a TV program on the platypus from Persona3. The TV program appears on April 24th.
Naoto mentions that while researching the terms "Persona" and "Shadow" she came across an "unofficial project document" with information about both. This almost certainly came from the Kirijo Group's scientific research.
While the group are telling ghost stories to one another, Yosuke mentions one he heard from his cousin; about a girl who had bullied another girl relentlessly, only for her to disappear. The bully then ran out at night apparently hearing the girl's voice calling to her, and ended up unconscious outside of the school. Clearly his cousin knows one of the girls that used to bully Fuuka
When the protagonist first tells Yosuke and Chie about his television trying to eat him early on in the game, they don't believe it.
In two instances in the game, the main characters tell someone the unbridled truth about their powers and the world inside the TV, only for the person to assume they're lying to cover up their true purpose.
Yukiko and Rise tell Naoto exactly how they're involved with the murder case. She doesn't believe it until after her kidnapping. It doesn't help that both of them are acting completely drunk at the time.
If you tell Dojima about the TV, flat-out, he won't believe you either.
A humorous example: One of the guys in the Shopping District tells you about how he keeps seeing an ancient Egyptian, but nobody in his old hometown believes him. (It's actually the history teacher, Ms. Sofue.) Talk to him during the Playable Epilogue and he reveals they've started dating.
The Catfish: The Guardian, a legendary giant fish that inhabits the local river.
Feed it to the cat during the quest "Cat Needs Food Badly" and you can clear the quest with only four feedings. (Otherwise, it takes twenty fish to clear the quest.) Hell of a way for the Guardian's career to end... then again, there's apparently more than one.
The Golden introduces its marine cousin, the Sea Guardian. It's bigger than the MC and sells for a whopping 10.000 Yen. If you're good enough, catching and selling those is the second-most lucrative activity you can do, next to extensive grinding.
Check Point Starvation: Several instances towards the end of the game. In a combat sense, you have to do at least a floor of a dungeon, then fight Adachi, and then Ameno-sagiri with no chance to go back and change personas and save. This is somewhat problematic for Golden, which is, after all, a portable game.
If you're close to the True Ending, an unexpected key player is going to be the gas station attendant.
Namatame and Mitsuo both appear around Inaba and in neglible cutscenes well before becoming major players in the plot. The former even makes an appearance at Junes at your team's concert.
After playing through November's dungeon, notice the delivery truck you see driving by while chasing the pervert spying on Rise? It's got the real kidnapper in it. If you play from the beginning after that dungeon, you'll note that even earlier, when you first arrive in Inaba at the gas station, a truck that appears to be the same delivery truck is getting filled up next to you & the attendant runs out from behind it to help the Dojimas, which would seem to indicate this is when Namatame also received his powers.
Arguably, Nanako. Said character has no effect on the plot and is mainly a secondary character making her kidnapping all the worse.
Rise develops an attraction to the Protagonist near instantly upon joining the Investigation Team, and proceeds to start flirting with him at every chance she gets.
Like in Persona 3, female Social Links have a tendency to fall for the main character — though, unlike in Persona 3, you don't have to date them in order to max out their Social Link. Ironically, it's actually much easier to date them all now that you don't have to, since Ai and Naoto's Social Links can actually be broken (the former during a single part of her link, and the latter if you refuse to help her after getting to rank 5) and none of the girls get jealous if you date all of them at the same time (though Ai has a tendency to show up during Sunday events with the girls and stop them abruptly).
The last part of the statement above gets subverted in painful fashion with the new Valentine's Day scene. However many girls you're dating, you have to turn all of them down (save Marie and one other) when they ask you on a date that day. They WILL call you out for it. However, if you ARE pimping all the girls, on Valentine's Day, an exasperated Yosuke calls you this in exact words:
"What the hell, man!? What kind of crazy voodoo are you doing to be such a chick magnet!?"
If you complete her S-Link and didn't get a bad ending, Nanako will tell you she wants to marry to you before you leave.
In one of the Devil S. Link events, Sayoko mentions that a patient at her old hospital made her promise to marry him when he grew up. She says this because the boy died, and the guilt is eating away at her.
Christmas Cake: Noriko Kashiwagi, who is instantly pegged as being at least 40 during her introduction. Also Sayoko.
Clark Kenting: Played straight with Rise when she first shows up in town. Everyone who comes to the tofu shop looking for her seems to assume she's an old woman, despite the fact she's just wearing a scarf on her head and an apron. It probably helps that everyone expects her to act like the "Risette" persona (Pun not intended) that had been marketted to the masses, and she's rather low-key at that point precisely because she didn't want to be Risette anymore.
Color-Coded Characters: All of the main characters have a defining color to their design: The Main Character has grey, Yosuke has orange, Chie is green, Yukiko has red, Kanji has purple, Rise is pink, Naoto is blue, and Teddie has yellow. This is lampshaded in The Golden during an outing with Marie, where she points out Chie and Yukiko always wear the same color clothes, and the one time Chie manages to pick out an outfit that isn't green they end up being blue and yellow: colors that when mixed together make green.
Color Motif: In contrast to the previous game, this game's color motif is bright yellow. Fitting, since it's the most upbeat SMT game yet.
Combination Attack: Added in Golden as a possible follow-up attack to an All-Out Attack that didn't wipe out the enemies, but only if you have the specific pairings of Chie/Yukiko, Yosuke/Teddie, and Kanji/Naoto in your active party.
Continuing Is Painful: As can be expected of a game that is so dialogue-heavy, most bosses have a lot of unskippable cutscenes before them that can wear down a player for a very hard boss. The crowning example, however, is the conversation that leads you either to the Bad or Good Ending, which has almost twenty minutes of scenes beforehand that you have to go through, and it's very easy to mess up.
Due to the fact that any death sends you back to the last time you saved, boss death are perhaps the least painful because the original game gives you the ability to save just before entering the boss room. Every random death to a mook, however, is incredibly painful because unless you are willing to do the tedious task of exiting the dungeon after every floor to save in the main hub, you are likely losing an hour or more of grinding for every death, most of which you will have had no way to stop.
Cool Down Hug: The Protagonist has the option to give Yosuke one of these during the Magician S-Link, assuming certain dialog options were previously chosen.
Copy And Paste Environments: Returning from Persona 3, but somewhat improved due to the occasional gimmick, non-randomized floor. Dungeons overall, however, are randomized between days.
Crapsaccharine World: If you ignore the whole serial killer thing, Inaba seems like an okay place to live, right? Wrong. The police force is woefully undermanned and way out of their grasp with something like a high-profile murder case.The recent arrival of Junes has forced many of the town's independent businesses (which are established to have been around for generations) out of business, and has caused much of the town to turn on each other as some accept the change Junes is bringing while others cling to their ancestral businesses. This is made especially clear during Saki's posthumous rant, which reveals that Junes completely destroyed her life, turning her from a sweet, bubbly girl (according to Yosuke) into a bitter, self-loathing nihilist who wished that everything would just end.
Utopia: What Inaba becomes for many, later on in the Golden Epilogue. Yukiko, Yosuke, Naoto, and the Protagonist all gain a newfound love for the town, Namatame recovers from his high-publicity affair and arrest as a murder-suspect and runs for Mayor, with a good chance of winning. The local businesses work together with Junes to have a Locally-Produced Goods section in the store, bringing more business to the town, the local Teen Idol drops by regularly to keep locals from being bored out of their minds. Crime was already virtually-unheard-of, but now there's a super-sleuth Kid Detective making it home. The fog that's returned on and off every few decades will no longer flood the town, and the local weather girl actually controls the weather!
In contrast to all the other Shadows, Shadow Teddie barely has any fluctuations in his voice at all. Depending on your perspective, it's either absolutely bone chilling or completely awesome.
While not as much as the former Shadow Mitsuo is somewhat of a Dull Surprise, due to the fact he represents Mitsuo's inner emptiness.
Critical Hit: The animations that show it are quite satisfying to see. Also grants extra turns. Unlike in some other games, this doesn't have to be entirely random. There are spells that influence the probability of getting one.
Critical Hit Class: Chie Satonaka is geared towards this, especially in Golden. There, she has Black Spot and later Rainy Death, two physical attacks with very high critical rate. She also got a passive that increases chance for critical, as well as a buff that also increases critical chance. This is probably to compensate for her lower damage compared to fellow physical attacker Kanji.
You and your buddies get entered into a crossdressing beauty pageant by the girls for signing them up for the regular beauty pageant. Hilarity Ensues.
By the time you hit October, you should know about Naoto Shirogane.
Cruel Mercy: The Investigation Team's apprehension of the killer. Rather than leaving Adachi to die, they submit him to the laws of the society he so contemptuously hates.
Curtains Match the Window: It's rather interesting to note that just about every character (Major and Minor) has this trope in effect. There are only 2 characters who don't follow this trope: Teddie's human form (Blond hair, blue eyes) and Izanami's human form (whitish-grey hair and RED EYES), both of whom are otherworldly beings of some sort. Hmmm.
Damage-Sponge Boss: While most bosses prior had a gimmick or a check point, Adachi and Ameno-sagiri are simple and straight forward.
Dancing Theme: The new opening for Golden, as if this game needed to be any more upbeat.
Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: The True Ending, where you use the Power of Friendship to defeat Izanami, Shinto mother goddess turned deity of death. Yes, you win a fight against Japan's co-creator and vengeful embodiment of death, granted, by manifesting her husband and speaking the word that strips all lies away...
Namatame. Not only is he found in the The Very Definitely Final Dungeon (if you don't get the Good Ending, at least), but he has semi-unique boss music too (reused for Adachi). Oh, and you get an animated cutscene during his One-Winged Angel transformation right before you fight him.
Earlier, there's Mitsuo. But the fact that it's only August after you beat Mitsuo is kinda a giveaway.
Bonus points to Adachi for the game going to great lengths to convince you he is the true final boss of the game.
Disc One Final Dungeon: Once early in the game (though it isn't quite revealed until some time later), then twice in a row near the end (but it's a subversion if you fall for the Red Herrings).
Fusing Kaiwan on a Skill Change Fusion Forecast day can net you Victory Cry as early as level 24. For reference, Victory Cry fully restores your HP and SP after every battle, and is normally only available by fusing Lucifer on the final day and grinding him up to level 99.
Slime, one of the first Personas you get, learns Resist Physical at level 7. By drawing the Magician arcana card during Shuffle Time, you can instantly upgrade that to Null Physical. Being immune to Physical attacks makes fighting some bosses a complete joke; even the infamous Contrarian King CANNOT defeat you if you've got this on the Protagonist. Plus, you can pass this skill around through fusion to make ANY Persona you want immune to Physical; very handy considering that most Personas which are naturally immune to Physical also have multiple elemental weaknesses.
Dreaming of a White Christmas: During the winter, a thick blanket of pretty, perfectly white snow covers the ground. It's meant to be cheery and blissful to contrast the stress-filled climaxes of December.
Dreaming of Things to Come: The dream you have at the beginning of the game takes place in Yomotsu Hirasaka, and the person you fight is Izanami.
Dutch Angle: Used during the cutscene before the battle with Shadow Rise / Shadow Teddie.
Also used at the hospital job during the courage stat increases.
Dynamic Entry: If you have Kanji in your party during the fight with Izanami-no-Okami, when she starts using "Thousand Curses" he'll jump in and kick the protagonist in the head to shove him out of the way. This lead to an amusing YouTube video in which it becomes a Falcon Kick, based off of a theory that Kanji is Captain Falcon.
In Golden, if your S. Links with your party members are high enough, they will perform follow-up attacks from off-screen.
Earn Your Happy Ending: The game makes a big deal about not being distracted with easy answers and that one has to search for the truth. If you follow this concept through, you will avoid the Bad Ending. In addition, if you realize the game isn't over during the ending sequence, you'll get the True Ending, which ends with the fog of deceit finally being lifted from the heart of humanity.
In-universe example: the Tanaka's shopping jingle is said to be irritatingly catchy. The Junes' jingle is also extremely popular to sing among grade school children, apparently, with Nanako reporting that she's the best in her class at it.
Out-of-universe, you will become very familiar to "Reach Out To The Truth", the standard battle music. It doesn't help that it was remixed for Persona 4 Arena as Yu Narukami's theme.
Enemy Scan: One of Rise's abilities. Teddie doesn't do an actual scan - he just remembers what attacks worked and what didn't. Rise's is slightly better, and gets more useful if you max out her S. Link.
Entertainingly Wrong: Some of the theories the team comes up with are rationally arrived at based on the data they have, they just happen to also be wrong. The killer isn't targeting women or people who had some indirect connection to Mayumi Yamano, the Midnight Channel isn't the result of the killer announcing the next target and the killer isn't even directly responsible for most of the disappearances!
Anyone who goes inside the world inside the TV will eventually face their Shadow, which is a personification of their darkest thoughts and fears. The Shadow will kill its source when enraged, either by the victim provoking it or when the fog appears in the real world. The only exceptions are Nanako, who is too young to generate a Shadow, and the main character, who was given the power of Persona by Izanami directly and was already protected from the effects of the TV world.
Magatsu Izanagi, Adachi's persona, counts as well for the normal Izanagi.
The villain counts as one to the protagonist, and the final boss to the protagonist's persona.
Expressive Mask: Teddie's mouth changes expressions, but doesn't move; the animated cutscenes show the lack of mouth movement isn't just a graphical quirk.
Extended Gameplay: Congratulations! You've solved the murders and now you get to enjoy the Playable Epilogue during the last day of the game. It's a "Playable Epilogue" because it's the only chance you get to unlock the True Ending route and solve the game's last dangling plot threads.
Extremity Extremist: Chie only fights with her feet, no arms are used. Even when summoning a Persona or defending.
Face Nod Action: done twice by Chie and Yukiko when deciding to give the boys the curry theymade and pushing them off a cliff into a pool of water.
Done by Yu and Yukiko when joining Chie and Teddie in the water in the Beach Episode in Golden.
Done by the entire team before they fight Izanami.
Fake High: Rise and Yukiko get completely smashed at the dance club during the class trip...only for Naoto to reveal that the club doesn't even sell alcohol, being forbidden to do so due to a rise in drunk driving incidents the previous year.
The Investigation Team's trip to the Hot Springs - Everyone's wearing little more than a towel, and the girls take the opportunity to gush over how nice Naoto's skin is. Taken even further in Golden, where the girls first entering the Springs is now a fully animated cutscene.
Golden adds a second trip to the Hot Springs, where the Investigation Team are joined by Marie in another animated cutscene. However, this time the girls are very obviously naked (But hidden behind steam), and there's a long shot of Marie from the back (And not covered by steam) that slowly pans upwards, before she pours a bucket of water over herself. Unlike the first trip, the animated cutscene also shows the boys in their towels too.
Some of the more risque costumes (For all of the characters) added in Golden are very much this.
Among other costumes you can get in The Golden, you can equip the guys with Bath Towels. Their reactions vary with Yosuke outright saying that he hates you for this if you talk to him. Teddie is more confused than anything.
Teddie: What's this outfit called? "Naked?"
Fantasy Gun Control: Subverted. Most of the characters don't use guns, but that's because they're civilian teenagers in a country with tight gun control laws, so they aren't trained to use them regardless. Naoto, however, has a license to carry, being a detective and all, and uses various kinds of pistols in combat. Thing is, as both a minor and private investigator (not a police detective), it would be incredibly unlikely for Naoto to be able to get a gun in real-life Japan.
Adachi: You know why I joined the police force? So I could legally own a gun. That's it. You won't believe how many are like that.
Feminine Women Can Cook: Inverted; while the feminine Rise and Yukiko and the slightly tomboyish Chie are horrible chefs, the male protagonist and Naoto are actually good chefs.
Fetch Quest: Most sidequests fall under this category. They usually demand X number of some item found from specific enemies. It's needed to complete Fox's Social Link.
First Love: For most romantic Social Links. Ayane, Yumi, Rise, Chie, Naoto, and Marie all count. It's lampshaded in Yukiko's case; because she's so beautiful and popular, she has lots of wannabe suitors to the point that just asking her out has become called "the Amagi Hurdle". Several characters, including Chie and an old acquaintance of hers, express disbelief that a girl like her has never had a boyfriend. And if you romance her, she expresses gratitude that you were her first (and, if she has her way, ONLY) boyfriend.
Kanji being the youngest on the investigation team, and easily excited, does a fist pump as his victory pose.
In the updated rerelease "Golden", The Main Character will do a fist pump as his victory pose when he's wearing the red ranger costume.
Flanderization: Happens in-universe with the characters' Shadows, which reduce them to a single (and completely overblown) defining trait.
Golden plays up a lot of the Investigation Team's quirks. Yosuke is more of a Butt Monkey, Chie's Steak obsession is increased, and Yukiko and Kanji are more of The Ditz and Book Dumb respectively. Also, the frequency of Teddie's more unsettling, perverted tendencies is blown through the roof.
Fluffy Cloud Heaven: Heaven, the area of the Midnight Channel that was created by Nanako's desire to be with her dead mother, whom she believes went to Heaven and Namatame's delusions about the Midnight Channel being a safe haven for his victims.
Foil: If you get the True Ending, you'll find out that the protagonist is this to Adachi, and both of them are this to Namatame. The relationship between the first two is even hammered home by the fact that Adachi's persona is just a variation of Izanagi.
Food Porn: The Protagonist can cook meals, that when cooked properly, can be shared with a character for boosts to their Social Link status. Share it with a girl and not only do you get the boost, you get to watch her face glow.
The first time you see Adachi, Dojima asks him how long he's going to act like a rookie. Key word: Act.
A blink-and-you'll-miss-it example near the start of the game. After Saki's death is announced to the school, two girls are seen talking about rumors in the hall. One mentions that she heard someone saying they saw Saki on the Midnight Channel, her friend decrying this rumor as people just having "Saki on the brain", due to her interview being broadcast so frequently. Fast-forward to the end of the game, and this is revealed to be EXACTLY how the Midnight Channel works.
Perhaps the most delicate foreshadowing is reserved for Izanami. Honestly, were you paying attention to anything the gas station attendant said throughout the year? Her Motive Rant at the end is practically distilled from the attendant's script, if you condense it a couple of months. Additionally, you can only speak to her on rainy days. Also, she's the only 'minor' character with a Voice Actress..
If the player is using a controller with a rumble feature (vibration feature) then the user will feel a tiny almost unoticable vibration as the attendant shakes your hand indicating the power going to you.
At one point, when helping Nanako with her homework, Teddie quotes "Cogito ergo sum" as a proverb - "I think, therefore I am". Considering the revelations later on about Teddie's nature as a Shadow and how he developed his Persona, it makes a lot of sense in retrospect that it would stick with him.
Pay close attention to the animatic when the main character first finds out about the Midnight Channel. The rain on his bedroom window makes three very blurry points of light in the city beyond, representing his, Adachi's, and Namtame's powers given by Izanami.
One piece of late game dialogue mentions Nanako doesn't open the door for strangers, one following suggestion is a friend of Dojima. Which one of Dojima's associates has Nanako come to know?, Adachi.
On the day the first murder occurs in Golden, a pair of NPC's can be found right outside the Dojima house. Their conversation will eventually turn to gardening, with one of them commenting that the Dojima's have an empty space on their property that could make a mighty fine garden— foreshadowing the gardening function.
Forgot About His Powers: Many of the team's and Namatame's actions are at least partly guided by the belief that police would never buy that people could go inside a TV. The obvious solution to this problem (walk up to a TV and stick your hand in it) never occurs to any of them, even when Dojima is interrogating the protagonist at the police station, berating him for making up crazy stories, and there's a TV in the same room.
Four Is Death: When Nanako is hospitalized, the number on her room is 404. Hell, while it's not commented on in-game, her birthday is, of all days, October 4th!
Fridge Logic: In-Universe example with a movie - Yukiko mentions how they never explain why the power to curse people to death ended up on cell phones. She doesn't seem to be too bothered by it, though.
Frickin' Laser Beams: One of Ameno-no-Sagiri's powerful attacks. Even more powerful when he boosts his stats while hiding in fog. Hope you have Debilitate handy!
Friedrich Nietzsche: Much of the game's philosophical core seems to be Nietzschean in nature - actually Nietzschean, not the stuff people try to pin on him. (In fact, several of the villains are prominently Nietzsche Wannabes.) The concept of the "fog of deception around humanity" and the way it is explained seems lifted almost wholesale from Nietzsche's On Truth And Lies In A Nonmoral Sense; the concept of the truth being something that a person must look past themselves to truly grasp (a process that is often painful and requires critical self-reflection) is central to his thesis and is the core message of the game.
Most likely because the entire series is based on the psychology/philosophy of Carl Jung, who was greatly inspired by Nietzsche. Everything about the series, from the term "Shadow" to "Persona" to the Collective Unconscious manifesting as a "Realm of Adventure" are lifted directly from Jung.
Even if you max Dojima's social link, it still leads to his What an Idiot moment stated near the end of this page.
When you max out any of your party members, they never treat you differently than if you had remained rank 1 with them. If you reverse any of their links, they are pissed off at you until you make things right. During story sequences though, they are all smiles and your best friend.
The anime expands on your party members being dragged into darkness. Thousand Curses is shown as an illusion to force Yu into the fog.
If you wait long enough to start the Hanged Man Social Link, you still get the unnamed student worrying that Morooka will suspend him even if Morooka has been dead for months.
Romancing anyone is never referred to by anyone besides the girls themselves in private events. This gets especially harsh in the True Ending if you've decided to romance Rise, who will burst into tears when you leave with Kanji telling her to stop crying.
The Dog Was the Mastermind: The genesis of all the events that occurred over the year was... That person working at the gas station who shook your hand on your first day in town? Justified in that Izanami really didn't do anything other than shake your hand and watch for the majority of the year, so there was little to no reason to suspect her.
Game Show: Teddie's Midnight Trivia Miracle Quiz, which is accessible after completing certain parts of the story in Golden.
Gender Bender: Shadow Naoto tries to do this on the original, but your party stops it before it happens.
Genius Ditz: Yukiko consistently aces school exams, and yet manages to get the wrong end of the stick on more than one occasion - for example, when the group discusses a biker gang: Yosuke mentions that a student from their school, rumoured to be a member of said gang, is considered a legend. Yukiko immediately assumes he means that kind of legend. Not to mention that in Golden, Yukiko is the ONLY one out of the four members in Teddie's Midnight Trivia Miracle Quiz that is actually EAGER to get the show started. The other three (Yu, Yosuke, and Chie) were essentially called in.
Genre-Busting: It's an RPG Urban Fantasy about saving the world and the true self and romance and horror and psychology and resolutions and with dating sim mechanics.
Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: Once their Social Links get high enough, your party members can actually do this to each other to "cure" certain status effects. The cure for "Panic" is literally them slapping you in the cheeks.
Unless you have Kanji in your party, who's animation for curing party members has him headbutting them into clairty. Talk about tough love.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: When starting Sayoko's Social Link, she openly flirts with him. The protagonist can actually choose to accept her advances, although it's nothing more than a blank screen and some text saying "You spent some time" with her. You also don't get any points toward advancing her Social Link if you go this route.
Good Times Montage: In Golden, the time between February 15th and March 19th is shown as such, including a ski trip with Nanako, the Investigation Team having dinner at the Dojimas' , the preparation and the giving out of chocolate on White Day, and, finally, a scene where the original picture is taken place. The montage ends as the player character packs up the picture, in preparation for returning home.
All of the girls act this way if you date more than one of them. If you have more than one girlfriend on Valentine's Day . . .
Rise is the most obvious example, because you don't even have to touch her Social Link for it to shine. She often appears in other girls' S-Links (especially Marie's) just to express disapproval.
Kashiwagi-sensei feels this way about Rise and all the attention she gets. As she's past forty, she has real issues about her age.
Ai Ebihara will have at least one example during the course of her Social Link. She'll admonish you for daring to talk to another girl while on a "date" with her. In another, she'll despise Chie for being Kou's crush if he's your Strength arcana. And lastly, she will show hostility to your other female S-Links if you've advanced to the point that she's in love with you.
Yukiko and Chie feel this way about each other, and it's become sort of a co-dependency with Romantic Two-Girl Friendship undertones. Chie secretly resents Yukiko for her beauty and popularity and thus nurtures Yukiko's emotional frailty so she can seem stronger in comparison. Yukiko in turn secretly resents Chie's inner strength and confidence and relies on her to lead the way while knowing the guys will fancy herself more. This makes up the basis of their shadows.
"Critical hit to the nads" indeed. This is usually Chie's preferred method of teaching Yosuke a lesson. In the Persona 4 Manga, Chie's Shadow does this to Jiraiya, Yosuke's Persona, complete with both getting Blank White Eyes. Congrats, we now have a Running Gag.
Once you hit a certain rank in Chie and Yukiko's social links, then go through a dungeon you've already cleared, and the conversation will reveal that this is what Chie did when Kanji came into their tent on the night of the campout.
While it's quite possible to realize the True Ending exists given Ameno-Sagiri's comments and some Interface Spoilers, the game practically forces you away from it by pestering you many, many times to go home and get ready to return to the city. And the Good Ending? Picking the exact set of dialogue options to defuse Yosuke in just the right manner so that the group thinks that there's still something going on? Easy to screw up.
You cannot fight the New Game+Bonus Boss unless you finish the Empress S. Link before 12/24 and then visit the Velvet Room twice before you enter the true final dungeon.
Overall, the social links themselves can be a pain to complete. You have a rather limited time to max them all, meaning you'll have to get almost every response during the level up sequences spot on (and they're not always obvious). Almost every social link can only progress on certain days of the week, and are unavailable on rainy days. Add to this that some Social links cannot advance until you reach certain levels of the MC's personal stats (you need maximum knowledge just to even start Naoto's link) and the whole thing can be very frustrating to the uninitiated.
The raison d'etre of the Shadow Archetypes. Their existence is entirely based around deconstructing and showcasing the darker sides of their owners' personality. Unusually, the way to finally defeat them involves admitting that they're right, and not trying to deny them.
Hard Gay: Kanji's Shadow boss has a pair of these flanking it, as well as a embedding itself in a torso based on this, and surrounded by roses. The various Gigas enemies may count, especially the ones that resemble Hulk Hogan in rainbow tights.
Harmful to Minors: When Teddie is about to take his head off in the real world for the first time, Yosuke tries to stop him because there are kids watching and that they'll be scarred for life if they see an empty mascot.
Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: Lose to Shadow Rise and it's Game Over, but once you get its HP down to a certain amount, it does an Enemy Scan on your party and goes to a Cutscene where it blasts the crap out of you. Just when it's looking dire for the group, Teddie rushes in and saves the day, and Rise gets her Persona. So everyone turns around to leave... But not so fast! Teddie decides to take that moment to pay attention to your own ability to tell two different people two different things about life, and his Shadow manifests. Cue a Boss Battle with Rise taking over as Mission Control (and a party at full HP and SP, suspiciously enough).
After a character's Evil Counterpart is defeated, if they choose to accept it, it becomes a Persona.
Kanji himself, as he tries to reform his thuggish delinquent ways after joining the heroes.
I'm gonna tear this place apart so fast you won't have time to file for the insurance! Wait... I mean... I'm gonna tear it apart and rebuild it twice as good! I-I'm gonna RENOVATE your ass!
In the True Ending, Adachi sends a letter to the protagonist and gives the team the clues they need to completely solve the mystery. Whether this is a Heel-Face Turn or not may depend on interpretation.
Adventure-Friendly World: The TV World.note This is lifted straight from Carl Jung (whom the entire game is themed around). Jung called the conscious mind the "Ordinary Realm" and the unconscious world (the Midnight Channel) the Realm of Adventure.
Hidden Depths: Your party members if you follow their social links, particularly Kanji.
Hidden Disdain Reveal: This is done posthumously after the death of Saki Konishi, the girl Yosuke had a crush on and worked at the store his father managed. When they visit her death site, her last thoughts are broadcast loudly. He finds out that she found him to be a real pain in the ass and hated how much he flirted with her, and was only nice to him because he was the boss's son. He takes the news hard at first, but later still tries to respect her opinion and bring her killer to justice.
Hopeless Boss Fight: A dream sequence near the beginning of the game has you fighting someone (presumed to be the Big Bad); it lasts all of six turns before you wake up, the last three not even letting you hit the boss.
Also occurs against Shadow Rise and in the final battle.
Hp To One: The Death Arcana Chance does this to the party along with fully restoring the party's SP. The reversed card does the exact opposite. Either one teleports you out of the dungeon and resets the floors.
Humanity on Trial: As revealed in The True Ending, Izanami gave the power of Persona to people representing emptiness, despair and hope in order to ascertain what humanity truly desired. Thanks to Adachi, she thinks humanity wants oblivion and it's up to you to beat the crap out of her in order to prevent her from making it happen.
Humans Are Bitches And Whores: Implied by the game at times, especially before the final battle against the Big Bad during the True Ending. Though Izanami put everything in motion, she created the Midnight Channel as a portal into the human subconscious. The Big Bad sees evidence that what humankind really wants is to live in a permanent delusion without any real-life distress or struggle, so she decides to give that to them. There are hints and discussions of this galore throughout the game, sometimes completely randomly. If you win the fight, though, you see the world that really exists in people's hearts is rather lovely.
Hyperactive Metabolism: Played straight, but with minimal effectiveness: food items do restore HP, but the restoration is so little (i.e. 25 HP from a Steak Croquette) that you're better off using medicinal items for that purpose. Played straight with the rare Tater Longs item, which restores all of a character's HP. However, it still can't be eaten during combat.
Hypocritical Humor: After Morooka is murdered, it is revealed through gossiping classmates that despite complaining about how his students are apparently obsessed with getting laid, he still takes the time to buy Rise's pinup books.
Margaret gets one after being able to welcome you while Igor is away.
I Never Said It Was Poison: This trope, both inverted and played straight, is what ends up revealing Adachi. The characters have no evidence at all when they first confront the killer; he's just the only person they can think of who interacted with both of the initial victims, could have left the warning notes at the Dojima house, and would not have been noticed as suspicious regarding either of these. Once they start asking questions, however, inconsistencies start popping up, first when he plays dumb and claims not to know or remember things he should know about, such as the threatening letter that got the player character into trouble with Dojima - and then when Dojima starts tearing into him over that, Adachi gets angry enough that he inadvertently describes the victims being "put in [to the TV]," a phrase that only the Investigation Team and the killer would have any reason to use.
Idiot Ball: Dojima and the protagonist pass it back and forth a few times in one scene, which directly leads to Nanako getting kidnapped.
Ignorance Is Bliss: Deconstructed. The Big Bad's motivation for wanting to turn the entire human race into Shadows bascially comes down to "If humans are happier by hiding from truth and living blissfully in ignorance, their true desire must be to live as mindless drones whom are ignorant even of their own existance".
Impossibly Awesome Magic Trick: A mundane example, but in one of his S-Link scenes in Golden, Adachi manages to make a coin appear in the protagonist's pocket from across the table.
Improbable Age: Nanako is six years old. Yes, the girl who's home alone more often than not, AND does all the laundry, AND does all the grocery shopping. Parental Abandonment really does wonders for one's independance.
Improbable Weapon User: Most of the weapons in the game are fairly realistic: the Protagonist favors "two-handed weapons", which are usually swords (although early in the game can be slightly more esoteric things like golf clubs or baseball bats); Yosuke dual-wieldsknives; Chie using "shoes and shinguards" may seem odd at first but given that she's an accomplished martial artist it makes sense; Teddie uses claws built into his suit; Naoto favors pistols. Yukiko and Kanji, however...
Yukiko uses hand-fans, of the traditional hiogi type, exclusively as her weapons; most of these aren't even of the "iron fan" variety (one early one you can get for her is basically made out of peacock feathersnote And you will likely keep this one as it adds 50 SP for your main healer, a wonderful deal), and yet they have as much base damage as any other weapon type. Only her fairly abysmal strength score prevents Yukiko from hitting as hard as melee heavies like Kanji or Chie, despite her weapon typically being made from wood and paper. (Even more unusually, she doesn't use them as a melee weapon; she throws them.)note Of course, it hardly makes a difference seeing as you probably won't be doing a lot of physical attacking with Yukiko.
Speaking of Kanji, his weapon of choice is a "shield", or a large, wide, blunt weapon. This is already fairly unusual (using a shield as a weapon isn't totally unheard of, but using it as a primary weapon is), but early on... metal shields aren't available. This means that Kanji will use whatever large and flat objects he can lay hold of as a weapon... including folding chairs and desks at his school. This gets particularly hilarious in light of the fact that, technically, the heroes are supposed to be using their school uniforms to conceal the weapons and armor that would otherwise get them arrested... so how is Kanji concealing a desk?
The Golden has even more unusual weapons. You can equip Yosuke and Kanji with grilled corn and the River Guardian respectively, for instance.
Improvised Weapon: Except for Naoto, everyone's starting weapon is this (Kanji's entire fighting style revolves around this). Some of the later weapons are this as well (such as a titanium golf club for the protagonist, or a pair of fish for Yosuke).
Infallible Babble: Zig-Zagged: it's rumoured that the Midnight Channel appears at midnight when it's raining (which is usually true), and shows you your "soulmate" (which isn't - it shows who the next person to end up in the TV is/will be) or rather, what everyone in town is thinking of..
Infant Immortality: Played straight in all except the worst possible variation of the bad ending.
Informed Ability: Rise is an Actress/Idol Singer, and during her Rank 8 Social Link, her former manager proceeds to gush about how talented she was, but (Aside from a commercial right at the start of the game) the player never sees her in action.
Averted in Golden, which has Rise perform at a concert being hosted by Junes with the rest of the Investigation Team as her band.
Inn Security: Averted for the most part: you sleep in your own house (most of the time) and a fairly trustworthy fox provides healing services in the dungeon proper (for an outrageous price, which becomes less outrageous as you build your link with him).
Instant Runes: Light ("Hama") and Darkness ("Mudo") skills utilize this.
The fact that you cannot reach MAX in the Judgement Social Link until after you've finished the "final" dungeon is one of the only tip-offs that Ameno-Sagiri is not the final boss after all. Enjoy figuring our how to reach the truth after that. Corrected in Golden, where the final rank up occurs when you all celebrate your victory.
Why does the controller rumble when you shake the hand of a gas station attendant?
Why does that creepy guy hitting on Yukiko have a profile picture while talking with him? This is averted with the gas station attendant, who doesn't have one until you unlock the true ending.
Intoxication Ensues: During a school trip to Tatsumi Port Island, courtesy of drinking at the local nightclub. Yukiko, Rise, and Teddie get particularly sloshed, with hilarious consequences. Subverted in that, as Naoto repeatedly insists, the nightclub isn't even permitted to serve alcoholic drinks - amusingly, the three of them are too "drunk" to care.
Invocation: The protagonists will sometimes call the names of their Personas before Evoking them complete with an Eyed Screencut-in: when this happens, you know you hit the weakness of or landed a critical hit on at least one enemy.
Ironic Echo: If you choose to hit on Yosuke during the school Culture Festival, Kanji mocks him with the same speech Yosuke used on him earlier.
Yosuke:[To Yu] Okay, we get it! You're good at role-playing! Now quit it! You're creeping me out... Kanji: "There are many forms of love..." Didn't you tell me something like that?
Can get some fairly interesting ones by not saving victims before the fog rolls in. Not catching the killer leads to a particularly disturbing one, where Naoto calls you to warn Shadows are invading the real world, only to stop mid sentence and start screaming.
All of the Bad Endings have this sequence (spoilers!). They also play "Corridor", a somber piano theme which plays during the Credits sequence and Izanami's dungeon. If you have the latter happening, you're already at the True Ending.
Oh boy, where do we start? The best example is Nanako's kidnapping.
Yosuke makes a big deal about his beloved Saki-senpai and why she had to die whenever the murders come up.
Yukiko, Kanji, Rise & Naoto all join the Investigation Team after their kidnappings made it personal to them, with Kanji outright stating he wants to join the team to get some payback on his kidnapper.
It Was a Dark and Stormy Night: The Midnight Channel only comes on these. So do the murders. And the gas station attendant only shows up in the rain. Hmm...
Yosuke dips into this category occasionally throughout the game, especially during the confrontation with Namatame, but for the most part he can more accurately described as a Jerk with a Heart of Gold. Really, it comes with being a teenager. A good example is his reaction to just how bad the curry is on the school camping trip, which leads to him being a bit of a Base Breaker.
The killer is one of these, but he hides it pretty well, except during his Social Link.
Maybe subverted with the Main Character himself. Sure, he has a variety of asshole phrases you can use in the social links, but saying them more often than not will discourage your S-linker from wanting to talk to you again, unless you do something nice, like hang out with them or invite them to lunch.
Johnny Yong Bosch: It's from Japan, it has at least one male character between 15 and 30 years old, he's required by physics to be involved. (Adachi and the Protagonist)
Jump Scare: The random killer chests that drain your HP or SP when opened, accompanied by a very sudden "punch" sound effect and a red flash.
Just a Kid: Naoto's Shadow berates her with a rant to this effect. Also, the real killer tells the protagonists that "Students should stay home and study."
Just for Pun: An item named 'Goho-M' will instantly transport your party from the dungeon back to the entrance area. At first glance, it appears to just be another strangely named item in the game with some roots still stuck in the original Japanese (see Woolseyism on the YMMV tab), however, it can also be read as 'go ho-M', or 'Go Home'.
Adachi in the worst endings. One ending in Golden that can only be obtained after the hospital but before the True Ending can be earned, called the Accomplice Ending, actually has you destroy the evidence that implicates him.
The driver of the hit-and-run that killed Nanako's mother, given that it was likely a tourist who's long since left Inaba and there were no witnesses, it seems unlikely he or she will ever get caught.
Keep It Foreign: In the Japanese version. One of your available reactions to Teddie after the girls dress him up is 'brilliant', said in English. In the English version it's 'Ces't Magnifique.' Both are references to Mitsuru Kirijo's speech in Persona 3.
Kill and Replace: If a Shadow-Self is rejected by his/her human counterpart, the shadow will invoke this and will try to kill him/her and take his/her place. However, if the first couple of victims are any indication, the Shadow stays in its world while the victim's body reappears in the real one.
Kotatsu: There's a whole sub-plot about obtaining one. It takes a more prominent role in Golden when the Protagonist ends up getting extremely sick right after New Year's and ends up bed-ridden. Who puts him under the kotatsu? Teddie (although he's questioned for doing so by everyone else).
Lampshade Hanging: Several. At one point, a girl comments on the improbable items they sell on the weekly shopping show with her friend, "Who would buy a sword over the phone?"
Lap Pillow: One of the possible actions that the Protagonist can invite one of his party members (Rise) to do during the King's Game.
The Shadow Selves, especially Yukiko and Naoto. One teacher even asks the class if they know where the term "ham" originated from. (Pay attention when it comes up, too; it's on the exam.)
Laser-Guided Karma: In Golden, Teddie's Casanova Wannabe antics come back to bite him in the ass during the summer festival, as two days after taking all three of the girls as his dates, he winds up drawing the unwanted attentions of Hanako after he gets carried away hitting on anything that moves. In-universe, this is even stated by Yosuke as Teddie's karma catching up with him, but in reference to Teddie bringing Yosuke's "private reading material" to the Hanamura breakfast table that morning.
Lazy Backup: Surprisingly averted in The Golden. Party members that aren't in your active party may sometimes appear out of nowhere to attack your opponent, if their Social Links are high enough.
There's a bit during Rise's Social Link where her ex-manager says something about how "the cult of personality" controls one's life and schedule. No kidding...
The first non-voice acted line in the game (outside of battle) is Morooka shouting, "Be quiet, you idiots!"
Left Hanging: Epileptic Trees aside, the Good and True endings to the game seem to do this quite deliberately for a couple plot points, which is what leads to so many shaking branches in the first place. Most prominent by far is the fact that, very much unlike the resolution to Persona 3 wherein the Dark Hour ceases after Nyx is beaten, even after Izanami has been defeated the TV portals still work. Naoto even intends to continue investigating Ame-no-Sagiri and Izanami, and there's a little worry that someone might try to abuse the realm beyond the TVs again. Could these be hooks for another sequel? Oh, perish the thought...
The True Ending isn't that bad about it. Izanami states that she has been completely eradicated and the other world is purged of all fog and presumably shadows. While it's still available, it doesn't look like much could be done there but take a vacation.
It is implied that the world has always existed, being something of an Urban Fantasy equivalent to the Collective Unconscious. Considering it lies in people's hearts, it probably is true.
Chie, Rise, and Yukiko. Yukiko is bad enough on her own (she uses the hero as a guinea pig during her S. Link events), but when they team up during the camping trip segment, the result is the infamous "Mystery Food X," which takes out both Yosuke and the protagonist when they try to eat it. Rise can cook but tends to add a lethal amount of spiciness to her meals. The three of them get it right in the end, but probably only because Naoto helped out (and after two failed attempts).
Painfully subverted on Valentine's Day in Golden. The girls inadvertently trick Nanako into creating a lethal chocolate creation for the Protagonist. The result? One strike. note You HAVE no options!
Golden also takes Yukiko's case Up to Eleven in the Valentine's Day event, where she reveals that she wanted to try using Octopus Ink to give an extra flavor to the chocolate. The reason? Because they are the same color.
Yet another lethal chef can be found outside the Dojima residence on some days, and will give you her creations (bait).
Lestrade: Adachi is responsible for much of your knowledge about the police investigation of the case and he's the guy who did it, using this information to mislead you. Ryoutarou Dojima is in a position this would be expected from, but is not an example.
For those with a Nico Nico account, There's にきろちゃん'snote Nikiro-chanLet's Play of Persona 4. Obviously in Japanese, listening to a Japanese girl read through all the unvoiced dialogue in the game, together with great editing for running through fights, make this a fun one to watch.
Let Us Never Speak of This Again: After the disastrous school camping trip comes up in a conversation, Kanji says something along the lines of "I thought we agreed never to talk about that."
Level-Up at Intimacy 5: The Social Link system returns - but this time, with more immediate effects on combat when you develop your links with party members, culminating with their Persona evolving at the max S. Link.
Lighter and Softer: Compared to the rest of the SMT series, hell compared to P3 which had Personas threatening to and killing people among other things. Compared to the rest of the series, Persona 4 is incredibly cheerful and upbeat, and the true ending is completely happy. No catch.
Limit Break: The supporting characters' follow-up attacks:
Yosuke, Yukiko, and Teddie only target and critical a single non-downed enemy, or kill it if low on health.
Kanji and Naoto multi-target 1-3 enemies to critical hit.
Subverted in town, where PCs wear a variety of seasonal clothing, but played straight in battle. The latter is supposedly explained by the need to conceal their equipment under their school uniforms. (Though in P4G, there are more outfits to wear in battle, just like Persona 3).
Lampshaded by Marie in Golden, when taken on a shopping trip with Yukiko and Chie. They are utterly incapable of buying anything not red or green, respectively (or in Chie's case, blue and yellow, which makes green).
Of course, Marie is one to talk. (Justified in her case by the fact that everything she has is "borrowed" from the Velvet Room.)
The Golden Epilogue changes their looks completely. Kanji no longer dyes his hair, wears glasses, and dresses more modestly due to his change in attitude, Chie and Naoto dress more femininely, Yukiko ties her hair up, and Rise has returned to dressing more like a Teen Idol. Even Nanako has changed her appearance to look more ladylike. The MC, Yosuke, and Teddie all dress up practically for the season.
Lonely Rich Kid: Yukiko was this until she became friends with Chie. Naoto also has elements of this, but gets better after joining the investigation squad, especially if you complete the Fortune social link. Ai has elements of it tied into her also being the Alpha Bitch.
Deconstructed in that Naoto knows damn well that the Investigation Team is withholding information about the kidnappings. The frustration from this situation leads to her getting herself kidnapped in order to find out the truth.
The Personas used to fuse Izanagi-No-Okami are fairly random and unrelated but the first kana of each from each one top to bottom reads " Izanagi-no-Ookami tsukurenote meaning "Create Izanagi-No-Ookami"". This only barely (the first one or two levels of most spell "Isanagi-no-Ookami" phonetically identical to the created Persona) works in English.
The final boss has a seeming example. It hearkens back to the original myth of Izanami and Izanagi, where Izanami swore to curse 1000 mortals each day, and Izanagi swore in turn to give life to 1500 mortals each day. In game this manifests as Izanami's attack Thousand Curses and the Player's counter Myriad Truths, which was 10,000 Truths in the original Japanese. However, myriad has a little used alternate definition in English, a specific reference to 10,000 as in the original Greek.
Luck-Based Mission: Defeating the Contrarian King when it first appears. Your victory is completely dependent on how many times it decides to use its overpowered Rampage move; a physical attack that targets the entire party and hits each target up to three times, except each hit deals a ridiculous amount of damage and two or more hits is guaranteed to KO a party member regardless of defensive buffs and/or physical resistance. Its one weakness is the relatively low accuracy of its attacks, so a semi-effective strategy is to maximize your evasion with Sukukaja and Sukunda. But although those moves bring the odds more into your favor, your success is still not guaranteed and it's not unheard of for Rampage to still hit and wipe your entire party even with those buffs in play. The only way to guarantee victory is to come in with complete immunity to physical attacks; something which is only possible on a New Game+.
Magic Skirt: Subverted - Chie wears black bike shorts when in combat. It's not always easy to tell with a lot of the taller boots, but they're easy to see when she wears sneakers. Avert with Yukiko as well. Her Fan Assault follow up attack reveals that she wears black short shorts.
When Shadow Rise first appears on the Midnight Channel, the camera focuses on her chest and thighs, with the game commenting that you can't even see her face. Could also apply to Shadow Yukiko's intro. This point gets driven home later, when you learn that in the absence of a victim, the Midnight Channel shows whatever the public consciousness is thinking of, with the clarity tailored to each viewer. Not only is her figure apparently of immense interest to the folks of Inaba, but her breasts are exaggerated.
In Golden, the Investigation Team's trip to the Hot Springs after the School Festival features an animated cutscene of the girls entering the Hot Springs in nothing but towels, complete with a pan upwards of Yukiko & Chie, a shot where Rise runs past the just-below-waist-high camera & Chie subsequently walks (And stands) directly in the shot after her, and finally, a close-up of Naoto's chest.
During the second trip to the Hot Springs in Golden, there's a prolonged shot of Marie from the back, as the camera pans up her naked body, before going in for some closer shots as he pours water over her body. The other girls are very obviously naked in the same scene too, with their bodies being hidden by steam.
Manual Leader, AI Party: The default battle setting—you can choose your party's style of attacks (offensive, healing, general) but not control their actions directly. However, you can opt for manual control of every party member.
Subverted. Not only is it just an ordinary department store, Yosuke is the son of the manager. In fact it is actually DOWNRIGHT HELPFUL at times. Its TV section serves as the gateway into the TV world while the food court is their meeting place. It also provides a place for Teddie to work in since he would stand out in the bear costume.
Played straight in the opinion of many Inaba citizens, especially those whose family stores are closed by Junes' presence. The vast majority of the shopping district is boarded up closed shops that presumably went out of business thanks to Junes.
Meganekko: The cast visits Gekkoukan High School, on Port Island, where they are greeted by Chihiro from Persona 3. She's had two years in which to shed her moe traits in exchange for just damn hot. Also, technically all your female party members since they wear attractive glasses inside the TV.
The Fighting Game spin-off/sequel Arena gives you the option to put glasses on everyone.
Metal Slime: Golden hands appear in every multi-level dungeon after Yukiko's. They'll attack you instead of running away or disappearing when cornered, and if you can kill them before they escape, they drop a lot of money and a key for the locked golden chests you'll sometimes find.
Moon Logic Puzzle: The hints about the Good Ending are only (relatively) easy to pick up if you're Genre Savvy, or have it spoiled for you. The True Ending... yeah, have fun with that.
Mood Whiplash: This is easily one of the most cheerful games centered around murder. Then November and December happen. It's painful.
Lighter and Softer: Persona 4 is extremely optimistic and upbeat for a Shin Megami Tensei game. It even has two happy endings. The Normal Ending is quite cheerful itself; it is only detracted if one bothers themselves with Fridge Logic.
What is interesting to note is that this mood whiplash is also seen in how characters summon their persona, compared to Persona 3. Persona 3 has people initially terrified of summoning it (due to the whole "shoot yourself" thing) and take it morbidly. In comparison, Persona 4 characters summon their persona by doing things they find fun (Chie kicking the card, Yosuke doing the stylish flip thing, etc) and are actually happy when they first receive their persona.
More Friends, More Benefits: The social links. Unlike Persona 3, you are never forced into a romantic relationship. On the other hand, the game doesn't punish you if you cheat either. The worst that happens is some awkward dialogue in the dungeons.
And, in The Golden, heart-rending conversations on Valentine's Day with every girlfriend you DON'T spend it with except Marie. Fully voiced.
The are a few Bad Endings, a Good Ending, and an even better True Ending.
Golden retains the original endings, but adds two new endings: the Accomplice Ending, where the Protagonist burns the only evidence linking Adachi to the crimes; and the Golden Ending, an extended version of the original game's True Ending that requires the Golden-exclusive bonus dungeon to be completed in addition to the requirements of the original True Ending.
Mutual Envy: Chie's shadow reveals that she's secretly jealous of her friend Yukiko's looks while Yukiko's jealous of Chie's independance. Of course, what actually lets their respective shadows get under their skin is the fact that Chie feels better when Yukiko has to depend on her and Yukiko was relying on Chie (or someone) to help her go somewhere in life.
Namatame does this after realizing that his efforts to "save" the victims actually put them in a mortal danger. On a smaller scale, Rise does this after Naoto deliberately gets herself kidnapped by Namatame, in the hopes of proving that the killer is still out there. Rise is upset because the last thing Naoto said to the group before enacting this plan was "This is not a game for me either", answering Rise's earlier accusation that Naoto was only working the case for her own vain enjoyment.
The Protagonist in the Accomplice Ending, as it sinks in that he is the only reason the killer's getting away with his crimes.
The Persona Alice is created by fusing Belial and Nebiros. This is a reference to the original Shin Megami Tensei, in which the demons Belial and Nebiros summoned Alice for their own designs. Similarly, Ardha is fused via Shiva and Parvati, a reference to Digital Devil Saga which featured Serph and Sera merging into Seraph and gaining Ardha as the single being's Atma form. This itself being a mythological reference to Shiva and Parvati fusing into the god Ardhanarishvara. Ardha the Persona also mirrors Ardha the Atma Avatar by not having any elemental affinities or weaknesses.
There are references, both subtle and not-so-subtle, to several SMT games, both in and out of continuity. These range from the pink alligator of Persona 3's Sun Link and Rise talking about a mysterious power failure two years ago during her show at a Port Island night club (same game, Hermit Boss Battle), to the Fox's Macca leaves or the explicit mention of Detective Kuzunoha.
The protagonist has a Persona 3 calendar on the wall in his room.
The appearance of Magatsu Izanagi looks like the berserk starving demons of Digital Devil Saga. It also seems to be a reference to the enemy used "Reverse" Personas featured in Persona2.
Minato's Persona from Persona 3 was Orpheus, Narukami's Persona in Persona 4 is Izanagi. These two share a similar story: they both went to the underworld to rescue their lover from the clutches of death, but had to leave them behind. Orpheus screwed up and lost his lover, but Izanagi actually left Izanami in the underworld after he realized she was all rotted from spending too much time in the Death World. "Learning when to let go" is a big part of "Facing the Truth", which is Persona 4 's big theme.
In the instruction manual of the American version, the protagonist is named Raidou Kuzunoha.
Another nod to Digital Devil Saga, one of the drinks you can get from a vending machine is Cielo Mist.
One of Teddie's weapons is the "Strega Claw," described as a weapon for an "agent of revenge."
In Golden, one of the costumes you can equip is the Gekkoukan High School uniform. Your party members not only imitate the end-battle poses of SEES, but even their end-battle quotes.
A new event in Golden involves the protagonist, Yosuke, and Kanji going to Okina to try and fail miserably at picking up girls. This is a Shout-Out to the Operation Babe Hunt from Persona 3.
Teddie never lets Yukiko forget about her Shadow going "stud hunting."
Yosuke will not let Kanji live down the things his Shadow did and said in the TV World.
New-Age Retro Hippie: Kunino-sagiri wears a shirt with a heart and the peace sign on it, and is supported in the air by a gigantic peace sign wrapped around its head. Doesn't help that he looks a thousand bloody years old.
New Game+: Allows you to carry over the Persona Compendium, your characteristics, and your money into a new game. Golden also allows you to retain your costumes.
Next Sunday A.D.: The game was released in 2008 (or 2009 if you're European) and takes place in 2011-12.
Nice Hat: Naoto is rarely ever seen without a blue policeman/cabbie hat. Fans have theorized that it's a keepsake from Naoto's parents.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Choose to throw Namatame into the TV as revenge for Nanako? Congratulations, you just killed her. Oh, and Izanami gets to destroy the world unopposed.
Generally speaking, Shadows want to be accepted by their owners. At the same time it's part of their nature to expose their owners' faults for all to see, which leads to their owners violently rejecting them and their going berserk, ultimately killing the person in question if left unchecked.
Nintendo Hard: A hallmark of the series. Persona 3 was difficult, moreso in the updated re-release, but complaints about some easier parts of it lead the developers to jack the difficulty of Persona 4up to12. Of course, they also gave you a bunch of tools to make it easier, too. Party members are now directly controllable, the Nonstandard Game Over condition is much more forgiving than Persona 3's (if you weren't ready for a Full Moon Shadow, you were roadblocked if you saved over your file - if you fail the rescue, you can flash back a week and try again).
Nominal Importance: At the climax of the story, the game will ask you directly who the killer is and then provide you with a list of every single named person in the game to choose from. The killer is on that list somewhere.
Subverted heavily in the true ending, where it's revealed that The Big Bad is in fact the nameless, portraitless gas station attendant you met at the beginning of the game, and who's shown up every rainy day to watch the events unfold. As soon as you Pull the Thread enough to expose her, she gains a portrait, and then finally a name.
In Persona 4 Golden, every party member gets a unique skill that is obtained through talking to them on a certain date after maxing their Social Links.
All the party members have social link skills. Golden also adds "Bike Ride" skills, which allow the party members to learn new skills late in the game by going on a trip to a spa with the protagonist.
No Pronunciation Guide: Averted, unlike Persona 3, social link characters will have a handy voice over when they first say their name.
Nosebleed: Kanji gets one of these during the swimsuit scene.
Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here: Inaba before the main character arrives. Town residents will bemoan their boring lives. Some even get excited that horrible things are happening, because at least it's something worth talking about. Yosuke's Shadow gets special mention.
Not What It Looks Like - A meta-example - One FAQ for Persona 4 laid the games conversation choices out with only the lead in question. The last question for Yukiko's girlfirend social link, the point where they're in an intimate relationship, was given solely as "So.....the couch, or the futon?". Play through it, and they're just sitting.
Older than They Look: Ayane Matsunaga, one of the two options for the Sun social link. Despite being only a year younger than the protagonist, if he chooses to bring her as his date to the Summer Festival, the man handing out prizes will mistake her for an elementary school student.
Old Media Are Evil: P4 takes this trope and runs with it. The heroes explore a supernatural television channel that causes some deaths. Even outside the world inside the television, this trope is heavily discussed. In particular, how television and gossip are bad.
Ominous Fog: When the fog comes, someone's going to show up dead, unless you intervene. And even then, it's a crapshoot. Later becomes permanent, with your characters realizing it's the fog from the TV world.
One-Hit Kill: Hama and Mudo series. Of course, they are capable of missing like many others in RPGs. However, if an enemy is weak to light or darkness, Hama and Mudo will almost always hit it.
One Steve Limit: Averted with a character and a place — Kanji Tatsumi and Tatsumi Port Island (the location of Persona 3, which is visited during the game).
In Japanese they're spelled with different characters, but their readings are the same, so they appear the same in the English version.
One-Winged Angel: Adachi and Namatame both do this. Izanami also does this when you reveal her true form—a skeletal, maggot and filth-ridden corpse, just like in the legend that Edogawa told you during the class trip.
Optional Sexual Encounter: At the end of the Christmas date, your girlfriend decides to spend the night and the screen fades to black. Followed by suggestive text. You could also make an argument that maxing any of the social links with a girl you've chosen to date leads to this. She asks to come to your bedroom, the two of you exchange words, and then it fades to black with the words 'You spent a long time with Insert Girl Here'. The thing is, most of these conversations end with your arms wrapped around the girl in question while you're sitting alone together in your bedroom, so one is forced to wonder what you spent such a long time doing...
Pantyshot: Ishtar, the last persona of the lovers arcana has an extremely short skirt. No wonder then that she flashes whenever you summon her, though it’s still not that prominent. Chie on the other hand, despite being a Kick Chick with plenty of chances for this, manages to avert the trope by wearing shorts under her skirt. The same goes for Yukiko.
One of the Shadow bosses does some serious tapping on the fourth wall, summoning a giant cel-shaded blockman (identical to the style of 3D Dot Game Heroes, actually) that attacks and uses items using a Shin Megami Tensei-style menu. We can prove it.
A more straight version is Yosuke muttering that he's insulted that he thinks of game characters this way. More likely, however, that he's saying it's insulting that Mitsuo thinks of the murders as a game.
Or on a return visit to that dungeon, adding Yosuke to your team results in him saying "Yosuke joined your party! ... or something like that, right?"
Adachi at one point says games like this need a twist, or they get boring really fast. While it can be seen as a joke for the players, it fits within the fourth wall, too. Adachi considered his murders and the competition between the team and Namatame to be a game for his enjoyment
Panthera Awesome: One of the personas the protagonist can have is Ose, who is a bipedal, dual-sword wielding, cape-wearing cheetah.
The Protagonist is forced to move to Inaba for the next year because his parents went to work overseas. The manga takes this even further by implying he's being moving to all different places his entire life. Goes into Parental Neglect, when you think about it. He's there for an entire year, and he never contacts his parents, and they never contact him.
Then there's Nanako, who does all the housework and practically lives by herself because of her father's habit of constantly being called into work, and her mother's habit of being dead. And to rub it in, he ends up severely injured and doesn't make it in time to see Nanako die - if you get the worst ending.
Rise is a black belt at this sort of thing, mostly driven by her jealousy of the other girls when she thinks they're competing for the Protagonist. In particular, there's the "Wrap Up Party", where she sweetly warns the other girls not to compete with her cooking because she'd win hands down.
Ai Ebihara has at least one scene like this during her Social Link, where another girl (picked according to your relationship status) appears while you're out with her. The two of them have a friendly greeting while the other girls asks what you're doing out with Ai. Ai interjects, and then the claws come out immediately.
Pieces of God: In Golden, the True Ending and the completion of the S.Link for Marie, Aeon, reveal that Izanami-no-Ookami (and by extension, her manifestations as Ame no Sagiri and Kuni no Sagiri) is a cast-off from the true deity, Izanami-no-Mikoto, who incarnated as Marie.
Playable Epilogue: The normal ending. Getting the true ending subverts this as it requires you to realize that the last day is only presented as a playable epilogue and that the game isn't over yet.
Player Data Sharing: Golden added a feature (to take advantage of the PS Vita's wifi/3G capabilities) where the player could call for help while in dungeons and gets healed based on the number of players who respond. The game also lets players write a short message (from a few specific phrases, presumably so they could be easily translated and avoid griefing), which is stored in anyone they aid's log.
Plucky Comic Relief: Officially, it's Teddie. In practice, everyone fills this role at one point or another.
Police Are Useless: But not incompetent. Dojima catches all the major plot turns: your involvement, the way the victims are selected, Namatame's involvement, the fact that Mitsuo is a copycat murderer, sometimes even before Naoto does. Sadly, the poor man is Wrong Genre Savvy, and doesn't realize that he's living an Urban Fantasy world. And you never tell him until he's too pissed about your lying to believe you anyway. The Investigation Team constantly state that there's nothing the police can do to stop the perp, but they recruit all but one of the rescued victims to their cause after gaining a Persona. At no point does the team simply walk over a TV and stick their hand inside while a policeman is present.
Part of that was in-universe Executive Meddling, though – the higher-ups were really pushing to just close the case and be done with it after Mitsuo was recaptured.
Possession Implies Mastery: The cast are experts at using their weapons, despite there being no sign that they've had any sort of training (other than Chie watching kung fu movies and Kanji... well, punching things). This is particularly jarring considering it was relatively justified in Persona 3 (the characters used weapons corresponding to their club, and/or were shown practicing), and the weapons in this game are more exotic as well. Yosuke deserves special mention, busting out ninja tricks out of nowhere.
Power Floats: The optional boss battle against Margaret, as well as Izanami's first form.
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. Some of the tarots have more than one person associated with them, and you have to pick one over the other. In addition, each party member has an S-Link, and your level of S-Link power with them directly affects combat.
Power of the God Hand: The God Hand attack returns from Persona 3, only now it's the second strongest physical attack. Still a giant golden fist striking from the sky, though.
Prolonged Prologue: The game takes a good three hours to establish the plot and the charactersnote And during that time you can only skip about a minute of cutscenes and can't move until even later.
Not nearly so bad in Golden. You're given more chances to save, there's an extra section where you can run about the town, and you even get a prompt asking if you want to save around half way through the prologue. Along with the new 'fast forward' feature, the prologue isn't nearly so bad.
Properly Paranoid: Mr. Morooka assumes all of his students are horny bastards whose sole motivation is to get it on with members of the opposite sex. In the case of the main character, you are free to live down to his expectations. Yosuke isn't that far off either, and neither is at least one male student NPC.
Private Tutor: One of the odd jobs/Social Links (The Tower social link, to be exact) you can take is working as a tutor to Shu Nakajima, a younger student. If you stick with it, the student in question goes from an Insufferable Genius to talking things through with his Education Mama and being more social (in the epilogue, he reveal he made friends with The Rival he was complaining about).
It wouldn't be a proper murder mystery without 'em. Hell, the non-True Endings come from following the Red Herrings instead of continuing to search. The game makes a big deal about finding the truth and not accepting the easy answer.
The Junes department store is not particularly popular for running smaller stores out of business, and their jingle might seem to be brainwashing Nanako. Especially considering four of the first five victims are kids set to inherit small family-owned businesses in Inaba, one might start suspecting Junes is behind the plot somehow, or even suspect Yosuke because of this. The fact that it doesn't get brought up in dialogue options might make some of Genre Savvy players even more suspicious. In truth, it is completely irrelevant.
Remonstrating With A Gun: Yosuke does a variant of this early in the game. After offering the main character a choice between a long sword and a dagger, Yosuke gets it into his head that he should use both, and tries a few moves. A cop sees him, and moves in to arrest Yosuke. Yosuke tries to explain himself, while still flailing about with his weapons. He and the main character end up being arrested.
Revised Ending: The Golden adds a new ending sequence; the Protagonist returns to Inaba a few months later, all of the Investigation Team members turned a new leaf on their lives, being sincere with themselves and their lifestyles coupled with new dressing fashion.
Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: Chie and Yukiko could count, given the whole "Chie is my prince" scenario and their (perceived) dependence on each other.
Room Full of Crazy: When the characters first enter the TV world, they run into one. Near the end of the game, it's revealed that the room was created by Mayumi's thoughts and acts as the (second to) last dungeon.
Sadist Teacher: Kinshiro "King Moron" Morooka, the brutally conservative Jerkass who is convinced that kids are all horny troublemakers and that the New Kid (you) is nothing but trouble as someone from the city. He also goes so far as to state that the deaths of the first two victims were their own fault. In front of a class of teenagers who probably knew one of the victims. Why exactly did it take so long for someone to kill him?
Especially unconvincing since not a single main character wears the uniform properly, biggest culprits being Yukiko wearing a red jacket over her uniform and, ironically, Chie herself, with a huge green jacket over any top she may be wearing. (Though she is also the martal artist of the team, and her "weapons" are various leg and foot protectors)
It's not that hard of a stretch because most of the team wield weapons that could be easily hidden under their clothes (small knives/wrenches, fans, guns, and footwear),and Teddie could simply hide his gloves/claws in his suit. The only oddballs are Kanji (shields, folding chairs, and a school desk), and the Protagonist, who wields 2-handed swords.
Schrödinger's Gun: All the little differences between the game's Multiple Endings, but perhaps the most prominent of which is the fact that the doctors were able to revive Nanako isn't revealed until after you decide what to do about Namatame. Should you choose to throw him in the TV, Nanako remains dead. You Bastard.
Scripted Battle: The end of the battles with Shadow Rise and Izanami-no-Okami.
In the True Ending, Yosuke asks the Protagonist if he has any plans in May, which is when Persona 4 Arena takes place.
In Golden's epilogue to the True Ending, which is set several months later in the summer, Yosuke outright refers to how the Protagonist just wound up running around the Midnight Channel again when he visited in May, which again refers to Persona 4 Arena.
Serial Escalation: There are several new Ultimate Personas for the various Arcana, and those that have retained that distinction from the last game are put higher up in their respective rankings, boosting their base levels and stats. Then there's Alice's "Die For Me!" which has gone from a One-Hit Kill spell with an 80% success rate to one with a 100% success rate.
Shadow Archetype: One of the more impressive things about this game is that the Shadows follow the Jungian model. They're the parts of a person that they least want to admit exist; denying them only makes them stronger.
She Is Not My Girlfriend: Happens a couple of times to Yosuke and Chie. A bit subverted in that it is entirely possible for the Protagonist to make the assertion true... unless Chie is all for polygamy, anyway.
Shielded Core Boss: Shadow Mitsuo of the "Void Quest" dungeon is surrounded by a shell of ... pixel blocks resembling a gigantic 8-bit sprite (yes, really). Rise informs you that you have to destroy his outer shell before you can attack him directly.
Though once you destroy the shell, Shadow Mitsuo is knocked down, allowing you to issue an All-Out Attack.
Rise ships Chie/Yosuke and Kanji/Naoto. And, of course, herself/Protagonist.
The Protagonist himself is given the option to ship Kanji/Naoto.
Shoot the Medic First: Frequently a viable strategy, especially against the bosses who come with minions. On the flip side, if all four of your party members can heal...
Kanji's shadow boss is a perfect example of the above. The shadow will come flanked with two minions, one who will cast buffs and heal the main boss, and the other who will target Yukiko far more than the other party members.
Works for the enemies too. All of your party members' evolved Personas gain an elemental immunity and lose an elemental weakness, except for Yukiko and Teddie, who don't lose their weakness, but get another resistance to go with their immunity. Their peculiarity is that they're the only ones who learn the Media (party healing) family of spells, revive spells and status removal spells. Which means that they're the only ones who can get the Downed status through elemental attacks, when later bosses tend to exploit weaknesses when they discover them.
There is no way that the cutscene with Namatame writing in a notebook in front of the TV wasn't a reference to Death Note.
After blatantly and repeatedly propositioning the player character, Sayoko offers to pour him a cup of hot coffee.
During the guys' beauty pageant, Kanji's outfit resembles an iconic Marilyn Monroe. While Teddie strongly resembles Disney's Alice from Alice in Wonderland. The MC's outfit and sword during the "Miss" Inaba contest is a shout out to Saya from Blood: The Last Vampire, right down to the braids.
Chie's initial Persona, Tomoe, wears a yellow jumpsuit similar to Bruce Lee's in Game of Death.
In Golden, Chie gets one of her own as a costume.
The entire Void Quest dungeon is a shout out to Dragon Quest and retro JRPGS in general. The boss uses the very first Megami Tensei battle screen for several attacks, and some of the text that pops up as you progress through the dungeon is directly taken from the first Shin Megami Tensei game. One specific shout out occurs when you beat the bonus boss of said dungeon, a pile of bones in the boss lair, when examined "No response. It must be a tile, not an object" alluding to the recurring Dragon Quest line "No response. Looks like a corpse."
In the US version, one of Chie's winning quotes is taken from Bruce Lee's Enter The Dragon: "Don't think. Feel." Given her love of martial arts films, this is an example in universe. Furthermore, if you watch her bouncing around idle during battle, she'll sometimes stop to do his signature nose-thumb flick.
The Golden adds to it; when she uses Dragon Hustle there is a chance she'll say "Don't miss all this heavenly glory!". And of course, the Yellow Track-suit costume.
One of Naoto's weapons is called Algernon. Its description states it was created as part of an "experiment to find happiness", no less.
There was no way that someone at Atlus wasn't thinking God Hand with Chie's Galactic Punt follow on technique and her God's Hand move.
Your friends from the sports teams, Daisuke and Kou, belong to the soccer team and the basketball team, respectively. Both in looks and attitude, they are shout outs to popular sports anime: Daisuke resembles Kyosuke Kano of Hungry Heart: Wild Striker and Kou resembles Kaede Rukawa of Slam Dunk.
At one point, Yosuke comments on something giving him the jibblies. At least one NPC uses the phrase too.
The Secret Laboratory dungeon is a reference to locales of that type in tokusatsu shows, and the bird logo hung all over the dungeon bears a strong resemblance to the Shocker symbol.
During the nightclub scene, Naoto begins talking about the Shirogane family and how they've been lending their powers to the police from time to time. Chie suddenly relates them to a guy from a movie she watched before: Kuzonoha.
In the Japanese version, the reference is Kindaichi, a Japanese detective character.
The Persona Nata Taishi is clearly patterned after Astro Boy.
The murder victims being strung up on telephone poles seems to be a reference to Keicho Nijimura's death.
The screenshots seen in the PS2 Manual for the game have the protagonist's name set as "Raidou Kuzunoha".
Phoenix Ranger Featherman R returns yetagain! You will often find Nanako watching it downstairs —when else?— on Sundays. Yuuta also becomes a fan during the Temperance social link. Golden gives the Investigation Team the Featherman suits as an optional costume.
Witch Detective Loveline, one of the books you can get in the game, becomes a show in Persona 4 The Animation and is Nanako's favorite. This is probably also a case of Lost in Translation, because Witch Detective is the TwilightTake That book (see below). Meaning... Nanako must be a total saint for liking something like that.
And of course, the shopping channel, Tanaka's Amazing Commodities!
"'Favored by the world' my ass, I'm gonna say it flat out. You're just a worthless criminal!" - Yosuke on Adachi.
Also in the same scene:
Chie: "Nobody wants anything like that! It's just you, dumbass!"
Yukiko: "You're just throwing a tantrum like a kid who can't have his way!"
Rise: "That's complete BS!"
Naoto: "Your twisted logic is like that of an immature, egotistic brat!"
Single Issue Psychology: Averted. The party members are put on a path to overcoming their faults after beating their shadows, but it still takes plenty of work to have them fully embrace their insecurities (in this case via spending a lot of private time with them)
Small Town Boredom: Part of the reason Adachi causes the murders. It is also part of the shadows for Yosuke and Yukiko.
Schmuck Bait: Person 4: The Golden, adds a social link for Adachi. The game even gives you the option to cover for him when evidence points his way. Doing so results in the biggest (creepiest) Downer Ending in the game. Note also that not doing this destroys the social link—or, rather, mutates it into a new link.
The Spock: Naoto acts like this in order to be taken more seriously by adults.
Spoiler Opening: A blink and you'll miss it example, but during the Golden's new opening, it shows how the victims are found dead, including Mayumi from a TV aerial, Saki from a telephone pole and Kinshiro Morooka from his apartment window. That last one, however, is quite hard to identify and has his face covered by his tie but is still easy to figure out who it is.
Stealing The Credit: The Inaba Police, unwittingly. Because of the nature of the Investigation Team's rescues, they can't take the credit for capturing Mitsuo or, presumably, Adach. To everyone else, the IT are just a group of kids who have a habit of ending up in suspicious places.
Story to Gameplay Ratio: The sheer amount of dialogue in the game (1.5 times the amount in Persona 3) is just staggering. Even the translators were shocked when they realized just how much they had to translate, with less time to do so than for Persona 3. Reaching the first "free" day can take a good 4 hours just to get past the introduction.
Surprisingly Good English: The song lyrics were always in English (except the ending theme), and barring speed are pronounced very well. Understanding it however...
Suspiciously Specific Denial: Adachi, when he figures out the Protagonist and his friends are behind the reappearances of those tossed into the TV. Comes with Ax-Crazy-sounding voice.
Sweet on Polly Oliver: Kanji, to Naoto. Needless to say, this only makes his sexuality issues that much worse...though he also, naturally, is the most understanding when dealing with her Shadow.
Swirly Energy Thingy: This is the effect used for people who have the ability to enter the TV world when they touch the screen. The entrances to dungeons also look like swirling black and red whirlpools, and act as portals that let you go inside.
Take That Player: An interesting and low-key one. In the Moon Social Link, at Rank 6 you are given the "No turning back" warning, which usually implies that you can become a lover of someone. However, since Ai is In Love with Love the relationship will be simple play-dates and she will break up with you at Rank 9. This seems to be a good shot at all of the gamers who just look at the romantic subplot as just a way to collect a harem. You can make it romantic if you hold off on becoming Ai's lover but it also requires more work for the Protagonist.
Taking the Bullet: Characters that you have a Social Link with will take any single-target attack that would kill you in your place once per battle. Most players actually recommend making sure everyone on your team has at least a Level 1 S-Link rank, but Golden instead unlocks this ability at Rank 9. Also, During the final boss fight, as part of a story sequence, the boss will use an attack that has a one-hit KO. She will spam it at you, but the first three times, your allies will take the attack for you.
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.
Shadows tend to be associated with the reversed or negative aspects of the Arcana, as opposed to the positive ones. (For example, Shadow Chie represents jealousy, egotism, and insensitivity to the feelings of others, all things represented by the reversed Chariot.)
Tastes Like Diabetes: An in-universe example in one Kanji's Social Links. He says the dolls he made are "so cute, they'll give you diabetes! The fatal kind!"
Team Pet: Teddie fills this role somewhat, but becomes human. The fox from the shrine is probably a better candidate, but it generally does its own thing when you're not bribing it for SP.
That One Case: The Hierophant social link (and to a lesser degree, the Justice social link, where it is mentioned in passing) reveal that Ryoutarou Dojima's That One Case is the hit and run that killed his wife.
Thematic Theme Tune: Both the original game's opening theme Pursuing My True Self, and the Updated Re-release's Shadow World explain quite a lot of the major themes of the game: Finding the truth, facing yourself, and the power of connections.
Theme Music Power-Up: During the final battle' with Izanami-no-Okami, the music starts out sounding hopeless. After a few minutes, a piece of the recurring theme "I'll Face Myself" plays, and shortly afterwards the song builds into an amazing instrumental of the main battle theme, "Reach Out to the Truth."
The Scrappy: In-Universe examples are the homeroom teachers for 2-F; Kinshiro Morooka (nicknamed "King Moron" by students) and Noriko Kashiwagi who replaces the former after he gets murdered. The former is a Jerk AssSadist Teacher who is strongly implied to be bullying kids, even those from other schools, and is infamous for long, rambling lectures/insult sessions towards his students. The latter is an obnoxiously sleazy Christmas Cake who manages to gross out and disgust her students, especially with her tendency to flirt with the male ones, to the point she becomes an In-UniverseReplacement Scrappy, even though everyone still thinks of King Moron as The Scrappy.
This Loser Is You: Mitsuo could be construed as a Take That to players, being a creepy and ugly guy who hides behind video games. Also, giant floating baby.
Third-Person Person: In the Japanese version, Rise sometimes does that and Teddie constantly refers to himself as Kuma (Bear, his name).
Those Two Guys: Daisuke and Kou, who are grouped together as the "Fellow Athletes" Social Link.
¡Three Amigos!: The main character, Chie, and Yosuke are the founding members of the Investigation Team.
Timed Mission: When someone appears on the Midnight Channel, you must save the person before a specific deadline. Fail to do so and the person dies, giving you a Nonstandard Game Over. Although the game will give you the option to flash back one week and try again.
All of your allies do this if you max out their Social Links. They get a new Persona with improved resistances. Both of your main mage types, Yukiko and Teddie, keep their weaknesses, admittedly while gaining immunity to their favored element and a resistance to another element, while everyone else loses the weakness and gains immunity; in Golden, one of the changes is that all of the Investigation Team's Personas follow the same model.
Golden comes with the Investigation Team taking several of these.
The entire team now gets a third tier Persona in the later months of the story.
Provided the Social Link is high enough, characters not in the active will occaisonally run into the battle with a new version of their follow-up attack.
Rise will occaisonally interrupt the battle to provide status boosts to the active party, and join in with the All Out Attack.
If the All Out Attack doesn't clear the field of enemies, then depending on if they're in the party, Chie & Yukiko, Yosuke & Teddie, or Kanji & Naoto will perform a follow up Combination Attack.
Return to the title screen via menu command from the game proper, and you'll see, among other things, Kanji, Teddie (and his shadow form, complete with a "Shadow Teddie" textbox!) and Naoto as party members.
Even more obvious, back of the box has Kanji, and Naoto in your party, Teddie in the real world, and Rise in a level up scene.
Underrated And Overleveled: Every single party member counts. (except MC, Yosuke, and Chie since they are your starting members and join at low levels) All of them join right after getting their Personas and resting for about a month with obviusly no experience in using their Personas. All of them join with the appropriate levels and skills for the stage of the game they're in.
The Unfavorite: The basketball version of the Strength link covers Kou's belief that he is a case of this as his parents adopted him thinking they couldn't have children, but they wound up having a daughter anyways.
Unmoving Plaid: Can be seen briefly in the cut scene where everyone falls into the TV the first time.
If you make the right choices at the hospital after the November dungeon you find out that Taro Namatame was this. He believed he was saving people by throwing them into the TV.
If you make it to the True Ending, you find that Adachi, Namatame and the lead character are being manipulated by Izanami. The lead and his friends played the exact role they were meant to play by her: to show her humanity's determination and strength as "Hope" and stop her from hurting the humans she loved.
Updated Re-release: Persona 4 Golden for the Playstation Vita is this, but due to the Vita's superior hardware (compared to it's predecessor), it features updated graphics and retains the 3D models for the overworld (as opposed to the Persona 3 remake). It adds a brand new character in Marie, two new arcana (With new Persona) & Social Links to accompany them (Marie & Adachi), new events during the original Persona 4 story, more voiced dialogue, new abilities & a third tier evolution for Investigation Team's Persona, new locations to visit, a new ending, new events during January & the first half of February (Skipped over in the original release), a new dungeon & boss battle, and various tweaks to the original release.
Urban Fantasy: Even though it's taking place in the countryside....
The town is pretty small, there's only really two places for people to hang out besides school or the river.
Useless Useful Spell: Ailments work against many enemies, but ailment skills have a fairly low hit percentage unless you use "Stagnant Air" first, or have a Boost skill like "Ailment Boost". Hama and Mudo skills are a guaranteed kill against enemies that are weak against Light or Darkness, respectively. (But you know what's always immune to both? Bosses.) And if you can get the Spirit Drain skill, and make sure to fuse it into as many Personas as you can, dungeon crawling becomes a lot easier. And don't forget that there are bosses that cannot be criticaled or knocked down.
Vendor Trash: You get paid in Yen at the end of each fight with the Shadows, but the Shadows also drop stuff that you can sell to the blacksmith. Not only will he pay you, but you need to sell him this stuff in order to expand his inventory.
The majority of the Social Links fall directly under this during at least one stage or another.
Raise your hand if you rescued Nanako on the first day possible just because, 'I can't leave Little Sis in there!'.
Video Game Lives: Easy Mode in the original version gives you 10 chances just in case you want to be covered by the kid gloves. Contrarian King and Shadow Kanji will most likely make sure you don't have any left by the third dungeon.
Violation of Common Sense: Ever wanted to eat grass, something that shouldn't be moving, or yogurt that was milk last week? You can, and you'll be braver for it!
"You opened the fridge. There is a bag of wasabi. ... Lick it?"
Occasionally when you go to the bathroom at school, you can get Rancid Gravy. It recovers SP like any other food item, but casts Silence on the one who eats it.
Violence is the Only Option: Whenever you meet an important character and their Shadow, that person will deny the Shadow being a part of them, and the Shadow will try and kill everyone in sight. The party's attempts to defy this don't work either; after they've kicked some ass though, the character faces up to themselves. Well, most of the time anyway.
Vomiting Cop: This is how Adachi is introduced (though you only hear it, not see it. Whether this was a clue (sometimes people can vomit due to panic, such as in an "oh god what if they can trace it back to me?" moment before realising there's no evidence) or just part of his grand act is not elaborated on.)
Shadow Yukiko is a very early-game boss, and has a wicked habit of tripping players up. No weakness, and summons a very annoying minion who will heal the boss if it's not dizzied or killed off. The boss itself, once it's down to low health, Turns Red and begins to spam an attack-all fire spell that is quite painful, topping it off on the fact that one of your party members is weak to fire if she doesn't guard, and she can't be removed from the battle team (but has the element the minion is weak against). Even in Golden, where Shadow Yukiko gets the ice weakness, this boss still qualifies because of her and her minion's ability to cast White Wall, which raises their ice resistances.
Shadow Kanji comes with two flunkies, one of whom can heal him. None of the three is a pushover.
Almost any of the bosses (save Shadow Yosuke and Shadow Chie) can be this if one hasn't leveled sufficiently.
Weapon of Choice: Although they don't state it outright like in 3, the heroes of Persona 4 use weapons that reflect their personality. The Hero uses broadswords, Kung-Fu loving Action Girl Chie has leg greaves, Yamato Nadeshiko Yukiko uses fans, delinquent Kanji just hits monsters with a heavy blunt object, be it a shield or a school desk, Teddie the 'bear' has claws, and Naoto has a gun due to being a detective. Yosuke's dual knives are the only odd man out, but then again knowing him he might be Dual Wielding just for Rule of Cool.
We Cannot Go On Without You: If the Protagonist kicks the bucket, the game is over. However, depending on your relationship is with the other party members, an ally will actually jump in front of you and take the damage from attacks if you're close to dying. Doesn't work for attacks that hit everyone, and only works for a given character once per battle.
Weirdness Search and Rescue: Teddie is set up to fill this role but he's just as clueless as everyone else as to what's going on. Still, he does lead the group to the people inside the TV until Rise takes over the job.
Wham Episode: The events on December 3rd basically cover this, although the rainy days after saving Rise are just as big, if not nearly as emotional.
Wham Shot: In the fight with the killer, Adachi's Eyedscreen in his battle revealing he has a Persona.
What an Idiot: In-universe; The murderer stops just short of outright saying it, but clearly has this reaction if the Protagonist destroys the only piece of evidence tying him to the murders in the Accomplice Ending. Making a couple of wrong choices can even get them to say 'what an asshole.'
You can call out most of the party (particularly Yosuke) for attempting to kill Namatame in the paths for the Normal/True Endings. Worth noting that choosing this option involves a Precision F-Strike and the protagonist SHOUTING while getting visibly angry (using the "anger" animation that the other characters use) for the only time during the entire game.
In almost all endings other than the Good/True endings, you'll be asked whether you think you made the right choices—the game is not-so-subtly hinting that you did not.
There is one possible ending in which you can protect the killer. He calls you out for your shitty choice.
In the first scene of the Strength S-Link, if you join the basketball club, your choices at one point are "Help out" or "Be an ass and leave".
In The Golden, you have the choice to become Adachi's accomplice. Doing so earns you a new bad ending, the Accomplice Ending.
You can reverse Naoto's Social Link by refusing to help her at Level 5, causing your friend and teammate to run off in tears.
In the original Persona 4, there are no major repercussions for dating all possible love interests. In the Golden rerelease, you'll be forced to reject every girl but one on Valentine's Day, and the tearful scenes that ensue should probably make you feel like a terrible person.
Killing the kidnapper early on nets you the worst ending, with all its creepy implications.
You can, potentially, not complete a dungeon and allow victims to die in the TV/the killer to get away. Thankfully the game will rewind and let you redo the week, but the scenes can be pretty upsetting, particularly if you fail to stop Adachi before Christmas eve is over. Naoto calls and you can hear her ostensibly being killed over the phone.
For the normal ending, the entrance to the killer's dungeon, is in the same Room Full of Crazy area where the protagonist and his friends first head to in the Midnight Channel.
If you get the True Ending, Izanami's dungeon is where the protagonist experienced his short, easily forgotten dream sequence at the very beginning of the game. This example is lampshaded in the game.
In the True Ending, your last moment in the Real-World where you have some amount of control is at the Junes Food Court, dubbed the official Secret Headquarters of the Investigation Team.
White and Grey Morality: Even the villains are at best, very mentally unstable and need help, but- excluding Adachi- ultimately doing what they think is best. This is especially odd considering the usual Megaten game out-Grimdarks just about everything. Even Adachi apologizes later, and admits that he has a lot of issues and he deserves to be in jail.
You Look Familiar: Quite a few random people's models are reused either from Persona 3 or within other social links. One noticeable example is that a group of bullies from Chie's s-link appear as "reporters" wanting to sensationalize the death of a guest at the Amagi Inn in Yukiko's.
Yet Another Stupid Death: "Oh Crap, I messed up the set up for this battle, now the enemy gets a free turn, Oh crap, the enemy's knocked everyone down with their whatever move, the enemy is using the highest elemental spell that the protag is weak against, Oh SHI-!" In other words, the norm for a MegaTen game.
This line word-for-word flashes across the screen if you use the new online feature in Golden to send an SOS signal (if somebody decides to respond). It causes your party to recover a small amount of HP/SP.
This exact line is also a dialogue option for the Protagonist when Teddie is trying to figure out who he is after the confrontation with his Shadow self.
You can't stop people from being kidnapped. You can't stop their Shadows from getting pissed. You can't figure out how the culprit kidnaps people for basically the whole game (so you can't actually catch them). You can't stop the first phase of Instrumentality from taking place. You can't make reversing it permanent just by getting Ameno-Sagiri to lift the fog.
In the September confrontation with Shadow Naoto, Kanji straight-out tells the rest of the party not to even try to keep Naoto from rejecting the Shadow - they might as well let the victim get it all out, and then they'll just beat the crap out of the Shadow as usual when it does go berserk.