[[quoteright:330:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/KOFallFightersSmall.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:330:LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters indeed. And this isn't even all of them...]]

->''"It all began in '94.''\\
''Kept on rollin' in '95.''\\
''The pieces were in place in '96, and it came to an end in '97.''\\
''But now it comes, and here we go.''\\
''KOF is here again.''\\
''Nothing's gonna stop it 'cause it's 1998!"''
-->-- '''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7GcbCgEqcE Cipher]]''', ThematicThemeTune of ''The King of Fighters '98'' (and its UpdatedRerelease, ''Ultimate Match'', as a remixed version).

''The King of Fighters'' series started out as a crossover fighting game, featuring some of the most popular characters from Creator/{{SNK}}'s fighting game franchises: ''VideoGame/FatalFury'' and ''VideoGame/{{Art of Fighting}}'', as well as classic SNK games such as ''VideoGame/IkariWarriors'' and ''VideoGame/PsychoSoldier'', splitting them up into teams of three (four in the NESTS Saga), duking it out in one-on-one battles similar to its major competition at the time, ''Franchise/StreetFighter''.

Although the first game was merely intended to be a simple crossover, the series became more popular than the others that inspired it, and [[ContinuityCreep an overreaching plot soon developed that took the other SNK fighters along for the ride]].

There are currently five major {{story arc}}s:

* The original '''King of Fighters''' arc (known alternatively as the '''Rugal Saga'''), which focuses on notorious crime lord Rugal Bernstein and his attempt to establish himself as the world's strongest fighter by staging a [[TournamentArc grand tournament]] and inviting contenders from all across the globe. It is strongly associated with the artist [[http://snk.wikia.com/wiki/Shinkiro Shinkiro]], as were most of SNK's [=IPs=] of the time.
* The '''Orochi Saga''' arc, which concerns Kyo Kusanagi (the winner of the first King of Fighters tournament) and a thousand-year blood feud with the Yagami family, who have gained demonic power thanks to a pact with a being known as "Orochi." [[http://snk.wikia.com/wiki/Shinkiro Shinkiro]] continued to be the lead artist.
* The '''NESTS Chronicles''' arc, about the eponymous organization and their conspiracy to [[CloningBlues create weaponized clones]] of the most powerful warriors in the world. As Kyo is absent for the majority of this arc (he doesn't show until the end of ''[='99=]'' and remains a supporting character for the remainder of the saga), the main protagonist is a new character called K' (pronounced "Kay Dash"). It is strongly linked with the artist [[http://snk.wikia.com/wiki/Styleos Styleos]], although Shinkiro handled art in the ''[='99=]'' and ''2000'' versions before SNK went under and he left the company; [[http://snk.wikia.com/wiki/Nona Nona]] took over as official artist for ''2001'' and ''2002'', both by Korean developer Eolith.
* The '''Tales of Ash''' arc, which introduces androgynous French pretty boy Ash Crimson as the new main character. The story involves a sinister plot to capture the powers of the Kusanagi, Yagami, and Kagura clans and use them to [[SealedEvilInACan seize the sealed power of Orochi]], as well as the question of [[EnigmaticMinion just whose side Ash is on]]. The main enemy of this arc is a band of enigmatic people named "Those from the Past". It had [[http://snk.wikia.com/wiki/Nona Nona]], [[http://snk.wikia.com/wiki/Falcoon Falcoon]], Shinkiro's unnoficial "successor" [[http://snk.wikia.com/wiki/Hiroaki Hiroaki]] and [[http://snk.wikia.com/wiki/Eisuke_Ogura Eisuke Ogura]] as artists. It also experienced a change of hardware platforms multiple times, the first in-game ArtShift ever, and turmoil in the parent company, but managed to get on UsefulNotes/{{Steam}} in the end.
* An as of yet unnamed new story arc that begins with ''The King of Fighters XIV'' and introduces Shun'ei, a student of [[VideoGame/FatalFury Tung Fu Rue]] as the new protagonist. The game itself will now use 3D graphics while still retaining its roots as a two-dimensional playing field, similar to games such as ''VideoGame/StreetFighterIV'' or ''VideoGame/MortalKombat9''.

More detailed summaries of each arc (and the individual games) can be found in the [[Analysis/TheKingOfFighters Analysis]] section).

The games were initially released on the (ridiculously expensive) UsefulNotes/NeoGeo home arcade system, so they had a hard time catching on with North American home gamers, but remained very popular in Japan, as well as with arcade gamers worldwide. It released new editions of the game every year with [[VideoGame/MaddenNFL Madden-like regularity]], introducing new characters and rosters into the storyline, while the old characters have seemingly retained their basic sets of special moves throughout the series, probably to dodge the problem of the older games being SoLastSeason.

In addition to the thirteen games of the main ''KOF'' storyline, there are multiple spin-offs, remakes and [[DreamMatchGame "dream match"]] titles (that combine all the characters of that particular saga into one game).

These include ''Maximum Impact'', a 3D fighting game series which takes place in an AlternateContinuity, right down to having characters not featured in the main ''KOF'' storylines; ''The King of Fighters: KYO'', an RPG that ties the events of ''[='96=]'' with ''[='97=]'' and indulges in Kyo and the background of his clan; a BulletHell spinoff called ''KOF Sky Stage'' for the Xbox Live Arcade; ''The King of Fighters-i 002'', an iPhone game that ties into ''XIII''; and ''The Rhythm of Fighters'', a RhythmGame spinoff for iOS.

Aside from fighting games and tie-ins, there were the rather infamous DatingSim games for mobiles and NintendoDS, ''Days of Memories'' allowed the player character to venture in Southtown and date most of the fighting divas from the series ([[VideoGame/FatalFury and]] [[VideoGame/ArtOfFighting from]] [[VideoGame/SamuraiShodown others]]); later versions also allowed a girl player character to date the male fighters as well.

[[Characters/TheKingOfFighters This is the character sheet]]. Be warned, though: in this series, SNK ''most certainly'' ran away with the concept of LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters.

----
!!This series names the following tropes:

* DreamMatchGame: Both the {{trope namer|s}} (thanks to the Japanese subtitle of ''[='98=]'', ''Dream Match Never Ends'') and [[TropeCodifier trope codifier]].
** Specifically, ''[='98=]'' and ''[='02=]'' are non-canon and include large rosters and characters that are dead in storyline. While ''XII'' is also non-canon, it isn't really a "dream match" like the other two.
** The ''Maximum Impact'' series has its own Dream Match in the form of ''Regulation A'', which also restores the 3 vs. 3 traditional ''King of Fighters'' team format (however there aren't any designated teams like in the proper series).

----
!! This series also provides examples of:

* TwoAndAHalfD: ''XIV'' is moving away from dot art sprites to straight 3D models. Previously the only installments of the franchise to use 3D graphics were the ''Maximum Impact'' games (not counting ''XII'' and ''XIII''[='s=] use of 3D graphics as development templates for their character sprites). Unlike those games, however, this game remains a 2D fighting game gameplay-wise.
* AdaptationExpansion: Usually present in home ports, which tend to add (at the very least) new characters to the roster.
* AdultFear: The [[spoiler:God's Caliber Team ending]], which is [[AdaptationExpansion expanded]] in the SpinOff game ''KOF:KYO''. [[spoiler: Your girlfriend, who for all accounts is an OrdinaryHighSchoolStudent, turns out to be the BarrierMaiden who will be subjected to a HumanSacrifice by the antagonists.]] And depending on the game, [[spoiler:the QuirkyMinibossSquad is either about to abduct her or ''has already had her in their clutches for at least two days''.]]
* AllMythsAreTrue: They damn well might as be where the ''KOF'' verse is concerned; in fact, it's hard to tell where this ends and OneMythToExplainThemAll begins. From the ''KOF'' lore alone, it plays heavily with the Japanese myth, with Orochi and the three Imperial Regalia of Japan; however, Orochi is said to be the progeny of Gaia of Greek myth, and apparently is the self-proclaimed "enforcer of Gaia's will". Gaia herself has never appeared in any shape or form. From the series outside KOF that appears here, there's the stuff from VideoGame/{{Athena}}, Videogame/SamuraiShodown, and (indirectly) Videogame/LastBlade, with their own myths and lores. If you count ''[[VideoGame/SNKVsCapcomSVCChaos SVC Chaos]]'', then [[VideoGame/MetalSlug Mars People]] also exists in the verse.
* AlternateContinuity: The ''Maximum Impact'' series, the ''EX'' series, the ''R'' series, ''Neowave'' (the latter of which has no proper story), and ''Days of Memories'' (with changes going up to the characters' personalities themselves).
** ''KOF'' itself is an alternate continuity to both ''Fatal Fury'' and ''Art of Fighting''. This was intentionally done so that SNK could pit characters from both series without having to reconcile their ages (since ''Art of Fighting'' was set ten years before ''Fatal Fury'').
* AmazonBrigade: Women Fighters Team, in its various incarnations. In ''2003'', the High School Girls Team replaced the Psycho Soldiers Team, which consisted of Athena, Hinako, and Malin.
* TheAnimeOfTheGame: ''Another Day''.
* AnnouncerChatter: In the ''Maximum Impact'' series. This might be the only announcer in the series to rival those of ''Franchise/StreetFighter'', ''[[VideoGame/MarvelVsCapcom Marvel vs. Capcom]]'', and ''[[VideoGame/CapcomVsSNK2MarkOfTheMillennium Capcom vs. SNK 2]]''. And ''[[LargeHamAnnouncer that's]]'' saying something. At the very least he mostly kept quiet in ''Maximum Impact'' and ''[=MI2=]''.
-->"''[[TitleScream The King of Fighters: Maximum Impact]]'' '''''[[IncomingHam TWOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!]]'''''"
-->"First attack!"
-->"Ooooh! A counter hit!"
-->"That one's gonna leave a bruise!"
-->"Here we go! The battle begins!"
-->"We're just getting started here!"
-->"Crank it up and get ready for more!"
-->"The moment of truth for our contestants arrives!"
-->"Final Round! Ready?"
-->"'''WINNERRRRRRR!!!'''"
** There's also his waxing poetic on the mood the battlegrounds set in ''[[UpdatedRerelease Regulation A]]''. They ''really'' should have just gotten a native English speaker to handle this role...
* TheArtifact: It's what happens when [[DemotedToExtra you're not the protagonist]], regardless of whether or not you've been a mainstay. The biggest cases of this are probably [[TheHero Terry Bogard]], [[MsFanservice Mai]] [[JigglePhysics Shiranui]], and [[JusticeWillPrevail Kim Kaphwan]]. While they are still around more than the others whom are generally DemotedToExtra or [[ChuckCunninghamSyndrome just mysteriously disappear]], they are generally only kept in to appease older fans.
* ArtShift: The games have a completely new look with higher definition sprites starting with ''XII''. ''XI'', ''[='98UM=]'', and ''2002UM'' in particular were the last games to use the old sprites.
** ''XIV'' will be the first of the main series with 3D graphics (the ''Maximum Impact'' games were spin-offs).
* AssistCharacter: ''KOF '99'' introduced the Striker system which allowed you to allocate a fourth team member to this role. This system lasted up til 2001.
** ''2000'''s Another Striker cameos. We don't just mean from ''KOF'' either. The sprawling list of SNK [=IPs=] includes ''VideoGame/MetalSlug'', ''VideoGame/ArtOfFighting'', ''VideoGame/TheLastBlade'', ''VideoGame/SamuraiShodown'', ''[[VideoGame/FuunSeries Savage Reign/Kizuna Encounter]]'', ''VideoGame/{{Athena}}'', ''VideoGame/PsychoSoldier'', ''Burning Fight'', ''Buriki One''... Even [[http://snk.wikia.com/wiki/Neo_%26_Geo the mascots of a rather obscure quiz series]] and [[http://snk.wikia.com/wiki/G-Mantle SNK's mysterious former mascot]] were included.
** The cameos in ''[='99=]: [[UpdatedRerelease Evolution]]'' which were Striker-only characters.
* AudioAdaptation: There are numerous drama [=CDs=] for the series, usually one or two per game, with individual characters sometimes getting their own [=CDs=]. They go from [[http://snk.wikia.com/wiki/Neo_Geo_DJ_Station_Special very cracky skits]] bordering on {{Gag Dub}}s, to [[http://snk.wikia.com/wiki/The_King_of_Fighters_%2794_%28Dengeki%29 pretty]] [[http://snk.wikia.com/wiki/The_King_of_Fighters_2000_%28drama%29 interesting]] [[http://snk.wikia.com/wiki/The_Sun_and_The_Moon_~_Prologue characterization-wise]] (i.e. ''Dengeki Bunko'' explains how both the Japan Team and the Women's Team came to be among other things, ''The Sun and The Moon'' chronicles Iori Yagami's life outside KOF and the Yagami/Kusanagi feud at an unspecified time in the past, and ''KOF 2000'' gives more background on K' and his group [[BigLippedAlligatorMoment while also featuring Athena's misadventures through the world]] [[spoiler:until she finds Kyo and they have a more serious talk about how everyone misses him at home]]).
* BadassCrew: Most of the (earlier) teams fit this bill (i.e. Team Japan, ''Art of Fighting'' Team, ''Fatal Fury'' Team, ''Ikari'' Team, etc.), as many of them are [[BadassFamily family members]] and [[HeterosexualLifePartners close friends]] who have known each other for a good deal of time and decide to team up. More recent examples would include Women Fighters Team and the K' Team. At this point, most of these teams have at least two or three characters that function as TrueCompanions.
* BadassFamily: The Kusanagi, Sakazaki, and Howard families, natch.
** Also the Bogards, even if there's just two brothers by now.
* BarBrawl: The Women Fighters Team's ending in ''XIII'' is a particularly [[CatFight catty]] example. At the Pao Pao Café, King, Mai, and Yuri, all smashed from their victory celebration, start bickering with each other over who's the best fighter on the team, which in turn strikes a nerve with B. Jenet, Kasumi, Malin, and Xiangfei. This leads to a free-for-all overlooked by an amused Vanessa (who muses to herself that [[ChristmasCake "it's nice to be young"]]), the worried pair of Hotaru and Hinako, and an utterly distraught [[TheBartender Richard]].
* BattleTrophy: Rugal Bernstein: it's revealed in his debut game that he preserves the bodies of the countless martial artists he's defeated over the years by subjecting them to [[WaxMuseumMorgue a grisly liquid metal bath]], making them ''living trophies''.
* {{Bishonen}}: Half of the male cast is made up of pretty boys. Nagase, the tech-head ninja from ''Maximum Impact 2'', dislikes each and every last one of them.
* BlindIdiotTranslation: Most of the games up to ''2002'' will have at least one totally bizarre line that becomes almost way too funny. At a serious scene, just one slip up in translations and BAM: INSTANT [[{{Narm}} NARMAGE]].
* BlondeBrunetteRedhead: Iori Yagami, Mature, and Vice, whenever they form the Yagami Team.
* BootstrappedTheme: Aside from [[{{Leitmotif}} the repeated use]] of "Geese Ni," nearly every theme for the ''Art of Fighting'' Team is based off of Ryuhaku Todoh's [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pg0VBBo3Abo theme]] from the first ''AOF''. To date, the only notable exceptions are [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvC7HQxiZCc "Kamikirimushi" ("Praying Mantis")]] from ''[='96=]'' and [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46uVnQVGL2A "Fight to the Limit"]] from ''2001''.
* CallingYourAttacks: Almost everyone ("Ko-oh Ken!", "Psycho Ball!", "Shingo Kick!", etc.). Very often subverted when the characters yell something other than the move's name (like Iori, whose voice samples translate to things like "What's wrong?!" and "Die!"); averted by the less talkative characters (Daimon, Leona) and Orochi, whose moves didn't even had actual names until ''[='98=]: [[UpdatedRerelease Ultimate Match]]''.
* TheCameo: The entire gamut is enough to probably warrant its own page.
* CanonDiscontinuity: ''XIII'' starts where ''XI'' left off, leaving ''XII'' as if it never happened. [[ObviousBeta All things considered]], it's not hard to see why.
** To be fair, all of the [[DreamMatchGame "dream match"]] titles are like that. ''[='98=]'' and ''2002'' (''[[UpdatedRerelease UM]]'') have no bearing on the titles that come after them. The anomaly here is rather where the placement of the dream match occurred (that is in the middle of a saga, rather than as a bookend that brings back the cast from the whole saga; though it was clearly not intended to be a dream match anyway).
* CanonImmigrant: Nakoruru and Tung Fu Rue have actually appeared in KOF games ('95 Gameboy and as an alternate Striker in '00 for the former, XI for the latter), but only as [[GuestFighter guest fighters]] with no bearings on the plot. In ''XIV'', they have their own teams, with Tung accompanying his student Shun'ei (the new protagonist), and Nakoruru leading the Another World team, apparently yanked away from her home series like her teammates.
* CharacterCustomization: While its still impossible to change costumes in ''XIII'' because of 2D, SNK have been very creative with color palettes (Robert Garcia with very convincing Terry Bogard palette for example), especially with skin color and skintight clothing (most notable are "no pants" Yuri and Raiden's many "costumes"). And then, as soon as the arcade version was released, it's been revealed that there's alternate palettes that give certain characters actual headswaps: Yuri gets her long hair back, Raiden loses his mask (revealing that he is, in fact, Big Bear), and Takuma gets his Mr. Karate tengu mask back.
** The console version adds to this with Kyo getting his old ''[='94=]''-''[='98=]'' school uniform back (and this is without counting his DLC form which comes with a whole new costume--his NESTS-era look, to be specific--altogether).
** On a lesser scale, the [=PS2=] ports of ''KOF'' games from ''Neowave'' up to ''2002: Unlimited Match'' had a colour edit feature allowing players to create their own custom palettes. ''KOF XI'' onward let you edit their special moves' colours too.
* CharacterRosterGlobalWarming: As far as {{Mighty Glacier}}s go, the series started with Daimon, Ralf, Clark, and Chang. It took them about six years to add Maxima, a year to add Seth, three years to add Tizoc, about another six to add Raiden, and yet another six (or seven) to add King of Dinosaurs.
* CharlesAtlasSuperpower: Many of the fighters are powerful simply because they trained.
* CherryTapping: In ''2003'' onward, if you defeat an opponent with a weak punch / kick, they will have an alternate defeat animation wherein they would fall to their knees.
* CloneArmy: ''The King of Fighters '99'' had the endgame involve armies of [[spoiler:Kyo]] clones being staged across the world by Krizalid in an attempt to take over the world. [[spoiler:Even if he were to succeed, which he did not, the governing body that created him had shut down his connections and the endboss of the next game, Zero, personally terminated Krizalid because of how out-of-control he got.]]
* CloneByConversion: K' is one of Kyo. Although he's still considered a clone despite only being injected with Kyo's genes and retaining his own appearance.
* ColonyDrop: Igniz tries this in ''2001''. [[spoiler:It fails.]]
* ComicBookTime: After ''[='95=]'', SNK froze all of the ages of their characters in order to keep the cast roughly youthful. While there are a few illusions of the passage of times (such as Kyo changing his outfit to show that he's dropped out of high school), the earlier characters remain in their teens and twenties whereas most of them should be about a full decade older. This also extends to cameo characters and newer entrants. This is why characters like Kim's sons Jae Hoon and Dong Hwan from ''Garou'', as well as fan-favorite Rock Howard ([[ExecutiveMeddling SNK Playmore's desire to save Rock]] for the ''Garou'' sequel [[{{Vaporware}} which will probably never come to pass]] aside) will probably never make a playable appearance in a future [=2D=] ''KOF''; they appear as children and will stay that way unless there is some sort of {{retcon}} PlotRelevantAgeUp involved.
* CompilationRerelease: Three so far:
** ''The King of Fighters Orochi Hen'' ([=PS2=]): A Japanese release comprising of ''[='95=]'', ''[='96=]'', and ''[='97=]'': the Orochi Saga.
** ''The King of Fighters NESTS Hen'' ([=PS2=]): Same as above, only it includes ''[='99=]'' (plus the Dreamcast port, ''[='99=] Evolution''), ''2000'' and ''2001''. Basically, the NESTS Chronicles.
** ''The King of Fighters Collection: The Orochi Saga'' ([=PS2=], PSP, Wii): The US and European equivalent of the first collection, only it also includes the series' progenitor ''[='94=]'' and the popular ''[='98=]''. This package also includes a Challenge mode, but lacks the online mode, soundtrack selection, and customizable palettes from the Japanese compilations.
* ContinuityCreep: What was envisioned as a relatively story-less MascotFighter began to kick into overdrive starting in ''[='95=]''. The story has since become more and more complex, to the point that you'd be lost if you currently jumped into the games without knowledge of ''at least'' the first and third sagas (i.e. the arcs revolving around Orochi and the Three Sacred Treasures). And that's not even counting all of the plot elements and allusions carried over from ''VideoGame/FatalFury'', ''VideoGame/{{Art of Fighting}}'', ''VideoGame/IkariWarriors'', ''VideoGame/PsychoSoldier'', ''VideoGame/SamuraiShodown'', ''VideoGame/TheLastBlade'', ''[[VideoGame/FuunSeries Savage Reign/Kizuna Encounter]]''... A few more titles and we might very well approach full-on ContinuityPorn[=/=]ContinuityLockout.
* CostumePorn: The ''Maximum Impact'' games, especially the second one, wherein Falcoon went as wild as possible with the fighters' costumes. Nagase and Luise are two big examples, and then there's alternate outfits.
* CreepyChild: Rimelo, one of the two kids in the Ikari Team's ''XI'' ending. Rimelo reappears during a handful of cutscenes in ''XIII'' with the creepy factor arguably toned down.
** When working under NESTS, Kula had shades of this too, being essentially engineered as a bio-weapon designed to counteract defectors.
* CrisisCrossover
* CriticalHitClass: Shingo has this as his gimmick, where his attacks can sometimes deal "critical" damage and cause more hitstun. In 2003 and XI, it's instead just limited to his Dokugami Mikansei special, which can sometimes release a tiny spark that makes it deal much more damage (equivalent to an LDM when it's used as a counter hit).
* {{Crossover}}: Goes without saying for this series, but more notably, ''Maximum Impact 2'' includes [[VideoGame/MetalSlug Fio Germi]] and [[VideoGame/SamuraiShodown Hanzo Hattori]]. ''[[UpdatedRerelease Regulation A]]'' has [[VideoGame/FightersHistory Makoto Mizoguchi]] as a playable character as well.
* CursedWithAwesome: The Orochi bloodline, which has ElementalPowers and blade-fingers by default for most members. Then the [[UnstoppableRage Riot of]] [[SuperpoweredEvilSide the Blood]] happens and [[WithGreatPowerComesGreatInsanity things get a little messy for everyone nearby]]. Also an example of HereditaryCurse.
** It's also been stated that members of the Yagami bloodline have a tendency to die young, most likely due to the Riot. Puking up all that blood on a regular basis can't be healthy...
** Specifically, mixed bloodlines (i.e. Leona and Iori) can't fully control the power of Orochi, making it easy for Orochi or one of Four Heavenly Kings (Goenitz, Yashiro, Shermie, or Chris) to induce [[InsaneEqualsViolent a violent, mindless rampage]].
* DeathIsCheap: Averted since dead characters only return in the non-canonical {{Dream Match game}}s.
** ... but that's not the case with Vice and Mature, who not only appeared in ''[='98=]'' and ''2002'', but also ''XIII'' [[note]][[DontExplainTheJoke which is actually a canonical installment]][[/note]] as full-fledged members of Iori's team [[spoiler:only for the duo to fade into darkness again after they become champions.]], and again in ''XIV''.
* DemotedToExtra: The American Sports Team from ''KOF '94''. Their only other appearance as playable characters (rather than just background and ending cameos) was in ''KOF '98'', [[DreamMatchGame which brought back almost every playable character in the series up to that point.]]
** Due to rotating [[TheProtagonist protagonist]] duties, the main heroes of each StoryArc are bumped down a few notches in plotline importance to make way for the next guy, whom the task of wrapping up the new saga falls to. The old guard still contributes to the overarching story (for example, K' and his team fight Mukai in ''2003'' and the Three Sacred Treasures remain pivotal players throughout the Tales of Ash), just not as heavily as back when they were the headliners.
* DependingOnTheArtist: Iori's hair is either a gravity-defying pompadour or a more realistic bang that covers part of his face. Sometimes it's in-between the two styles!
** K' usually has a (relatively) normal hairstyle, disheveled with a fair amount of bangs. This is consistent throughout the series in terms of sprites and most artwork, but his hair will sometimes appear thick and bushy like a miniature afro, slicked, or even straight-up ShonenHair.
** The exact Moe-ness of Athena also varies from game to game due to different artists.
* DidYouJustPunchOutCthulhu: Orochi is [[InformedAbility supposed]] to be able to bring TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt, Goenitz is capable of [[PersonOfMassDestruction catastrophic destruction]] (with hints that Chris, Shermie, and Yashiro can do it too), yet it is never even hinted that more than three fighters were needed to defeat any of them; and in fact, Kyo is usually given all the credit for the defeat of Orochi.
** To his defense, at the time Orochi has just been incarnated into Chris' body, therefore not at his full-strength. Yet, the Three Sacred Treasures' attack on him did little damage, and Kyo was only able to defeat Orochi with the help from (Blood Rioting) Iori and Chizuru.
* DifficultySpike: Several games in the series suffer from this, but the three most JustForFun/{{egregious}} examples would probably be in ''[='94=]'', ''[='96=]'', and ''XI''. If you reach the first cutscene (in ''[='94=]''), face the Boss Team (in ''[='96=]''), or make it to the [[MiniBoss sub boss]] (in ''XI''), expect things to take a turn for the worse.
* DistractedByTheSexy: Only in the comical, non-serious "ending" of ''2002'', though: Shermie makes several suggestive poses and many male characters (including [[CelibateHero Andy Bogard]]!) run around trying to get a good look. Clark just runs up and tackles her.
* DivergentCharacterEvolution:
** Clark and Ralf used to be basically the exact same character; little more than headswaps. Over time, they evolved to the point it was downright bizarre to think they were ever similar ([[RedOniBlueOni Ralf likes to punch things, Clark tosses you around]]). Fan reaction was '''extremely''' negative when Clark was brought back to the rank of "[[PaletteSwap Ralf 2]]" in ''XII''. This has since been rectified in ''XIV'' where Clark gets more of his grabs back.
** Mature and Vice. The former is more speed-oriented, while the latter is a grappler; they only share one move, [[RubberMan Deicide]] [[spoiler:(two if you count their ''XIII'' [[LimitBreak Neo MAX]])]].
** The Kyo clones, whose differentiation came in ''2002: Unlimited Match''.
** Kyo and Iori were actually Ryu and Ken in ''[='95=]'' [[note]]justified in the backstory as their clans, before the Yasakani made a {{deal with|TheDevil}} {{Orochi}} [[DrivenByEnvy out of jealousy]], pulled a FaceHeelTurn, and changed their name to Yagami, developed their fighting styles together[[/note]] but then became wildly different in the next game; in fact, when Iori lost his flames and became a more physical fighter a la Kyo post-''[='95=]'', Kyo ''went back'' to his old moveset.
** The console version of ''XIII'' then added the original flames Iori and "rekka" style NESTS-saga Kyo as DLC playable characters thus restoring the Kyo-Iori side of this trope two-fold (so you can have old "rekka" Kyo versus new "melee" Iori or new/old "fireball" Kyo versus old "flames" Iori).
* DoomedByCanon: The New Faces/Orochi Team die in ''their'' ending, for crying out loud!
** In fact, there's a 90% or greater chance that the main villains of each title will die by the game's close.
* DoomedHometown: Southtown, the setting of sister series/AlternateContinuity ''Fatal Fury'' and ''Art of Fighting'', is all but systematically wiped out by Clone Zero's KillSat at the end of ''2000'' [[TurnedAgainstTheirMasters in his attempt to rebel against the NESTS cartel]]. (This ''does'' lead to Takuma's [[SugarWiki/MomentOfAwesome CMOA]] where he redirects the Zero Cannon's laser with a [[KamehameHadoken Max-Power Haoh Shi Koh Ken]]/Suburu Ou Shikoh Ken to save King.) However, this plot point is absent in the next game, and by the time of ''2003'', the citizens seemingly have worked together to rebuild the shambled city.
* DownloadableContent: ''XIII'' has 3 characters made DLC, all three of them being different versions of existing characters basically serving as nostalgia.
** "Iori with the Power of Flames" is Iori as he used to be, using his old moveset from other ''KOF'' games before Ash stole his powers. He also claims the SDM version of his Ya Otome from ''KOF '99'', his Yamisogi DM from ''KOF 2000'', and his Neomax is the Homurahotogi HSDM from ''2002'' with a much, MUCH larger explosion that triggers the very moment he grabs your head (Unlike in 2002 where there was a brief pause when he did.)
** "NESTS-style Kyo" is Kyo in his ''KOF '99'' outfit with his signature "rekka" moveset from ''[='96=]'' to ''[='98=]''. He loses his aerial Orochinagi DM but reclaims his Mu Shiki DM. His Neomax "Totsuka" is a whole new move involving a charging fire punch that causes a gigantic explosion.
** "Mr. Karate" is Takuma in his classic ''Art of Fighting'' boss persona (he has it as an alt. costume of sorts but here it's a legitimate EX moveset). His moves (and by the looks of things, his personality here) are based around Serious Mr. Karate from ''[[VideoGame/SNKVsCapcomSVCChaos SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos]]'' while his Neomax is a whole new move starting with a punch and ending with a flashy, explosive karate chop with Mr. Karate powered by the golden spirit of a real tengu.
** ''XIV'' will offer a [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_kvG7vjH_8 classic Kyo Kusanagi]] (''[==]'94''-''[==]'98'') skin for preorders.
* DramaticWind: A few characters have these in their intro or win poses. This includes Kyo and Iori's special introduction in ''2000'' which is made funny if the wind in one of the backgrounds is blowing the other way around.
* EarlyInstallmentWeirdness: Two things not found in ''[=KOF=] '94'': The ability to create your own team of fighters[[note]]it did make the cut in ''[[UpdatedRerelease KOF '94 Rebout]]''[[/note]] and recurring antagonist Iori Yagami.
** Additionally, the ability to run and roll didn't become staple gameplay elements until ''[='96=]'' (which is a main factor in why the third game is generally seen as the point where the series [[GrowingTheBeard took off]]). In the first two games, characters could only hop forward and sidestep dodge, respectively. The power gauge also operated somewhat abnormally by fighting game standards throughout the Orochi Saga: from ''[='94=]''-''[='96=]'', as well as ''[='97=]'' and ''[='98=]''[='s=] Extra Mode, the gauge had to be manually charged and otherwise would only fill up when taking damage or blocking specials and [=DMs=]. Upon reaching MAX, the power gauge functioned identically to [[VideoGame/SamuraiShodown the POW/Rage Gauge]], meaning that stocks couldn't be held, the player dealt more damage, and the bar would empty completely after a certain period of time.
* EasterEgg: In ''XI'', certain characters have alternate taunts depending on who they're facing. Iori has specific taunts for Kyo and Ash. Ash has the same in regards to Kyo and Iori. Oswald happens to have three different poses for his taunt, although it's not character-specific. The special intros and idle animations throughout the series could also count. Try holding down with Bao for example.
** In ''XIII'', Yuri is the only character to have three variations of her taunt/personal action: she either a) looks at the screen, b) looks at the screen with bulgy eyes (resembling a stock shocked anime expression), or c) she flashes a V-sign similar to her artwork.
* EmbeddedPrecursor: Of sorts. Both ''[='98=]: Ultimate Match'' and ''2002: Unlimited Match'' have the original Neo Geo AES versions they were remade from included, although only in the [=PS2=] version in ''2K2UM''[='s=] case.
* EnemyMine: Kyo and Iori teaming up occasionally; Gato with the Outlaw Team in ''2003'' (though Gato has no friends or enemies, from his point of view).
* EvenEvilHasLovedOnes: [[spoiler: The Four Heavenly Kings of Orochi, minus Goentiz, genuinely seem to care about one another. They drop the menacing act during their special intros with each other even in their alternate personas, and while Yashiro isn't averse to killing the other 2 to revive Orochi, he's apologetic about it and immediately kills himself afterward as an offering, too. This is also partly why Gaidel chose not to be involved with the Orochi business anymore, and Vice and Mature also shows some concern for Iori.]]
* FourIsDeath: Goenitz, Yashiro, Shermie, and Chris are the Four Heavenly Kings of Orochi. Mature, Vice, Yamazaki, and Gaidel [[spoiler:(Leona's biological father)]] are the Four Earthly Kings of Orochi. They complete the Hakkesshu that represent the eight heads of Orochi.
** The Hizoku clan is divided up into four subgroups, with the best assassins and leaders of those groups collectively known as The Four Devas ([[VideoGame/StreetFighterII not those ones]]). Three of the Devas are [=NPCs=] who primarily appear around Lin, but the fourth was Ron, father of Duo Lon and Xiao Lon, who formerly served as the head of the entire clan until he betrayed them to lend his services to NESTS (and the fourth position is covered by Lin afterwards).
* GameMod: No matter which UsefulNotes/NeoGeo installment of the series you pick, there's always a hack of it. Primarily they tend to make bosses playable though some add new arenas, graphics and bump up character's attacks to ludicrous levels. Sometimes you get the odd mod that adds new characters, such as a hack of the arcade ''2002'' that adds the console port's extra characters (King, Shingo, Orochi Iori, Goenitz and Geese).
* GirlsWithMoustaches: In ''XI'', the Kyokugen Team's ending has Yuri, of all people, don a fake moustache as part of [[DatePeepers her]] [[PaperThinDisguise disguise]]. Needless to say, Ryo and King aren't fooled, [[http://youtube.com/watch?v=_V8Ta2KILHs nor are they amused.]]
* GrappleMove: Pretty much a staple. Everyone has their normal grab moves, while a few characters have command grabs; a few characters are the designated "grapplers" such as Clark, Daimon and Vice.
* GroundPunch: Some characters do this in order to create a short-lived barrier or projectile. The most notable example of this is Terry Bogard, who retains this trick from his [[VideoGame/FatalFury series of origin]].
* HiddenDepths: Take the time to find the [[http://kofaniv.snkplaymore.co.jp/english/character/index.php official bios]] for each character, and you'll be surprised by some of their hobbies and other aspects of their lifestyles. For example, Kyo is ''literally'' a WarriorPoet (albeit a poor one) and several characters are quite the talented musicians.
* HitboxDissonance: ''2001'' had an extreme case of this.
* HongKongDub: Largely played straight with the ''Maximum Impact'' dub. Inverted in that the original Japanese audio doesn't always sync properly with the lip movements either, although it's far less frequent.
* IconicSequelCharacter: ''The King of Fighters '95'' introduced Iori Yagami, TheRival to the game's protagonist, Kyo. His popularity, which was spurred by his appearance and personality, managed to make him so recognizable that he not only kept being used as an icon for the series in later iterations, but also became a major BreakoutCharacter.
* IdleAnimation: K'[='s=] is notable in that it doesn't loop, which is unique for a sprite. To add to that, his eyes close progressively slower till he's outright fallen asleep. The only way to see him in his fighting stance again after he's put his hands in his pockets is to move him from his spot. Other characters have slight idle animations too such as Clark wriggling his fingers to keep them from stiffening, Ralf hopping back and forth in place, Leona standing straight, and Andy, who would change stances a few times in his animation, one of which was his classic stance from older ''VideoGame/FatalFury'' games. Bao has a variant of this if you hold crouch, where he'll start drawing on the ground and then fall asleep.
** This even extended to the characters on your team who waited their turn on the sidelines (from ''[='94=]'' to ''[='98=]'') as you fought. The combatants who had yet to fight would stand and react accordingly (positive gestures if you landed a hit, not-so-positive ones if you were getting your block knocked off); KO'ed fighters would sit there silently in a defeated slump, only acknowledging the ongoing fight if their teammate(s) managed to avenge them. If you were stunned or being grabbed by your opponent and nearby your teammates, you could mash buttons and one of them could jump out and briefly attack your enemy.
** Other characters have started having idle animations that don't loop, particularly by the HD upgrade in ''XII''. Things like Iori shrugging his shoulders or Ash twisting his hips and playing with his bangs follow K' as non-looping fighting stances.
* ImageSong: A crapload. Besides the numerous individual ones for the more popular characters (see the individual character sheet), SNK decided to create an entire ''band'' off of this concept called "The Band of Fighters." The lineup was Kyo (guitarist), Iori (bassist), Athena (lead vocalist), Terry (drummer), and [[VideoGame/SamuraiShodown Nakoruru]] (pianist) as a band in some bizarre AlternateUniverse. On occasion, [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMII_gzYuTc other characters will lend their vocal talents to the group.]] Perhaps their best known song is [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1CEfymvmp4 "The Song of Fighters II"]] and its live version, [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVlip4H6MqM "Bright & Fly."]]
* TheImperialRegalia: Treasures of Amaterasu make up a major part of the plot of the Orochi Saga as well as the Tales of Ash.
* IWasYoungAndNeededTheMoney: When SNK Playmore was in dire need for some quick profit in 2005, they pulled a desperate gamble; make a game to gather as many fans as they could, though another fighting game wasn't their aim. Seeing how many Bishoujo and MsFanservice girls they had in ''The King of Fighters'' and other [[VideoGame/ArtOfFighting fighting]] [[VideoGame/SamuraiShodown games]] [[VideoGame/FuunSeries as]] [[VideoGame/FatalFury well]], a series of {{dating sim}}s were made for mobiles and later ported over to the NintendoDS. The series was called ''Days of Memories'' with a subtitle for each new installment, it proved to be rather successful as seven ''mobile'' games and two [[UpdatedRerelease rereleases]] for NintendoDS were made until 2008.
** The original intent was to only aim at men with the female fighters as obvious [[LoveInterests interests]] for the average Player Character, but the series proved to worthy of their time and SNK Playmore started to whore out male fighters for female fans of the franchise as well. The initial roster for girls was composed of: '''Athena Asamiya, Kasumi Todoh, B. Jenet, King, Mai Shiranui, Yuri Sakazaki, Leona Heidern''' and '''Kula Diamond''', and the men were: '''Kyo Kusanagi, Iori Yagami, K', Ash Crimson, Terry Bogard, Rock Howard, Alba Meira''' and '''Ryo Sakazaki''', eventually after all the seven installments the choices grew to arguably as many popular guys and girls as any ''KOF'' "fan" would like to date. Of course this also includes massive doses of AlternateContinuity, HandWave, and {{Retcon}}, specially in regards to canon/teased love interests or other relationships, in order to make the games work.
* JigglePhysics: Many of the more buxom female characters' chests jiggle, but Mai Shiranui [[UpToEleven takes it to the next level]].
* LagCancel: As expected from a FightingGame, this game generally allows the chain of normal attacks -> command normals -> special attacks -> [[LimitBreak Desperation Moves]] -> "Final" Desperation Moves where available. Later games also allow "Drive cancels", i.e cancelling a special attack to another; this requires emptying a certain gauge to perform, and characters are able to enter "Hyper Drive mode" where you can do more Drive Cancels in a combo easily (though often with the tradeoff of being unable to gain meter when it's active).
* LargeHam:
** Krauser's "I'll chisel your gravestone! SLEEP WELL!" is [[NarmCharm hilariously cheesy]].
** The ''Maximum Impact'' announcer.
** A lot of the villains tend to be hammy as well, notably Rugal and Igniz.
* LeaningOnTheFourthWall: While several {{Victory Pose}}s seemed to be aimed at the player directly (such as Yashiro giving a sly pointer gesture, Kim's TwinkleSmile, Benimaru's "I love you" and "Thank you," Shermie blowing multiple kisses, etc.), but they're also combatants in a (usually) televised, wildly popular international fighting tournament, so it's possible that they're also [[FourthWallPsych appealing to their fanbase]].
* LeftHanging: The ''Maximum Impact'' series seems to be heading this route. ''2'' ended on a SequelHook, ''Regulation A'' was simply an UpdatedRerelease, and ''Regulation A2'' was cancelled. Plans for a third game seem unlikely.
** Basically everything surrounding the Dragon Spirit: what exactly it is, how it intertwines with the overall plot or other characters, etc. Ron has said that the power is so absurd that it makes all of NESTS look like nothing and yet this plot point never achieves to be as important as it is implied. It is said a the that Kensou has mastered the control of the Dragon Spirit, but still no major changes can be seen through his power level (his personality is slightly more serious but not too much), taking account at how leagues more powerful he should have been if he truly mastered the control of his powers.
* LightningFireJuxtaposition: Before the start of the series [[PlayingWithFire Kyo]] and [[ShockAndAwe Benimaru]] were rivals, but nowadays have become great friends. They're based of a Japanese saying: "Lightning strikes ground and creates fire" (with their friend, Goro Daimon, as the "ground").
* LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters: As of ''XIV'', there are 107, ''not counting'' all the clones, alternate versions, guest appearances, or those only in SpinOff series.
* LoadsAndLoadsOfLoading: The UsefulNotes/NeoGeo CD ports of the games, which have loading times so frequent and so ridiculously long (20 to 30 seconds, due to the [=CDs=]' slow single speed drive) that they slow the pacing of all the games to a crawl.
* MassiveMultiplayerCrossover
* MirrorMatch: Not just a game mechanic, considering the number of Kyo clones there are. He even complains about how many of them there are in a few games set after the NESTS Saga (namely ''KOF XI'' where he jokes that he could make a baseball team out of himself).
* TheMovie: There's one, starring Ray Park as Rugal... and let's leave it at that.
* MundaneMadeAwesome[=/=]RuleOfCool: Several (although which side of the door things swing on is a case-by-case basis).
** One of Rugal's super moves is an overhead stomp. If it connects, he breaks his opponent's neck, crushes them into the ground, and proceeds to '''[[EverythingsBetterWithSpinning spin in 360 degrees]] [[ThisIsADrill and drill the opponent in the gut]]'''. Damage is sub-par, but it's well worth it. This eventually contributed to the [[MemeticMutation You Spin Me Right Round/Rugalspin meme]].
** In ''2002: Unlimited Match'':
*** [[BonusBoss Nightmare Geese]]'s Raising Dead End HSDM, wherein [[PowerGlows his hands glow]]. If he [[CounterAttack counters]] a move then, [[ShirtlessScene he rips his shirt off]], encases you in a giant Reppuken, and fires it at you. It sounds mundane, and yet the visual delivery is surprisingly epic.
*** Clone Zero traps you in a black hole, follows you in, and seems to [[VideoGame/StreetFighterII Shun Goku Satsu]] you.
*** Original Zero has Ron whack your soul from your body, and then has his gang of strikers physically smash it to bits before he slots it back in.
*** Igniz [[ThereIsNoKillLikeOverkill traps you in a galaxy and then blows it up]]. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFdo8xgMyFA Check it out]] [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCXYfZme4Aw for yourselves.]]
*** EX Takuma whipping out his [[KamehameHadoken Max Power Suburu Ou Shikoh Ken]] HSDM, coincidentally the same attack he shows off in the AOF team's ''2000'' ending.
*** EX Kensou's super repulse touch palm attack HSDM, and keep in mind this version of Kensou was based off of his powerless form from ''[='99=]'' to ''2000''.
*** Krizalid's Lightning Disaster, where he expels all of his battle data into physical form.
** Before all of this, there was Orochi in ''[='97=]'', who could rip your soul out of your body, and crush it in the palm of his hand. '''Your soul'''. Horribly creepy once it sinks in, but cool in a sense.
** The above [=HSDM/MAX2=]s gain successors in the form of the [=Neo MAXs=] from ''XIII''. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_SDcV-5DaA Here's a compilation of them.]]
** Not even the songs are safe! [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vH4t4XOOdg To the rhythm! T-t-to the rhythm!]]
* NebulousEvilOrganisation: NESTS, as well as Addes (and its sub-syndicates/branch organizations the Children of Kokaviel, Kusiel, Mephistopheles, and Belphegor) in the ''MI'' series. Those from the Past started as this, but quickly became a StandardEvilOrganizationSquad as time progressed.
* NotJustATournament: The game in a nutshell, most prominently during The Orochi Saga (''[='95=]''-''[='97=]'') and The Tales of Ash (''2003''-''XIII''), where the primary motive of the baddies is to [[SealedEvilInACan unseal]] {{Orochi}} (although for varying, but no less equally evil purposes). This has happened so frequently that characters start [[LampshadeHanging asking]] why there can't be a regular fighting tournament that ''doesn't'' serve as the instrument for TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt every once in a while.
* NumberedSequels: Until recently, all of the games had the "''The King of Fighters''" title, followed by the year the game was released. This tradition changed (but not stopped) with the release of ''XI'', which was released two years after ''2003''. There is also a bit of confusion about this, since ''KOF: Maximum Impact 2'' was titled "''The King of Fighters 2006''" in North America.
* ObviousBeta: ''XII''[='s=] home version was released with very spartan single-player features (only five fights and no boss), a poorly regulated and hastily-patched online mode (to the point of being unplayable), and massive {{Game Breaking Bug}}s. Studious crackers have found files on the game disc regarding DummiedOut characters.
** This one ended up about as obvious as they come considering ''every DummiedOut character'' that had a named file uncovered in ''XII'' wound up being added to the ''XIII'' roster (including a retro, flame-powered version of Iori offered as DownloadableContent, originally fished out of ''XII'' under the filename "[=iori98=]").
* OddballInTheSeries: It seems that this title would originally go to ''2001'' with its bizarre spin on the [[AssistCharacter Striker System]] (your team can go anywhere from all four characters to only one member with three Strikers), the low-quality, highly-repetitive, techno-style music that lasts for all of 30 seconds, its lukewarm conclusion to an already controversial saga, and (most of all) [[SNKBoss "lovable" Igniz]], one of ''the'' cheapest bastards in fighting game history (to put this into perspective, ''he'' was the former posterboy for SNKBoss), but you could make a case for the [[ObviousBeta bare-bones]] ''XII'' too.
* OffModel: Since the default sprites are used since ''[='96=]'' and the style of animators keeps evolving or the animators are changed, this is bound to happen, starting with new attacks that looks a little different in style (some attacks in ''2000'') to very noticeable art clash (starting with ''2000'' newcomers, although ''[='99=]'' newcomers are an arguable transition).
** [[ArtShift The jump to the redrawn, higher definition sprites]] starting in ''XII'' and ''XIII'' has garnered this as a general complaint for a number of characters, either due to discrepancies between the in-game sprites and official artwork or a simple matter of [[YouDontLookLikeYou their appearances coming across as a stark deviation from a more consistent look in past titles]].
* OffscreenMomentOfAwesome: Oswald's fight with Shen Woo in their team's ''XI'' ending. WordOfGod says that the fight was left [[CliffHanger open-ended]] because the fans would be disappointed with the final result.
* OverTheShoulderMurderShot: Iori does this in one of his Desperation Moves.
* PartsUnknown: Unlike most fighting games, which ''mostly'' restrict this trope to bosses, a good chunk of the characters in the series have "unknown" listed against their birthplaces - ''26'' out of the total 90 (non-powered/cloned) characters, in fact.
* PracticalTaunt: In earlier iterations, taunting lowers the other player's power bar (though it does the opposite in more recent installments).
** ''XIII'' gives a few characters these. For example, Benimaru's is a botched version of his [[DeathFromAbove Benimaru Lancer]] that shocks Benimaru while still attacking his foe ([[CherryTapping for minimal damage]]), Chin takes a swig of his drink (increasing his counter, which in turn increases his damage output), and [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jmOTLzcZ2w Kula can set a quickly-dissipating snowman that absorbs most normal projectile specials.]]
** Kyo Kusanagi Classic, a throwback version of Kyo with his Orochi Saga appearance and moveset introduced in ''Maximum Impact 2'', is able to, in a direct nod to the pre-''[='99=]'' installments, manually charge his super meter if the player holds down the taunt button.
* PutOnABus: This happens a lot. You can't fit 80+ people in one game.
** The American Sports Team, who appeared in the first game and has only been back in a non-striker fashion only once for the "Dream Match" game, ''The King of Fighters '98'' (which still had missing characters, like Eiji, Kasumi and the ''[='96=]'' Boss Team! -- at least until ''[[UpdatedRerelease Ultimate Match]]'').
** Leona skipped ''XI''.
** Andy Bogard skipped ''2003'' and ''XI''.
** Angel skipped ''2003'', ''XI'', ''XII'' and ''XIII''.
** Considerably, May Lee, K9999, and Foxy haven't been seen since ''2002''.
*** [[Manga/{{Akira}} With the second being dead in a]] BusCrash. Or, to be more exact, [[{{Retcon}} replaced by]] [[SuspiciouslySimilarSubstitute Nameless]].
*** ... while Bao, King, Jhun, Hinako, Xiangfei, Shingo, Lin, Heidern, Kasumi, and Foxy, for some unrevealed reason, '''skipped the original ''2002'''''! King and Shingo, however, were brought back to home versions. As for the others... expect background cameos.
*** Not to mention that ''2001'' was the ''only'' canon installment to include Foxy as a playable character. Officially. Save for ''2002UM''.
** Hinako. Put on a bus since ''2003''.
** The Ash saga was notable in that several characters that were mainstays throughout the Orochi and NESTS sagas (i.e. Andy, Mai, Robert, Leona, Chang, Choi, Chin, etc.), were dropped from the roster in either ''2003'' or ''XI''. Not that most of 'em didn't [[TheBusCameBack come back]] in either the home port of ''XI'', ''XII'', or ''XIII''...
** Shingo hasn't been around since ''XI''.
** Many Tales of Ash-introduced characters (save for Tung, and he really only comes in XI's console release without any bearing to the plot) don't come back in ''XIV''.
* QuestForIdentity: The focal point of the NESTS Team storyline in ''2001''.[[spoiler:[[{{Freakout}} The results aren't pretty]], [[GoneHorriblyRight especially for Igniz.]]]]
* QuirkyMinibossSquad: The Outlaw Team from ''2003'' is made up of sub-bosses from the ''VideoGame/FatalFury'' games (and Gato) -- Billy Kane, Gato, and the AxCrazy KnifeNut Ryuji Yamazaki. It was like this in ''[='97=]'' as well, only with [[TokenGoodTeammate Blue Mary]] completing the threesome with Billy and Yamazaki (Gato would not be created until 1999's ''Garou: Mark of the Wolves'').
** ''[='97=]'', ''2001'', and ''2002'' had the New Faces and NESTS teams. Especially ''2002''.
* RealIsBrown: For no reason, ''2002'' and ''2003'' had desaturated colors in their stages.
* RelationshipValues: Rare non-RPG example, and stealthily inserted at that. From ''[='94=]'' all the way up to ''[='98=]'', the teammates you chose affected who would actually be willing to contribute to the next teammate's meter stock, or jump in and initiate a Help Attack if their partner in the ring was dazed or being grappled. Allies are more likely to do so if the characters aren't hostile to one another and/or have strong ties (familial, romantic, or platonic) in canon. However, not all characters abide by this rule. Iori, for example, will ''never'' bust his neck to help out a teammate, '''period'''.
** You can actually see everyone's attitude towards how their team is set up by holding start at the Order Select screen in ''[='98=]'' (depicted by either an angry, neutral or happy smiley). Beware: Some versions of the game randomize everyone's attitude according to the system's internal clock.
*** To add to the insanity, the Dreamcast port, '''99: Dream Match'' allows you to change everyone's attitude the more you group them together, which means even Kim will help out "evil" characters like Vice and Mature if you play them as a team often enough.
* RobotHair: [[RobotBuddy Candy Diamond]], Kula's [[NotBloodSiblings "sister"]] from ''2000'', slides from one type into the other. [[http://images.wikia.com/snk/images/0/03/Kula_y_Candy.gif In her intro with Kula,]] she's shown to have regular hair, but then sheds her disguise to reveal her true robotic form, which has metallic hair.
* {{Rotoscoping}}: ''XII'' was extensively rotoscoped off of 3D models, and apparently so was ''XIII''.
* RoundhouseKick: Several characters have this as a move.
* ScienceIsBad: The underlying message with the NESTS Chronicles.
* SecretProjectRefugeeFamily: K', Whip, and Kula have essentially been this post-NESTS saga alongside caretakers Maxima (who functions as the OlderSidekick to K', as well as Kula's HonoraryUncle), Foxy, and Diana (the {{Team Mom}}s of the group, [[HeterosexualLifePartners as well as]] [[HasTwoMommies Kula's maternal figures]]).
* SequentialBoss: '''97'' has ''five'' of these, or even ''six'' if some conditions are met. The first one is either [[spoiler: Orochi Iori]] if you don't have [[spoiler: Iori Yagami]] in your team, or [[spoiler: Orochi Leona]] if you do. He or she will be followed by [[spoiler: the empowered forms of the New Face Team: first you defeat Orochi Chris, then Orochi Shermie, and Orochi Yashiro at last]]. Not satisfied? Once they're defeated, [[spoiler: it's time to fight {{Orochi}} himself.]] ButWaitTheresMore! If you [[spoiler: fight as the Japan Team and defeat Orochi with Kyo Kusanagi]], this will unlock one last match [[spoiler: where Kyo fights Iori Yagami (as in, normal Iori without the Riot of the Blood)]]
* ShoutOut: Check [[ShoutOut/TheKingOfFighters the page]].
* SiblingTeam: The Bogard Bros., who usually team up in KOF alongside their good buddy Joe. The current saga (until ''XIII'') marks the first time Andy wasn't on the roster alongside Terry.
** Sometimes Ryo and Yuri also go in the same team depending on the year.
* SituationalDamageAttack: In ''XIII'', [[VideoGame/FatalFury Raiden]] has a move known as the Super Drop Kick, a ChargedAttack that gets stronger every 4 seconds you charge it.
* SlidingScaleOfContinuity: Level 5 (Full Lockout). There are currently four [[StoryArc arcs]]: the [[SNKBoss Rugal]] [[StarterVillain Saga]] (the first title, ''[='94=]''), The {{Orochi}} Saga (''[='95=]''-''[='98=]''), the [[NebulousEvilOrganisation NESTS]] Chronicles (''[='99=]''-''2002''), and the Tales of [[TheTrickster Ash]] (the present-day saga, having started in ''2003''). While it's not too bad with the NESTS Chronicles (as the protagonist of those titles, K', distances himself from previous hero Kyo despite being genetically-engineered with his DNA), the Tales of Ash almost ''requires'' that you played the first four games. This is made worse if you look past the main plot and focus on the supporting cast, as you then have to deal with allusions and plot points carried over from ''VideoGame/FatalFury'', ''VideoGame/ArtOfFighting'', ''VideoGame/IkariWarriors'', ''VideoGame/{{Athena}}''/''VideoGame/PsychoSoldier'', ''VideoGame/TheLastBlade'', ''[[VideoGame/FuunSeries Savage Reign/Kizuna Encounter]]'', ''Buriki One'', etc. While it's ContinuityPorn and {{Fanservice}} for those who have followed Creator/{{SNK}} Playmore since its heyday, it's borderline-ContinuityLockout for anyone else. Remember that this series [[ContinuityCreep originally]] existed as [[MascotFighter a storyless gathering of fighters]].
** And on top of all of that, it looks as though KOF XIV is starting up the Dragon Power arc, a story that SNK's been hinting at for over ''16 years.'' While it's too early to say, you're probably going to get the most out of it if you've watched all of the Psycho Solders' endings from 99 up to XIV, as well as anything to do Lin, Duo Lon, or other members of the Hizoku, as they've all got something to do with the Dragon Power. And never mind anything else that SNK might decide to tie into it...
* SNKBoss: ''Duh...''
* SoLastSeason: Subverted: the rosters rotate with every new season, but the special moves rarely do. That being said, don't expect movesets to be entirely static throughout the series' run.
** Regarding movesets, it actually depends on the characters. While newer characters don't tend to experience major changes to their movesets, the longrunners and mainstays tend to experience major overhauls every so often, with he best examples of this being 96 and XII/XIII. In the former, nearly every character from Fatal Fury or Art of Fighting with a long-range projectile (plus Kyo,) had said projectiles replaced with stationary ones or some other such move. (Like Kyo.) And new moves were still given to the rest of the cast across the board. In KOF XIII, SNK doubled back by reverting nearly every FF and AOF character (plus Kyo,) to their original movesets with some changes and additions here and there, while most of the rest of the cast again got some sort of change-up or another. Between 96 and XII though, while some characters got some changes here and there, it was usually nothing on the scale of those two games.
* SomeDexterityRequired: The series had a problem with this early on. Then there's the legendary Raging Storm: Down-Back, Half-Circle Back, Down-Forward. There's a reason it's called "[[FanNickname The Pretzel]]." Most games starting with ''[='96=]'' averted this, but SNK still throws curveballs from time to time. K9999's inputs are also ridiculously difficult as are Duck King's in ''XI''. The Raging Storm is notoriously difficult ''for the sake of nostalgia''.
* SourceMusic: In ''[='=]97'', theme songs are associated only to a few characters rather than their respective teams. For those who don't have them, the fight will be underscored just by background noise. The closest a stage gets to having its own music is arguably the Bali stage.
* StableTimeLoop: [[spoiler:The whole Tales of Ash saga was revealed to be one in ''XIII'' due to Saiki and [[MeaningfulName Those From the Past]]. It's broken in the ending by Ash's HeroicSacrifice.]]
* SubmarinePirates: The Lillien Knights, B. Jenet's band of pirates, goes around with a submarine.
%%SuperWeight: Please check the discussion page.
* SurprisinglyGoodEnglish:
** The opening rap from ''[='98=]'' at the top of the page.
** The announcer and pretty much all text in ''XIII''.
* SuspiciouslySimilarSubstitute: Nameless, who replaces K9999 in ''2002: Unlimited Match'' could be considered a positive rendition of this.
** As well as Aya and Hermione, Rugal's secretaries from ''[='98=]'', who replaced Mature and Vice after they became {{ascended extra}}s.
* TagTeamTwins: Pre-final boss fight in ''2003'' against Chizuru and Maki Kagura who fit this trope just exactly: not only they're literal twins and they both fight in a two-member tag team (whereas three was the default number), [[{{Synchronization}} they also share the same lifebar]].
* TheDevTeamThinksOfEverything: In ''XI'', one of the stages is set in an alleyway outside of the [[VideoGame/FatalFury Pao Pao Café in Southtown]]. If you hang out in the center and right areas of the stage, nothing exactly spectacular goes on besides some civilian spectators cheering you on. Move far enough to the left, however, and a motorcycle comes barreling down the street--the very same road the combatants were obstructing earlier.
* ThreeRoundDeathmatch: One of the first notable aversions in the genre. The team-based gameplay of '''94'' ensured fights always lasted at ''least'' three rounds and can stretch to five. ''2003'' and ''XI'', being tag-team games, do not use rounds at all and simply have the fighters battle until one team has no more characters it can field. Installments after'' '94'' did include an option for traditional 1v1, "first to two fall" fights, however.
* TornadoMove: Joe Higashi's moveset includes multiple attacks of this nature, beginning with his "Hurricane Upper" and "Twin Hurricane", which are two of his basic attacks. Followed by his (HS)[=DMs=] "Screw Upper" and "Exploding Screw Upper." He first gained "Double Cyclone/Malestrom", which unleashes two Screw Uppers at once, in ''[[VideoGame/CapcomVsSNK2MarkOfTheMillennium Capcom vs. SNK 2]]''. And last, but certainly NOT least, there's his [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DcK49AnQ8cA NEO MAX, "Screw Straight"!]] They call him [[RedBaron "The Human Storm"]] for a reason.
** Also Goenitz's Yonokaze and Krizalid's Typhoon Rage, two moves we just [[SNKBoss love to hate]].
* TournamentArc: The point of the entire series, considering that it revolves around the titular fighting tournament. However, KOF always seems to serve as the vehicle for some nefarious person or group with an axe to grind to the point that certain fighters in the ''Maximum Impact'' series [[LampshadeHanging hope that the next tournament can simply be a test of their skills and not the instrument of the possible destruction of mankind]].
* TrueFinalBoss: Several throughout the series.
* UnblockableAttack: A good number of them, chief among them being Ralf's Galactica Phantom when charged up.
* UnexpectedCharacter:
** Seeing at it was the old SNK's last hurrah, ''2000'' featured a massive overload of [[TheCameo cameos]] from most of their older [=IP=]s. The Maniac Strikers in the console versions continue the trend.
** It happened again with ''XI'', which added the likes of Gai Tendo and Silber from ''Buriki One'' and Sho Hayate and Jyazu from ''[[VideoGame/FuunSeries Savage Reign/Kizuna Encounter]]'' as {{Secret Character}}s.
** Raiden in ''XII'' and Hwa Jai in ''XIII'', two characters from the original ''Fatal Fury'' that players never expected to see again. ''Ever''. Bonus points for teaming up with Kim.
* UpdatedRerelease:
** ''[='94=]: Rebout'', which added Saisyu, Team Edit (missing in the original ''[='94=]'' and didn't become a staple of the series until the next game), enhanced sprites, and a lot of 3D backgrounds.
** ''[='98=]: Ultimate Match'', which added Eiji from ''[='95=]'', Kasumi, the Boss Team and Goenitz from ''[='96=]'', and Orochi Iori, Orochi Leona, and Orochi himself from ''[='97=]''.
** ''2002: Unlimited Match'', which has EVERYONE who was in the NESTS saga games (except K9999, who gets a SuspiciouslySimilarSubstitute in the form of Nameless), INCLUDING Geese (with his added Nightmare mode from ''[[VideoGame/FatalFury Real Bout Fatal Fury Special]]'', [[SNKBoss cheapness and all!]]) and Goenitz, last seen on the UsefulNotes/PlayStation2 port of ''2002''. Though for some reason, Orochi Iori is not present as a playable character though he was found as a DummiedOut element.
*** ''Ultimate Match'' got its own rerelease with the PGM 2 version, which brings in some balance fixes and new moves.
** After ''XIII'' was given a console release (complete with extra content and DLC), the arcade version received an upgrade entitled ''The King of Fighters XIII Climax'', which features all of these bonuses.
* UpToEleven: SDM/HSDM/[=MAX2=]/LDM/Neo MAX variants of existing specials and [=DMs=] tend to be a mite bit more grandiose than their normal versions.
* VideoGameLongRunners: "It all began in ''[='94=]''..." All joking aside, the series includes thirteen titles (not including {{Updated Rerelease}}s like ''[='98 Ultimate Match=]'', ''2002: Unlimited Match'', and ''Neowave''), with several portable [[SpinOff spin-offs]], ''four'' [[AlternateContinuity separate continuities]] (''Maximum Impact'', ''EX'', ''R'', ''Days of Memories''; each with a minimum of two games apiece), and various other titles like the RPG-styled ''KOF: Kyo'' and pachinko slot games. ''The King of Fighters XIV'' is currently the latest game.
* VillainProtagonist: NESTS Team in ''2001'', if you chose to play as them, [[CaptainObvious of course]]. Mixes as QuestforIdentity.
** Also the case for the Boss Team in ''95'', Outlaw Team for ''97'' and ''03'', and (likely) Team Southtown and Villains Team in ''XIV'', again if you play as them.
* WhamEpisode: ''XIII'', considering its ending.
** The ''entire'' "Tales of Ash" saga is pretty much a Wham ''[[UpToEleven Arc]]'' (Rugal ''has children'', Chizuru and Iori lose their powers, the seal on Orochi is broken, Ash beats ''Orochi Iori'' effortlessly, etc.), but this is all compounded by [[spoiler:the death of Ash]].
* WhereTheHellIsSpringfield: [[SpellMyNameWithAnS South Town]]. While its exact location in the US is never revealed in the games (same goes with the ''Fatal Fury'' and ''Art of Fighting'' series), it's heavily implied that it's located in Florida, and the city is inspired by Miami.
* AWinnerIsYou: Usually in the case of characters added to home ports of games (who usually receive [[AWinnerIsYou some sort of congratulatory artwork in place of an actual ending]]), as well as all the hidden characters in ''Maximum Impact 2''. In either case, this usually also results in no character-specific prologues and cutscenes for the sub-boss and boss. This is also the standard for the dream match editions - since there's no plot, there's no need for a full-fledged ending.
* WithMyDyingBreathISummonYou: ''97''. The plot revolves around three young adults trying to revive Orochi of Japanese folklore since their leader was defeated in the last game (KOF '96). After you defeat the 3 characters, it is discovered that one of the characters is in fact the vessel that Orochi is being summoned through and with their final strength, the remaining two give their energy and their lives to the character so that he transforms. Thus the final boss battle begins.
* WorldOfBadass
* WorldOfSnark: It's been heading this way since Day 1, but ''XIII'' firmly cements this with all of the pre-fight intros and a good part of the Story Mode dialogues. Comes complete with LampshadeHanging and LeaningOnTheFourthWall, too!
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