The primary part of the Ace Attorney franchise is the video games, all of which fall into the Visual Novel genre. In the games, you take on the role of a lawyer and seek to solve a mystery in each case- almost always a murder case. As the defense attorney, typically Phoenix Wright but in later games also including Mia Fey, Apollo Justice, and Athena Cykes, you alternate between investigating the crime scene in point-and-click adventure fashion to gather evidence and witnesses to support your case, and trial scenes in which you must question the witnesses and expose contradictions and lies, eventually getting the real murderer to confess on the stand. The Investigations spinoff series has you taking on the role of prosecutor Miles Edgeworth, investigating cases before they even get to trial; rather than standing in court, you must occasionally rebut the arguments of those who would oppose you, and use logic to piece together the clues to discover the truth.In all the games in the series, there's a general theme of debating the proper role and ethical standards of the legal system; there are characters who seek to uphold the law at all costs, some who merely use the law to hide their criminal aims, and others (our heroes) who want to have a truly just society where the innocent go free and the guilty are punished.The games in the series are:
Franziska, with some good ol' rhyming added for good measure.
Franziska: You huffy, puffy, loosey-goosey excuse for a whimpering whining wuss of a witness.
Valant Gramarye in Apollo Justice was prone to this as well.
Adult Fear: Raises fears about, "what if the person you either love or are starting to love is actually a much worse person than you think they are?" It obviously gets taken to ridiculous extremes in a series of murder mysteries.
In Ace Attorney Investigations, Lauren's father gets killed by her boyfriend. It's further implied that the boyfriend had figured out the father's identity, and was blackmailing him into helping with his staged kidnapping by threatening her safety.
Aerith and Bob: Being a series that's absolutely full of oddly-named people, any real-sounding names could count as an example of this. A good one in particular though, would probably be Troupe Gramarye's line-up. Magnifi, Valant, Thalassa... and Zak.
Always Murder: The second case of the third game initially appears to be about a case of grand larceny (which creates an odd scenario where the victim of the crime is alive, and yelling at you for taking the defense case), but within a day, you have to defend the same guy for a related murder.
Also occurs in case 4-2, with 3 related cases - 2 thefts and 1 hit-and-run. But then, of course, a murder occurs.
A few cases feature crimes that appear to be murder but wind up slightly different: case 1-3 involves a manslaughter in self-defence and case 2-3 also involves a manslaughter, though the law of transferred intent applies.
Subverted in Phoenix's last case, which, 7 years later, was revealed to be a suicide. It plays out as a deconstruction, as the trial consists entirely of back-and-forth arguments about which disciple could have committed the murder, and both disciples confess to the murder years later simply to close the incident in everyone's eyes, rather than claim that no actual murder took place.
The first case of Dual Destinies has bombing as the primary charge against the defendant, with murder as a secondary charge (a body was found in the rubble). Assault is later added as a third charge.
Played with in the DLC case of Dual Destinies, as Blackquill insists on a formal murder charge even though the defendant is an orca. It later becomes a traditional murder charge when Sasha Buckler is arrested, and in the end it turns out to have been an accident!
Amateur Sleuth: Despite the fact that you're always playing the role of the defense attorney with no police training whatsoever, it's also the player's job to do all the detective work for their client.
It's been stated on-record in interviews that the entire series is one massive Take That against the Japanese judicial system, of which the system in the games is an accurate depiction!
Amoral Attorney: Miles Edgeworth and Manfred von Karma set the standards in the first game for any future amoral attorneys the protagonist will face.
Animal Stereotypes: Used in different ways for character designs to help build their characterization. Maggey Byrde's name is a pun based on a magpie, thought to be a very unlucky bird. Furio Tigre isn't just named for an angry, powerful tiger; he has one on his shirt and roars when he's upset. The Kitaki mafia family has trickster foxes on their clothing, and Wocky's hair makes him look like a fox. Alita Tiala has bird wings on her dress to help her look sweeter. Daryan Crescend's hair and jacket are reminiscent of a vicious shark. Phoenix's name is a reference to his trials ability to, essentially, come back from the dead.
Not surprisingly, some of these characters have the same puns in their Japanese names. Furio Tigre's surname "Toranosuke" literally means Tiger boy. The tiger devouring a dragon on his shirt is actually a reference to Phoenix that is lost in translation, because Phoenix's name in Japan is "Ryuichi" and is spelled with the kanji for "dragon." "Ryuichi" isn't supposed to have any meaning at all, but the writers chose to play around with it in the third game anyway when they make his "evil twin". The English release gave the main character's name meaning anyway, via Woolseyism. Same for Maggey Byrde, who's name has no animal references in Japanese (but literally means "continues to lose").
Arc Words: "X years ago" is a common one. In the first game's second and fourth cases, it's "15 years ago." In case 1-5, it's "2 years ago" to the point of being lampshaded (and to a lesser extent, "6 months ago"). In Apollo Justice, it's "7 years ago." The third game has a bunch of them, but "5 years ago" is probably the most common.
Klavier Gavin of the fourth title plays both sides of the fence. In his younger days, he exhibits some of the attributes, most likely due to his brother Kristoph telling him that Phoenix is not to be trusted, but is cooler-headed than someone who might be the AKFG. Later in his career, he mellows and enjoys his work as a prosecutor as a chance to match mettle with the defense attorney rather than a trial being a battle that can only be won or lost, which ultimately turns him into a subversion (though said brother may be the defense attorney-equivalent).
Art Evolution: Most visible between the games that originated on the GBA, and the ones that have originated on the DS. However, the series' character design style has changed quite a bit over the years — the first game used fairly low-key and realistic character designs, but the following games have had much more outlandish designs. The contrast between the styles is almost distractingly obvious in cases 1-5 and 4-4, the only cases where old and new sprites are next to each other.
Asshole Victim: Roughly half the victims in the series. Sometimes they're done in by other assholes, other times by more sympathetic characters, but in many cases, there's at least two people who hate them enough to kill them.
Notably averted with the victim in 2-3. No one can think of anything bad to say about the victim, and the motives presented in the case are shaky at best due to this. All the witnesses and even the suspect have nothing but praise for the Ringmaster. This is because he's not the intended victim. He showed up at the meeting place instead of his daughter, and the killer couldn't see who it was
Author Tract: The games are somewhat a satire of legitimate corruption in the Japanese Judicial system.
Awesome, but Impractical: The DS support functions for the microphone and touch screen. While it is cool to press the Y button to turn on the mic and yell "Objection!" and "Hold it!", it's far easier to press the shoulder buttons instead. The touch screen is rarely ever required for any of the games either. Apollo Justice tries to make the best use of both functions by implementing forensic tools to discover clues throughout the game, but for the most part, such a requirement comes up maybe only once or twice per game.
Same thing with the WiiWare rereleases. While it is cool to do Phoenix's trademark pose with the Wii remote while presenting evidence, it is a lot easier to just press the button.
Be as Unhelpful as Possible: Neither Phoenix nor Apollo will get a single useful bit of information out of a witness, suspect, or even the detectives unless they drag it out of them.
Especially jarring in 2-2, when you have to use the Magatama to find out where Pearl was at the time of the murder. She wants to help you, she really does...so why doesn't she just say it and help you out a bit? You find out why she doesn't just help you, but when you don't know what her reasons are, it's more than a little infuriating.
Brought to new heights in Apollo Justice, when Trucy refuses to tell how a magic trick was pulled off, even though the outcome of a murder trial hangs in the balance.
Larry also embodies this in general.
Whoever the co-council happens to be often does this, because it's a way of giving the player a hint without telling them the answer. "I think I see the contradiction, Kitten..." But they don't tell you, causing the player to guess wrong and get a guilty verdict. The player characters are fond of this too; Wright will tell Maya that it's finally come together, only to leave her and the player in the dark for dramatic effect.
Truth in Television since witnesses in trials are instructed to only give as much information as asked for. "You didn't ask" is therefore a legitimate reason for withholding a specific detail if it wasn't in the scope of the original question.
Berserk Button: For everything that Phoenix goes through and sees in his time in court, it's amazing he only has 2: using poison and betraying others' trust. These two happen to cross into This Is Unforgivable for him and it makes perfect sense considering how badly case 3-1 shook him when he was at his most naive.
NEVER accuse the Judge of murder. Just ... don't. Your penalty meter will thank you.
If they can be considered a family, Troupe Gramareye fits too.
And the Kitakis. Actually, practically any two related characters belong to one of these.
Big "WHAT?!": Frequent, often in response to case-breaking evidence being presented.
Big Word Shout: "Objection!" "Hold it!" "Take that!" "Gotcha!" "Eureka!" "Not so fast!" "Overruled!" "Got It!" "Silence!"
Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Usually the true murderer. Dahlia Hawthorne before she developed her Yandere tendencies towards Mia, and Alita Tiala from Apollo Justice. Matt Engarde had this as his defining character trait—even his name is a hint. And from Gyakuten Kenji 2, Souta Sarushiro.
Boke and Tsukkomi Routine: Pretty much the core comedy dynamic between your main attorney character (tsukkomi) and their side-kick (boke). In court, your attorney is usually the tsukkomi for the prosecutor, the judge, and the more loony witnesses, though Edgeworth often flips the tables on Phoenix in their games.
Broken Aesop: An example relating to degree of openness. Cases 2-4 and 3-5 are all about bringing The Truth to light, especially when Edgeworth is involved. The issue is that the view of when the truth should be brought to light expressed through the events of the game is a nuanced one, while the view expressed through the dialogue is an absolute one. Edgeworth's dialogue after his Heel-Face Turn could be summarized as "expose the truth, no matter how painful." Yet there are situations in which players are supposed to hate someone for exposing the truth.
Situations where revealing the truth is praised:
Telling a man who already knows that he was deceived by his girlfriend five years ago exactly how he was deceived? Sure, the truth turned out to be that he hadn't been as bad a judge of character as he thought he was, but Edgeworth starts pushing for the Truth to come out without knowing what it is. Edgeworth inherently knows that The Truth will heal the man's pain even if it gives him more to be upset about.
Situations in which revealing the truth is condemned:
Telling a jealous man the truth about his fiance's ex in order to make him reconsider the marriage? How evil! (The timing of the reveal is implied to have been part of what made it evil, but the heroes don't exactly tread lightly when it comes to the timing of big reveals either.)
This is Matt Engarde. And he didn't expose his past with Celeste to Juan for any reason other than to cause more pain. He didn't love Celeste, and Celeste never did anything to hurt anybody, but he told Juan because he knew his rival would never marry Celeste because of it. Sure enough, Celeste commits suicide over it and both men use her death as just another means to hurt each other. That's why what Matt did was evil.
Telling a skeptical public about a very unconventional technique the police used to solve a case, that lead them astray? Or publicizing a politician's affair with a secretary? The work of an evil man who caused nothing but pain. (The truth was definitely not the culprit's motive, but revealing the truth about what the police did was an effect nevertheless.)
Situations in which exposing the truth was portrayed in a mixed light:
In Ace Attorney Investigations, it is clear that the Yatagarasu's tendency to "steal evidence of corrupt dealings of all kinds" and send it to the press is illegal and that Edgeworth would like to be above such actions, but the Yatagarasu's actions in this regard are hardly portrayed as evil. The Yatagarasu was just "stealing the Truth" in order to bring it to light.
At one point, Edgeworth threatens to publicize a witness' embarrassing psychological diagnosis unless that witness testifies truthfully. He says that it's not his problem if the witness chooses to commit suicide in response to the psychological profile being publicized.
Revealing who the killer is, even when there's already enough evidence to prove the defendant didn't do it, and the killer is in some ways a decent person who had a compelling reason for what they did and will now likely get in huge trouble? Mia says it's justice (though Maya didn't seem to agree and it's unclear whether Phoenix was fully convinced). Godot, at least, seemed to WANT to be brought to justice, and in fact subtly encouraged Phoenix to put the nail in the coffin, so to speak.
In the above case, the judge has explicitly stated that only Maya or Godot could be the killer. Maya knows that Godot had acted in order to save her and is thus protecting him at all costs; however, Phoenix is just as determined to protect Maya, so he has really no choice but to expose Godot. And as stated in the spoiler above, Godot did subtly encourage Phoenix to prove him as the killer.
A case could be made that revealing the truth really was good in the situations where it was portrayed as good and bad in the situations in which it was portrayed as bad, but the dialogue describes bringing The Truth to light as though it is a golden ideal that is always good - as long as the person doing it is a good guy, and the person whose truth got exposed only considers committing suicide rather than actually doing so.
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Most of the cast, including any and all lawyers, from the unflappable but hapless title character to the driven, coffee-guzzling Godot. Honestly, it'd be easier to list characters that don't fit this in someway.
Characters who aren't really that involved with law are this too: Maya, while showing some rather pronounced Cloudcuckoolander tendencies, is also a very talented spirit channeler (she's probably be even better, wasn't it for her occasional lack of self-esteem). Same applies to Ema, who may have screwed up the exam but is very skilled in Forensics and Trucy, who is one of the best illusionists you'll ever find anywhere. Kay Faraday, is an exception: She's as untalented as a thief as one can be.
But Thou Must: A very frequent occurrence. Just look at the page's image.
Butt Monkey: Individual characters aside, the playable protagonist at any time, in any game, inevitably ends up a Butt Monkey. Even those cases with multiple playable protagonists. Made even more apparent by changes in a character's treatment after they slip in or out of the protagonist slot. See Can't Get Away with Nuthin' .
Canadian Accents: The Judge's brother is a walking stereotype; he even calls you a hoser several times.
Can't Get Away with Nuthin' : Played straight with Phoenix and Apollo, averted by everyone else. Witnesses routinely perjure themselves, and they threaten and bully the lawyers. Prosecutors withhold evidence, and assault the defense, witnesses, and even the Judge, and refer to the defense by insulting nicknames.
Actually, this hapens to Edgeworth as well in Investigations. Seems like being a main character instantly turns you into a Butt Monkey.
Chivalrous Pervert: Larry again. He might be an idiot, but when he falls in love, he falls hard.
Chekhov's Armoury: This is a game based on court proceedings with a judicial system requiring that even with logical sense and linked facts, there needs to be concrete and decisive evidence to prove all separate facts, after all. The only way to be sure you have all the evidence is downright kleptomania. For a non-item version, early in the third game, a silly digression involving a ketchup stain hints at the fact that Godot can't see red on white—which becomes vitally important in the final case.
Chekhov's Gun: A series wide gun was mentioned by Gumshoe during the Rise of the Ashes case.
...the prosecutor is responsible for the evidence he presents in court.
Granted, this trope ended up being inverted: Phoenix Wright is not a prosecutor, but presented forged evidence without knowing.
Chronic Evidence Retention Syndrome: Played with Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney's bonus case, "Rise from the Ashes." The culprit keeps a critical piece of evidence hidden away which he's used to blackmail someone into doing his bidding; revealing this evidence when prompted will have dire consequences, but concealing it (temporarily) will force the culprit to tip his hand, and the new context in which the evidence is ultimately presented points the guilty finger at him instead.
Taken to extreme measures in Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney Dual Destinies with The Phantom. He engineered two bombings, breaking and entering, and a few murders just to get his hands on a piece of evidence that has his blood on it.
Clock Discrepancy: In the first case of Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney. The witness thought the time of the murder was at 1:00 when it was actually 4:00.
Closet Geek: Edgeworth is a huge fan of Toku serials, particularly the Steel Samurai/Pink Princess series, to the point where he sabotages his own prosecution rather than let his hero, the Steel Samurai (or at least the guy who plays him on TV) go to jail for a murder he didn't commit. His ringtone in Ace Attorney Investigations is even the Steel Samurai theme song. He usually gets defensive about his fandom to everyone... except Maya, interestingly enough.
Continuity Cameo: Phoenix Wright is mentioned by She-Hulk in Marvel vs. Capcom 3. In She-Hulk's ending, both Wright and Edgeworth appear. For those unfamiliar, this occurs because She-Hulk's civilian identity is also a defense attorney.
Early-Bird Cameo: ...And then Phoenix Wright was added into the same game proper, in Ultimate Marvel Versus Capcom 3.
The same reviewer also claimed that Ace Attorney Online is where one can find "free trial packages", as in "free cases to play that are sponsored by Capcom." This carries the Unfortunate Implications that the fansite is actively supporting creating knock-off games. This caused the owner of the fansite to make it doubly clear that his site is NOT affiliated with nor sponsored by Capcom. HE also made it clear that the website is to help people create fan-made trials, and that it's not ripping-off Capcom.
Creator Cameo: Prior to Professor Layton Vs Ace Attorney, all the in-game voice clips were provided by members of the development and localization teams. PLvsAA and Dual Destinies use professional voice actors for most characters due to the greater amount of dialogue and higher sound quality offered by the 3DS, but the teams still do voice clips for the more minor characters.
Cultural Translation: The English-language versions are posited to take place in a place not unlike Los Angeles (except that it snows in the wintertime and there are a surprising number of Shinto temples in the vicinity), but so many visual elements are so very distinctly Japanese (to say nothing of the court system) that it stretches suspension of disbelief a little much at times...
von Karma: Tsk, tsk, tsk. Mr. Phoenix Wright. I grow tired of the foolish foolery of the foolish fools of this foolish country...
von Karma: Foolish fool spouting foolish foolishness, just as I expect of a foolish fool such as you.
von Karma: A foolishly foolish idea born from the foolish mind of a foolhardy foolish fool.
Not to mention one of Larry's lines in the first game.
Larry: It's lonely, being alone on Christmas Eve.
Larry has quite a few.
Larry: My claim is a claim claiming my claim. Do you have a problem with that?
Or this from Klavier Gavin in the fourth game.
Klavier: The jurists will function like a jury.
Devil in Plain Sight: Many suspicious witnesses (and of course, the real culprit of a case) start acting awfully suspicious the more holes you start poking in their testimonies, to the point that some of the culprits could probably have easily been convicted in Real Life simply based on how they were behaving (you wouldn't believe how many of them start openly gloating if the prosecution gets a leg up on you.)
Double Entendre: In spades. Hits a real high with Apollo and Ema's conversation about her "tool" in the fourth case.
Franziska's "I DEMAND SATISFACTION!" before whipping Larry Butz into unconsciousness.
In the latter part of Investigations' first case, a lot of time was spent on figuring out who touched Portsman's knob. Only Portsman himself and his partner touched his knob. Possibly unintentional, but who knows.
Doujinshi: Two volumes of it were released in English, one with comics focusing on Wright, the other with comics focusing on Edgeworth.
Downloadable Content: According to this page, Dual Destinies is the first game in the Ace Attorney series to feature downloadable content (if you exclude the WiiWare port of the first game, which had case 5 as DLC).
Dramatic Irony: There are several cases (generally the first one in the game) where the murderer is made clear from the very beginning, but the main character doesn't realize it.
Looking at the whole series, Phoenix's disbarment could be seen as such. During case 1-2, Mia told Maya that Phoenix should have another three years before he's someone she could rely on in court. Three years forward of the events of the first game, Phoenix is forced out of the legal profession in disgrace.
Dub Name Change: Not just from Japanese to English, but also to French, and many other languages, to keep the puns they carry.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney case 2: Near the victim's body, Maya's name is written in blood. Detective Gumshoe says this is a message from the victim saying that Maya did it. It turns out that the killer wrote it in the victim's blood to frame Maya.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney case 5: The name "Ema" was written in blood on the "unstable urn."
Justice for All case 1: The name "Maggie" was written in the sand in front of the victim and the victim's right index finger was near the last letter. The player shows that the killer used the victim's hand to write this to frame Maggey by showing that the name is spelled wrong (when the victim would have known how to spell it) and that the victim was left-handed.
Trials and Tribulations case 5: The name "Maya" is written in the victim's blood. It turns out that the victim was channeling a spirit at the time and that the spirit wrote the name to implicate Maya because said spirit was hostile to Maya.
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney case 3: There is something written in blood on the floor in front of the victim, but it's hard to read. It turns out that the victim was an Interpol agent and wrote his agent number. The killer saw this and tried to smear the number to make it unreadable - proving that the person who tried to smear the number wasn't blind. So far this is only one of two cases in the series of a non-misleading clue written in blood, and even those contain non-standard information.
Ace Attorney Investigations case 1: When you put the binders back on the shelf, you find that the name Gumshoe was written in the victim's blood on the file binders. It turns out that the killer wrote this name to frame someone, but then someone else came and stole one of the binders that the name was written on.
Considering that every time this comes up it turns out to be a Red Herring, one has to wonder why this clue popping up isn't automatically dismissed as a false trail. Maybe if it were, it would lead to criminals leaving their own names at crime scenes, making it look like they're being framed...
Because that would be Insane Troll Logic at best. Saying "I can't be the murderer because my name is written with the victim's blood at the scene" will likely get you arrested on the spot in real life. The only reason the clues are discounted is because there's something wrong with them, and other evidence is always needed to support the case.
Played with in Dual Destinies case 1. The prosecution says that Apollo wrote the name of his assaulter in his own blood...except he didn't write anything and didn't bleed enough for it to be possible. It turns out that the murder victim of the case did indeed write something to indict her killer—his ID number—which prompted said killer to use Apollo's blood during the assault the next day to alter it ever-so-slightly in order to indict the defendant.
Exact Words: If the contradiction isn't a mistake or an outright lie, it'll usually be in this form and require pressing for further details. One of the most notable examples is Phoenix using the Magatama on Matt Engarde in Farewell, My Turnabout, asking if he killed the case's victim. The response is "No, I didn't kill anyone." The Magatama doesn't register anything because technically he didn't kill Juan Corrida, but hiring an assassin to do it makes him just as guilty.
Expy: The TakarazukaMusical has Monica Clyde for Ema Skye, obvious from the first glance at her. Less direct expys are also present. All necessary for compressing the plot into a 2 hour play, plus dancing.
Kristoph Gavin and Manfred von Karma.
Let's face it, the other main young female partners to the lawyers (Ema, Trucy, Kay) are obviously expies of Maya. This is lampshaded and used as a plot point in 1-5, as Ema's resemblance to Maya is what spurs Phoenix to take on the case. Maya, Ema, and Trucy are all identified as "in training", and even Takumi stated before AJ that Trucy's role would be "just like Maya's". Athena, the new assistant in Dual Destinies, appears to be continuing the trend; a spunky novice lawyer about the same age as Maya and Kay.
Failure Is the Only Option: In case 1-4, there is a piece of evidence that can turn the case around. However, in order to progress, you have to confront Von Karma with it - at which point he hits you with a taser and destroys the evidence, and it's the only thing left during that particular investigation.
The only way to progress in Phoenix's final trial is to present the forged diary page, even though it means Phoenix will be disbarred for presenting forged evidence. Justified as the case in question is set in the past.
Fan Boy: Edgeworth is a huge Steel Samurai fanboy. It's subtle in the main games, confirmed in the supplemental materials. Investigations throws all pretense out the window and makes it a minor plot point in the final case.
Fangirl: All of the assistants are a huge fan of something in popular culture, including Gregory's male assistant, a younger Tateyuki Shigaraki. Maya (Steel Samurai and its spinoffs), Ema (Edgeworth), Trucy (Troupe Gramarye and the Gavinners), Kay (Jammin' Ninja), and young Tateyuki (Dansweets).
Flanderization: From game to game, this gets more and more notable. Gumshoe's incompetence, the Judge's airheadedness, Larry's immaturity/stalker thing, and Oldbag's infuriating nature.
Interestingly, AA 5 dials this back for the Judge, who still gets pushed around and has to often ask what's going on during the crazier moments (and, admittedly, the cases in this game get gonzo), but isn't afraid to bring the gavel down on unruly or uncooperative witnesses.
Flashback: Used frequently to recall key clues during a case, or to reference events from past games or cases. Can be somewhat annoying as the game will sometimes flash back to things that you just saw a few minutes ago, especially in the third case of the fourth game, when you see one scene something like four times in close succession.
Foreshadowing: The games have a lot of this, particularly Trials and Tribulations and the bonus case 'Rise from the Ashes' in the first game, which was created as part of an Updated Re-release with the writers knowing what was going to happen in later games, leading to lines foreshadowing Trials and Tribulations ("We certainly can't get a dead person to testify" as well as Phoenix stating he would get found out if he lent his badge to someone (foreshadowing Phoenix lending his badge to Edgeworth). Also, Gumshoe asks if he can work as Wright and Co. after he is fired foreshadowing him working for Phoenix in the last case in Justice for All. The climax of the case in which Phoenix is accused of withholding evidence could be foreshadowing Apollo Justice.
Also in the second case of Trials and Tribulations, when talking about Mask DeMasque Phoenix says that when you're famous there are always imitators. Pearl then says that if Phoenix works hard, someday he'll have his own imitators. The next case revolves around Furio Tigre impersonating Phoenix to cover a crime.
Investigations has an odd case of reverse-foreshadowing. Specifically case four. It's a flashback to four years before the first game and six months before Edgeworth's first trial, and contains multiple references to future events. If you hadn't played the first few games you wouldn't get the meaning behind von Karma's comments (he killed Edgeworth's father), the fire extinguisher being used in a crime (later used to bash Phoenix on the head and give him temporary amnesia), Franziska mentioning she wouldn't know what to do were her father to die (it is implied in JFA that Manfred dies after being convicted on the murder of Gregory Edgeworth) and saying she would never have to work with Detective Gumshoe or Edgeworth mentioning his badge won't stay shiny forever (his reputation will eventually be tarnished).
In case five, the 'shadow of the Yatagarasu' is formed by more than one statue. This foreshadows the fact that the real Yatagarasu is more than one person.
In case 3 of the first game, Phoenix makes a somewhat overly-dramatic comment to Cody Hackins, a Steel Samurai fanboy, that seeing through lies is "one of his powers". Fast-forward to case 2 of the second game, when Phoenix is given a Magatama, which literally gives him the power to see through lies, via Psyche Locks.
In the bonus case of the first game, 'Rise from the Ashes', when accused of forging evidence, Damon Gant points out that although Edgeworth may have been found to have unknowingly presented forged evidence, says "It's not just prosecutors who can forge evidence, right Wrighto?" Fast forward to Apollo Justice...
Apollo Justice, Case 3. A player watching closely during The Guitar's Serenade can notice the flash of the igniter going off and the fire growing.
To add more from Case 1-5, I think the writers went to town on foreshadowing as this case not only references the other PW Trilogy games, but foreshadows Ace Attorney Investigations as Damon Gant, after being outed for murder in two cases, tells Edgeworth that he will one day need to find a way to deal with certain criminals you can't take down with just evidence and testimony. Fast forward to AAI, and meet Quercus Alba, a criminal who can't be touched by the law due to his diplomatic immunity.
And that isn't just in the case of Edgeworth as Phoenix Wright himself does it. His monologue at the end of the game talks about not being able to change past mistakes, only make up for them and then move on. What does Nick do in Apollo Justice? He accidentally presents forged evidence in court, and pays for it, then spends seven years making up for that mistake, raising Trucy, and finding out what really happened in the case that caused him to lose his badge. Once he is finally cleared of all suspicion of forging evidence, the fallen attorney "Rises from the Ashes" and picks up right where he left off, cue the return of Nick in Ace Attorney 5.
For Great Justice: Most obvious in Phoenix and Apollo, of course, but Edgeworth also learns to seek out the truth rather than just more wins on his record. Being a game series based on lawyers, it's justified.
Frothy Mugs of Water: Oddly, averted; juices are served in wine bottles and glasses, including tomato juice (Justice For All) and grape juice (Apollo Justice, Investigations), which leads to think of this. However, they are juice in the Japanese version as well.
Gainaxing: April May could hit herself in the face if she's not careful. And she's a 2D sprite!
Gambit Roulette: Many of the arguments for both sides in several cases are these, dependent entirely on a particular character being in possession of the Idiot Ball at a particular time.
Genius Ditz: Despite Gumshoe's seemingly sieve-like mind and short attention span, he actually seems to have a knack for engineering, over the course of the series building a mechanical puppet, a frequency detector, and a metal detector. The frequency detector is actually a pretty basic model that professional detectives wouldn't usually use, but it's somewhat justified that Gumshoe made it in middle school and didn't have time to fill out the paperwork for the precinct's equipment.
Genki Girl: It seems to be an unwritten rule for all sidekicks in the series to be this.
Giving Someone the Pointer Finger: In a particular pose that's easily as iconic of the series as any of the catchphrases. It's in the series' logo and even in the scroll text button on the touch screen. It is oddly absent on the touch screen in Apollo Justice and Investigations, however.
The Pre-Order Bonus for the first DS game in the US was a stylus...whose tip was a hand with that very pointer finger.
The Wii port of the first game even allows you to issue an objection by flailing the Wiimote at the screen in imitation of said pose.
Case 1-5 (first game, fifth case, Rise from the Ashes) has this exchange:
Judge: "If I cut my finger Mr. Wright, I wouldn't be able to pound my gavel anymore."
Phoenix: (Yeah. But if I cut my finger, I wouldn't be able to point it at people anymore...)
And now Wright is crossing over with Professor Layton, another famous pointer. This can only end well.
The newest prosecutor, Simon Blackquill from Dual Destinies, tries to point at Apollo during their trial but because he's wearing handcuffs he can't do it and gets stuck mid-gesture.
Gonk: Perverted hospital "director" Hotti, and the scholar from Apollo Justice are all good examples.
Good Lawyers, Good Clients: Somehow, the defense attorneys you play as always only ends up defending people who are innocent. It's justified in a few cases (for example, Mia specifically defends a younger Phoenix because Dahlia's involved and Mia's pretty sure she is the culprit, based on a previous case), but still kind of obvious. It's played with in the final case of Justice For All. Matt Engarde was responsible for the death of his rival, but maintains that he's technically innocent because he didn't commit the crime himself. The assassin he hired did. Despite this, everyone who knows this still considers Matt guilty, and having him be found innocent results in a Non-Standard Game Over.
Good Scars, Evil Scars: Kristoph Gavin has a scar on his hand that looks like a devil's face that's actually an important clue.
Matt Engarde has evil scars behind his Peek-a-Bangs in Justice for All.
Guide Dang It: Some cases require spectacular leaps of logic, which can prove frustrating for many people—especially younger children. What makes this even worse is that sometimes they're accommodating and let you present different pieces of evidence that, logically, would raise the same argument as each other, and other times they will only allow one.
Guile Hero: It doesn't get more "Guile Hero" than a defense attorney who can only use evidence, brains and chutzpah to save innocent people from the chair!
Hammerspace: See Kleptomaniac Hero, below. Also, someone is apparently lugging around 17 cups of coffee to Godot's every trial. Or the coffee machine to make them, and the water, and the various blends, and assorted ingredients.
Hello, Attorney!: Of course. Miles Edgeworth is this in-universe, with pretty much every woman he crosses paths with finding him attractive, as is Mia Fey (the first thing Gumshoe says to her, in the trial of Terry Fawles, is how pretty he thinks she is). Among the fans, Phoenix, Godot/Diego, and Gregory Edgeworth have been considered plenty attractive.
Hope Spot: It is nearly impossible to get to the end of a trial without the prosecutor or culprit finding a significant flaw in your case, often a lack of decisive evidence, that renders your entire argument worthless despite everything you have proven. Cue Phoenix holding his head in his hands... until...
Hurricane of Puns: The vast majority of names you meet are a pun of some sort. Some are subtle, most... not so much.
Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every episode (save the bonus case in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, "Rise From The Ashes") contains the word "Turnabout" in the title. The Japanese name of that case can be translated as "Turnabout Revival". And the series itself is originally titled "Turnabout Courtroom", which quite nicely describes Phoenix's tendency to make a dramatic comeback when all seems lost.
Improbable Age: Edgeworth became a prosecutor at a very young age, but he's got nothing on Franziska von Karma, who started practicing law at age thirteen! And Klavier Gavin started practice at age seventeen while still finding the time to become a rock star. The German/American legal system must be fun! Only gets away with it due to Rule of Cool.
Indy Ploy: At least once every trial, Phoenix comments on how he's making his defense up as he goes along.
Informed Ability: Winston Payne is described as a "rookie killer", yet every single rookie he goes up against in the games he ends up losing to. The only time the player sees Winston win a case is when he's arguing against Furio Tigre, in a Paper-Thin Disguise as Phoenix, who was trying to lose.
To be fair to Payne, the first trial that he lost was chronologically his first appearance, and this first loss led to him becoming the loser that he is in the rest of the games.
It Meant Something to Me: Phoenix's relationship with Dahlia. The poor kid was pretty hurt to learn that the girl he was head-over-heals for was only dating him to get back something of hers he had. Then, he learns that "Dahlia" was actually her twin sister Iris, and Iris really had been in love with Phoenix as well. Awww!!!
This is also the case with the classroom trial, from when Phoenix was a child. Larry and Edgeworth defended him, and it meant so much to him that he became a lawyer so he could do the same when it looked like Edgeworth needed his help. When Edgeworth is reminded of this, though,m it turns out he pretty much can't remember the incident and finds the idea of Phoenix clinging to that memory foolish, overly sentimental, and the sort of thing he'd expect Phoenix to do.
The Judge: ... and his Canadian brother! Who is also a judge.
Justified Tutorial: No formal tutorial, per se, but the beginning of each game's first trial is marked by an adviser explaining Testimonies and Cross Examinations. Justified because in games 1 and 4 it's Phoenix's and Apollo's first trial, game 2 has Phoenix suffer from amnesia right before court and game 3 has Mia Fey on her second trial and hadn't practiced law for a while. Oddly enough, when her first trial gets played, Diego Armando feels no need to explain anything to her, but then again, it is case 4 and the player knows everything at that point.
Just in Time: Often times, just when all seems lost... someone bursts in with case-breaking evidence at the very last moment, usually backlit by the sun for extra dramatic effect.
Which is actually pretty odd, seeing as how in Apollo Justice during the MASON system segment, we see a overhead view of the courthouse, and that door opens to a hallway...
There's more than one courtroom in that courthouse. But even if the courtrooms are all laid out in a similar fashion, likely Rule of Cool and/or Rule of Drama applies.
Kangaroo Court: The legal system in this universe clearly operates on presumption of guilt... but it doesn't stop there. It's not enough to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that the defendant is innocent. There is at least one point in the games (probably more) where it is actually possible to have the defendant found guilty despite the Judge acknowledging that you've already proved their innocence. It's not even enough to prove who else did commit the crime. To get the defendant acquitted, you have to identify the real criminal and make them confess on the stand. This is Hand Waved by the Next Sunday A.D. fictional legal system having undergone legislated reforms to drastically shorten and simplify the trial process, resulting in a system where the majority of defendants are quickly found guilty unless the defense can prove their innocence.
To be fair, the series originated in Japan, which has a significantly different legal system. It has an inquisitive court system, where the goal is to find the truth. Even trial by jury was not established in the Japanese legal system until 2009—and even then only for certain severe crimes (and the arrangement has far more in common with a court-martial than a common law trial). Yeah, it seems mildly biased against the player, but that's simply a gameplay mechanism. The prosecutors tend to treat the inquisitive court system as an adversarial one, doing anything to get their guilty verdict. Phoenix is not corrupt, and tries to only defend clients he truly believes innocent. The Rule of Cool and the Rule of Funny let the characters get away with murder (well, not literally, that's the one thing no one actually gets away with). When the judge believes there are loose ends, he will not give a verdict until the loose ends are tied up. So it's not guilty until proven innocent, except where it inconveniences the player.
Even most countries with the inquisitive system, including Japan, have the principle where one is "innocent until proven guilty." However, in a bit of Truth in Television, the Japanese court system has a >99% conviction rate (though it has been attributed to limited funding leading to only the most solid cases being tried), forced confessions are allowed frequently, and prosecutors can appeal not-guilty verdicts. In 2008, the Justice Minister noted that the idea of "innocent until proven guilty" was one that he wanted to constrain. However, this game takes it even further than the broken system in Japan and makes it so that one is "guilty until someone else is proven guilty". More in this article.
The trope becomes a plot point between the Trials & Tribulations and Apollo Justice chapters in the series. Phoenix notices just how utterly broken and biased the court system is and how he would have lost several cases if something didn't turn the tide of the trial at the last minute. After Phoenix becomes disbarred from practicing law, this sets off a string of events. In order to get Kristoph Gavin for evidence fraud and murder, Phoenix had to fight to get the court system to instate a jury system so that the fate of a client is decided by their peers rather than a single judge and he used Apollo as a catalyst for seeking out the truth during trials, something Phoenix was no longer able to do anymore legally.
And then between Apollo Justice and Dual Destinies comes the "Dark Age of Law", where the justice system became SO corrupt that all the people lost their trust in the legal system, presumably resulting in the Jurist System's abandonment. Thus, the original system is in place for Dual Destinies.
Kleptomaniac Hero: If it even conceivably passes for evidence, Phoenix or Apollo nabs it. However, it's difficult to tell if Phoenix or Apollo actually grabs the evidence, or just takes a picture of it or something similar. It would be highly improbable for them to lug around a large statue or noodle cart, for example. The general consensus seems to be that if it disappears from the scene, Phoenix or Apollo took it, and if it stays there, they took a picture. However, for extra fun, simply imagine them holding everything, and then presenting it in court by lugging it out from Hammerspace.
Well, there is always Trucy's panties...
Godot and Edgeworth also seem to share this trait, both finding the safest place for evidence to be their pocket and satchel respectively.
In Investigations, it's "Jotted down in the Organizer" unless the object is clearly handed to you, and you can examine it in detail.
'Bear snatched up by Edgeworth.'
Yeah, that bear the size of a hotel room.
The assistants, Maya and Trucy, are also fond of grabbing things and the protagonist often has to talk them out of stealing things. Not that they call it stealing mark you.
Trucy gets called out on this in case 4-3. When Gavin says they can take a flyer, Apollo tells him good, as Trucy already swiped one. She is a little upset to be found out.
Kay often claims she was about to do this, but never actually does. It's funny when the spirit medium and the illusionist among the partners indulge in more theft than, well, the thief.
Lady of War: The Pink Princess, the Steel Samurai's love interest, wields a rapier.
Large Ham: Is the character a lawyer? They are this. Is the character a witness? They are this. Really, there's just something about the court system that turns everyone involved into one of these. Even the judge gets to join in once or twice.
Last Name Basis: Edgeworth, von Karma (Manfred more than Franziska), and Gumshoe, most prominently.
And in Apollo Justice's last case, Kristoph Gavin. The game describes the killer's laugh thusly, as you look on his final breakdown.
A laugh louder than any ever heard before... or since. A laugh that echoed in the halls of justice, lingering for what seemed like hours.
Leitmotif: Several characters have their own personal theme songs.
Life Meter: The 2nd game and onward use this to show the judge's patience with the player, though this can be a bit random since you can also lose life for messing up during Psyche Lock segments (something the Judge isn't involved in). Sometimes a single mistake can cost you the whole bar, which is an instant game over.
In the first game, the Life Meter takes the form of a row of five exclamation points. One gets taken off for each mistake, regardless of the severity, and at every save point, all five were restored.
Lost in Translation: Mostly averted, character name meanings and puns are generally carried over to English and French about as well as can be hoped. A few things are lost that make things somewhat more sensible. (notably the kanji for dragon in Phoenix's Japanese name, see Animal Stereotypes above)
Of course the Japanese Pronouns are lost but most of the time it's not a big deal. However, at one point they're used to emphasize that the Matt Engarde you meet at first and the one he reveals himself to be are not the same person. The former uses "boku" (a boyish pronoun) while the latter uses "ore" (a more serious, adult one). Thankfully, the rest of The Reveal is enough to make the change very obvious.
Mad Prosecutor's Gorgeous Children: Franziska von Karma is the daughter of the Big Bad of the first game (not counting DS 1-5), though she doesn't fall in love with Phoenix. At the same time, Miles Edgeworth is the adoptive son of von Karma and Franziska's "unrelated little brother".
It's symbolic of Franziska's personality that she calls Edgeworth her "little brother" when he's older than her.
Magic Realism: Ghosts regularly become involved in what would otherwise be a fairly realistic setting.
Redd White: "You wish to know the title of my personage?"
Malicious Misnaming: Many characters keep calling Phoenix under different names (Mr. Wrong, Trite, etc.) as an insult, and Klavier Gavin's favorite nickname for Apollo is Herr Forehead. Franziska does the complete opposite by always addressing Phoenix and Edgeworth by their full names, but notably refers to Gumshoe as "Scruffy McTrenchCoat".
Matter of Life and Death: In Trials and Tribulations it is shown on two occasions that murder is a capital crime, thus all the trials are this for the defendants. This fits with the Japanese origin of the game as the one time we hear details of an execution, it is performed by hanging as it would be in reality.
Meaningful Name: Too many, but one that practically spoils Apollo Justice immediately is Kristoph Gavin, Japanese name "Kirihito Garyu". As in "hitokiri". As in "murder".
If you know the correct way his name is pronounced, Godot can suffer from similarly easy spoilers in the English version. It's the last syllables of his real first and last name (Diego Armando) smashed together.
Men Are the Expendable Gender: To the point that there are no female victims in two of the games and Investigations only features one female victim in the backstory to the fourth case.
Do note, however, that there are quite a number of dead females tied into cases. Also, in the first game, there are 2 female victims, one in the first case, the other, your mentor.
Mentor Occupational Hazard: Mia Fey dies, Diego Armando is poisoned, Gregory Edgeworth is murdered, Manfred von Karma is executed for murder, Kristoph Gavin is convicted, and Grossberg ends up being ... Grossberg.
Not to mention Elise Deauxnim, who mas murdered too. Of course, her student was Laurice Deauxnim, also known as Larry Butz. And you know what they say: When something smells...
Mission Pack Sequel: Aside from the introduction of Psyche Locks and a Life Meter in the second game, the first three games are almost identical. The fourth game mixes things up a little bit, the gameplay is still extremely similar. The Edgeworth game completely averts this.
To be fair, pressing the witnesses usually doesn't earn you penalties (and in most cases where it does, you get ample warning beforehand), and helps find out what's wrong with their testimonies. Heck, sometimes Phoenix's inner monologue even highlights the crucial question that went unanswered. Also, "cycling around" the testimony in cross-examination to get a reaction from the protagonist and/or their assistant almost never hurts, and may in fact help if you're stuck.
Sometimes the Moon Logic comes in when you have two or more pieces of evidence that are equally relevant to the contradiction in question, and/or two or more bits of testimony that the character could reasonably object to. Sometimes the game designers realized this, and give the player more than one correct option. Other times, not so much.
Dual Destinies actively tries to correct this problem, and actually combines multiple pieces of evidence into single presentable units. For example, it's not uncommon for a photograph, a newspaper clipping, and a police report to be treated as a single, presentable piece of evidence.
In fact this is apparently so omnipresent in the Ace Attorney Universe that when, in 2-4, Adrian Andrews fails to deliver one, Phoenix immediately become suspicious of her guilt.
Averted, though, with Kristoph Gavin, who confesses to a murder but refuses to disclose his reason for doing so. Then Drew Misham bites the dust, Apollo and Phoenix investigate the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death, and we finally realize why Kristoph is so tight-lipped about his own agenda.
Mukokuseki: A significant part of the reason the sweeping name changes in the English version don't cause too much complaining; if anything, the number of characters who look distinctly "Asian" - never mind Japanese - are a minority, and passing off characters like Reiji Mitsurugi and Mei Karuma as caucasians (as Miles and Franziska, respectively) is somewhat more believable given how they look.
Basically, it takes law—as any non-reader of End User License Agreement will attest, law is really boring—and makes it awesome, often simply by increasing the volume ("Objection!"). The fact that all lawyers in AA look really cool also helps there.
At various points in the series, the dramatic close-up of one of the lawyers that's usually reserved for adding impact to rightfully awesome declarations is used for completely ridiculous (though they make sense in context) statements, such as "What kind of murderer uses a Samurai Slap?" or "Baseballs have stitches! Are you saying that all baseballs are suspicious?"
The final case of the third game has an exorcism take place on the witness stand, accomplished with little more than some inquisitive prodding.
Musical Nod: Objection 2001 appears when Phoenix objects in the first case of Apollo Justiceand all the music in the flashback to the trial in case 4 is taken from the first game.
Near the end of Trials & Tribulations, a remix of Cornered 2001 is used in place of T&T's own Cornered track.
Musical Spoiler: If you present the correct piece of evidence in court or rebuttal (Investigations), the soundtrack will cut to silence. Results in subversions in game 3, where, no matter what evidence you submit, the music cuts out and the dialogue is the same...at first.
An odd case is on the series' official orchestral soundtrack. Most of the track titles are spoiler safe, but one, Kurain Anthology, a compilation of all themes associated with the Feys and their practice, includes Iris and Dahlia's themes.
Mystery Magnet: Many cases start with Phoenix having only taken a passing interest in something (an awards ceremony, for example), only for someone involved with whatever it was to turn up dead. Apollo Justice seems to have been set up to become one of these as well, and the same is true for Edgeworth in his Gaiden Game.
Near Villain Victory: Frequent. Very frequent. Most trials typically range from Phoenix having one last chance to present decisive evidence before his client is convicted to the judge announcing the verdict before someone comes in with new information.
Never Say "Die": An odd example. While the murders are shown and described in bloody detail, and the death penalty is mentioned, it is absolutely never mentioned that the previous killers were executed. In fact, about Franziska von Karma, they only say, "Her father's gone, you know."
With one exception: Dahlia in 3-5 talks explicitly about her death, going as far as stating that she was hanged, while her spirit is being channeled.
Investigations 2, however, suggests that Frank Sahwit seems to have avoided the death penalty, since he appears as a witness in Case 2.
Which is because in Sahwit's case it was manslaughter(in other words, it wasn't planned so it doesn't count as murder). It seems that they give death penalties only to murderers, meaning that Dee Vasquez is probably alive too since in her case it was self defense (and blackmail).
Never Trust a Trailer: The official trailer for Ace Attorney Investigations showed several scenes of Kay Faraday assisting with the investigation of the second case. Edgeworth doesn't meet 17-year-old Kay until the beginning of case 3.
Next Sunday A.D.: The first Phoenix Wright game takes place in 2016. Nothing's changed at all, really, except the court system. And cell phones have regressed back to the late 1990s.
No Badge? No Problem!: The lawyers frequently overstep their authority in their crime scene investigations. Its very vague about whether the lawyers are actually allowed to do this—sometimes Phoenix will be stopped from entering a crime scene due to lack of authority, and sometimes the police will gladly let him look the whole thing over and take whatever valuable evidence he wants.
No Communities Were Harmed: For the most part (they're all just puns), but Gumshoe does mention at one point that he lives in Compton.
No OSHA Compliance: From the first game alone, the spiked fence post in the third case ended two lives by people falling on them, and an elevator in the DL-6 incident manages to nearly suffocate three people for want of a vent when the power goes out.
Mike Meekins looks quite unfitting compared to other characters, even the ones drawn by the same artist. Kinda looks like someone from Lupin III.
Spark Brushel from Apollo Justice would fit right in with the Looney Tunes.
Obfuscating Stupidity: Cammy Meele in Investigations. Also Phoenix Wright in the fourth game, to the point that even Apollo believes that he is doing it on purpose.
And Yanni Yogi. And Matt Engarde. And April May. And Ini Miney. And Quercus Alba. In fact, if one of your witnesses is extremely ditzy you should probably immediately suspect them of faking it. Although subverted in the case of Colias Palaeno, whose eccentricity and cheeriness seems a bit... suspicious until it's revealed he wasn't the culprit.
Damon Gant in Case 1-5 seems to be very happy-go-lucky, even childlike, for a Police Chief. Then things start turning on their head, and you can see how formidable he really is.
Oh Crap: Half of the fun is watching the reactions of the prosecuting attorneys and witnesses as you rip right through their evidence and testimonies. Especially since almost all of them have insulted you in some way at some point or another.
Orgy of Evidence: This is how pretty much every trial begins. It's often lampshaded by Phoenix, Apollo, Mia, and Athena, who note that the massive amounts of evidence really do make a compelling case against their clients and that they must look past it to believe in them. Edgeworth also tends to lampshade this in the first game, when he presents his opening statements along the lines of, "We have a lot of evidence and eyewitnesses who saw the defendant do it. We have this in the bag". By the time the trial is over, of course, the defense team has proven that it all points to the real culprit.
Overly-Nervous Flop Sweat: A lot of characters sweat bullets when they see themselves trapped into a corner, attorneys, witnesses, or otherwise. It gets Turned Up to Eleven when the radio a certain witness is using to testify starts leaking acid instead.
Periphery Demographic: In-universe, the Steel Samurai franchise seems to be popular amongst older people like Maya and Edgeworth, despite being designed for little kids.
Plot Triggering Death: Gregory Edgeworth's could easily be one of these in the Ace Attorney games. Basically, it was his death that kick started Miles' ambition to be a lawyer, which started Phoenix's. You could even go further back and say that it was Isaku Hyodo's death that led to Gregory's, and so on. Gregory's death was also the distant catalyst for Misty Fey's disappearance (which in turn had several repercussions on the Fey clan, such as Dahlia and Iris's father leaving, Mia's Promotion to Parent, etc, Yanni Yogi's Obfuscating Stupidity, etcetera.
In fact, a lot of deaths in this game series have kicked off new arcs and plots (Mia Fey, Magnifi Gramarye etc).
Pointless Band-Aid: Detective Gumshoe has been wearing a bandage in the same spot on his left cheek for at least seven years. It's almost-but-not-quite lampshaded in Investigations, when he asks, "Do I have something on my face or something?"
The Pollyanna: Maya. Just... Maya. All the assistants qualify, but Maya takes the cake.
Not exactly. Maya gets arrested many times in Phoenix's games and is pretty bummed out about it. She always tells Phoenix that she's not of any help. (Although, in the courtroom, she actually doesn't really say much)
Punch Clock Villain: Most (with some big exceptions) prosecutors aren't necessarily despicable people, it's just their job to convict defendants and get them thrown in jail or the death penalty. To what degree the prosecutor cares about achieving true justice varies from game to game and case to case; the more sympathetic ones will do what they can (within their position as prosecutor) to help the protagonist while the truly terrible ones will do anything to get their guilty verdict.
Quickly Demoted Leader: Here's a word of advice—don't become the mentor of a rookie attorney. You'll most likely end up dead or the victim of otherwise horrible circumstances. Or in jail, as we see in Apollo Justice.
Rainbow Speak: Orange text indicates hints and important pieces of evidence, blue text is for the protagonist's inner thoughts, and green text is used for witness testimonies.
Real Life Writes the Plot: The "Jurist System" in Apollo Justice was introduced largely in reaction to the Japanese government re-establishing trial by jury in 2006.
Real Men Wear Pink: Edgeworth, baby (wine-red, according to investigations. Looks like magenta, though).
Seems to be thrown about everywhere. Phoenix's pink sweater when he was younger, Larry's pink overall (okay, so those two don't really count in the context used), Kristoph's pink neck-ribbon-thing, Zak Gramarye's most amazing get-up (it's referred to as red but if you believe that you're colorblind) and Wocky's jacket if we can include Edgeworth's—Capcom seems to love putting pink on men.
And let's not forget Max Galactica. Wow.
Or Redd White. He also has purple hair and sparkles almost every time he's addressed.
Reality Subtext: The whole deal with the Jurist System in Apollo Justice exists due to Japan actually testing for themselves a jury system.
Red Oni, Blue Oni: Inverted with Phoenix and Miles. Loud, hot-blooded and impulsive Phoenix wears a blue suit, while calm, composed and calculated Miles wears a red burgundy suit.
The same applies for Edgeworth and Agent Lang, but without the color scheme.
Refuge in Audacity: Every murderer in the series bases their plans on the assumption that no one can even hope to imagine the events that have happened. Luke Atmey is a great example of that, trying to use a guilty verdict for a lesser crime as a defense for a murder. Things would work out if it wasn't for the fact that Phoenix, Apollo and Edgeworth themselves tend to be quite audacious in their theories and explanations.
Rule of Fun: The justice system presented in the games would be a joke in real life, the lawyers and witnesses get away with attitudes and behaviors that would be punishable by contempt of court at least, and any witness revising their statement that much would have their credibility wrecked in about fifteen minutes. But is it fun? Heck yes.
The series is supposedly something of a satire of the Japanese legal system, which really does have corrupt prosecutors, an emphasis on confessions, and an extremely high conviction rate. It is, of course, wildly exaggerated.
Running Gag: Numerous. The longest running would be the eternal 'ladder vs step-ladder' debate.
Maya: Look, a ladder!
Phoenix: That's a "step"-ladder.
Maya: So? What's the difference? You need to stop judging things based on narrow-minded cultural assumptions, Nick!
Phoenix: R-right... sorry.
For the record, it's only a stepladder if it has steps (flat surfaces to step on). If it has rungs it's just a ladder.
This running gag also continues in Apollo Justice only with the papers inverted.
And again in Ace Attorney Investigations, with Kay identifying one as a step-ladder. Miles comments that both of them are equally guilty of being dangerous during earthquakes.
Phoenix's strange fixation with scrubbing the toilet, though this mostly appears in the third game. Both in the American AND Japanese versions.
There is also Charley the potted plant, who gets a special mention despite the fact that pretty much everything in Phoenix's office is a running gag because he even turns up after the law office is converted into a talent agency. Charley may actually be a reference to the LucasArts running gag of Chuck the Plant, who appeared in several of their classic adventure games, starting in Maniac Mansion.
Speaking of office gags, starting in 1-4:
Phoenix: Difficult-looking legal books stand in a formidable row. They mock me. [...]
How this line finishes depends on the case, and whether there's anyone else present. Eventually they start collecting an impressive layer of dust. There's at least one amusing Call Back to the first instance of this, from 1-5:
Ema: Oh, I tried studying one of those just now. Remember what they were talking about in the trial today...?
Phoenix: Oh, right, evidence law. So, did you learn anything?
Ema: Well, when I tried reading it made my head hurt.
Ema: Then, when I closed it, it slipped out of my hand and fell on my foot.
Phoenix: (Oddly enough I find myself identifying with her on this one...)
Miles Edgeworth has poor luck with getting witnesses to introduce themselves on the stand.
"Anyone could wear that ____. Even me!"
The movie poster in Mia's office, said to be the first movie to make her cry. The gag being that nobody knows the title of the movie, including Mia. Eventually Maya tries to replace it with a Steel Samurai poster, but puts it back when she finally sees the movie (though the reader never hears the title either).
In 4-4, Phoenix said he finally found out the name and watched it, and he might show it to Trucy sometime. Then he realised he forgot the name...
The guy in the police station is always doing a different type of image training. It changes every time something new happens in the room.
In 1-5, he instead seems to be writing a crime novel instead and comes up with different twists (including time machines and him being the murderer because of a split personality). At the end he switches to romance.
Likewise the lead detective in the back middle of the room. Phoenix always assumes the guy's hard at work on something, then gets irritated when he finds out the guy's just looking up gossip on the Internet.
The Gatewater Hotel from the first game's second case. Examining the window facing it in every case reveals that it goes from a no-name hotel to, invokedwith the help of that case, a famous five-star hotel and eventually, a theme park.
No one can seem to remember Wendy Oldbag's name, or at least know it well enough to not have a sense of doubt.
There's also her undying love for Edgeworth, which, given her age, is pretty strongly unrequited.
Phoenix loves to present his Attorney's Badge to anyone he meets during investigations. Although necessary in a few cases (notably case 4 of the first game), mostly this is met with either confusion or ridicule. Phoenix himself lampshades this if Apollo presents his own badge to him. Gumshoe also lampshades it in 1-5, noting that "you show this to me every time we meet, pal," then adds with a grin, "real men show their police badge! 'Nuff said!"
Continued in Investigations, where you never actually get to use Edgeworth's Prosecutor Badge, and the flavor text states that he tends to keep it in his pocket. It's also lampshaded by none other than MANFRED VON KARMA.
They don't need to censor alcohol, really, but I'd contest that they do anyway - why else would Phoenix not be allowed grape juice in the hospital? This is further spotlighted by the fact that he SWITCHES THE LABEL with mineral water to sneak it in, and then LIES TO HIS DAUGHTER about that, with a big stage wink to Apollo.
The REALLY fun part is that in both the western and the Japanese versions, it REALLY is grape juice and not wine!
Not really a gag, but the last case of all three Phoenix arc games has a different prosecutor from the usual as your opponent for at least part of the case.
At least for the first three games, if you include the bonus case for the first game, all end with Phoenix being put in a difficult position, and finally ending with one last "Objection!"
Throughout, whenever flowers are examined or brought up, Phoenix always mentions that the only ones he can identify are tulips and sunflowers. In the final case of Apollo Justice he has an epiphany and realizes that he can identify roses too.
Ruritania: The small nation of Borginia, home country of Machi Tobaye and Romein LeTouse from Apollo Justice and Zinc Lablanc and Akbey Hicks from Investigations. For added strangeness, the country also exists in Capcom's Dino Crisis.
Possibly a nod to the fact that Ace Attorney creator, Shu Takumi, was also the director of Dino Crisis 2.
Scary Shiny Glasses: Kristoph. You actually get to see through those glasses. It isn't pretty. Payne also has them, but they aren't scary. Also subverted by Machi in the third case of the fourth game—he has the glasses, but he's actually a very kind and gentle boy.
Not to mention the fact that they're sunglasses, and he's got a good reason to be wearing them. He's pretending to be blind.
Screen Shake: Used for everything from Franziska's whip to random lines of dialogue.
Seamless Spontaneous Lie: Very common; characters who are caught out on their lies often come up with entirely different, equally detailed stories within very little time. Of course, due to the nature of the game, these are always found out eventually.
Sequel Difficulty Drop: In Investigations, however, because in nearly every situation Edgeworth's inner monologue would make it clear even to Gumshoe what you're supposed to do next.
This is probably because many fans mentioned they liked the way he thinks during his small turn as defense attorney in the third game.
Also inverted that penalties in the game always take off 10% of your life bar, thus you have 10 chances before a game over, which is pretty easy going compared to the roller coaster of penalties amounts in the previous games. The penalties are beefed up to 20% when Alba gets annoyed at one point by your constant time wasting with your questioning.
Subverted, somewhat, with Dual Destinies. While the trials themselves aren't necessarily simpler or easier, the game does more to streamline elements or to remove some of the Fake Difficulty. Psyche Locks and Pereception no longer lower the status bar when failed. Evidence is more carefully organized and it's more obvious which pieces of evidence can be presented when, and similar or related evidence is often grouped together. As well the option so examine a scene is only open in crime scenes or other locations where investigation is necessary... while this removes, say, some of the flavor text of examining the office, it prevents the player from occasional moments of wandering from location to location clicking on everything on the off-chance it's related to the case.
Sequel First: In Europe, Apollo Justice came out before Trials and Tribulations; the reason why being spoilery; it will not be explained.
Serious Business: The law is a serious thing in just about any setting, but this game still manages to push legal work to the level of spectator sport.
This is taken to a whole new level of insanity in the film, where it's shown that more prominent court cases sell tickets for each day of the trial so people can watch, and the trial concludes with a holographic "Not Guilty!" accompanied by confetti being fired.
Case 5-3 reveals that lawyer schools involve lessons on the proper way to shout OBJECTION!, and the correct speed and angle of pointing your finger, among other things.
Sheathe Your Sword: There is at least one point in every game where the prosecution demands evidence supporting your theory and you don't have any. Rather than receive repeated penalties from trying everything in the inventory, the correct answer is to say that you don't have evidence. This is usually followed by a Hope Spot sequence.
Also done hilariously in Investigations with Edgeworth and Wendy Oldbag.
Ship Tease: Capcom is very aware of the Ho Yay fan base. The end of the third game also drops one more on the fans before the seven year time skip to Apollo Justice seems to erase it.
Dual Destinies has some between Juniper Woods and Apollo. Junie blushes adorably and knits something with heart-shaped patterns while talking favorably about Apollo, and Apollo can be seen smiling at her when she goes to give her performance in the third case.
Shout Out: Has its own page. Both the Japanese version AND the English translation use many throwaway pop culture references as gags. Justice for All had a serious spike in online memes inserted into the localization, presumably thanks to the Memetic Mutation of the first game.
Show Within a Show: The Steel Samurai, sort of. Also the Pink Princess, the Nickel Samurai, and the Jammin' Ninja.
Sidekick: It's series tradition for the main character to have a cute/attractive female sidekick in almost every case. Or Gumshoe.
Sliding Scale of Continuity: The games have a stronger (level 4, Arc-Based Episodic) continuity between cases within each game, but are level 3 (Subtle Continuity) with respect to one another, featuring the same characters (bar Apollo Justice) and explaining things like spirit mediums at the beginning of each game but otherwise having independent stories and not depending on the player knowing the previous games.
Smart People Play Chess: Miles Edgeworth has a chess set in his office. Phoenix notes that the problems he sets up tend to have the red side utterly dominating the blue side, if you get my drift.
A lot of people play chess in Investigations 2. Not to mention the whole logic chess gameplay element.
Smug Snake: Many of the murderers turn out to be one of these if it's not immediately obvious, such as Redd White, Morgan Fey, Dahlia Hawthorne, and Matt Engarde. The last of those almost qualifies for Magnificent Bastard status, but made one little mistake. Richard Wellington is a particularly over-the-top example.
Stupidity Is the Only Option: You have to play dumb until it's the "right" time to solve the mysteries, even the ones that are blatantly obvious from the beginning. This becomes an emotionally painful part of game play in the fourth game when the player can't choose to not present the evidence that results in Phoenix's disbarment since by that point it's pretty damn obvious what will happen. Of course, that's also part of a flashback, so averting this would be somewhat of a time paradox.
Sympathetic Murderer: Several, including someone who killed the man who had made everyone think the killer was deranged and ruined his life fifteen years ago in the first game.
How about Godot? His murder was self-defense and defense of another, not to mention payback for the poisoning that ruined his life by putting him in a coma for years, making him effectively blind, and making him unable to protect the woman he loved?
From the second game there's also Acro. He wanted to kill Regina because she doesn't understand that she's responsible for putting his brother in a coma and himself in a wheelchair. Then he killed the wrong person, the ringmaster who's pretty much his surrogate father. You get the feeling that if his brother is dead instead of in a coma, he would have just turned himself in or killed himself. and Mimi Miney, who had her life ruined by the Asshole Victim, lost her sister in a car crash due to the fatigue she suffered from being overworked by said asshole, and was blamed for several deaths. She manages to build a new life under her sister's name, and has to face being exposed for everything because her former boss just can't let sleeping dogs lie.
Time Skip: Several; three minor time skips of a year each between the first three games of the series, then a whooping seven years time skip between Trials and Tribulations and Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, and finally another one year skip between that game and Dual Destinies.
To Be Lawful or Good: Discussed at the end of the fourth game, which comes down hard on the side of "good", as it points out that the law is always changing based on people's understanding of what is right...underscored by the introduction of the Jurist System for the sole purpose of injecting some common wisdom and understanding into the process.
Traveling at the Speed of Plot: Kurain Village is a two hours' train ride from the city, yet during the investigation phase of 2-2 you make at the bare minimum two-and-a-half round trips in the span of 3 hours. It's also somehow possible for an eight-year-old child to travel the distance on foot in a single morning.
Tribute to Fido: The police dog in the first game is named after Missile, the creator's Pomeranian. He doesn't do anything useful, but he does eat all of Larry's hot dogs.
Truth in Television: Unfortunately, all the prosecutors who obsess over perfect win records and with the odds so stacked against you is very true in Japan's criminal justice system, even false confessions are common to avoid dishonoring a family further with a long and drawn out trial. In a way, you could say the series is actually a brilliant and scathing satire.
Try Everything: Sadly, if you're not able to divine some the less obvious hints, you'll be doing this even during trials and rebuttals.
Tsundere: Franziska, particularly in the third game after she's mellowed a bit. Even lampshaded. Both Phoenix and Edgeworth say "she's so openly hostile it's almost cute".
Video Game 3D Leap: Though Phoenix and Maya already got the 3D treatment in the Professor Layton Vs Ace Attorney crossover, the series's debut on the 3DS marks the jump for the series proper, allowing for more dynamic camera and angle work than in previous entries.
Villainous Breakdown: The closer you get the real murderer to confessing, the more out of control they get. Once the truth is revealed, they cry, scream, tear their hair and clothes, laugh hysterically, and sometimes faint dead away.Luke Atmey in particular is this trope.
Also, the more out of control they get, the more smug they get when the prosecuting attorney brings up something that could pull their ass out of the fire-"How I Would Have Done It" by OJ Simpson levels of smug. The only thing that keeps this from convicting them on the basis that innocent people simply don't get this smug is that the game is too busy trying to convict your client to notice that the real guilty party's behavior is giving them away without Phoenix pointing this out.
Waistcoat of Style: Phoenix will sport one in Ace Attorney 5. His protogé, Apollo wears one as well in lieu of a full two piece suit, and Edgeworth wears one under his glorious cravat.
Wanton Cruelty to the Common Comma: If a semicolon should be used somewhere, it'll be a comma,note this makes the sudden proper use of semicolons in Ace Attorney Investigations' fifth case and only in its fifth case fairly jarring and "double quotes are never switched for "single quotes" within larger quotations." Gumshoe also says "their's" at one point during Investigations. "Its" versus "it's" also rears its ugly head fairly often.
The German translation is even worse. Whenever you spot a comma, there's what feels like at least a 50% chance it shouldn't be there. To make up for that, if a comma should be there, odds are it isn't.
Wham Episode and Wham Line: If a case has a plot twist, expect at least one of these. Especially if it's near the end of the game.
2-4 has perhaps one of the biggest ones in the series. For the first time, your client actually IS the culprit.
2-4 has so many whams that it's actually lampshaded by the Judge.
Judge: This is a most unexpected turn of events. For the...fifth time now?
What the Hell, Hero?: In The Stolen Turnabout, the case initially appears to be about the theft of the Kurain Village's Sacred Urn. Maya and Pearl flip out at Phoenix when he decides to defend the guy accused of being the thief.
Edgeworth's threatening to reveal Andrian Andrews' psychiatric records and suicide attempt to get her to testify after his Heel-Face Turn is played as this.
Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Edgeworth + earthquakes = debilitating panic attacks. In his own game, the turbulence on an airplane produces a close enough effect that it triggers his phobia and he passes out.
Fridge Logic: Depending on the version of the game, Edgeworth works in one of two places: Japan, or southern California. If he's so afraid of earthquakes, why does he work in a place that (in either case) is so seismically active?
Fridge Brilliance: It's where he grew up. Many people live their entire lives in the town they grew up in. Not to mention that when he sort of quits after the first game, he is always travelling.
Then there's the more obvious reason that its where his father's grave is located.
Xanatos Speed Chess: As implied by the Japanese title, most of the courtroom showdowns wind up being this, with both sides playing a hasty game of catch-up whenever a new piece of evidence turns the tables. Special note goes to many of the murderers who have a talent for being able to frequently adjust their story to counter anything that gets thrown at them, especially Quercus Alba, who manages to keep going the lion's share of an entire chapter after having his Diplomatic Impunity revoked.
Yakuza: In the fourth game, Apollo Justice has to defend the son of the head of a yakuza/mafia family. Yakuza/mafias are also present in the third case of the third game.
You Are Number Six: All attorneys are given an identification number. Edgeworth takes slight at this.
Franziska von Karma is actually a literalisation of this trope (as well as Curtains Match the Window), as she actually has pastel blue hair. (Vera Misham and Lisa Basil also possess literal blue hair.)
You Keep Using That Word: In the American legal system, an "objection" is a protest issued when one counselor wants to keep a part of testimony out of the official record and the ears of the jury or to deem submitted evidence unusable by virtue of illegality or irrelevancy. In the games, it's used as a translation of the Japanese "Igi ari", or "I disagree". Granted, it's definitely catchier.
Also, an in universe example, with Redd White.
The games tell you to find "contradictions in the testimony" whenever a prosecution witness testifies. Sometimes, the testimony contradicts itself, but more often it contradicts something like the autopsy report. It's not so much a contradiction "in" the testimony as a contradiction between the testimony and something that is probably more reliable.
The games play loose with the definition of the word "lie." If a detective forgets a detail, someone will say that his testimony "contains a lie." If someone misinterprets a photograph and you have to point out something in the photo that disproves their claim, your assistant will say, "find the lie in the photograph!"
You Shouldn't Know This Already: It doesn't matter if you've already figured out who killed the victim, with what, or where, you'll still have to play cat and mouse with the witnesses and prosecution till you reach the appropriate point in the case.
Some cases are also solved by tricking the killer into saying something they shouldn't know about when claiming not to be involved.
Phoenix: OBJECTION! Your Honor, what do you think about this page? Judge: Uh...I'm not sure I follow you. Phoenix: It clearly, er, contradicts the...um...I thought... Judge: You don't sound very convinced, Mr. Wright. Objection overruled. [boom] Phoenix: (I don't think that won me any points with the judge...)