These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Zeref. Was he once a Jerk Ass before something changed him into the meek person he is today? Does he have a Super-Powered Evil Side that forced him to do it or did The Black Dragon, Acnologia, make him do these things while Zeref was powerless to resist?
Or is he a mentally-disturbed sociopathic human-weapon whose vast powers have forced a disconnect with his conscience such that he has to forcefully remind himself that a human life has value or he can wipe out half a continent absent-mindedly without the "human life" Power Limiter?
Is Natsu really the Idiot Hero who only fights, eats, sleeps, and annoys his guildmates, or is he a Stepford Smiler with abandonment issues who only willingly shows glee or burning rage? The scene in chapter 338 where he arrives at the banquet after having stolen the King's crown was very over-the-top, even for Natsu, and he had experienced a great deal of trauma during the Eclipse arc.
Brain seemed to be this due to his quick, no-effort, loss to Jura, but then subverts it when his other personality, Zero, is released.
Midnight in the Key of the Starry Skies filler arc wasn't all that impressive in his fight against Natsu, and he turned out to be much easier to defeat after giving Erza and Jellal a rough time in a one on two battle during his previous canon arc. A battle of which wasn't even a boss fight. And the "Jellal used up all his magic power on the self-destruction circles" argument doesn't look so good when you think about Jellal's ridiculously huge magic power - apparently arming and disarming those two magic circles sapped 95% of the strength of the kid who became one of the stronger ten wizard-saints at the age of 19.
All throughout the Grand Magic Games, Fairy Tail's opponents received a lot of hype...only to get utterly annihilated in turn. Some notable examples are:
Team Raven Tail: Ivan Dreyar is effortlessly curb-stomped by Laxus right after he takes out his elites a few moments earlier, all by himself and without breaking a sweat.
Sting and Rogue: They went Dragon Force. Yet still, they were beaten by Natsu alone without even having to resort to using Lightning Fire Dragon Mode! Sting falls into this category again on the final day; giving up entirely before throwing even a single punch right after being given the "Are-You-Sure-You-Wanna-Fuck-With-Us" stare by the bruised and battered Team Fairy Tail.
Bacchus: He is stated to be on equal footing with Erza, only to become the punching-bag to the other contestants after Quatro Cerberus became the laughing stock of the Grand Magic Games.
Kagura: She FINALLY pulls out Archenemy, her cursed sword that has been talked about throughout the Grand Magic Games...only to end up losing almost instantly a few moments later. See below under the Ass Pull section for Erza.
Minerva: Touted as the strongest in Sabertooth, she gets to beat Erza (who was crippled at the time) around for a few chapters before Erza whips out an absurdly powerful armor to No Sell her attacks and OHKO her after Erza finally unleashes Second Origin (see below under the Ass Pull section for Erza). In the Tartarus arc, she's beaten into submission by Erza, even though she should have been stronger by that point (from demonization) while Erza should have been weaker (from several chapters of torture and fighting the torturer).
Future Rogue for the Grand Magic Games finale. His characterization left a lot to be desired as someone who was capable enough to manipulate the public into summoning seven dragons from the past to wreak havoc in the present timeline.
Seilah. After having reduced Elfman to Inelegant Blubbering, destroying the Fairy Tail guild hall in an absolutely masterfully executed way that only failed due to Cana being a Spanner in the Works, and then spending her entire fight against Mirajane absolutely mopping the floor with her while hardly taking a scratch herself... she finally loses when Mirajane uses Seilah's own curse to call Elfman to pull a Dynamic Entry, effectively ending the fight with one punch. See Ass Pull below for why this particular way of ending the fight only makes it worse. Somewhat mitigated due to her return later on, and showing that this battle didn't defeat her the first time around. YMMV indeed as to whether her return was worth it or not.
Silver. He's built up as being capable of using Ice Devil Slaying Magic, was responsible for freezing a whole village including a Dragon's Spirit, and he curbstomped Natsu with one finger. When Gray fights him, he does show some cool skills, but Gray takes him down only three chapters after they met.....using a steel ball. Justified in that he never aimed to win in the first place.
For some, the Edolas arc was one. It starts off with interesting ideas such as characters interacting with their polar opposites, background for the Exceeds, and even the introduction of magic-weapons as next possible Power-Up, but as the arc continued on, it failed to keep those new ideas going, and were pushed to the side in favor of becoming what was basically a giant excuse to put Mystoganon a bus. It's also not helped that the trip to Edolas can come off feeling extremely distant to the events going on back on Earth-land, and can come off feeling like a pointless Sidequest that didn't affect much in the long run. The Hype Backlash regarding Lisanna's almost pointless revival didn't help either.
The rescue portion of the Grand Magic Games arc to get Lucy out of the castle gets criticized for this. Hardly anyone took the Executioners as a serious threat for Natsu and company, and was described as nothing but stalling to make sure that the rescue continued alongside the final event of the Magic Games.
The Key to the Starry Skies arc in the anime actually got this in reverse, with the first half up to the appearance of the new Oracian Seis being incredibly mundane, running around bringing together pieces of the Infinity Clock... i.e. the clock which was supposed to bring about chaos if its pieces were brought together, and fighting with Legion who were all fairly low-level one-trick-pony wizards who should have been easily beaten by our heroes after the insanely powerful rivals of the previous Sirius Island arc. It just rolled on and on, painstakingly slowly and things only picked up when the actual main plot came into play with Oracien Seis in the second half, and got increasingly interesting from there, although not enough to save the arc all in all. Unfortunately the appearance of Oracion Seis highlighted how ridiculous and nonsensical the previous fifteen or so episodes had been and made everyone's power levels and fighting ability look insanely inconsistent. Except Mirajane. Who has a form that can easily beat Satan Soul... which is both terrifying and awesome (and the only awesome thing in the entire arc).
The "Eclipse Celestial Spirit" arc has gotten quite a bit of flak from those who couldn't care less about the oddly designed fights. Doesn't help that the fandom had gone thorugh a great deal of impatience to see it done with, due to the canon arcs that come after deal with the heavily-hyped Tartarus Dark Guild.
The Tartaros arc got some of this. Not the arc as a whole, mind you; it is regarded as one of the best in the series despite some setbacks. However, within the arc were two aspects that many felt dragged on for too long: The first is the countdown of Face. We start with it seemingly getting destroyed about 10 chapters after it emerges, only to reveal 30 more and initiate another countdown that actually reaches 0, then we go back 20 minutes before this and have several chapters ultimately leading to the same chapter ending as when it went off just to keep the cliffhanger... and it's destroyed by the Dragon Slayers' long-lost parents just as it goes off. The second is the way the chapters juggled through several concurrent fights, often without significant progression in all but one that the chapter would end on. Erza's fights gets the most complaints; after Erza is freed from her torture chamber, she initially overpowers Kyouka, only for the fight to continue uneventfully up until Kyouka leaves it to Minerva when Face initially fails to activate. Erza also fights Minerva uneventfully for several chapters before beating her into submission and a Heel-Face Turn, which many saw as anticlimactic after how much Minerva had been shoehorned into the story, regardless of their attitude toward said Heel-Face Turn. Later, Kyouka has a rematch that coincided with the more interesting fights between Igneel and Acnologia and Natsu against Mard Geer, ending in one of the most criticized victories in the entire series. The fact that Erza spent most of all three fights wearing her hakama that doesn't give her abilities to make her fights more visually appealing did not help.
Ass Pull: Mashima has never been one for planning ahead plot-wise. There's no way to tell for sure, but many of the Ass Pull developments or twists so far could have been skilfully covered-up.
The X-Balls. What a convenient way for everyone to get their magic back in Edolas! Even worse when Lucy totally forgot she had one herself before coming to Edolas. Convenient with completely no explanation, and of course conveniently provided by Mystogan who rarely gives an explanation for anything. Funny about that...
The Second Origin, a.k.a. a conveniently easy way for Team Natsu to quickly power up in the span of one chapter, but bear in mind that this comes after an unexpected trolling from Mashima's writing by suddenly wiping out the 3 months of training Team Natsu would of had due to time in the Celestial Spirit World apparently being a lot slower then the real world; the one day they spent in the Celestial Spirit World partying ended up being 3 months in real time (This right here is more of an Ass Pull then the Second Origin example). Team Natsu would of spent those 3 months training to most likely unlock Second Origin anyway. Mashima just chose to get to the end result quicker without the cliche training montage.
Natsu has been known to turn around battles in his favor through some form of Ass Pull. Although they are usually built up during the battle as Natsu struggling and failing with something and then finally figuring out how to overcome it in an Ass Pull manner (routinely doing things that are supposed to be impossible) rather than coming completely out of nowhere. The prime examples being:
Defeating Zancrow by somehow shutting off his fire-magic completely which, for some odd reason, allows him to eat Zancrow's god-flames that he had been unable to eat beforehand. The rationale behind it is that he expels/uses-up his immediatereserve of dragon-fire flames, making him an empty vessel, and then can eat the god-flames without them conflicting with his own ... but even Makarov is completely stunned in-universe that that somehow works.
The fight against Hades where he is apparently able to absorb Laxus' Lightning Magic to get an instant Power-Up. Somewhat justified however considering that Natsu consuming Etherion (Which is not only fire, but many elements combined) as an excuse for this, with the Ass Pull of eating Zankarow's god flames helping his case somewhat. Erza even comments on it shortly after Natsu consumes Laxus' lightning. Though some could say that eating Etherion was the original Ass Pull, and the Lightning Power-Up was just an add-on to it.
Erza's fights, starting with Azuma, have occasionally fallen into a common formula: get beaten to hell throughout (while still demonstrating her amazing fighting prowess...this being Erza after all), then create an Ass Pull to turn the tide of battle or instantly end it. The fact that it isn't uncommon for her to draw out previously unseen weapons, armour or techniques can make some of the Ass Pulls look a little less completely-out-of-nowhere if you're in a really forgiving mood.
Her fight with Azuma was due to the oddity of Erza somehow hearing Jellal's voice from his jail cell miles away from Tenrou Island to get her senses back after multiple beat-downs, and the fact that no one was amused by the idea of the "souls" of her friends pushing her forward to pull off a OHKO sword swing against an enemy that she had damaged and worn down considerably but wasn't close to landing a finishing blow on.
With Kagura, it was an example of Hype Backlash. Throughout the Grand Magic Games, her sheathed sword was hyped up to be the most badass, unbeatable sword ever, yet once that sword was finally pulled out... Erza ends up deflecting it with her standard magic sword!
With Minerva, it turns out that unlike the rest of the characters who received Ultear's Second Origin, it is suddenly brought to light that it works as an instant Power-Up that can be activated at any time, and that Erza supposedly never had it activated like the rest of the group until finally bringing it out against Minerva... this coming after being absolutely demolished in her previous fight against Kagura just moments prior. She then uses this to her advantage to bring out a never-before-seen armor to quickly defeat Minerva in almost no effort.
In a similar manner to Natsu's Ass PullPower-Up against Hades, Gajeel turns out to be able to suddenly be able to eat Shadow Magic to completely turn the battle around against a possessed Rogue (aka Shadow); gaining an instant Power-Up of his own. Somewhat justified considering that by the time Gajeel did this, Natsu had already made it a well established fact that dragon slayers could, if they so chose, manage to take on a second element.
Jiemma out-of-nowhere reappearance during the Tartarus arc is seen as this as the only reason for his sudden return was to get Sting and Rogue away from the final battle to allow for just Natsu and Gray to battle Mard Geer. It really doesn't help that he was killed off in the very next chapter.
Mard Geer's defeat involved two in quick succession. The first was Gray suddenly revealing the ability to demonize himself to cancel out the effect of Memento Mori. The chapter makes little attempt to explain what he just did. Then Natsu spontaneously enters Dragon Force, which doesn't defeat Mard Geer, but weakens him enough for Gray to deliver a finishing blow. This may have involved Igneel leaving his body, but it's not explained either.
Doranbolt was a Fairy Tail spy from the beginning. Not only does this come out of nowhere, it makes no sense. How could he be a spy for Fairy Tail if he erased his own memories? He wouldn't even know to report to Makarov. Doranbolt lampshades how weird and confusing it all is.
The HSQ of Silver being Deliora being the topping in what is considered one of the series biggest twists. Then this twist was subverted when it was revealed that Silver was lying about being Deliora the whole time, and he is a walking corpse brought back by one of the demons. He only said all that stuff about Deliora, because he wanted his own son to end his miserable life. However, it led to above saving throw with Gray.
The arc ends with another Time Skip, this time a proper one allowing the protagonists to get stronger through proper training and age up, generally regarded as much better than the one Fairy Sphere forced by keeping the protagonists frozen in time for seven years, before easily overtaking other guilds with a debatable Ass Pull in Second Origin or a mere three months of training.
Minerva is usually accused to have suffered from this by the time of her reintroduction during the Sun Village arc. What started off as a fun, despicable, JerkassAnti-Hero during the Grand Magic Games arc, has resorted to joining a Dark Guild for, among other things, the purpose of getting revenge on Erza for humiliating her during their tournament duel. The humiliation was bad enough, but by joining a Dark Guild with vague motivations at best, it ended up destroying what previously made her an interesting character. In addition, Chapter 388 possibly made this worse. Fans (for the most part) seem fine with Minerva's past, but think that her character wasn't explored enough to make her sudden change from revenge obsessed to self-loathing for being weak enough to fall to darkness convincing. As a result fans seem to think the character lost everything that made her a interesting as a character to begin with.
Name almost any character from a Dark Guild and you'll have people making this claim about them due to never living up to the Badasshype Mashima develops for them at the start of their story arcs.
The Time Skip is either considered the greatest plot twist Mashima has ever planned, or the most anticlimactic and blatant One Piece/Naruto/Bleach ripoff ever. Some were relieved over the fact that none of the characters had aged up, while some were clamoring for new character designs.
Makarov's decision to disband Fairy Tail at the end of the Tartaros arc, especially with the implications that the guild will regroup after the second Time Skip, making it practically pointless.
The Key of the Starry Sky filler arc in the anime. One side claims it's just filler material, not in the manga, and not worth considering. The other side points out that Mashima had a role in writing the story, and has referenced the arc within the manga.
The pacing of the series in general. Typically, the series is fairly fast-paced, taking one to three chapters on any given fight with the occasional exception of fights against the arc's Big Bad. Some people see this as refreshing, as it means that fights or arcs don't overstay their welcome or drag on for months or years, while others feel that it leads to events feeling rushed, which creates the interpretation that Fairy Tail guild members win most of their fights through ass pulls, or that most of the villains are defeated anti-climatically.
Some view the use of redeeming antagonists within the series as seeming to favor women, even when they are portrayed just as negativity as their male guildmates. Some prominent examples include Ultear, Flare, and Minerva. Others point out that plenty of characters, or even entire groups (Sabretooth, arguably Oracion Seis) have undergone Heel Face Turns, so this is hardly exclusive to women.
The fan-service of the manga became this around the time of the Sun Village and Tartaros arcs for some. Despite existing since the very beginning of Fairy Tail, some readers have started to note that the fan-service has really gotten out of hand. Mashima even admits that he "overdid it" with Chapter 355, which shunned plot progression in favor of a Hot Springs Episode.
The Tartaros arc's "nude fest" deserves special mention, not only for questionable fan service, but how much of it was meant to be fan service. The most prominent example is Erza's torture, which has the fanbase split between feeling sorry for Erza having to relive the Tower of Heaven, seeing it as fan service and getting turned on by her naked, sweaty body, or seeing it as fan service and expressing disgust by the imagery.
While everyone was happy to see it return, the Fairy Tail anime's new animation style has caused a major split between those who like the higher quality production values and the fact that it made sure to stick to the character designs, while the other half hates the new animation for looking so different (most cite the awkward Off Model nature of the faces) and the odd designs compared to the original anime.
Problems regarding her inconsistent Character Development aside, Minerva's "humanization" in Chapter 388 split the fanbase as to whether or not she is forgiven for all of her previous actions.
Chapters 392 and 393 caused a rather peculiar split as to how Mashima handled the Silver sub-plot to the point that fans can't seem to agree as to whether or not it would have made for a better story had Mashima just stayed with the original revealthat Deliora took over Silver's corpse instead of conjuring up a second reveal in these chapters that basically confirmed to the readers that the Deliora reveal was a lie, and that Silver was just a zombified Death Seeker that still loved his family dearly. Granted, there are those who are fine with the second reveal as they feel that the Crowning Moment of Heartwarming between Silver and Gray, as well as Gray inheriting Silver's Ice Devil Slayer Magic is a great payoff. As for the detractors, it enters They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot territory for the complete abandonment of the original reveal.
Seilah's return. Was it a well-deserved Author's Saving Throw after what many saw was a poor send-off for her originally when she fought the Strauss sibings, or did it come off shallow, and more insulting towards the character, due to getting taken out, yet again, by a single punch? Only this time, by Mira.
The Eclipse Celestial Spirit Arc has been all over the map, here. At first, a good segment of the fandom (predictably) bemoaned the very idea of a filler arc after the Grand Magic Games Arc, a reaction that is common to anime in general and Shōnen in particular, especially considering the fact that it's no secret that the fandom has been incredibly eager to see Tartaros animated. Later, after the character designs for the Eclipse Celestial Spirits were released, many of those same fans were at least willing to give it a chance... until the actual fights against them happened. From the Cancer fight against Gray and Taurus' borderline-squickyWeaksauce Weakness, to the unnecessarily fanservice-filledDesignated Girl Fight between Lucy and Virgo (which has devolved into Virgo stripping both of their clothing off and smearing watermelon and mayonnaise on Lucy), fans are starting to wonder if even the creators are taking this arc seriously anymore. That said, many fans did appreciate the extra screentime for Yukino, Arcadios, and Princess Hisui, who all Took a Level in Badass during this arc.
A very weird example. The minute Yukino said she had an older sister who was kidnapped by Zeref cultists, it didn't take long for fans to put two and two together and reach the conclusion that Yukino's sister, Sorano, was none other than Angel from Oración Seis. They have very similar physical appearances, they're both Celestial Spirit Mages, and they even dress in a similar way to one another. This was finally confirmed in Chapter 365.
Another odd example is Silver from Tartarus. The moment of his introduction, he was revealed to have ice powers, and is established to have a "connection" to Gray. Everyone was convinced that the man was his father, and sure enough, by Chapter 390, that was confirmed to be true. However...what DID surprise a larger portion of the fanbase was that Silver is in-fact dead, and is actually the demon, Deliora, having manifested itself in Silver's corpse to survive. There were some people that guessed this as well due to being a member of a guild that's comprised of nothing but demons, but it's a tiny fraction compared to how people saw the original reveal coming, but then, Silver is hit with a another reveal that basically brings it back to the first reveal due to the Deliora reveal turning out to be a lie. Ya...it's complicated.
E.N.D. If anyone tells you they didn't see E.N.D. standing for Etherious Natsu Dragneel coming, they're flat-out lying. Pretty much the entire Tartaros arc has been foreshadowing it, and it was hinted at as far back as the Sirius Island arc. Although many will agree that figuring out what the E stood for to describe E.N.D. was probably the hardest part to figure out.note Most were going with the simple answer, "Evil".
Master Jose Porla of Phantom Lord has a bad case of envy towards Fairy Tail for its sudden rise in power and wealth due to Lucy (which neither she nor the guild had intention of using) drove him to use Gajeel to destroy the guild hall. Makarov, Fairy Tail's master, wasn't prepared to retaliate, until Jose later hung up Team Shadow Gear as an example after having them viciously beaten. This earns Makarov's wrath and when the two encounter each other, Jose being an illusion, he shows no ill will and says some small talk to further enrage his rival, enough for his minion to drain him of all his magical power temporarily. After Lucy angers him when he kidnaps her, Jose's first step is to have his guild robot destroy a town and then he proceeds to defeat and torture Erza. He also attempts to use his magic cannon to annihilate Fairy Tail and their guild hall. This is all because Makarov said, while drunk, that his guild was better while at an annual guild meeting.
Zancrow is one of the elite members of Grimoire Heart, another of the top Dark Guilds. What sets Zancrow apart from others is how his only apparent motivation in life is to kill and destroy whatever he can. Zancrow feigns concern and care for members of his own Guild but after several are defeated by Natsu, he shows no hesitation or remorse in burning them alive. Zancrow makes certain to attempt to kill nearly everyone he meets, be they combatant or not. When he catches his ally Meredy coming over with an unconscious Zeref, he instantly assumes she's betrayed Grimoire Heart and attempts to murder her as well.
From the moment we meet Jackal, one of Zeref's demons and a member of Tartaros' Nine Demon Gates, he is established as a psychopath who gleefully assassinated the Magic Council in front of Doranbalt so viscerally that at least one of his kills required a Gory Discretion Shot. He then goes on to force not one, but two Sadistic Choices on a former Magic Council member and Lucy, forcing them to choose between their own life and their granddaughter's life, and the life of the Magic Councilor and a pregnant woman respectively, and says that his only real motivation for doing so is that he see humans asplaythings. He then later kills one of his own guildmates right in front of Lucy for the crime of annoying him. Out of all of the Etherious, he could very well be the one most deserving of being called a demon.
Acnologiawas once a dragonslayer who was supposed to be a savior of humanity and a bridge between them and dragonkind. Instead, he became a scourge upon both, slaughtering countless dragons, even the ones friendly to humans, for fun. Becoming a dragon did nothing to improve his demeanor. Everywhere he goes, he spreads death and destruction. He doesn't even speak most of the time because he thinks humans are vermin that are beneath him, despite the fact that he used to be one. When he finally speaks, it's mostly rants about how he desires nothing but destruction. Then he brutally murders Igneel right in front of Natsu. Unlike nearly every other villain in this series, Acnologia has never shown a single redeeming quality. Acnologia is such a hateful and destructive monster that even the Black Mage Zeref is wary of him.
Crack Pairing: The Ship Tease for Freed/Mirajane and Evergreen/Elfman has caused some fans to want to round it out by pairing Bickslow with Lisanna.
In a bonus chapter, Natsu uproots an entire tree of flowers and promptly sends it to Lucy because she wanted to see it.
Bonus points in that he is completely oblivious to the fact it would be taken as a romantic gesture to most females. Good chances are, Natsu would instantly rise to No.1 on the "most desired bachelor mage" list on Sorcerer Weekly if word ever got out about the incident.
Before finding out the guy shared a backstory and friendship with Igneel, he intended to EAT Atlas Flame, a humongous fire dragon, and use that power up to kick Future!Rogue's ass. From what it looked like, one could believe his plan would have worked.
Ultear. She was the first established villain that went beyond just a one-off Arc Villain, and the fact that people tend to forget about how much of an evil biatch she was before Gray knocked some sense into her just goes to show how engaging her character turned out to be overall. She also brought Fairy Tail a vast majority of reasonable fan-service before Mashima went overboard after the Time Skip.
They're joined by Azuma, the single most badass member of Grimoire Heart.
And let's not forget Mavis, the first Guild Master of Fairy Tail, who manages to be kind, cute, mysterious and hilarious at the same time, and badass enough to master and cast one of the most powerful protection spells in the Fairy Tail universe from beyond the grave, Fairy Sphere. On top of that she created and can probably cast Fairy Glitter and Fairy Law.
Wendy Marvell as well. Enough to be considered a main character. Although she also gets Base Breaker treatment for the same reason.
You can almost see the standing ovation Mashima is getting from the fandom for allowing Wendy to finally have a chance to truly shine—on her own (okay, fine, Carla is with her)—for the first time since her fight with Chelia in the Grand Magic Games arc. To clarify, it's not Natsu, Erza, or even Lucy who gets to defuse Face; it's Wendy. And she has to go through Ezel to do it. She didnotdisappoint.
Rogue, pretty much the only member of Sabertooth who isn't a MASSIVE DICK.note Yukino sorta counts, but her allegiance with Sabertooth is an odd case, and while Sting does get better later on, people see his character as a missed opportunity anyway for his failures throughout the tournament.
Silver, an Anti-Villain who's spawned a TON of Wild Mass Guessing, has an amusing personality, and a Badass capable of instantly freezing the spirit of a dragon MADE OF FLAMES and later Natsu, cutting off a rather obnoxious God-Mode Sue streak he had going on. Indeed, after The Reveal, his status only grew, despite the fact that not only was he Evil All Along, but Silver wasn't even his original name - it's Deliora. Many are calling it the single greatest plot twist in the last hundred or so chapters...at least before he decided to reveal that the plot-twist was all a lie.
Seilah has reached this point, too. She had quite a fair number of fans right out of the gate (mostly because Evil Is Sexy and her relationship withKyouka was perhaps the most well done villainous romantic relationship yet), many fans refused to believe she could have possibly gone down because of one punch to the back of the head in one of the biggest Ass Pull victories in the entire arc. It reached the point where fans were lobbying Hiro Mashima over Twitter, demanding she come back... and she did, in perhaps themostbadasswaypossible, giving her the send-off many fans believed she deserved and had been previously denied.
A lot of people tend to believe that Erza's "fake-eye" played a part in the Kyouka fight to overcome the loss of her five senses. It's a perfectly valid excuse for what could otherwise be called an Ass Pull, and even though it wasn't explicitly stated (Happy's 'explanation' has even been likened to an In-UniverseShrug of God), fans truly believe it's the only logical explanation for how that fight went. However, a few panels where the artificial eye was exposed showed that it was darkened just like her real eye.
Erza's hakama outfit is often justified as turning her into a Glass Cannon by converting her magic from defense to attack. However, when we first see her use it against Ikaruga, the latter states that she senses no magic power from it like her armor, and Erza explicitly calls it "just fabric". It was the sword Benizakura that she used against Azuma while wearing the outfit that maximized her attack power, but required her to not be wearing protective gear.
Once the anime began airing, Fairy Tail has quickly garnered comparisons with One Piece, Naruto and Bleach. If you're a fan of Fairy Tail in particular, you could see it as a good thing that Fairy Tail is considered right up there with the Big 3.
Debatable, but it is now perhaps turned up to eleven, particularly with Naruto as both of their movies came out at around the same time in the summer. And they're both being written by their respective authors.
"I won't forgive you any more. I don't love you any more!"
Erza and Kyouka have shades of this. Particularly the amount of time Kyouka wishes to..."torture" her.
Franchise Original Sin: As far back as the Tower of Heaven arc, we were seeing what would later become the irritatingly common formula for Erza's fights; get beaten up while losing several armors, requip to sarashi and hakama pants, spout friendship speech, then easily turn the tables. At the very least, this moment was supposed to represent her getting over the psychological restraints of needing armor at all times.
Rusty Rose's Arc of Embodiment magic. Being able to pull off anything through sheer imagination.
Similar to Rusty Rose's magic, Rufus Lore gives us his Memory-Make magic which allows for him to copy anyones magic to use as his own as long as he sees it. He can even keep these copied spells stored for later use, allowing for Rufus to then bring them back to create unique combinations with said copied spells. This doesn't even include the fact that Memory-Make can memorize spells from text-books to use in the present. The only downside? If someone overloads on individual spells against him, the Memory-Make would fail to keep up to create counters for each of the attacks.
The choice of how many monsters to fight in one of the games in the Magic Tournament. The game has a house ("Pandemonium") with 100 monsters inside, whose strengths vary from scary (D class) to not-even-mentioned (S-Class). Each competitor picks the number that they want to fight at one time, but only gets 1 point per monster (regardless of class), and can't leave until either they or the monsters are dead. After no less than 6 pages spent laying all this out, answering contestant questions, and demonstrating how powerful the monsters are, Erza picks all of them. Even though she only needs 51 to win. When she's done, the other 7 competitors are reduced to punching a device to measure their power level. She lampshades this when she finds out she's going first by saying "with this, it's no longer a game."
Also during the Tournament we have Obra, who can empty a target's magic completely. The fact that it would work on someone like Laxus, shows just how Gamebreaking he is when used right.
Genius Bonus: "Ankhseram" is actually a combination of two words. An Ankh is an ancient Egyptian symbol that, even today, represents life, or the creation of life. 'Seram' is the Malay/Indonesian word for 'horror.' It's the true name of Zeref's Death Magic, only it's not magic, but a Curse.
Growing the Beard: The beginning of the Tartarus arc has received overwhelmingly positive reception compared to previous chapters. However, certaineventsledtoaBase Break, which, thankfully, is being gradually restored as of late, at least to some degree. By Chapter 390, the sheer HSQ levels had reached levels the series hadn't seen since the Sirius Island arc, and has gotten back into the good graces of fans despite the aforementioned rough patch.
Harsher in Hindsight: Very early in the series, Lucy brings up the Fridge Logic to Natsu about how Igneel, a dragon, would teach him magic that is designed specifically to kill such creatures. Fast forward to the Magic Games where they learn that is what the dragons had in mind to teach humans to battle the more carnivorous brethren, which unfortunately backfires and causes the humans to use it on the more humane dragons as well.
Fairy Tail Zero shows us how Mavis and Zeref reallyfirst met. Mavis showed Zeref what was probably the first bit of genuine kindness he'd experienced in centuries, if not ever, prompting him to agree to teach Fairy Tail's future founders the magic necessary to defeat Blue Skull. Fast forward a century, and Zeref kills one of those members and then declares his intent to wipe out humanity to Mavis' face. No wonder it looked like her heart was breaking as she heard him go on his Humans Are Bastards tirade; she was watching someone she genuinely liked, felt sorry for, and tried to help finally snap before her very eyes.
Early on the series Natsu always got angered when people dubbed him a "monster" after witnessing his power. Then the Tartaros-arc reveals that he's the demon E.N.D, the true master of Tartaros.
He's Just Hiding: For some, Simon has a following for not being truly dead due to the Nobody Can Die nature of this manga, and that because his corpse ends up falling into a dark abyss the last time we see him, someone will make the claim that he never got a proper burial to truly be considered dead.
Hilarious in Hindsight: The 10th opening of the anime showing Zeref and Mavis side-by-side counts, as the manga hadn't even gotten to the point where it confirmed Zeref and Mavis has a deep connection at the time.
It's pretty much a well-established fact nowadays that everyone knows Lisanna was never truly dead. Especially since many people new to the Fairy Tail franchise joined in long after her return from Edolas when the anime adaptation came out of hiatus during the Grand Magic Games arc.
Laxus returning to the Fairy Tail guild post Sirius Island can be considered this as well for some new fans. Doesn't help that the tenth opening outright spoiled his return.
Everyone, including non-fans, know by this point that Fairy Tail's plot-line endures a 7-year Time Skip down the line due to how controversial the occurrence of the Time Skip was made out to be across the internet.
What was that? You thought Arcadios was not of this world any more because he submerged, head-to-toe, into a POOL OF HOT LAVA? Don't worry. Turns out Lucy's silver key spirit, Horologium, was able to protect him!
The ending of Chapter 334. Nobody believed Mashima would actually randomly kill off Gray. Chapter 335 proved the fandom was right.
Chapter 362. Happy pulls a Pell with only an afro for his troubles.
Chapter 368 and 369. Did you honestly believe that Mashima would kill off Jellal to a guild that's been in lock-up?
A very rare villainous example, especially for a Shōnen series, comes in the Tartarus arc in the form of Marde Guille. While he does have his fans, the real reason few believed he was truly down and out when his curse was turned against him was because this would have not only meant he would never get a real fight against the protagonists (beyond that truly epic fight against the Celestial Spirit King), but it would have also meant that E.N.D. would never make his appearance, since his Book of Zeref would have been petrified as well. Never having that resolved, especially given E.N.D.'s apparent backstory with Igneel, would have been completely unacceptable to fans, and absolutely nobody thought Mashima was going to pull a What Happened to the Mouse? of that magnitude.
Magnificent Bastard: Future Rogue. The guy manipulated the entire Fiore Royal Family into using an Artifact of Doom powered by Zeref's magic and Celestial Spirit Magic by telling them it would save their country from a swarm of dragons coming to destroy them. In reality, using the Artifact of Doom was what caused the dragons to appear, and he promptly used a Compelling Voice spell to force the dragons into becoming his submission, as part of a ploy to kill Acnologia and take his place as the Dragon King. The dragons he summons proceed to curb-stomp the very mages whose magic is designed to kill them, while Future Rogue wipes the floor with Natsu. The only reason his plan didn't succeed was due to The Power of Friendship causing one of his dragons to rebel against him.
Post-Time Skip, Lucy initially came across as this, doing incredibly poorly in the Grand Magic Games and only getting chances to shine against characters who were effectively cannon fodder. Thankfully, this changes after chapter 379, where she proves instrumental in defeating Franmalth, and a few chapters down the line, takes several levels in badass by summoning three Celestial Spirits at once, as well as the the Celestial Spirit King, when she's the only member of the guild who is capable of acting, but it was still a long period of time where she was constantly losing or being humiliated.
Sting of Sabertooth is well-known for the amount of failure he accomplishes through the Grand Magic Games arc. From finishing last in chariot race, to losing to Natsu in a one-on-two fight where Natsu didn't even use 100% of his strength, to having his pet Exceed, Lector, taken away from him, and then, to top his losing streak off, he completely surrenders before even attempting to fight a single Fairy Tail member in the final match despite how Badass he thought he became after learning the values of friendship. It's amazing the guy didn't fall apart afterwards. It only gets worse in the Tartarus arc, where he and Rogue fight Marde Guille, who has spent the entire fight Just Toying with Them and mocking them as the Puny Humans hes sees them as, all while No Selling every single thing they throw at him. Sting then demanded Marde fight them seriously. With his track record, Be Careful What You Wish For doesn't even begin to cover it.
Doranbolt, thanks to his stint with Wendy; particularly him standing behind her, with this creepy smile. Mashima clearly caught on, as when Erza is reverted into a child, she imagines Doranbolt taking interest in her just as Jellal dumps her.
"Nakama Punch" Explanation The end of a fight, particularly those that end in an Ass Pull, have been dubbed as this by the fans.
"It's all Sting's fault." Explanation Anything that goes wrong in the Magic Games arc usually involved him in some way. Even more so given it's his fault that Jiemma gets kicked out because he blasted a hole through him.
"Explosion Afros!" Explanation Came about in the same case as the previous example where Happy gets caught up in Jackel's explosion... and all he has to show for it is his hair getting messed up in the form of an afro. But then chapter Chapter 378 comes around and everyone starts fussing that if Carla was going to tank F.A.C.E.'s explosion, she might as well have ended up with afro hair as well!
"Make a god-damn Hentai already!" Explanation With the quality of the fan-service Mashima pulls out nowadays, many question why he doesn't just create a Hentai that he clearly has all the necessary skills for.
"But Simon died!" Explanation Whenever someone makes a claim that "no one ever dies in Fairy Tail", the first thing defenders will do is point to Erza's friend, Simon; making him a post humorous legend amongst the fanbase.
"404: Magic Not Found"Explanation Face activates in Chapter 404. The fandom immediately accused Mashima of doing that on purpose just so that the fandom could make jokes about this.
"It's because she's Erza." Explanation Happy's explanation for why Erza is able to overpower Kyouka despite having none of her senses except maximized pain is meant to paint her as a Memetic Badass, but is now sarcastically used to justify Erza's increasingly nonsensical victories by painting her as a God-Mode Sue.
Lucy. Most of the Ho Yay in the series comes from her.
Erza. Fortunately, we get to see her from all angles.
No surprise that Laxus after he returned became one.
Jellal. He creates his own guild with just the company of two extremely beautiful women. Not to mention his complicated relationship with Erza.
Misblamed: Jellal regarding a lot wrongdoings that have occurred throughout the manga. Fans tend to forget that not only was Jellal brainwashed and controlled by Ultear for the duration of all his evil deeds, but he spends six years hunting evil and still feels his life was worthless due to what he'd done, it's surprising that he hasn't gotten more of a break from the fans (although his Creator's Pet status via Mashima could be a very prominent reason). Surprisingly, Ultear has never gotten a Never Live It Down reputation, despite not only freely chosing to Mind Rape Jellal for years but torturing and massacring huge numbers of people (Ultear's very prominent Freudian Excuse is one reason why she gets so much compassion). There seems to have been an attempt to rid Jellal of his Never Live It Down reputation after Mavis herself said he isn't evil - and she puts the 'God' in Word of God - however with not a huge amount of success. Part of this might be because he killed the only character that dies in the series on-screen, Simon, and part might be because of the completely psychopathic Stalker with a Crush way he treated Erza in the Tower Of Heaven arc.
The vicious beat down that Minerva gave Lucy and while the rest of Sabertooth except Rogue all smile smugly at it. Sting even laughs.
Jiemma crosses it twice. The first is when he orders Yukino to strip in front of all of the Sabertooth members and erase her guild mark,and the second one, when he erases Lector for no reason other than he bore the Sabertooth mark on his body. Considering that the rest of the guild was shown smirking or smiling even during his previous antics, their expressions at this wanton cruelty might signal that Jiemma may have crossed the line even in the eyes of many of his subordinates.
Pretty much everything Minerva does is a candidate. The aforementioned beatdown of Lucy, blackmailing Sting with Lecter's well-being by promising to return Lecter only if Sabertooth wins, and more recently, taking Millianna as a hostage to provoke Erza and Kagura. It seems she is fond of escalating this to the point of audacity given she also stabs the latter In the Back while they were off guard for the point gain. The worst bit: Erza and Kagura were settling their differences and about to reconcile. Finally, she revealed that while Erza and Kagura were fighting, she tortured Millianna just For the Evulz, gloating about how pleasant her screams of pain were. It won't be long before Minerva finally pays for it. especially given that Erza is ungodly pissed and glaring daggers.
Future Rogue tops them all by trying to kill Lucy, killing Future Lucy in the process. This act instantly turns Natsu and company against him. He later tops himself when he reveals to Natsu that he killed Sting to absorb his powers.
Treasure hunter Hiroshi seems to have crossed it in Chapter 346, stating that a load of giants can die simply because they're not a valuable treasure.
Tartarus wasted absolutely no time in making a beeline straight for this. No less than three chapters into their arc, they mercilessly killed off possibly every single member of one of their vassal guilds except for Minerva, bombed the Magic Council's headquarters killing all but one of them, and then gassed an entire village/town and killed hundreds of innocent civilians and counting, and almost killed the Raijin Tribe in the process. Talk about Cerebus Syndrome!
Speaking of the member who destroyed the Magic Council, he manages to cross it and then do even worse when he threatens to kill a retired Magic Council member's granddaughter just to prove a point. And then tries to force Lucy into a Sadistic Choice in either having the the Magic Council member or a pregnant woman be killed. Thankfully, Natsu stops him.
Chapter 246: Hades' almost cartoony facial expressions as Natsu starts beating him up in Lighting-Flame Dragon Mode.
Chapter 358-362: People were finding it difficult to take Tartarus seriously when Tempester and Jackal got their asses kicked in direct combat and had to resort to underhanded methods.
Chapter 365: Kyouka's Cold-Blooded Torture of Erza failed to qualify as Nightmare Fuel for many because Mashima took too much liberty in showing off Erza's naked body, instead coming off as thinly veiled Fanservice. The borderline waterfalls of sweat didn't help matters. Chapter 368 was more effective by keeping more of Erza's body obscured and using Electric Torture much more visually painful than the small cuts from earlier that relied on Erza's currently maximized sense of pain to function as torture at all.
Chapter 389: Sting and Rogue attempting to appear threatening as they fight Marde Guille, given their lackluster performance at the Grand Magic Games and Marde Guille's minimal effort to fend them off.
Chapter 395: After having had a relatively tough time fighting Tempester and Torafusa, Gajeel and Natsu enter their Super Modes while the former two enter their One-Winged Angel modes. Of course, just as the fight looked like it was getting to the good part, not only did Gajeel and Natsu have the fight inexplicably do a total 180 and started kicking the two demons' asses (with Torafusa calling Gajeel and Natsu demons), but Natsu and Gajeel literally started fighting each other because of a sudden argument over who was stronger, making the fight seem much less serious than it was before as a result. And all of this while Juvia was potentially dying due to Anti-Magic Particle exposure.
Chapter 400: It is both awesome and hysterical that what Natsu was searching for was LITERALLY inside him all along.
Chapter 403: Erza punching Kyouka with her sense of pain cranked up to the max and declaring it "unworthy of the name pain" is undeniably awesome, and continuing to fight with all five senses gone would be equally awesome, if not for the sappy speech that didn't even try to be subtle about The Power of Friendship.
Chapter 404: Erza's sense-less beatdown on Kyouka doesn't even bother with an explanation, "because she's Erza".
Chapter 408: Demon!Jiemma's pointy hair and ears don't really fit with the rest of his extremely muscular body.
Chapter 416: Erza's trauma over the Cold-Blooded Torture she suffered in the Tartaros arc is seen by some as poorly timed, considering her portrayal during the arc.
While fans all around go crazy regarding the Gajeel/Levy shipping, many do not let it pass over their heads that Gajeel beat-the-living-crap out of Levy in their initial meeting. Labeling Gajeel as a wife-beater.
The Would Hit a Girl defense has been tried in that Gajeel beat up all three people fairly equally, but without much success.
Doranbolt makes one extremely creepy face while he was partnered up with Wendy, and he ends up forever labelled as a child molester; no matter what he does to improve his image. Mashima even goes along with it in a later chapter to the point that he agreed with the fans that Doranbolt should be a Lolicon.
Doesn't matter what Sting does from here on out. No one will ever forgive him for his complete failure to live up to the hype throughout the Grand Magic Games.
While Sting good side was showing a few chapters prior, Chapter 300 might have had him join Rogue in being the only well-liked members of Sabertooth after blasting a hole through Jiemma after obliterating Lector for showing he had a guild mark. The fans were pleased to see Jiemma get it coming. Rogue and Yukino have been getting a lot of love, too, after the Grand Magic Games arc, especially following the Sabertooth side-story.
Also, Flare was a disliked member of the disliked Raven Tail guild...until said guild disbanded and she came to Lucy and the rest of Fairy Tail in an apologetic state. When her backstory and Freudian Excuse for her prior behavior came out, the hate for her pretty much vanished in-story and out of it.
Though she remains a Base Breaker by and large, Minerva, of all people, has surprisingly ascended to this trope to a fair degree. Before she was one of the most reviled characters of the story, but after it was revealed she is the way she is due to her Abusive Dad (who, among other acts, beat her for crying and left her naked in a forest one night) and that she actually regrets what she had become, the fanbase eased up on her a little bit. Obviously she still has a lot of things to make up for, but as far as most readers are concerned, this is still tremendous progress in her development.
One-Scene Wonder: Any of the Celestial Spirits, including the Spirit King, could be considered this in general as they can only appear when a Celestial mage summons them. However, the Silver Keys (outside of Plue) are extremely rare to see.
Raven Tail. A team designed specifically for the readers to have someone to hate during the Magic Games; with Ivan as the jerk family member of Markov and Laxus, Obra as the game-breaking cheater that caused Lucy to lose her duel, Flare as the crazy nut-job (though she doesgetbetter), and Nullpudding for singling out Gray during their game match. People seem to be fine with Kurohebi, but only because he got the least screen-time of the bunch and never got to pull anything on a beloved Fairy Tail member.
After Chapter 291, Sabertoothnote except Rogue and Sting as of Chapter 300, as well as Yukino later on propelled itself to this trope, to the point that fans are calling Sabertooth the next Raven Tail.
Sabertooth's Minvera is hated for a plethora of reasons. To start, there's her characterization in the Grand Magic Games arc where she crosses the Moral Event Horizon several times; garnering the hate for being an extreme Jerkass towards other Fairy Tail characters that are loved by certain factions of the fanbase. After the Grand Magic Games however, the hate for her character develops into a much different reason by the time of her reintroduction in the Sun Village arc. To explain, she ends up joining a Dark Guild after Sabertooth lost the Games just for petty revenge against Erza without having to worry about the laws legal guilds follow. As noted above in Badass Decay, there was some fun in seeing how far she could jump through the Moral Event Horizon while still not technically being a villain, but now that she has become a straight-up villain (for a Dark Guild that hadn't even been worth mentioning beforehand, a far cry from the former strongest Guild where she was respected as their strongest Mage), her actions are no longer interesting. Many people felt that she was overstaying her welcome once Chapter 359 revealed that she had survived Kyouka's magic and had now become a demon and a member of Tartarus. And then, thanks to the Dark and Troubled Past reveal about her father, she began to be hated for being seen as one of the mostinconsistentlywrittencharacters ever seen in Shonen, because no one knew what to make of her character...
And now that the fandom realized that all of the above is all a result of Jiemma being an Abusive Dad and an all-around Jerkass of a Guild Master, he has since jettisoned himself to the top of the Scrappy heap, with almost all of the former hate for all of Sabertooth's members (except, arguably, Minerva) now being aimed squarely at him. His sudden, inexplicable return during the Tartaros arc, needless to say, did not help.
Aquarius is also disliked by a wide number of fans due to being a Jerkass to Lucy and always abandoning Lucy at the eleventh hour, such as in the above-mentioned chapter, despite Lucy being her former master's daughter, to whom she swore to protect Lucy. And then Chapter 384 was released...
The Hungry Wolf Knights (aka, Executioners). While fans will agree that their designs were interesting (especially since they were thought up some of said fans), their characterization is despised as they were responsible for the aforementioned Arc Fatigue, and their sadistic attitude towards killing makes it hard to see them as "just doing their job". Even in-series, they weren't taken as serious opponents and nobody cared when Future Rogue seemingly killed them (Though they did show up unscathed at the end of the arc).
Nakama Power. The ultimate get-out-of-jail-for-free card for any of the core cast members of the Fairy Tail guild. To explain, there comes a time when a Fairy Tail member receives an absolute beat-down by the enemy. The opponent who caused the beat-down is seen gloating on top of him/her as to why he fails at life, and that they will never be able to win. However, the Fairy Tail member, against all odds, stands triumphant to fight again, claiming that they will fight for their friends, and that so long as their friends are with them, they will have the strength to overcome anything; resulting in completely out-of-nowhere second wind that should be physically impossible given the circumstances, and an anti-climatic ending to the fight. The idea of willpower inspiring shonen heroes to rise again isn't anything new, and using The Power of Friendship as an excuse for that will power has been used ad nauseum since the beginning of shonen history, often in the form of heroes getting up after taking blows that have downed more powerful opponents... However, your friends actually beating your opponent for you really crosses the line, and "Nakama Power" has yet to be given any explanation, reasoning, or incentive for being, and only barely gets away without being a Jumping the Shark moment because there are so many other Ass Pulls all over the place that it looks less conspicuous by comparison (and that is not a good thing). If an Ensemble Darkhorse villain goes down due to one of these, expect a Broken Base at best and a full-blown Internet Backdraft at worst.
Not a weapon but clothing: Erza's samurai getup, which consists of a ponytail, Sarashi, and flame-print hakama (often bitterly called"nakama") pants. What's the problem with this admittedly cool-looking outfit? An increasing number of Erza's victories have occurred while wearing it, even though it's explicitly stated to provide no defense (or any abilities for that matter). This makes it much more grating when Erza keeps defeating opponents who are actually using abilities, and her ridiculous resistance while in this defenseless outfit looks much less believable when powerhouses like Azuma and Kagura go down from less injury. Not to mention that it's slowly making her armors obsolete despite all the powers they give her, making her fights less flashy as a result. The reasoning behind the samurai clothing is that it focuses all Erza's power into attack and doesn't spare any magic power for defense (i.e. armor), however with the way things are going apparently Erza's magic power is high enough that she doesn't even need the armor a lot of the time. Unlike the atrocious Ass Pull of "Nakama Power", this Scrappy Weapon makes sense, but it is none more liked for all the reasoning behind it.
God Slayer Magic, which is touted as one of the strongest forms of magic in the series to the point of being able to slay Gods, but is ultimately just black-tinted Elemental Powers that Dragon Slayers can't eat (disregarding that one Ass Pull from Natsu who purportedly emptied his body of his flames and then became an empty vessel to eat completely new ones...?). It lacks the history and Super Mode of Dragon Slayer Magic, and given the new Demon Slayer Magic, has pretty much faded into obscurity.
Luckily it was shown to have vulnerabilities and be as dependent upon its user as Dragon Slaying Magic, because it was quickly looking to be a Game Breaking Power the way it was initially used. Better a Scrappy Weapon than another "Ark Of Embodiment."
Lucy's Silver Key, Horologium, when it dawned upon readers that the only gimmick it's ever used for is to have a character cheat death in some, unconventional, method. People let it slide the first time around when it was used to save Wendy from possible death in the fight against Hades, because readers figured that she was obviously alive due to her main-character status as a member of Fairy Tail, but when it occurred a second time to safeguard Arcadios from a pool of lava despite seeing him clearly submerge, head-to-toe, with no form of protection apart from his daily clothes (and the later discovery that Princess Hisui gave him an enchanted necklace that provided some extra defense)...let's just say that a lot of people were not impressed.
The reasoning behind Horologium is that it can warp space and time, which instantly has Game Breaking associations and could have turned into a much bigger Scrappy if used anywhere except for life-threatening emergencies, and even then still isn't liked. Luckily Mashima has held back and not used Horologium more as a safety net, which could have had really really bad ramifications story-wise.
In the anime, the CG flames, be it from Natsu, or even from Zancrow, usually gets this reaction for not being pleasant to look at, and often feeling out-of-place compared to how the rest of the show's been animated.
Shipping Goggles: Despite only ever having one scene total interacting with each other throughout the series, Laxus x Lisanna◊ actually has a surprising number of fans.
Ship-to-Ship Combat: Was always a minor thing until Lisanna came back into the picture, giving the Natsu/Lisanna fans a fighting chance against the Natsu/Lucy shippers. Ron the Death Eater accusations against Lisanna began already, while Lucy is being bashed for "being in the way."
Loke/Lucy is typically still treated as a minor and easily-squashed contender though.
The aftermath of Fairy Tail Zero Chapter 7 ignited a bit of this, between the already well-established shippers for Mavis and Zeref (mentioned above in Fan Preferred Pairing), and the much-newer shippers of Mavis and Zeira. The former had been around for over a year, but now that we've actually seen how the two met, they were galvanized all over again, just two months after some rather major Ship Tease between the latter.
Much of Natsu's fight with Gildarts in the S-Class Exam was a big anvil drop on his tendency to Leeroy it up. Considering that Gildarts had just come back from fighting the black dragon, it was probably also dropped the anvil that if Natsu couldn't beat Gildarts on his own, he has no chance against the black dragon.
A later extension to keep Natsu from reaching God-Mode Sue status comes along when Future Rogue curb-stomps him in their first fight to the point of Ultear having to save his life from Future Rogue's shadow magic. A skirmish that takes place only a day after Natsu's last battle where he utterly embarrassed Sabertooth's Sting and Rogue in a two-on-one fight in which he didn't even have to resort to using his Lightning Fire abilities.
Tartarus member, Silver, 1HKOing Natsu with his ice-magic when the later decided to go Leeroy Jenkins on the Tartarus hide-out. This coming moments after people started making claims that Natsu had officially obtained God-Mode Sue status.
Basically what happened to Laxus at the start of the Tartarus arc; being taken out nearly right away. Some believed this occurred due to his character showing glimpses of God-Mode Sue as the Grand Magic Games moved along, and that this incident brought him back down to normal level.
She changes her mind and starts using the tentacle demon, but we fortunately don't get a Naughty Tentacles scene of the tentacles wrapping around Erza's naked body... because it merely grabs her arms and legs to start electrocuting her!
Any time the fanservice includes Wendy.
Strawman Has a Point: In Chapter 228. Maybe the healthier mages could hang around, but shouldn't they begin removing the injured from the island at this point?
Even with the aforementioned controversy involving how it happened, Erza beating Minerva still counts, especially with the latter begging for mercy by the end.
Natsu knocking out the former Council member Michello after he showed obnoxious cowardice and selfishness by abandoning his granddaughter to Jackal, trying to impose authority over the townspeople while demanding help, and insisting that he's far more important to save than a pregnant woman when Jackal puts Lucy in a Sadistic Choice over picking one not to blow up.
Silver curb-stomping Natsu, and freezing him solid comes off as this to those who were coming to really dislike the latter as of late.
Lisanna however, is a prime offender of this trope, if you think that her new scenes in the anime and backstory with the core cast give her prime placement to be used more. Of course, there's always the opposition who think she's been in the spotlight long enough, that her fairly pointless-in-the-long-run extra scenes in the anime were already pushing things, and are really happy that she now has a prominent but supporting role that allows her to develop Natsu, Mira and Elfman's characters without pulling focus.
Mystogan is thought to be a major case of this. Him being the mysterious, elusive guild member, only showing up to get jobs or when the guild was in a crisis made him appealing. As well as the fact that be was a unique guild member, not needing some ancient magic, or being part of some powerful family to be considered powerful, and not needing a tragic back story to be heroic and selfless. Instead he turns out to be another Jellal and gets stuck in Edolas before we really even get to know him.
That said, those who already think Jellal is Mashima's Creator's Pet would have been up in arms if there had been another Jellal around after the Edolas arc.
Hades also has a case. He was the first character in the series to beat Makarov through sheer power alone, had a deeper connection with Fairy Tail than any of the previous antagonists, held great charisma and an intriguing philosophical outlook on the Fairy Tail universe and magic, and overall possessed qualifications to be a central antagonist for the series. Instead, after he beats Makarov, he simply retreats back into his ship, lets his subordinates be beaten down one after another, then holds one final fight against the main characters. After that, he's randomly killed.
Except we now have Zeref, who has a connection with Mavis from the very beginning, which is infinitely more interesting as a connection to Fairy Tail. And considering Zeref's character and complete hatred for people like Hades (which is a significant part of his character so it can't be worked around), you can't have both in the same universe without one eventually killing off the other... and Zeref doesn't wait around to do things like that. The only way Hades could have stayed around is if Zeref didn't become active until a later point. Technically, though, Hades was the central antagonist of the series, we just didn't know it, considering that he was the one he manipulated Jellal and drove him mad, hence instrumenting everything around the "Tower of Heaven". Either Zeref would have had to appear later or we would have had to come up against Hades much much sooner for him to have been around.
Although Hades was a waste of a good character, his death, surprisingly enough, did quite a lot for the story and universe in general. It established Zeref as really being a major threat, being a genuinely lethal threat, as actually killing several people instantaneously and without effort, and willing to do so suddenly without any long speeches or normal shonen work-up. This increased the lethal potential of the series, whereas before the only person to die was after a typical long talk and fight. It set the stage for Acnologia. It demonstrated the risk that the heroes would eventually be exposed to and all this after Zeref himself bemoans the fact that Natsu hasn't developed far along enough to kill him. And honestly, it was a nice change after all the Save the Villain developments prior.
Future Rogue is another major example as someone who started off as a fan-favorite moments after his introduction for his curb-stomping over Natsu, but as his appearances went on, many readers came to believe that the guy had hardly any motivation or goal for why he ended up the way he did. His last words, however, foreshadow that big events surrounding his present self are going to take place on the next future, so it's debatable.
After a Time Skip, you'd think that the main cast would grow up, looking more mature and badass and taking a level in badass in power. Instead we got the lame Fairy Sphere, a defense spell that stops time for everyone on the island by the first Fairy Tail master, meaning everyone looks and acts the same and no visible power-ups, though it does present the possibility on how they react to a world that's changed drastically.
Looks to be heading in the latter direction, starting with the death of Lucy's father.
Natsu and Wendy buying magic-weapons in Edolas, but losing them after their one-time uses. Most fans around this time figured Team Natsu was going to all eventually get Badass weapon tools as their next Power-Up. Never happened obviously.
The S-Class trial plot which got pushed to the side (and had no actual conclusion afterwards) in favor of another war against a Dark Guild. There are a plethora of people that found the test much more interesting than the fight against Grimoire Heart; especially considering the reaction many of the fights got after the guild war concluded.
The war with Grimoire Heart may not have been the issue itself. Consider that it did show the most deadliest and most powerful opponents so far; Fairy Tail was constantly on the back foot, lost a lot and only won because of Tenroujima Island, the first master and a few Ass Pulls (although all in all the fights were generally interesting even when the heroes lost); and the entire arc concluded a lot of plot lines that had revolved around Grimoire Heart and introduced the importance of Fairy Tail's secrets and Mavis as tied to Zeref. The problem was that it interrupted the S Class Exam, when the exam plot should have been finished first and then move on to Grimoire Heart happening upon everyone at Tenroujima after the fact (which would have gave more credence to everyone being so exhausted, rather than Erza and Mirajane being exhausted after one fight each that they both monstered).
The S Class Exam itself though was wasted in more ways than one. Not only was it not completed, but despite the good premise, the execution had problems in places (e.g. Lucy and Cana's fight against Fried and Bickslow was really pathetic for no reason; Lisanna and Juvia were beaten to a pulp mercilessly by Erza without even giving a good showing; Loke and Gray's fight against Wendy and 'Mest' was at least pathetic for a partially justified reason...).
Raven Tail as a whole. It was introduced as far back as the Fighting Festival arc and was initially presented as a major antagonist, being that it was led by Makarov's son and seemed specifically made to counter Fairy Tail (right down to the name). In the end however, when it does finally get time in the sun, Raven Tail is only one of the participants in the Grand Magic Games, where its team spends the whole arc simply bullying Fairy Tail members before at last getting trounced on by Laxus. And after that fallout, it was apparently disbanded.
Ivan, related to two major characters, just disappears after the Grand Magic Games. Especially odd given the redemption for Flare, who received sympathy even before the Sun Village arc even though her battle with Lucy involved some of the most amoral actions of any Raven Tail member.
During the Tartarus arc, the first Silver revealthat he was actually a walking corpse housing the demon, Deliora, is seen as a missed opportunity for those that liked the idea of Gray actually getting a chance to fight against his past trauma instead of what we got with the second reveal that occurred a few chapters later where it turns out that Silver was lying about the Deliora takeover, because he was a Death Seeker that wanted to pass on to the afterlife for all the trouble he's caused fighting as a zombie for Tartarus' necromancer, Keith.
Chapter 363 implied that other guilds would be coming to help Fairy Tail against Tartarus, potentially leading to an all-out war similar to the Dragon King Festival, except that this time, more than seven people would be able to do some damage. The only guild that ends up coming for assistance is Sabertooth (and even then, only the Twin Dragons). The arc ends up with only Fairy Tail fighting, and even then, only the Tenrou Group gets in on the action.
Mavis Vermillion turning out to be Fairy Tail's locked away darkness is considered quite disappointing for some people who thought that there was something much more sinister to Fairy Tail's past that the guild wished to keep Lumen Histoire under raps. Of course, the Tartaros arc ending without showing us what it actually does still leaves room for a bit more exposition, especially since Makarov being unwilling to 'flip the switch' implies that there is indeed something very, very dangerous about it.
Toy Ship: Romeo/Wendy is quite popular, considering they're both the same age as of the Time Skip.
Viewer Gender Confusion: It's not 100% apparent whether Midnight is a tomboyish woman or a somewhat feminine man. The only time anyone referred to him/her with pronouns they used female ones ('her', 'daughter', etc.) but that's obviously not complete proof... and in fact, eventually switched to using male pronouns. This is a translation confusion. Midnight refers to himself using a pronoun only used by men and boys, and the times that the translator has used him and daughter were actually gender-neutral phrases like person and father and child.
Crawford Seam, the former chairman of the Magic Council. He maybe could have been given a pass for turning out to be The Mole for Tartarus, a genocidal guild full of demons who believe humans are inherently inferior to them. Not so much for transferring the last living Key to Face from Jellal to himself, and then announcing he had done this to everyone in the room. Although, if you want to be honest, the reason why he felt that they wouldn't dare to kill him is because he's the one who can activate Face remotely. Something Kyouka later regretted. Of course, if he'd let that slip sooner, Kyouka wouldn't have killed him too soon.
Lamy of Tartarus outright stating their secret to immortality in front of Fairy Tail being that their laboratory tubes can just recreate and revive them. Even by Explaining Your Power to the Enemy standards, this was quite bad on her part. Made worse by the fact that Mira just goes ahead and destroys the Tartarus labs a few pages later.
What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?: Jellal, especially in the Nirvana arc. Crucifix? Yep, his coffin's shaped like one. He gets revived from the "dead", and in addition uses Heavenly Body Magic.
What Measure Is a Non-Badass?: Being one of the main characters, Lucy often gets this for her personal fighting abilities not being that impressive compared to the rest of Team Natsu, and this is a common argument against her when pitting her against Erza for the better character.
Lucy. Her father dies while she's at Tenrou Island, one of her friends is attacked on the way to the Grand Magic Games, her friends' daughter gets held hostage, is brutally beaten up not once but TWICE, gets arrested for a plan she just found out that she was a part of, and an asshole from the future tries to kill her for what turns out to be his own selfish gain, instead lethally injuring her future self so that the dies in the present Lucy's arms.
Millianna has been getting this since she is having trouble keeping up with Kagura to be a worthwhile ally and being a victim of Minerva's sadism. Especially when the latter started clawing into her to pass the time.
Another contender is Rogue. Not only does he have to often witness and deal with the horrific nature of his guild master, but he was forced to Mercy Kill his dragon parent. To add more, something in the future causes him to turn evil (while killing Sting in the process), and the present version is horrified at the fact he will be the one to bring the hell that they are currently suffering through. To add more fuel to the fire, Ultear thought to kill the guy in order to save everyone else and even when she doesn't, the fact that he could still become his evil future self, really hits hard.. You just want to hug the guy.
Erza as well. She lost her parents to Zeref's disciples, and is caught, enslaved, and tortured while being forced to build The Tower of Heaven. Her attempt to set her Childhood Friend Jellal free fell through, and Jellal takes the fall for it. He loses his mind while being tortured and killed her grandfather figure, Rob. Jellal banished Erza from the Tower of Heaven, making sure she realized that she'd never be able to save the other children, and they were doomed to stay. 8 years later, Erza was kidnapped by these people, and was to be a sacrifice to Zeref. She fought her close childhood friend, Jellal, only to see Simon die protecting her from Jellal. She was nearly killed by the Etherion, which she offered herself to in order to destroy the Tower of Heaven. Fast-forward to the Oracion Seis arc, where Jellal had been turned good and was ready to live with Erza, Erza had to send Jellal to prison for all that he'd done, leaving her a sobbing wreck. She is frozen in time along with many Fairy Tail members during the Tenrou Island incident. Fast-forward to the Tartaros arc, she is kidnapped with Mirajane, and tortured by Kyouka, who used a magic to heighten Erza's sensitivity to pain, and is also threatened with the death of Mirajane.
Gray beats them all in sheer amount. To start with his parents are killed by Deliora and he's taken in by Ur and raised alongside Lyon. Then he tries to beat Deliora and instead Ur performs a Heroic Sacrifice to stop Deliora, which results in Lyon hating him. Then he finds out years later Lyon wants to bring Deliora back and is forced to fight a guy who is essentially his brother. He ends up later confronting his technical sister who tries to kill him, gets stuck in magic stasis for seven years and gets mocked and for his performance in the Grand Magic Game's first day. Then he dies in the fight with the Dragons and is only saved by Ultear's Reset Button and goes on to fight a Demon who makes him freak out cause it reminds him of Deliora. THEN, in the Tartarus arc, he's told by Silver that Ur's sacrifice was in vain because Silver is Deliora possessing his dad's body and that Silver wants to kill everyone associated with Ur. The fact that this turns out to be a lie actually makes this worse. No wonder Gray is usually quite sullen. Makes you wonder what the hell else is next.
Silver turns out to be this, as well as being quite possibly the best case of Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds since Zeref himself. Why does he seem like Tartarus' Token Good Teammate? Why was he visiting that grave? How did he know who Natsu was? He's not a demon, but he's not technically human, either; he was actually a corpse reanimated by Keyes, and was the closest Keyes had ever come to being able to fully resurrect the dead exactly as they were before. Silver began trying to destroy Tartarus from the inside, until he saw the Grand Magic Games, and discovered that Gray was alive, causing a major Heroic BSOD in which Silver decided he had no right to try to seek revenge for someone who was not only alive, but was definitely on opposing sides. Silver then began working as a true member of the Nine Demon Gates, and admits that he helped kill former Council members, simply because he wanted Gray to put him out of his misery. The ending of his fight has him begging Gray to kill him, with him wanting to join his wife, Mika, in the afterlife. The guy's been through every bit as much as Gray, if not more.
If you separate out Jellal's status as Creator's Pet and try objectively to look at what he's suffered in his life, the list goes like this: starts out as a child in the "Tower Of Heaven", so as child slave labor, tries to free the people he loves and gets Mind Raped mercilessly as a result; is partially turned mad and continuously Mind Raped for years while he manipulates, tortures and enslaves the people he loves. Fast-forward to the Tower of Heaven arc, and he kills Simon mercilessly, tortures and tries to sacrifice the love of his life (all the while still being Mind Raped by Ultear by the way). Fast forward to the Nirvana arc and he wakes up as himself without his memories only to find out he enslaved, tortured and killed the people he loved (and this does haunt him and torture him psychologically for years once he gets his memories back), and at the end when he finally thinks he can live with Erza he is taken to prison. Fast-forward through the time-skip and he's spent six years trying to atone for his sins (having gone through the agony of regaining memories about him acting evil and being Mind Raped, which must have been great), finally find out Erza's alive and won't be with her because he doesn't want to hurt her and taint her with his problems and issues (by the way, actually hurting Erza by doing this, which adds to her Woobie status), and is still being hunted by the Magic Council. Fun. He may not qualify as a Woobie character-wise, but his past and all the psychological agony he's suffered certainly should get a mention at the very least. Oh, and making an ass out of himself in front of Erza in the Grand Magic Games in his match against Jura would have been fun too...although mostly that was just hilarious.
With how the Tartaros arc has ended, Natsu definitely counts...