YMMV / Fate/stay night

  • Accidental Innuendo
    • "I've shown you mine, so the least you can do is show me yours" and "I am the bone of my sword."
    • Saber once tells Shirou "you've entered me so many times"... referring, of course, to the fact that he's entered her memories. It doesn't help that at this point in the story, they've already had sex, as well.
    • Another good one from Saber, to Shirou: "You were my sheath." She's discussing the fact that he's a vessel for Excalibur's sheath Avalon, buuuuut...
    • Lancer's long, veiny, red and piercing Gae Bolg... or, if you prefer, his "Gay Bulge".
      • Likewise, Archer's Rho Aias/Raw Anus if you will.
  • Adaptation Displacement: Like a lot of visual novel-based series, Fate/Stay night is better known as an anime outside of Japan, especially since the VN lacks an official English version.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Archer's last act in Heaven's Feel: did he simply give his arm to Shirou in order to give Shirou a fighting chance against the Shadow, being completely unaware of how the arm would slowly kill him, or could he have been aware of what fusing his arm to Shirou would do to him, and thus believed that Shirou killing himself by overusing Archer's Projection could technically count as Archer "killing" Shirou?
  • Anti-Climax Boss: Caster in Fate; Rider in Unlimited Blade Works; Rider's first fight, both of Caster's fights, Sasaki Kojirou, AKA Fake Assassin, normal Berserker and Gilgamesh in Heaven's Feel.
  • Ass Pull: Archer still being alive at the end Unlimited Blade Works, surviving a prolonged period despite his already low mana and being impaled by several of Gilgamesh's Noble Phantasms.
  • Author's Saving Throw: While probably not its primary purpose, the Last Episode removes any horrifying implications that Shirou becomes Archer after the Fate route. Adding to that, it was specifically made because Takeuchi begged Nasu to not let Saber have a Bittersweet Ending.
  • Awesome Music: Has its own page.
  • Awesome Ego: Gilgamesh. It's the primary reason he is so popular.
  • Badass Decay: Retroactively, Fate/Zero makes it clear that this has happened when comparing the two Grail Wars shown. note  The Fourth Grail War was a battle between highly skilled mages who carefully planned, prepared, and summoned specific Servants for the War. The Fifth had two masters who didn't know about the Holy Grail prior to being made masters,note  two masters who were killed almost immediately after it began, note  and a Servant who became a master herself and summoned her own, flawed, Servant note . Of the two masters who knew what they were doing, Ilya kept Berserker weaker than he could be out of childish petulance and Rin summoned a Servant at random, botching the summoning somewhat. This is excused by the gap between wars being only ten years, when traditionally it is sixty, meaning preparations were a bit rushed.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Sakura. She's either well-loved or The Scrappy depending on who you ask and almost never somewhere in between.
  • Broken Base: The Studio DEEN Fate/stay night anime was initially widely praised back in 2006, especially for the fluid animation techniques shown. After 2011, many fans, especially those introduced to the Fate franchise through ufotable's adaptation of the Fate/Zero Light Novel criticized the 2006 anime primarily for its plot (which primarily focused on the "Fate" route, but included elements "Unlimited Blade Works" and "Heaven's Feel" as well, with a questionable degree of success) and its frequent Off Model moments (especially when ufotable's animation completely blew DEEN's out of the water in comparison) ultimately leading to them viewing it as Deader Than Disco Fanon Discontinuity. However, it still has its fans and defenders (including a few that got into the franchise through it), and those who try to take a middle ground admit that while the 2006 anime may not have aged well compared to the newer animes, it was still decent for its time and not a bad place to start enjoying the Fate series even now. Plus, no one on any side can argue with its Awesome Music.
    • Heaven's Feel, with its focus on Sakura (see Base Breaker above), also gets this. The route is either the best of the three by far and a literary masterpiece, or a shallow Mary Sue love story that relies far too much on "suffering=depth".
  • Complete Monster: The Big Bad of the "Heavenís Feel" route is Zouken Matou, an ancient mage who stays alive primarily by body-jacking people and instigates the entire plot in an effort to achieve immortality. Prior to the Fourth Holy Grail War, he adopted Tokiomi Tohsaka's younger daughter Sakura, ostensibly to carry on the magical legacy of the Matou family, then subjected her to ten years of constant violation by magic worms in order to control her and mold her into a vessel for the Holy Grail. To keep Sakura's budding dark side in check, Zouken had his "grandson" Shinji rape her regularly and fostered Shinji's descent into evil.
  • Crack Is Cheaper: Guess how much the first season of Unlimited Blade Works is being sold for.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: A criticism of Heaven's Feel. Between Sakura's exceedingly tragic life, Saber being corrupted into a villain, Shirou's magic in this route frying his brain, and the anticlimactic deaths of many characters beloved in the other routes early on, it becomes difficult to keep caring about what happens to the cast.
  • Die for Our Ship: As explained in Ship-to-Ship Combat below, this comes with the territory in a VN with three potential love interests.
    • The Saber/Shirou fans are really, really threatened by Sakura's presence. Is it any wonder that several of them double as Sakura bashers?
    • This actually cuts both ways, with Sakura fans usually demanding Saber's removal from the equation. This has its roots in two things. Firstly, Sakura and Saber are both characters that Shirou feels he needs to "save" in their respective routes, and their circumstances mean it's difficult to do both. Secondly, in the canon routes, Saber gets turned evil and mercy killed by Shirou in HF while Sakura is promptly forgotten about in Fate.
    • Rin doesn't have this problem with Saber fans thanks to UBW having the only actually listed Good End in the game and her character being rather... open to these kinds of things. Sakura fans... are a different story.
  • Draco in Leather Pants:
    • Gilgamesh can sometimes fall into this, with the fanon portrayals of him that tone down his Jerkass qualities considerably and put him into a much more positive light, in addition to some who ignore that he quite frankly wants to rape Saber, doesn't care about her consent and seems to even prefer her resistance. At times, his Attempted Rape of Saber is explained away by being purely attempted and not being something that succeeded, yet despite that, Shinji is strung up by the fandom for the same action. note  One must note that in both the original myth and the game Enkidu originally fought him due to him invoking Droit de seigneur, or the lord's right to a bride's virginity, where the consent of the woman didn't matter, and Values Dissonance can't be invoked with this because even in the original myth people thought he was going too far.
    • Kotomine can also fall into this, as he is actually one of the most popular characters in the franchise and has an incredible amount of depth to him due to a very believable backstory while still being vague enough to spark discussion about his character. Is he a Tragic Villain or a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds?
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Lancer, who really gets The Worf Effect very hard in the series, but his wit, amiable and likable personality, and interest in fighting compared to the more goal oriented and ambitious Servants made him easily one of the most popular Servants. His glorious send off in Unlimited Blade Works with killing Kotomine after the latter ordered him to commit suicide is very satisfying as well.
    • Rider and not just for her sheer Miss Fanservice traits, but also her tragic past, her moments of awesome in HF, all while being compelling (which many cannot say about her true master, Sakura). Not bad, when she spent the two first, more popular routes as 'first casualty' fodder all the time.
    • Fake Assassin AKA Sasaki Kojirou is fairly popular due to being a quite likeable noble Worthy Opponent towards Saber, his distaste and snarking at the less popular Caster, and his Warrior Poet nature.
    • Sir Bedivere has a decent fanbase for a character who only appeared in one scene. Some fans even ship him with Saber (though that isn't saying much).
  • Fanfic Fuel: The general premise, that superpowered historical/legendary figures are summoned to fight in a battle royale, has led to large amounts of original character servants in fanfics.
    • Because Archer's Dark and Troubled Past is only told in broad details rather than real specifics, plenty of fanfic writers like to write about what really happened in his life. In particular, because Nasu says that Archer can come from any potential timeline (even one of the three in-game ones), as well as the fact that Archer has a damaged memory (so he can't remember any specific details or characters he encountered in his timeline), Archer's practically a fanfic goldmine.
    • The Second True Magic that is discussed in Heaven's Feel is the perfect device to justify nearly any crossover you can think of. This is helped by the fact that in the True Ending to the route, Rin becomes an apprentice to Zelretch, the mage who mastered said magic. Said mage is also a total troll and would likely send people to other dimensions for a laugh.
    • On a lesser note, the fact that Shirou's parents are completely unknown opens ample room for speculation, as well as a crossover motivator should Shirou's biological family be somehow found.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple:
    • Many fans prefer pairing Rin with Archer than Shirou, especially it makes for good Ship Mates with fans of Shirou and either of the other two heroines. Ironically Archer actually IS Shirou from the future.
  • Fanon: While we've had no official art to confirm this, there are mountains of fan art depicting Shirou after the events of the grail war wearing a Palette Swapped version of Archer's armor.
    • For a while Shirou got hit with being very dense/stupid, due to doujins playing up his naivete in the Fate route to absurd levels and the original anime going with the Fate route (mainly an info dump) one, hiding the fact he's really neither.
    • Due to the way that magecraft works in the Nasuverse, virtually any crossover with another magically-inclined series in which he travels to their universe will give Shirou a massive power boost since he no longer has to worry about Gaia's influence, allowing him to use his abilities more frequently and with greater power than ever before.
  • Franchise Original Sin: Contrary to popular belief in some circles the Fate series does not feature an Improbably Female Cast consisting of Ms. Fanservice female versions of male heroes. For a long time the only such character was Saber, whose case was actually a heavily Deconstructed Trope. However, newer entries in the series such as Fate/EXTRA, Fate/Apocrypha, Koha-Ace, and Fate/Grand Order have played the trope straight with increasing frequency and increased levels of Fanservice.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment
    • The "I am the bone of my sword" invocation/chant for the Unlimited Blade Works reality marble isn't given much weight or attention, and only seems to be there for the Rule of Cool. Until the Heaven's Feel route, that is, where its meaning becomes painfully clear after Shirou uses Archer's arm for projection, catapulting him past his limits and resulting in an eventual rebound that reforges his body into thousands of swords, killing him from the inside out. "I am the bone of my sword" indeed. At one point in Unlimited Blade Works, Archer tells Shirou and Saber that he lost his arm the first time he used a projection, which seems to be a lie as Shirou is able to perform projection and still manages to keep both arms throughout both Fate and UBW. But then in Heaven's Feel, Shirou has one of his arms blown off. Archer voluntarily has one of his arms grafted to Shirou, and "losing his arm" at this point enables Shirou to perform Projection for the first time not long after.
    • Also, Sakura's jealousy. Cute? A funny little argument with Rider about Shirou finding her attractive? Not so much after killing Shinji, going berserk and hitting you with the worst bad ends of the game plus her Villainous Breakdown against Tohsaka at the end, where it's also revealed that no, Sakura did not pick up the little cues that Tohsaka really did care about her all along.
    • This also makes Unlimited Blade Works somewhat uncomfortable, when it's revealed how much Sakura didn't want to lose Shirou to Tohsaka.
    • Remember the humorous scenes you can get if you nag Saber for "a super move that can defeat a Servant" during training? In one ending of Heaven's Feel, Shirou actually wins against Saber Alter... by using Archer's super move with Kanshou and Bakuya against her. Though maybe it's just Hilarious in Hindsight, since that ending is actually really, really awesome.
  • Growing the Beard: While the Fate route is still well liked and regarded, the Unlimited Blade Works and Heaven's Feel routes are considered much deeper, more complex themes and storylines.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Shirou is a somewhat dim man with red hair who is obsessed with swords. Sound familiar?
    • In the Fate route, Rin half-jokingly speculates that Archer must have been a skirt chaser back when he was alive. Then comes UBW and we discover who he is. Suffice to say, he didn't chase skirts as much as he was chased by skirts.
    • In the Tiger Dojo #21, Ilya says to Taiga that she (and Rin) are the only characters with enough age to be Magical Girls. A few years later... hello, Kaleido Ruby and Prisma Ilya.
    • Shirou's Servant is a legendary British king. In a later role, his voice actor Noriaki Sugiyama would end up voicing the country of England himself.
    • This is the depiction of Merlin from a Doujin Visual Novel from 2013. Skip forward a few years and this is Merlin's official design, revealed in March of 2015.
  • "Holy Shit!" Quotient: Very, very high, especially in the later Half of Heaven's Feel.
  • It Was His Sled: Saber is King Arthur, Archer is Shirou Emiya from an alternate future, pretty much the identities of all of the servants honestly. And, thanks to the extreme popularity of the Fate/Zero anime, what was once one of the most major plot twists of Heaven's Feel (namely, that Sakura and Rin are sisters) is known by almost everyone in the fandom now.
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships:
    • Saber, who gets paired with pretty much everyone, male and female alike.
    • Gilgamesh, due to the Foe Yay he has with a large amount of the cast. Helps that he's canonically pansexual.
    • Shirou. It's a given with the female character due to the series' Harem Genre elements, but he's also frequently shipped with Archer, Lancer, Gilgamesh, Kotomine, and occasionally Issei.
  • Love to Hate: Gilgamesh and Kotomine for some, when they're not liked for being genuinely compelling characters or getting the Draco in Leather Pants treatment.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Kotomine.
    • Caster as well, managing to prove a legitimate threat despite her physical weakness thanks to her savvy nature her defeat in Fate only happens thanks to Gilgamesh appearing, and in Unlimited Blade Works because Archer turned out to be a Fake Defector.
    • Archer proves himself one in Unlimited Blade Works managing to even manipulate Caster in his plan to kill Shirou and make Saber into Rin's Servant to help her win the Grail War. The kill Shirou part only fails because he wasn't able to kill him fast enough.
  • Memetic Mutation: A lot. It comes with the territory. And that doesn't even cover 1/4th of the lower key ones.
  • Mis-blamed: As noted in the Complete Materials, Nasu didn't actually write the infamously bad sex scenes in this or any other Type-Moon game. Hasn't stopped 'Nasu can't write sex' from approaching Memetic Mutation levels - that may, admittedly, be true, but we can't say for sure without any evidence.
  • Moe: Sakura and Ilya stand out as the most notable cases, although Saber and Rin have their moments.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Shinji starts out as a Jerkass, but crosses the line in every route. In Fate it's trying to kill off the entire school to power up his Servant; his laughing in Unlimited Blade Works as Gilgamesh rips Ilya's heart out is cruel, but with his Attempted Rape on Tohsaka he crosses the line. And then we find out in Heaven's Feel that he's raped his sister many, many times before the story begins.
    • Zouken who has a massive head start on everyone else in this area as his actions cause Shinji and Sakura's misery among many others. It's quite telling that Kotomine of all people considers him a very nasty piece of work.
    • Ilya crosses the line in many Bad Ends, particularly the ones in Fate and Heaven's Feel where she has Berserker decapitate Shirou's head, but still keeps him alive so that she can torture him even more or transfers Shirou's soul into a doll to "keep" him.
    • Kotomine using the orphans of the Fuyuki City fire as living prana batteries for Gilgamesh, though we only find out about it in the Fate route. And this could have happened to Shirou.
    • Gilgamesh himself, if his description of what he plans on doing to Saber in the Fate route isn't sickening enough, he crosses it by destroying Ilya's eyes and ripping her heart out without a shred of remorse in Unlimited Blade Works.
    • The "Superhero" Bad End in Heaven's Feel where Shirou pragmatically allows Sakura to die to save many people, considering everyone's reactions, might be an In-Universe example.
    • In Heaven's Feel Sakura Matou herself crosses this repeatedly, by killing and devouring hundreds of people, and goes even further in the more disturbing bad ends. However, it's only when Sakura brutally rapes Rin in the "Femme fatale" Bad End, that Shirou (who has sacrificed everything for her) realizes that she's too far gone to be saved. And in Fate/unlimited codes her dark side crosses this by keeping Bazet alive just so she can watch her suffer.
  • MST3K Mantra: This is essential for any of the hardcore fans who are addicted to the intricacies of canon to enjoy the movie at all. Never mind the complete excising of Shirou and Rin's opposition, for instance, just focus on the epic action scenes.
  • Narm: Two words: Gay Bulge. (From the anime dub pronouncing Gae Bolg in the worst possible way.)
  • Nightmare Fuel: Has its own page...
  • No Yay: Sums up a large portion of the hero villain interactions:
    • When Ilya's interactions with Shirou aren't cute, she comes off as a possessive stalker. Special mention to when she asks him to "be mine" in Fate and image looks like she's about to rape him.
    • Gilgamesh towards Saber. He claims her as property like he does everything else and most his comments involve trying to rape her. Even his remarks that he's attracted to her more because she's repulsed by him don't help.
    • Caster and Saber when she has her captured in Unlimited Blade Works. Caster seems to relish in Saber's pain, off-screen stripped her naked and put her in a revealing dress, and the narrations imply she intends to use her Command Spells to make Saber into a sex slave.
    • Shinji towards, any female character he meets.
  • One True Threesome: There are two, Shirou/Saber/Rin and Shirou/Sakura/Rider. First is played straight by Unlimited Blade Works route and completely fulfilled in Good End of this route. Second is slightly hinted in Heaven's Feel route. Both are expanded at various levels in Fate/Hollow Ataraxia and many other associated works or materials and very popular in fandom.
  • Player Punch:
    • In Unlimited Blade Works, Ilya's death might not have carried as much weight were it not for the fact that you have to play through Fate first (where you befriend her), and watch a particularly heart-rending interlude first.
    • Heaven's Feel has six simple words: "Save Saber"/"Bring the knife down." Guess which one is the right choice. The Good Times Montage and the music that accompanies that particular scene makes it hurt even more. Way to twist the knife there, Nasu.
  • Rewatch Bonus: If you had finished Fate/stay night and initially thought Rin Tohsaka was filled with worms during an interlude from Heaven's Feel, revisiting the route as a whole leads you to realize that the "daughter of Tohsaka" Zouken was referring to is Sakura Tohsaka/Matou, who was adopted into the Matou family before the Fourth Holy Grail War and was corrupted by Angra Mainyu after her grandfather implanted the worms into her so that she could be a Holy Grail vessel.
    • Similarly, once you know that Archer is future Shirou all their previous interactions in UBW, as well as in Fate and Heaven's Feel takes on a different meaning.
    • Knowing in advance that Kotomine is a villain leads his monologues when he first appears.
  • The Scrappy:
    • DEEN!Shirou. Fans of VN!Shirou in particular despise him. It doesn't help that the Studio DEEN anime was mostly based on the Fate route.
    • ufotable!Shirou has also been hit hard with this, especially as the series went on. It's more prominent with people who haven't read the VN. The last few episodes appeared to have redeemed him.
    • Damsel Scrappy: Sakura fits this trope pretty well. She has the biggest hatedom of the cast and she's one of the least commercial character in the series aside of Shinji and Zouken - two Hate Sinks - despise being one of the main heroines. It's not very hard to understand why: Rin and Saber get to kick plenty of asses in and outside their routes. As for Sakura, Shirou spends most of HF sacrificing everything to save her, while she doesn't (and can't) do much to help him, the fact that she's, however unintentionally, responsible for Saber's corruption and death at Shirou's hands, and many feel that their romance is underdeveloped on Shirou's end. And the fact that she's a Patient Childhood Love Interest impacts her chemistry with Shirou since a lot of his interest in her has to rely more heavily on telling instead of showing. Justified or not, people usually don't like characters who don't contribute as much as the others or don't have many character traits outside of being sympathetic. It's been rumored that she was the least favorite character of the staff, which may explain things.
  • Seinfeld Is Unfunny: While the Studio DEEN anime adaptation was quite well-received when it came out, particularly for animation that was actually pretty good for the time, it was pretty much hit by a freight train of Overshadowed by Awesome in every respect (especially the animation) by every anime adaptation of the franchise since, especially ufotable 's versions of Fate/Zero and Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]. Many fans (especially those that got into the franchise via the ufotable adaptations) will tell you to skip the former and watch the latter two, or better yet, start with the original VN, and a bit of a Broken Base exists between these fans and the DEEN anime's few remaining defenders (including those that first got into the franchise partially or wholly through it). One thing near-universally agreed to have aged well about it, however? The soundtrack.
  • Ship-to-Ship Combat: It's a VN with three potential love interests, each one with a route dedicated to them. You do the math. And that's only for starters. Include other characters like Archer or Rider and it all goes Up to Eleven.
  • Signature Scene: Shirou first meeting Saber after accidentally summoning her. It's to the point where it's the main page picture, parodied and reversed in the Battle Moon Wars page picture, and replicated in Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works].
  • So Bad, It's Good: What some people think of the Studio DEEN anime. At the very least, even the harshest haters still have to admit it had an awesome soundtrack.
  • Vanilla Protagonist: A common complaint of the DEEN adaptation is this. Shirou has no history of magic or any desire to compete in the Holy Grail War. This makes him contrast with the other mages, whose pasts are colored by generations. It's Played for Drama in the VN, particularly for the other two routes, where the player realizes he's so vanilla because he's a borderline Empty Shell. He lost any sense of self and identity in the fire and is essentially dead inside.
  • Values Dissonance: At one point, it is revealed that Rider feels insecure about being too tall for a girl. This is an issue that a lot of real life girls can relate to... Except for the fact that Rider is only 172cm tall, which depending on where you live, could be considered as rather short. More than value differences, it shows the differences in physical heights between different societies.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: The Movie, Unlimited Blade Works, is beautiful. Seriously, it's like a 1 hour, 45 minute eye orgasm.
  • The Woobie: Practically every character in the game is this, to some extent.

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