YMMV / Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

This page covers the first three games (Phoenix Wright, Justice for All, and Trials and Tribulations) and their adaptations.

For other such moments in the series, see the appropriate subpages:

Multiple games

  • Accidental Aesop:
    • Don't judge people by who their relatives are. There can be black sheep and white sheep in every family.
    • Don't Bowdlerise the world to children, hiding the harsh truths from them: they need to know how the world works to make good decisions and understand the consequences of their choices. In the case of Regina Berry, this led to her causing an accident that left a guy in coma and another permanently crippled, and being completely unapologetic, not out of malice but because she wasn't able to understand the harm she had done. In the case of Pearl Fey, this led her to go along her mother's plan to murder Maya, who Pearl clearly adores, because (having never been told of Morgan's previous attempt to frame Maya) she believed her mother to be a good person and thought said plan to be in Maya's benefit.
  • Allegedly Free Game: The iOS port of the first three games. It's free to download and gives you the first two chapters of the first game for free. The remaining chapters must be purchased in packs (one pack contains a full game) for US$5.99 per pack. However, to be fair, it's still way cheaper than trying to get all three games brand new for the DS.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: So many to count that each game has it's own section. See below for more.
  • Author's Saving Throw: The 3DS version of the trilogy had many typos corrected, and some small contradictions and inaccuracies within the text fixed. Examples 
  • Continuity Lock-Out: Averted. The dialogue goes out of its way to avoid referencing events in previous games, even when it would make more sense to do so. And when referencing past events is absolutely necessary (such as Mia's death, and the cause of Edgeworth's disappearance), the game will give the player as few details as possible.

    One strange example is Gant in 1-5. He says that at the Gourd Lake trial, Phoenix got Manfred von Karma caught for forging evidence, not for being the culprit of the DL-6 Incident. This is particularly jarring, since there's no way for the player to access "Rise from the Ashes" without clearing "Turnabout Goodbyes".
  • Complete Monster: The series has its own page.
  • Counterpart Comparison: In the fandom, Mia has been compared to Mami Tomoe. For your consideration.
  • Foe Yay Shipping:
    • So much of it, you half expect Edgey and Phoenix to rip their clothes off in the middle of a trial and start screwing like bunnies.
    • Edgeworth and Franziska to an extent, though AAI clarifies this into being a competitive sibling relationship.
  • "Holy Shit!" Quotient: Every finale case has a high HSQ, but special mention goes to "Farewell, My Turnabout" and "Bridge to the Turnabout".
  • Iron Woobie:
    • Maya Fey: Smiling through even the most hardcore misfortunes.
    • Maggey Byrde, who fell from the ninth story of a building when 6 months old, has been hit by multiple vehicles, gets caught up in three murder trials over the course of the series (and that's not even covering half the things that have happened to her) but does not give up, and remains plucky and optimistic throughout.
    • Phoenix Wright had his beloved mentor die, was framed for murder twice, nearly killed by the woman he loved, abused by nearly every single prosecutor and witness, is never in the Judge's favor, almost never gets a thank you from his clients, was bullied in school, and let's not get started on what he goes through in Apollo Justice. This cutie has been broken by then — even to the point of arguably overlapping with Jerkass Woobie via his consequent Unscrupulous Hero actions in retaliation against the one responsible.
    • Pearl Fey during Case 3-5. Despite her doubts about her powers and fear over Maya's safety, she still manages to Shut Up, Hannibal! at Franziska and makes Phoenix present solid evidence before her last psych-lock breaks. Pearly is tough as nails.
  • Internet Backdraft: Get into any location that contains Phoenix/Maya (a.k.a. "Narumayo") and Phoenix/Iris shippers and ask whether Maya is too young for Phoenix.
  • Marth Debuted in "Smash Bros.": An inverted example. The Blue Badger officially appeared in this game during "Rise From the Ashes" before going on to appear elsewhere (such as Wocky's "Bad Badger" shirt or as the mascot for Gatewater Land in Investigations). However, in Japan the fifth case was only added after the third game had been released when the original game was ported to the DS, meaning that "Taiho-kun" (the Japanese name for the Blue Badger) had already appeared on Maggey's shirt in the first case of the second game. To western players, it looked like the Blue Badger went on to become a sensation after case 5 (which led to the production of t-shirts by the time case 2-1 rolled around) but for keen-eyed Japanese players, it was evident that the developers were expanding on the design they had put on Maggey's shirt. Of course, this is if we assume that no one found the badger doll next to the chief of detectives in 1-4.
  • Porting Disaster: The original trilogy was initially ported for a Compilation Re Release over to the iOS, which released with many game breaking bugs and problems from a lack of beta testing and/or laziness: Slowdown was all over the place. Character animations, while better looking, were also choppy, missing several frames (half the characters didn't blink), or flat-out missing. Music would not loop properly, Pearl's theme was missing, and the second and third games used the lower quality GBA soundtrack. Ema Skye's fingerprinting tutorial in the first game was completely omitted, and several typos were ADDED. And when iOS 7 came out, it broke the HD version to the point that the app simply would not launch, and it took Capcom nearly two months to fix the problem. Thankfully, the 3DS version of the trilogy is miles better: correcting many typos, fixing every issue, and re-adding many animation frames.
  • That One Puzzle:
    • The first day of the trial in 1-5 is generally regarded as one of the hardest parts in the first game, especially since much of it consists of finding subtle flaws in Angel Starr's testimony, mainly concerning the point from which she supposedly saw Lana stab Goodman, making some players downright resent Angel Starr's presence in progress. And after you're done with Angel's four testimonies, you have to deal with Gant's complicated single testimony.
    • That damn 3D vase in 1-5 can be quite annoying to position right, so it looks like the Blue Badger...
    • Mia's Psyche-Lock segment in 2-2. The dialogue gives you zero hints about exactly what items you're supposed to present, at least one of the items is found in circumstances that throw suspicion on Ini Miney more than Morgan, and the segment can only be attempted right before you go into the second trial day, making it very easy to do poorly and go into the trial with an already-depleted health bar.
    • The first half of the first day of "Farewell, My Turnabout" has two instances where if you screw up, you get a 100% penalty. The first one gives you no hints about what you have to present, and the second of one asks you to point out that the Nickel Samurai's ankles should be visible in Lotta's photo; something that's particularly difficult to figure out on a first run.
    • Luke Atmey's final testimony is 11 statements long, with nothing in the Court Record proving a contradiction, and pressing any statement but the right one will instantly net you a game over. It also features a nasty Interface Screw – usually in these games, the music will stop once you've done something right in a testimony, while making a mistake does not stop the music. Not so with this one. What's more, right or wrong, the first few lines of dialogue after the press are always the same, throwing off players and outright PUNISHING Save Scumming.
      • The exact same thing happens at the very end of "Bridge to the Turnabout", only here, you have to figure out that presenting Godot's profile is how you're meant to pinpoint behind his mask as the place where he was wounded.
    • The final case of Trials and Tribulations has a critical omission in the Spanish version. In one part of Dahlia's testimony, you have to point out the contradiction that the victim was not stabbed from the front, by using the autopsy report... except, in the Spanish translation, the report does not mention that the victim was stabbed in the back, leaving the player with no way except guides or pure chance to realize how to object that statement. And to confirm it is indeed a typo, when Phoenix explains the contradiction, he says the autopsy report states that the victim was stabbed in the back, when it actually doesn't.
  • The Woobie: Pearl. Oh, you poor kid. Her role as The Woobie is most significant in Justice for All, where in case 2-4, she lays out all the bad stuff that's happened to her when you talk to her in your office after Maya's kidnapping, particularly when she says Maya is the only family she has left. And then there's her role in case 3-5, where she's used once again by her mother to try to kill the girl who is her remaining closest family. Adding to that, she couldn't even channel Dahlia when she had the chance, so she feared her powers were weakening. While her time with Larry in the "Loser's Shack" is mostly played for laughs (Larry's involved after all), it's hard to see her so down. Heck, even Dahlia Hawthorne, the psychotic killer she was supposed to channel, feels sorry for her.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • There's no question that Manfred von Karma is a terrible person, but is he an abusive parent to his daughter Franziska (there's no question he's using Edgeworth as part of his scheme) or merely strict and demanding? For that matter, was getting Miles Edgeworth framed for the murder of Hammond and/or his own father always a part of his plan, or did he come up with it only after realizing that his "son" wasn't going to become the perfect, ruthless prosecutor that the family name demanded?
    • Was the death of Manuel really an accident? Also, why exactly did Dee Vasquez blackmail Hammer? Take into account these facts:

      Oldbag mentions that Hammer never intended to kill Manuel, and in the paparazzi photo, he looked genuinely shocked at Manuel's death, so it's quite possible that it really was an accident.

      Vasquez is The Stoic for most of the case, but she seems to take personal offense when Maya yells at her for controlling Hammer over "just an accident", and she seems extremely emotional in a brief flashback to Manuel's death. This opens the possibility that Manuel was her lover, and she blackmailed Hammer as revenge for killing him.

      If these are both true, then it is no surprise the combination of being forced to work for pennies, and the rise of Will Powers's acting career while his fell because of an accident, drove him to eventually plot on the framing of Powers and attempting to kill Vasquez. If anything, Hammer's personality is hard to pin down, he might be just a normal man broken too much with pressure, or he could have been a mean guy in the same vein of the next game's Matt Engarde or Juan Corrida. But the game is really vague on this thanks to the POVs available are from someone who possibly had a grudge against Hammer (Vasquez) or a Loony Fan (Oldbag).
  • Awesome Music: Has its own page.
  • Cry for the Devil: Damon Gant is definitely Jumping Off the Slippery Slope, but his confession in the end is a borderline Alas, Poor Villain moment.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Fans like to portray Dee Vasquez as a Broken Bird who simply made a few mistakes in her life and believe she didn't deserve a harsh sentence because the death she caused was both accidental and in self defense. However, this ignores the fact that she was a cold, abusive blackmailer who drove her victim to try and murder her due years of her constantly threatening and harassing him. She's also a member of the mob and she ordered her goons to kill Phoenix and Maya so casually that it couldn't be the first time she has done such a thing.
  • Ear Worm: Some of the music will get put on repeat in your head. For example:
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Penny is one of the most popular one-shots in the series due to her Adorkable nature. She was brought back for Investigations because of this.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: A minority of fans ignore "Rise from the Ashes" (which was not part of the original Japanese GBA game but instead added for the DS remake) because, despite establishing Ema Skye and providing us with Memetic Badass Damon Gant, it actually subtly retcons the backstory of the game: The rumors about Edgeworth (intentionally) using fake evidence are false. This, to said people, effectively reduces the impact of some parts of a good portion of the first game. Interestingly enough, when Phoenix sees Edgeworth again in 2-4, he assumes Edgeworth quit because his perfect win record was tarnished, when actually, in 1-5, particularly on the third day of investigations and the last trial segment, Edgeworth is already questioning himself and admits shame over his Amoral Attorney past and fear that he might become like Manfred von Karma and Damon Gant in the future.
  • Filler Arc: "Turnabout Samurai" is the only case in the game not linked to the overarching storyline regarding the DL-6 Incident, with its only major impact being Edgeworth willingly cooperating with Phoenix rather than letting a clearly-guilty party go free.
  • Foe Yay: Even with Edgeworth and Phoenix as rivals, it doesn't stop certain fans from shipping them like FedEx.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: In the tutorial case, when asked who the victim is, one of the options is Mia. Come the very next case, and she is indeed the victim.
    • Speaking of Mia, remember when she appears in the final moment to help Phoenix expose Manfred von Karma as the killer in the DL-6 Incident? This might have been a nod to Obi-Wan Kenobi appearing in voice-over to help Luke Skywalker destroy the Death Star in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope; and she might as well have said, "Use the Force, Phoenix!", because this happened on December 28, 2016, both on the day after Princess Leia's actor Carrie Fisher died and on the same day that her mother Debbie Reynolds followed suit. This looks pretty scary now, doesn't it?
    • Also, in Case 1-4, remember when Larry Butz heard the radio DJ announce that "Tomorrow is Christmas [Day]" on the night that Yanni Yogi killed Robert Hammond with a single gunshot? The radio might as well have been playing "Last Christmas" by Wham!, because it happened in California's equivalent to Britain's Christmas Morning in 2016, when frontman George Michael died of heart failure. Suddenly Phoenix's "time zone difference" explanation in Case 1-1 is now becoming less funny and more serious (though it did explain the nine-hour gap in France rather than the eight-hour gap in Britain).
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • When you show Lana Skye the Attorney's Badge, she comments that the gold plating will flake off in a few years (specifically, three), then we'll see the real Phoenix. This could be foreshadowing Phoenix solving his biggest case all by himself in "Bridge to the Turnabout", but it could also foreshadow Phoenix being disbarred for unwittingly using falsified evidence.
    • In case 4, Gumshoe explains that his Undying Loyalty to Edgeworth is because he always got a conviction for the person the police brought in, which Gumshoe took as proof of his trust. It's funny/sad at the moment since Edgeworth clearly doesn't hold Gumshoe in such esteem — and then comes 1-5, where we learn about Lana Skye and Damon Gant, and realize that if Edgeworth did trust the police that much, his trust was misplaced.
    • "Accidental Murder is still Murder." This line alone is huge Fridge Horror when it comes to the Japanese Legal System. How can this be used to a horrifying degree? Super Dangan Ronpa 2 explores (Chapter 5) how an actual suicide can turn into an accidental murder and unlike Edgeworth Chiaki gets executed for it.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Redd White murdered Mia Fey in the first game. In the third game, an important fact is Godot being unable to see red on white. Since the first game was localized after the third game was written, it's likely this was intentional.
    • Case 3 is the first case that makes it clear that the American version takes place somewhere similar to Los Angeles. Three of the characters are William, Hammer, and Penny.
    • Phoenix finds a contradiction in Cody Hackins's testimony and says it's because he has a magical power that lets him know when people are lying. He's just teasing a kid at that point, but one game later and he's got the magatama...
    • There's this exchange when Redd White tries to get out of testifying:
      White: My stomach, you see, it is hurting...
      Phoenix: Deal with it.
    • Lana Skye, the defendant of case 5, is a young and attractive female chief prosecutor who wears a military-style uniform. Natalia Poklonskaya, anyone? Even better, Poklonskaya called the Ukrainian authorities "devils from the ashes" and the case Lana appears in is called "Rise from the Ashes".
    • One of the most hilarious moments was the moment where Phoenix made a parrot testify in court. Sounds absurd, right? But then this comes into play. For bonus points, it happened in the same month and year that this case takes place in.
    • In case 5, one of the crucial pieces of evidence is a monochrome surveillance video thought to show the victim knocking out a witness. However, the whole court's attention is on the animatronic mascot in the room—its jerky motions leave them all deeply perturbed. Nine years later (and a few months before the eShop ports), players may find themselves capable of sympathizing...
  • Hollywood Homely: Judging by character reactions, Will Powers is supposed to look downright frightening. He can only get roles wearing a mask. Opinions differ.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: When Dee Vasquez admits that Phoenix's theory about the true cause of Hammer's death "Made for good writing".
  • Love to Hate: Manfred von Karma. Despite being present in only three cases in the entire series, two of which being flashback cases in later games, he still manages to remain one of the most memorable Complete Monsters in the series to this day. It helps that no other prosecutor after him has managed to put as much of a fight as he did during "Turnabout Goodbyes".
  • Memetic Mutation: Due to the murder in "Turnabout Goodbyes" taking place during December 25th, it's very common among the fandom to refer to Christmas as the "DL-6mas" and similar nicknames.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Von Karma crossed it when he murdered Gregory Edgeworth. He then proceeded to kick Gregory while he was down/dead by raising his son to become his complete antithesis, then framing said son for killing him, all just to get back at the entire Edgeworth bloodline for one of them causing von Karma to get his only penalty in decades.
    • Damon Gant crossed when he killed Neil Marshall, and made it look like Ema Skye did it to force Lana Skye into becoming Gant's puppet for the next two years, culminating in forcing her to take the fall for Gant's murder of Bruce Goodman.
  • Most Annoying Sound:
    • Manfred's frequent, demonic "Objection!"s in case 4.
    • Some people can't stand the sound of Manfred's fingersnaps.
    • Speaking to Mike Meekins in case 5. That loud megaphone!...
  • Narm:
    • Angel Starr's gratuitous lunch-based Busman's Vocabulary fits the light-hearted, silly parts of case 5, but just gets cringeworthy when she keeps it up during the intense, emotional parts. The worst offender is this line, which completely derails an otherwise intense, heart-pounding scene:
      "I swear it on my finest plastic spork!"
    • Von Karma slamming his face into the wall repeatedly during his breakdown.
  • Never Live It Down: Edgeworth will never live down his dirty "updated autopsy report" trick to destroy your contradiction in case 1-2 despite his posterior Character Development.
  • Nightmare Fuel: In case 4, running into von Karma in the police station and getting tased by him promptly thereafter.
  • Oh, Crap!: In case 4, when you realize that Larry Butz is your only hope.
  • Player Punch:
    • The opening cinematic of 1-2, due to springing Mia's death onto the player very early on in the game. To an extent, the opening of 1-4 could also qualify, as it's definitely a shocker.
    • Having to prove towards the end of 1-5 that Ema, who's been your sidekick for the whole case, accidentally killed Neil Marshall two years ago.
    • Redd White punches Phoenix in case 2. What, didn't think physical harm was possible for a visual novel character?
  • Too Cool to Live: Mia Fey had to be killed since Phoenix Wright is the main character. Otherwise, the game will be "Mia Fey: Ace Attorney".
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic:
    • Edgeworth in this installment, as Shu Takumi noted that he was supposed to be tragic, yet unlikable. The "unintentionally" part fades over time.
    • A fair share of fans seem to view Joe Darke as a mentally ill Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds instead of the Ax-Crazy Sociopath that the law-enforcement characters seem to view him as. Yes, he was a Serial Killer, but his backstory and motives — specifically that his first killing was a complete accident, the rest were out of paranoia instead of malice or sadism, he actually turned himself in despite the police lacking sufficient evidence (implying remorse), he only tried to escape after the blackout occurred (implying a panic attack), and he was attacked by Neil before even being able to react to Ema's presence (leaving it ambiguous as to whether or not he actually Would Hurt a Child) — seem to make said fans feel that he should've been institutionalized instead of executed.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Dee Vasquez in the third case. Yes, her killing of Jack Hammer was only a Crime of Self-Defense, and she's also heavily implied to have cared deeply for previously killed actor Manuel. However, Hammer only attacked her because she'd been Blackmailing him for most-likely-accidentally causing Manuel's death, and she's also a ruthless Mafia Princess known to "silence" people — almost including Phoenix and Maya themselves, no less. Hammer might've been an Asshole Victim for trying to frame Will Powers in the process, but some nonetheless can't help but wish Hammer had actually succeeded in ridding the world of an even worse menace, or sympathize that an accident costed him with something he did not deserve and it's understandable that he would snap.
  • What An Idiot:

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice for All

  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • There's no question that Juan Corrida is an Asshole Victim, but just how bad is he really? According to Adrian Andrews, he's a monster, but that's hardly an unbiased source. We do know that he was petty, a braggart, and bitterly Always Second Best to Matt Engarde. He caused Celeste's suicide when he broke off their engagement due to jealous and wounded pride. He then forged and hid her suicide note, which he planned to use at the most devastating moment for his rival. However, in the flashback to Celeste's suicide, he looks genuinely shocked and horrified, and his plans for revenge could easily be fueled as much by regret for the consequences of angry words he never got the chance to take back. Were his subsequent actions just part of their "game," or was it really personal for him?

      However, Corrida's immediate response to Celeste's suicide was to forge a suicide note, possibly destroying the real one if a real suicide note actually existed for the sole purpose of getting back at Engarde. It is as Andrews says, everyone was a pawn in Engarde and Corrida's petty rivalry.

      Then again, he really is horrified when he discovers Celeste's corpse- possibly to the point of undergoing a BSOD? It really seems like the breaking off of the wedding was due more to on-the-spot anger than anything else, and he was horrified at discovering her body because he now would never have a chance to take back angry words he'd spoken in the heat of the moment. Following this line of thought, his act with the suicide note could be an attempt at ensuring that the other person most responsible for Celeste's death faced justice for it.
    • Is Matt Engarde just a standard Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, or does he have a Split Personality? His dialogue right before he reveals his "real self" ("I think it's time for you to meet him now, Mr. Lawyer dude") is sometimes brought up as evidence for the latter.
    • There's also the issue of whether "Ini Miney", aka Mimi Miney, or Turner Grey was the one at fault of malpractice incident. If Mimi was to be the one telling the truth, then Turner Grey is a monster who overworked Mimi into a nervous breakdown that caused the accident and possibly drugged her with sleeping pills, resulting in a car crash. However, Grey had a point in that he had no real motivation for doing so and was in fact trying to bring her ghost back to clear his name, which would probably be a bad idea if she'd just accuse him of her murder instead. Also, she seemed to kill him because he was about to reveal that she was still alive, not out of any apparent desire for revenge. But Grey is an Unreliable Narrator about himself. Why did he have an (illegal in Japan) gun with him? Why did he expect to get Mimi's ghost to sign a confession that utterly blackens her name and exonerates her former Bad Boss? It seems likely he intended to force her to sign it at gunpoint (with the medium's life on the line), and if that's the case, then just how far would he go in anger?
    • Adrian's response to Phoenix Wright's "I'm a lawyer" upon knowing that he will still choose to continue defending the incredibly guilty Matt Engarde, is to utter "what a foul profession". Is she saying that out of spite due to seeing a lawyer still defending the guilty party and thus indirectly getting Adrian convinced of a crime she didn't commit, or is she saying it out of pity due to having some vague ideas that Phoenix Wright has no choice in the matter due to blackmail and cannot let his personal feelings get in the way of doing his job as a laywer?
  • Anticlimax Boss: Breaking Wendy Oldbag's Psyche-Locks in 2-4. It's the first time you have to deal with 4 locks at once, but if you show her Juan's autograph, all four of them break at the same time. Given how it's Wendy Oldbag we're talking about here, who is very dramatic, they probably did that on purpose.
  • Americans Hate Tingle: While American fans often consider "Turnabout Big Top" the worst case in the series, it was fifth in a Japanese survey of cases that "left the greatest impression" on fans.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Franziska von Karma, Manfred von Karma's daughter, or specifically her behavior in 2-4, and her epilogue scene with Edgeworth. While she's (intentionally) unlikeable during the first two cases, her behavior later changes and matures. Fans are divided.
    • Regina Berry. One one hand, between her appearance, personality, and role as the heart of the third case, many fans will concede that it's nearly impossible not to like her. However, many other fans find her naivety unbearable and hold her responsible for putting Bat into a coma and causing Acro's paralysis, and not showing any sympathy over them. Defenders, however, will say that her lack of remorse for the accident is because she did not understand the concept of death, rather than being a heartless monster. Though there is an argument that her naivety at age sixteen can't really be excused by an overprotective father, and that it could still be considered her fault because someone her age is expected to know better. And others just hate her just because they hate the case she came from. When the Berry Big Circus returned in the second Investigations game, Regina was the only character from 2-3 (unless you count Money) to return.
  • Contested Sequel: While not universally disliked, most fans consider it to be uneven at best. While the second case is considered to be good, and the finale is considered one of the best cases in the entire franchise, the tutorial case is at best forgettable and "Turnabout Big Top" is one of the least-liked cases of the series.
  • Ending Fatigue: The last trial eventually boils down to just stalling for time until a Big Damn Heroes moment happens. Canonically!
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • Surprisingly enough, considering his only appearance is in the heavily divisive third case, Acro is one of the most popular one-shot characters in any Ace Attorney game, with even the case's detractors often admitting he's its main saving grace.
    • Adrian Andrews has a lot of love due to her sympathetic and relatable backstory, her determination to find justice for her deceased mentor while protecting her secret from being exposed by the media for her sake, all while formulating a plan to bring down Juan Corrida and Matt Engarde for their crimes, and how the game sets up a successful Player Punch in testing to see how far they're willing to go to save Maya, even if it means an innocent party takes the fall for a crime the player knows they're not guilty of.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Phoenix's nightmare of being disbarred by a giant, demonic judge becomes much less funny in Apollo Justice after he really does get disbarred.
    • Maya, despite being cleared of all charges, laments at the end of Case 2-2 that every time something like this happens, she loses someone close to her. In the next game, she loses her long-lost mother.
    • Gumshoe's testimony in case 2-1, once you realize that he's had a secret crush on Maggey Byrde for a long time. The real punch is when he's asked to describe Maggey and Dustin's relationship — how they were close to getting married and how Maggey even came to Gumshoe for advice on what to get her boyfriend for his birthday. That hangdog expression of his isn't just because he's testifying against a subordinate.
    • In case 2-2, the court is convinced for a while that Mimi Miney's spirit, channeled through Maya Fey, is guilty of murder. Phoenix says in court that he finds the idea of a vengeful, murderous spirit hard to believe. In this case, he's right, but in the next game, a vengeful, murderous spirit does try to kill someone, and said vengeful spirit is Phoenix's ex-girlfriend. Sort of.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Ini mistaking Pearl for Phoenix's daughter and him expressing incredulity that she thinks he's old enough to have a daughter becomes much funnier when he actually adopts a daughter almost exacly Pearl's age in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney.
    • Examining the notice board in the cafeteria early in Case 2-3 has Maya making an off-handed remark about how they should put up a note addressed "To the Murderer". As it turns out, this actually happened, and it's what indirectly led to the murder in that case.
    • In case 2-1 Phoenix points out that you can't possibly not know the name of someone you're dating. In Trials and Tribulations we learn that Phoenix himself didn't know the name of his first girlfriend for years.
    • In case 2-4, on the subject of the Love Triangle in Nickel Samurai, Phoenix says, "Sounds like an unusual situation. Like Romeo and Juliet... times three." Ten years later,note  a game would be released featuring a Show Within a Show that's... er... something like that.
  • Idiot Plot: Many have pointed out how patently absurd it was that Dustin Prince's alleged dying message was ever taken seriously when it would have meant he wrote it with a snapped neck. (Look he had amnesia okay!?)
  • Most Annoying Sound:
    • Franziska's whip will have you wanting to strangle her with it by the time those cases 2 and 3 are over.
    • The sound of the tracking device Franziska has on Gumshoe. Constant, high-pitched beeping. Gets people's attention mostly by being amazingly obnoxious.
    • Though the player doesn't hear it per-se, Moe's laugh is really annoying.
  • Most Wonderful Sound: Franziska's whip becomes this in case 4, due to it signalling her perfectly timed Big Damn Heroes moment.
  • Narm:
    • Mia gives a brief speech about The Power of Friendship in "Farewell, My Turnabout" - which feels bizarrely childish and out of place in an extremely dark and tense case.
    • "The miracle never happen." That one simple typo in the American DS release turned the bad ending of "Farewell, My Turnabout" into a mockery.
    • Acro's Manly Tears moment at the end of 2-3 is supposed to be taken seriously. It ended looking like cartoony Ocular Gushers instead, with the animation and everything.
    • When Maya is kidnapped, Phoenix and company panic over the idea that Maya is being starved. She's been missing just over a day, and she had an extremely large meal before being taken, she's clearly not in any immediate danger.
    • In case 4, after The Reveal of Matt Engarde's true colors, he reveals his previously-unseen massive facial scar, pulls out A Glass of Chianti in the middle of the Detention Room, gains an ominous new Leitmotif, and his personality does a complete 180, turning him into an Obviously Evil figure that makes the silliest of Bond Villain parodies seem toned down. How jarring the change is from his previous Brainless Beauty Nice Guy persona can easily come across as absolutely ridiculous. For some, however, this is Narm Charm and/or Nightmare Fuel.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Matt Engarde clawing at his own face in "Farewell, My Turnabout".
  • Player Punch:
    • The first act of "Reunion, and Turnabout". Particuarly Maya's Angst at the detention center.
    • Pretty much all of the last case is intense, starting right at the beginning when Maya gets kidnapped to blackmail Nick, and just getting worse when you find out your client is guilty as sin, and you're forced to pin the blame on an innocent person just to stall for time.
  • Replacement Scrappy: In this game, Franziska has very little character beyond being a cartoonish Jerkass with thinly-sketched motives, and the only time she gets any real character development isn't until after the end credits. The next game and the two Investigations entries would flesh her out much more, although her portrayal here is still a big factor in this being seen as one of the weakest entries in the series.
  • The Scrappy: Some players might find Moe really irritating because at one point of his cross-examination, if he goes off-tangent then Phoenix gets penalized. Note that Oldbag's constant rambling in-and-on the court did not get this extreme reaction from the judge. Others either find his jokes unfunny or simply hate his design. Him bringing Regina to the last day of trial may or may not rescue him from the heap (or just move him to Base-Breaking Character status) due to fans being divided on if it was a cruel Jerk Ass move or he was trying to have her see the truth about Acro and Bat.
  • Sophomore Slump: Like many games under Capcom, the second installment tends to be the most divisive. Justice For All is certainly not considered a bad game, but a lot of fans regard it as the weakest game in the trilogy, for reasons including: having only four cases versus the other two games' five, the lack of an overall storyline —barring the vague theme of Edgeworth's disappearance and Franziska wanting revenge on Phoenixnote — along with the hugely divisive third case, and the developers going overboard with the new health system and frequently hitting you with gigantic penalties with no warning whatsoever. In particular, this game has more "instant game over" scenarios than every other game in the series combined. Other, minor annoyances for some are Pearl getting all the focus over Maya, who barely features in the game and has no real character development, the substandard English localization, and Franziska being a much less interesting adversary than Edgeworth or Godot. However, the villains in this game are in very high regard among the fanbase, who generally consider Acro, Morgan Fey, and Matt Engarde to be some of the best villains in the series. And the last case is extremely popular due to its twist on the traditional formula by having Phoenix try to escape being blackmailed into defending a client he eventually figures out is a total sociopath.
  • Squick:
    • Pearl gives us this gem:
      "Let's go let her whip us, Mr. Nick!"
    • "Director Hotti" implies that he'd like to "research" the crime scene photos if you show them to him in 2-2. Even worse when you remember that it's Ini/Mimi in the pictures, and he'd been going on about how she was a favorite patient... And to top it all off, he shows interest in Pearl's picture. She's eight years old!
  • Take That, Scrappy!: For the portion of fans who dislike Franziska for her seemingly constant and unpunished Jerk Ass moments, Shelly de Killer shooting her in the shoulder, preventing her from prosecuting for the remainder of the game, and causing her to be replaced by the more levelheaded Edgeworth can come across as refreshing.
  • That One Level:
    • "Turnabout Big Top" is considered by some to be the worst case in the entire Phoenix trilogy, and arguably even the entire Ace Attorney series. It has a weird cast of unhelpful and rude circus folk, cross-examinations that dole out hefty punishments, and very little connection to the Fey plotline and Edgeworth's return. Many consider Moe's cross-examination in 2-3 to be a real pain in the ass, since one wrong press will get you penalized, and culminates with his last testimony, in which any pressing will cause you to instantly lose. While the game at least has the Judge try to warn you, he does so in such a vague manner that you might not even notice it at all, or think he's just talking a standard 20% penalty (which you could get for needlessly pressing back in 1-4) instead of a 100% penalty. Furthermore, on the second trial of that case, you have to do a big leap of logic and figure out that Russell Berry's cape got attached to the Max bust, seemingly ignoring physics.
    • While "Farewell, My Turnabout" is considered one of the best cases — possibly even the best — in the whole Ace Attorney franchise, the penalties for messing up can be absolutely brutal. In most of the game's other cases penalties are usually the same 20% that you get for presenting incorrect evidence while cross-examining. Here they're more on the order of 30-50%, including two outright instances of a 100% penalty, and one indirect example at the very end of the case. Add to that the trial days being very long, the game doing away with health refills during recesses, and the possibility of screwing up the Psyche-Lock segments and going into the trial days with less than 100% health, and you'll feel each and every mistake much harder.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic:
    • While he's very popular with others, some fans didn't like how much Acro was being played as a Sympathetic Murderer. For example, Video Games Awesome! and their commenters noted that while he didn't mean to kill the ringmaster, he did intend to kill the ringmaster's daughter. The sympathy is supposed to come from regretting he killed the ringmaster, who he saw as a father, and yet he was still willing to murder that man's only child. To be fair, she was still directly responsible for accidentally putting Bat into a coma and then not understanding how serious it was, but Acro apparently never considered just yelling at her and making her see reality the way Moe later did, and instead jumped right to an elaborate murder attempt... which didn't even work because she was too clueless to understand she was being threatened. It's quite telling that the 3DS re-release changed some of the dialogue to tone down the forced sympathy, one of the most obvious changes being Edgeworth's line "Do me a favor and try not to be too harsh on Acro" being changed to "As for Mr. Acro's case, you need not worry," which is closer to the Japanese script.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Admit it, you smiled VERY evilly after taking down Matt Engarde once and for all. Doubly so if it's chosen to pronounce him Not Guilty afterwards, knowing that he'd be hunted down by a professional assassin the minute he were to step out of the courthouse. Vengeance against a Defense Attorney's client never felt so satisfying.
  • Vindicated by History: For a long time this was, aside from the final case, seen as the worst game in the whole Ace Attorney franchise, for lacking the tight storyline of the first or third games, or the novelty factor of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney or the first Ace Attorney Investigations game. Since then, opinions toward it have warmed considerably, to the point where it's actually now considered one of the better games in the series, only really let down by a poor third case and Franziska being a rather one-note adversary. Even the game's Sequel Difficulty Spike is looked on more favorably when compared to some of the newer entries, which have been criticised for being too easy.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations

  • Accidental Innuendo:
    • Due to a typo in case 3-2, Mia says "Your Honor. When you were in a child..."
    • Assuming it's not intentional Getting Crap Past the Radar, everything about the "weenies" (as in sausages) in case 3-3. Made worse by the fact that they're supposedly a symbol of Gumshoe's love for Maggey.
    • In 3-5, you can get Gumshoe to admit he wants to stick his pen in Phoenix's face.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • In an odd example, a couple gets this. The DeLites are either a Happily Married couple of a man who isn't above stealing for the happiness of his wife and a woman who likes strong emotions and authentically loves her husband for many factors besides money, or a Happily Married couple of a crook and a gold digger. Or bit of both. At least they are Happily Married in either interpretation.
    • Then there's the question of Terry Fawles' mental state. If he's mentally healthy, then he's an ephebophile, but if he suffers from mental problems or learning difficulties, then it's possible that he just doesn't understand the implications of a relationship with such an age gap. At least in the American version of the game (where Word of God claims takes place in California), the question is one of whether or not he was knowingly skirting the line with 14-year-old Dahlia, as the local age of consent is 18.
    • Iris can be subject to this based on your interpretation of her statement that the plot to poison Phoenix's cold medicine was the first time that Dahlia didn't tell her about a plot in advance. Does this mean that she knew about things like Diego's impending poisoning and let them happen? Does she deserve to be punished as an accessory to all of Dahlia's crimes?
    • Godot.
      • A mysterious, badass prosecutor with a cool design and sympathetic, tragic past, or an overhyped sexist scumbag who's never brought to account for all his bad choices? Yes, he does end up arrested, but he also made Misty Fey die for them and nearly got Maya killed.
      • Did he know that Iris was once Phoenix's girlfriend? If so did it impact his decision to make her take the fall for Misty's murder? Did he do it because he knew Phoenix would defend her no matter what? Or because he wanted Phoenix to lose someone he loves just like he lost Mia?
    • Dahlia and Iris's father could be this. We're told that he coldly left his wife and badmouthed Kurain Village, but the person who says most of this is Dahlia, who is hardly one to speak well of anybody. His marriage and divorce of Morgan can also count. On one hand, he only married her to get the prestige that came with being a member of the Fey family. On the other hand, we see that a desire to gain power causes Morgan to try to commit murder twice, the second time using her own daughter as an Unwitting Pawn. With that second part in mind, one has to wonder if him taking his daughters with him when he divorced Morgan was as cruel as it's portrayed...
    • Same could be argued for Morgan. Was she so ambitious and protective for Pearl purely because of her strong spiritual powers or was it from the heartbreak of being separated from her two other daughters via divorce, discovering one grew into a sociopath, and not knowing what happened to the other?
    • Additionally, were Morgan's daughters taken from her by her first husband, or did she give them up? Dahlia claims that Morgan saw them as nothing more than obstacles to Pearl (and even claims that Morgan would have killed her herself), while her sister suggests that her mother willingly abandoned them. Then again, Dahlia also claims that her father "had absolutely no interest in children in general", hence his decision to send Iris to Hazakura Temple, so one has to question why he ended up with custody of both daughters- did Morgan care even less than he did, or did he not want Morgan to have them (whether out of pettiness or because he thinks they'd be better off with him)?
    • During the first case Dahlia says "we were so lovey-dovey that we literally made people sick. I think it was jelousy". Given the reveal that Phoenix was dating Iris, not Dahlia, at the time, it's very likely that Dahlia was actually refering to herself reacting to these two. Does that mean she actually envied her sister having happy, healthy relationship instead of one full of lies and manipulations she had with Terry Fawles and Doug Swallow?
  • Anticlimax Boss:
    • Sister Bikini's five Psyche-Locks all comes off at the same time with merely two presentations of evidence. Most other unlocking sequences require, on average, one or two pieces of evidence per lock. Justified as unlike many other witnesses who are all to eager to keep their secrets hidden until at breaking point, Sister Bikini is arguably one of the most co-operative witness of the series, and knows when to co-operate for the benefit of everyone involved, no matter how big the secret she tries to hide.
    • Luke Atmey in 3-2 initially appears to be one of these, since he gives up with surprising ease on the first trial day and admits to being the true thief. Actually a subversion however, since he wanted to be found guilty of theft, so that he would have an alibi for the murder of Kane Bullard, which was in fact his doing.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: Optional one. Presenting Bikini's profile to Larry at the beginning of 3-5 will result in him apparently revealing that Bikini is his mother. This has no impact on the plot whatsoever and is not addressed at any other point in time.
  • Breather Boss: In Case 3-3, Gumshoe's Psyche-Lock regarding the lottery. Most likely Played for Laughs, given that Gumshoe ends up telling Phoenix crucial information about his cases without meaning to do so.
  • Draco in Leather Pants:
    • Godot. There's a pretty big difference between sympathetic murderer and absolving him of all his crimes and bad decisions. Then again, the writers could have arguably been doing the same thing, given that Maya, who lost her mother as a result of his actions, still defends him, even though he suggests he was not primarily motivated by wanting to protect her, and she might have ended up dead when he killed the person channeling Dahlia.
    • Luke Atmey is this to a certain portion of the Japanese fandom, to the point where there are entire fansites dedicated to him. In all fairness, though, his Japanese name means something along the lines of "only wants to be loved," and in the Japanese version, it's suggested he killed Kane Bullard out of self defense, not just desperation.
    • Even Dahlia Hawthorne qualifies. Many of her fans will comment that, although her actions were inexcusable, her life was miserable, and will state that she is treated as an "unpopular" and "unloved" character.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: Franziska whipping Phoenix in 3-5 — i.e., a recently discharged hospital patient who nearly drowned to death and who still has a cold.
  • Even Better Sequel: At the very least it's considered a big improvement over Justice For All (even though many agree none of the cases quite match up to "Farewell, My Turnabout", with the exception of "Bridge to the Turnabout", which is also considered one of the best cases in the series), with many fans regarding it as the best game in the entire Ace Attorney franchise.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • Phoenix's behavior in case 3-1 gains a whole new dimension when it turns out that the woman he dated for six months and the one that tried to kill him are not the same, and that his insistence on her innocence wasn't a result of him grabbing the Idiot Ball. Perhaps it also counts as a bit of foreshadowing...
    • Mia's random comedic assaults on Grossberg in case 3-1 every time Phoenix says something adoring about Dahlia become much less funny when you realize that it's not just low tolerance for sappy, saccharine gushing — it's because she's bottling up a lot of hate for Dahlia and with very good reason. There's also the possibility that it's related to the fact that she knows Grossberg is responsible for leaking the information on her mother, and her mother's resulting disappearance.
    • Not to mention the fact that Phoenix's gushing sounds disturbingly like Terry talking about his "Teen Angel". Small wonder she gets so angry, seeing another guy being played like a fiddle by Dahlia!
    • Minor one, but in 3-3, Phoenix makes a comment on how Maya should quit her job as a spirit medium for a job as a waitress, and she considers the idea. Come 3-5, while she doesn't take up a waitress job, she is thinking more seriously about quitting her job as a spirit medium when she takes the witness stand.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Phoenix's comment in 3-3 that the only way to win a phony case is with phony evidence becomes a lot harsher after the events of Apollo Justice, where he loses his badge due to evidence forgery.
      • Even more so when he actually does forge evidence afterward to catch the one responsible (and implicitly for Revenge as well, given his new Knight in Sour Armor attitude after losing said badge).
    • If you present your badge to Maya during the investigation during day 2 of 3-2, you get this little exchange:
    Maya: So you've still got that badge, I see.
    Phoenix: Huh? I'm a lawyer, aren't I?
    Maya: Yeah, but I guess I just didn't think you'd keep on being one for this long.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
  • Jerkass Woobie: Godot could be considered as one, but only to Phoenix, whom he refused to acknowledge for the greater part of the game. He seems to be significantly less of a jerk to everyone else.
  • Love to Hate: Dahlia Hawthorne is an absolute bitch of a human being even in death, and she'll definitely make the fans remember that. Watching her spirit get exorcised from Maya's body somehow manages to be both satisfying and horrifying at the same time.
  • Magnificent Bastard:
    • While not being a Big Bad, Luke Atmey from the third game certainly counts. He uses a guilty verdict as his alibi for a murder, and this same verdict makes him look like a genius thief smarter than everyone, while giving him what he wants the most from others, their attention.
    • Godot isn't a Memetic Badass just because of his mannerisms. In 3-2, despite being a novice prosecutor, he allows Phoenix to invoke Nice Job Breaking It, Hero! by getting Ron DeLite declared Not Guilty of being Mask DeMasque... which now ruins his alibi for the murder of Kane Bullard. In 3-3, he's able to intimidate Furio Tigre — himself The Bully with a penchant for making just about everyone else cower — into submission. And in 3-5, while he suffers from a huge case of Could Have Avoided This Plot, he nevertheless manages to steer the trial toward the most-epic Secret Test of Character ever... concluded with his final reaction to being proven Guilty of murder: sharing coffee with Phoenix, as a final respect.
  • Narm: The revelation of Iris and Dahlia's Twin Switch at the end of "Bridge to the Turnabout" is one of the worst cases of the games suffering from Going Through the Motions, because Phoenix's usual trial penalty reaction just can't do justice to "Wait, the sweet girl I was dating and the psychopath who tried to kill me really weren't the same person?"
  • Never Live It Down: Iris helping Dahlia with recovering necklace from Phoenix. Acording to some of her haters this one incident makes her Extreme Doormat who could never stand up to her sister, never mind that she did it primarily to make sure she won't kill him, never mind that she spends majority of her time trying to stop her from commiting other crimes. She helped her once so she's a doormat.
  • Rewatch Bonus: Playing case one again after the game is extremely noteworthy given The Reveals at Cases 4 and 5.
  • Squick:
    • STOP TALKING ABOUT HEMORRHOIDS! Even worse in this case because 3-1's culprit is the first one in the series that poses a challenge to the player right in the first case so there's a huge chance of hearing Grossberg talking about it again and again after said culprit's cross-examination.
    • There's only one reason! One as obvious as Jean Armstrong in a thong on the Riviera!
  • Player Punch:
    • The end of 3-4.
    • Pretty much the entirety on the Grand Finale, from Phoenix falling into a freezing river to figuring out the victim's true identity.
  • Values Dissonance: 3-4 gives us a 20-year-old man in a relationship with a 14-year-old girl (quite a heated one too). However, while the reactions of Mia and Diego are played for laughs, the relationship itself is portrayed as unhealthy, although less because of the age than because Dahlia was very obviously using the mentally disabled Terry.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: Ron DeLite. Some people mistake him for a woman thanks to his feminine appearance and passive personality.

Film adaptation

  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: The Blue Badger stops the Judge from delivering a verdict by shoving his hand under the gavel. Then he falls to the floor and the head rolls off the suit, revealing...no one. No one seems to notice or care, and the mystery of the haunted mascot suit is never touched upon for the rest of the movie.
  • Narm: A good amount of the movie qualifies due to the fact that most of the characters look like cosplayers (albeit, fairly good ones), not to mention how they overact, oftentimes making hilarious faces and noises at the most inappropriate times. On a few occasions, Phoenix literally throws holographic images containing evidence at his opponents, and one particularly memorable scene involves him making the rather innocuous observation that Christmas Eve is almost Christmas, which inexplicably causes everyone in the court (including Edgeworth) to fall to the ground in a collective dead faint. Naturally, all of this leads to a lot of Narm Charm.
  • The Scrappy: The In-Name-Only version of Redd White here, courtesy of Up to 11 Adaptation Distillation.
  • Video-Game Movies Suck: Averted. The movie has been called one of the best game-to-film adaptations ever produced on both hemispheres. It retains the game's quirky sense of humor yet injects more serious drama into some of the character interactions in order to attract non-players. It helps that the source material is far more plot-driven than the average game.