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YMMV: The King of Fighters
  • Alas, Poor Scrappy: In XIII, Ash gives one last smile before he disappears from existence entirely. Suffice to say, Elizabeth wasn't the only one heartbroken that day.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
  • Americans Hate Ash Crimson: Along with Choi, Chang, etc.
  • Anti-Climax Boss: Orochi. Not of his game (KOF '97 was rather easy anyway), but of the Orochi Saga as a whole. He remains one of the easiest end bosses to beat. Possibly justified in that Orochi is the last of a group of Sequential Bosses (unless you defeat him with Kyo, prompting a final battle with Iori) including Orochi Iori/Orochi Leona and the Orochi Team.
    • Clone Zero. Despite the fact that he's got a fast-loading super meter and abuses his supers on a regular basis, he's surprisingly easy to defeat, much easier than Krizalid. He's pretty much the easiest Final Boss in the entire NESTS saga.
  • Awesome Moments: Any time Ralf's Galactica Phantom succeeds in hitting the opponent. Even more so against human opponents, since they are ten times less likely to fall for it than the AI. (For those needing further clarification, the Galactica Phantom is absurdly powerful [to the point that it had to be toned down from its OHKO status in '98], but also has an ungodly charge time; a fully-powered one requires seven or eight seconds. It is, essentially, a Death or Glory Attack cranked Up to Eleven.)
  • Awesome Music: Many.
  • Complete Monster: Rugal Bernstein does evil for the sake of being evil. He owns one of the world's biggest weapons manufacturers, has a BIG influence on global politics, is capable of causing World War III, and killed many martial artists just to bathe their bodies in liquid bronze and make them into decorative statues for his yacht. In Heidern's backstory, where we find out that Rugal slaughtered all 50 soldiers in the guy's squad before killing his wife and daughter, who he had previously kidnapped, just for the fun of it, and topping it off with gouging out Heidern's left eye and leaving him to live in despair.
  • Crack Pairing: Iori and Kasumi. It is perhaps the most popular non-Ho Yay pairing despite the fact that they've probably never even met.
    • Shingo/Kasumi. Less cracky by nature, but the fact remains that it's a fan pairing between two characters with minimal (if any) interaction in canon stemming solely from the fact that she criticizes Shingo for relying too heavily on his notebook (thus holding up their fight) in their 2002UM intro pose.
    • Kyo/Yuri. It has a surprising fan following that's quite impressive for two characters who are on decent terms, but barely know each other. Two official KOF pictures of them being together only adds more fuel to the fire.
    • Iori/Leona is another example. Likely routed in their common ailment (the Riot of the Blood), but the pair hardly seems to think much about each other, let alone anything remotely positive. The most you'll get is Iori expressing some curiosity in XIII that Leona is showing signs of being able to control her powers.
  • Crazy Awesome: Duck King. The dude is almost always cheerful, overly eccentric, and can pull off some of the craziest stunts... using breakdancing moves that are humanly impossible (in Real Life, employing breakdancing as a martial art would leave you with several broken bones at best). Oh, and did we mention the family of ducks living inside his hair that copy his every move? This was before Sazh, mind you.
  • Creator's Pet: Not many people like Ash, yet SNK let him get away with pretty controversial stuff, such as stealing Iori's powers. For very good reasons, in the end. And he gets an Alas, Poor Scrappy send-off that made him gain some people's partial forgiveness.
    • In a reversal of the above Ash example, K' serves as this to the Japanese fandom; he's substantially better-received outside of Japan, though.
    • Something of a subversion: SNK flat-out admits they love Rugal. They designed him from the ground up to be the most badass boss character there ever was (and that's not paraphrasing by much), and that they make him the final boss in Dream Match games because he's their favorite. This would be annoying, if Rugal didn't viciously beat his way into players' hearts the world over, cementing himself as an icon to the fanbase as much as he is to the folks at SNK. The SNK fandom likely idolizes him more than Capcom fans have idolized the likes of Akuma or M. Bison.
  • Designated Hero: Compare the actions of Ash and his "Hero Team" to that of previous heroes Kyo and K'. This subverted in XIII, where it's revealed that he indeed had an agenda (a good one to boot!), but had to go out of his way to make it work.
  • Die for Our Ship: Kyo's girlfriend, Yuki, is loathed by Kyo x (insert: Iori, Shingo, Athena, etc.) shippers.
    • Athena is also hated by rabid Kensou fans of both genders who accuse her of being an ungrateful slut who plays with his feelings since she refuses or ignores her advances, and sometimes she's twisted into a self-centered skank who plays with both Kensou and Kyo's feelings solely for her own pleasure. Never mind that the worst she has done is either ignoring or turning Kensou's affections down, while also caring for him when he needs it.
    • Andy, as well. People can't believe that he doesn't throw himself at the feet of an attractive and popular character like Mai who chases after him, so they bash him to death since "OMG THE HOTTEST WOMAN EVER LIKES YOU, YOU MUST BE AN IDIOT OR GAY TO NOT F*CK HER!"
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Barring some exceptions (like K9999), any character has some kind of fan following.
    • Shermie. A one-shot villain who never officially appears in future non-dream match installments, but remains very popular and ends up being included in both SNK Gals Fighters and Neo Geo Battle Coliseum. It helps that she's got a killer rack and nice legs.
    • Eiji Kisaragi, the no-nonsense ninja from Art of Fighting 2. Very popular among the fandom. Discounting his appearance in the KOF: KYO manga, SNK finally brought him back in XI to please the crowd after an eight game absence. (Note: his last in-game appearance was in '95, the second game in the series.)
    • Shermie's teammates, Yashiro Nanakase and Chris.
    • There are many others, ranging to badass NPCs like Ron, to Geese Howard himself, to Duck King, to May Lee (who oddly enough was also a Replacement Scrappy for some time). Hell, even the American Sports Team has a surprisingly large following.
    • Oswald made only a single playable appearance, with XI as his only game. The combination of being one of the best characters in the game and just having a pretty damn cool character design made him one of the most popular characters on the roster. That's pretty impressive for who is essentially a one-off character.
    • Since this series seems to relegate characters to the background in favor of emphasizing the newer faces, many of the fan-favorites from other games carry this status as well. Point in case, the cast of Fatal Fury: Terry (despite being SNK's mascot and The Hero of his series), Duck, Billy, Geese, Mai, Kim, Blue Mary, Yamazaki, Rock Howard, Bonne Jenet, Tizoc, Gato, and Hotaru all have this vibe. In fact, Mai's exclusion from the arcade version of XI and XII entirely is the reason behind the chant of "NO MAI = NO BUY!"
    • Kasumi Todoh was the only new addition from Art of Fighting 3 to make it to this series. Her popularity alone also granted her a spot in SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos despite being at best a bit character in either series.
    • Gai Tendo of Buriki One has a fanbase so devoted, that he was propelled into the land of memetic badassery upon appearing in XI.
    • Makoto Mizoguchi from Fighter's History Dynamite. His status as an Ensemble Dark Horse is what allowed him to jump over to Maximum Impact: Regulation A. That, and the fact that he's a favorite of series' producer and director Falcoon.
    • Ralf, Heidern, Leona, Shingo, Kula, Vanessa, and Shen Woo all seem to be approaching this status as well (that's if they're not already there).
    • Iori is something of an invoked meta example, being so different from other fighting game characters at the time that he became an insta-hit with fans.
    • Rugal. Both the dev team and most of the fandom love him so much that he's always the final opponent in a Dream Match Game as well as in Capcom vs. SNK 2 (where he shares the spotlight, appropriately enough, with Akuma).
    • Maxima is very popular with the Japanese bara community.
  • Epileptic Trees: While many fans hope that this doesn't come to pass (or at least not in the terms described), a prevalent theory is that, should SNKP ever go bankrupt again (as in, for good), their last action will be to create one final "dream match" title, but Up to Eleven: a The King of Fighters Universal Match which would bring back every character that was ever in a KOF game back for the last hurrah.
  • Evil Is Cool: Most of the villains, natch. Even if they are Complete Monsters.
    • Draco in Leather Pants: The natural extension of the above, although it's a wide spectrum for who qualifies and who doesn't.
  • Evil Is Sexy: About 80% of the villains. No, really. See that trope's main page for more details.
  • Fanon: Orochi Leona's habit of popping up at the wrong time, as well as her pleasured-sounding screams. Three guesses what.
  • Faux Symbolism: This is the entire theme of Goenitz as a character. To get the ball rolling, he's pretty much the head priest of a Religion of Evil which heralds the advent of a quasi-deity comparable to the Demiurge.
    • See Rule of Symbolism under Iori's entry.
    • Evil Ash has a DM where the screen is filled with black flames, in direct contrast to Elizabeth's Neo MAX, which bathes the screen in white light.
    • The Maximum Impact series is just rife with this. The series' cast features aliens with bizarre powers (even by KOF standards) among their ranks; main antagonist Jivatma is one of said aliens and controls one of the sub-syndicates of Addes, an organization whose seal is that of the Grim Reaper, uses Metatron as its public name, and whose known branches take their names from various corners of angelology and demonology (they're respectively named Children of Kokaviel, Kusiel, Mephistopheles, and Belphegor).
  • Foe Yay: Iori Yagami, who spends roughly ninety-eight percent of his time thinking about what Kyo is doing, following Kyo around, and fantasizing about ways to kill him. (Meanwhile, Kyo just wants to live his life as a fighter at the fullest and be left the heck alone, and not to mention he barely cares about the whole Orochi deal unless either he and/or his friends are directly involved.) This is actually lampshaded in the Dating Sim Spin-Off series, Days of Memories—which sometimes has the two play the role of romantic rivals—and in XIII.
    Maxima [to NESTS!Kyo, after he asks if he's still "babysitting" K' and Kula]: "Well, at least I don't have a psychotic stalker!"
    Ash Crimson [to Flames!Iori]: "You're pathetic. You know what? Kusanagi this and Kusanagi that... What are you? His crazy ex?"
  • Game Breaker:
    • Armor Ralf in Maximum Impact 2. As the name implies, it's Ralf decked out in armor. This version of Ralf is a contender for the most broken non-boss fighting game character of all time. He has super armor, cannot be thrown normally, has infinite priority, does EVEN MORE DAMAGE THAN NORMAL RALF, and cannot be knocked down. He was so broken that he was actually removed from the Regulation A upgrade to the game, though his data and model are still on the disc. His only real disadvantage is a universal one: Sabaki reversals can't be used against projectiles.
    • Angel in 2002. She is meant to be played by players with experience in string-system combos; however, since this system would be considered hard to use properly, the game rewards Angel with long invincibility periods while doing her moves. This translates in the opponent having to guess what Angel will do and attack in the hopes that her next move won't have invincibility. Also, one of her moves in the string is a uppercut that can hit the opponent while he is recovering in the air. Should Angel spam this on the corner, we have an infinite combo that requires absolutely no power stocks.
    • Billy Kane fights with a stick that gives him a unfair advantage at zoning. He also has a incredibly fast 2-hit attack that can be abused and can combo with other way stronger moves, should it hit near the corner.

      His MI2 incarnation is far worse. The Tekken-esque dial-a combos only bolster his rushdown game, his specials come out far quicker with less recovery time, and he gains devastating new attacks revolving around his bo. In other words, he can do all sorts of wicked shit. This match from MI2 and this match from Regulation A are good examples of what you're up against.
    • Alba Meira, supposedly being a "cooler Falcoon," receives godly tools like an anti-air command throw and a triple projectile.
    • In Maximum Impact: Regulation A, Alba is outclassed by the series' proverbial Creator's Pet, Ash Crimson. And now you know what the "A" in Regulation A stands for.
    • Athena has a fireball with almost instant recovery, as well as a teleport and a bug that makes her retreat at absurd speed when doing a backdash. Should you be at a lower health when the match time is about to finish, unless you're a very fast character yourself there's pretty much nothing you can do other than try and follow her while avoiding her fireballs and watching out for a DM that jolts you if you touch her.
    • Choi is a dwarf; his hitbox is about half the vertical size of a regular character. Most attacks, including specials and a good number of super moves pass right above his head; essentially cutting in half the viable options, strategies and combos of practically every other character in the game. Because of this, he's been top-to-god tier in almost every single installment of the series, and a staple Tier-Induced Scrappy.
    • Iori Yagami in '98 is beatable, yes, but he is also a god-tier character. Pretty much all of his moves, normal or not, have a longer range than they look, are extremely fast, and goes on a anything-combos-from-anything pattern. His air attacks hit extremely low, so much that his air C can easily hit a crouching Choi Bounge. He has a invincible grab that makes the opponent open to anything, and anything he does can combo into his Deadly Flower, a 3-hit move that deals high damage and quickly stuns the opponent. And, he has a fast fireball of his own. AND, his Maiden Masher DM rushes toward the opponent with high priority, low enough to go under any midair fireball and, for some reason, jumping opponents will stop in the air to be hit by the move. Go ahead, try to find a pro-level match where Iori isn't present.
    • Wolfgang Krauser in '98UM. Normal moves have good reach and damage, simple but damaging Bread and Butter combos and an auto-combo DM that can serve many functions like Iori's Maiden Masher DM.
    • Rugal's Genocide Cutter in KOF '94. At maximum power, it can be a One-Hit Kill. Coupled with his SNK Boss status... Word of God apologizes for "going a bit overboard" with the damage ratio. The move was toned down in later installments, but is still quite devastating.
    • Daimon in '98, thanks to a glitch. Averted in Ultimate Match, which removed said glitch.
    • Heidern's Moon Slasher and Stormbringer in KOF '94. Due to bugs, these two moves had abusive damage ratios to the point that a maximum power Stormbringer could one-shot a character who was at full health. Luckily, these bugs were addressed by the time '95 rolled in.
    • Ralf's Galatica Phantom in EX2: Howling Blood. This version has a much, much shorter charge time and is a regular move instead of a (S)DM. As a trade-off, it loses some of its power, but still eats about 50% off of an opponent's lifebar. Go buck wild with it, and watch the body count skyrocket.
    • A highly technical combo involves Ralf cancelling out of his Blazing Vulcan Punch on the last hit and performing the Galatica Phantom. In other words, the moment the opponent recovers, they're greeted by Ralf's (unblockable) fist.
    • Eiji in '95. He held of the distinction of being able to chain almost anything together. Seriously, you could flail your hands across the controller like a frantic monkey and still catch your opponent off-guard about 75% of the time.
    • Orochi Iori was playable via a rather simple code in the KOF '97 arcade, as was Orochi Leona and the Orochi New Faces Team. And they were not brought down.
    • Gato and Kula received one too many buffs in XI, thrusting them into top-tier.
    • Krizalid. Yes, he might be a SNK Boss, but the Typhoon Rage gives Rugal's Genocide Cutter a run for its money with its omni-priority, high damage output, juggling ability, and the ability to fill his super meter at the speed of sound. In 2002: Ultimate Match, this fact alone makes Krizalid more broken than Clone Zero, Original Zero, "lovable" Igniz, and Omega Rugal himself. Only Nightmare Geese can outdo him. And none of this is counting the rest of Krizalid's devastating moveset, chief amongst them Lethal Impact, an attack throw which triples as an AA, an overhead, and a counter. The supervising designer of Krizalid even noted, "I think I overdid it a little."
    • Foxy is so broken of a character that to this date, she is the only playable character completely banned from any official KOF contests - unblockable low kicks, lightning fast moves with high priority and supers that can be easily chained with her moves to deal huge damage combos. Oh, and did we mention that one of her supers is a suicide-bombing move? Luckily, 2002UM toned her down by reducing her attack speeds and move priorities.
    • Chin in the early games, particularly due to his DM. It was easily spammable, had virtually no startup time, and the chip damage was ridiculous. Any time a Chin player saw themselves with a low lifebar, it was time to RUN AWAY. (Hence why it was made into his NEOMAX instead in newer titles.)
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff:
    • Chang, along with Choi, is one of the franchise's most popular characters in Korea. Now you know why Chang was included in the CvS2 lineup (with Choi along for the ride) and how Choi himself made it into SvC: SVC Chaos.
    • Sho Hayate is also a cult-fave in Japan, which most likely led to his inclusion in XI.
    • K' is much more popular in the States than he is in Japan; some American KOF fans regard him to be a better character than previous protagonist Kyo.
  • Good Bad Bugs: This series of videos is all you need to see.
    • Rugal's Kaiser Drill bug in 2002, which has not been fixed for either Neowave or 2002: Unlimited Match. God forbid that you roll behind Omega Rugal when he's charging up a Kaiser Wave... The phenom is explained here and here.
    • The Amazing Flying Jhun glitch in 2003. To elaborate, one of Jhun's aerial moves involved stomping on your head. Performing a roll quickly after successfully executing this technique would leave Jhun hovering in the air. On top of that, his pushback was no longer functional, allowing him to smash anyone open with the purest of ease. For examples, see here and here. However, as seen here, it can also go horribly wrong and end in utter, hilarious humiliation.
  • Growing the Beard: General consensus is that KOF '96 was the point where the series really began to take off. The Orochi Saga was in full swing, overall gameplay felt smoother and more accessible, forward dashing was omitted in favor of running, rolling replaced the dodge mechanic, and music shined across the board as opposed to the previous two games (arguably) having only a handful of notable tunes.
  • Ho Yay: Aside of the Kyo/Iori super hyper Foe Yay? For someone who was apparently said to be Camp Straight by the developing team themselves, some of Benimaru's pre-battle quotes against handsome males in XIII were rather... flirty. Especially against Shen and Duo Lon.
    • Shingo's hero worship of Kyo can be very easily seen as a man-crush.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • In '99, Ralf's victory quote was "I can survive anything—even nukes!" Fast forward to his and Clark's inclusion in Metal Slug 6 where Ralf is the only member of the playable cast who isn't a One-Hit-Point Wonder.
    • With a possible side of Fandom Nod: In the M.U.G.E.N fanbase, the KOF-centric Vans gave his version of Kyo an aerial version of the Orochinagi. Come XIII...
    • K9999's official profile on the KOF 10th Anniversary website blatantly acknowledges his resemblance to Tetsuo. Shortly after 2002: Unlimited Match was released, his picture on the site was mysteriously deleted.
  • I Am Not Shazam: The Sega Saturn port of '95 refers to him as "Omega Rugal", even when recapping the events of the previous game... when he wasn't Omega Rugal. Likewise, the O in his name stands for Omega, not Orochi, a common misconception, seeing as he draws upon the Orochi power.
  • Iron Woobie: Heidern, Iori, K', most likely Duo Lon. And especially Elisabeth.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • All things considered with the Yagami/Yasakani's 1600-year blood curse and the hints that Iori is possibly the only one who can redeem his clan, Iori still manages to be a massive Jerkass while doing... practically anything, with few exceptions. There is also Ash, an odd variation in that he starts out acting like a grade-A jerkass, but when the act drops and his backstory is fully revealed (in XIII), he then earns major Woobie points.
    • Also, Yashiro, in the New Face Team's ending. He kills Chris and Shermie to power up Orochi, but then he cradles the fatally injured Shermie in his arms to comfort her as she she bleeds to death — and when she's gone, he offs himself. And then Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Several, actually. We have Rugal, Goenitz, Geese, Igniz, Ron, and later Ash. But the latter is actually a Guile Hero with a massive Jerkass Fašade.
  • Mary Sue: Ash Crimson, Mignon Beart. The latter is more questionable, as, judging by ability alone, she's somewhat inept as a witch and very clumsy, not to mention handily outclassed in terms of skill by her younger sister Ninon.
    • However, Alba Meira definitely is Falcoon's Marty Stu. Why you ask? Despite the whole weird setup in the Maximum Impact timeline, he's even more powerful than Iori and Kyo, and Ash as far as gameplay and story reasons are concerned. Hell, Alba and Soiree can be easily be the prototype for Saiki!
      • Canon Sue: He eventually goes on wrest control of Southtown from Duke and works with his brother and underlings to restore order to the city. Couple this with all of Alba's other, borderline God-Mode Sue traits, and...
    • Copy Cat Sue: The Meira brothers are basically 21st century versions of Terry and Andy, respectively, having their father being killed by the leader of a powerful syndicate, but with more superpowers and aliens to the mix, and neat fashion.
    • God-Mode Sue: Ash. In XI, he's able to deal with Orochi Iori and suffer no personal injury. OP? You bet.
  • Memetic Badass:
    • Depending on the community, Terry, Ralf, Yamazaki, Shen Woo, and Gai Tendo.
    • The boss characters, who are so badass that they collectively are a Trope Namer.
  • Memetic Mutation:
  • Memetic Sex God: In particular, the more fanservicey characters on both sides of the gender spectrum. For starters, see Mai and Shermie. Then see Terry, Kyo, Iori, Mary...
  • Mis-blamed: It would seem that Nona is getting flak for the most recent entries in the series, due to their new art designs. While he was the art director for XII (and draws for the pre-fight exchanges in XIII), it's actually Eisuke Ogura, the artist for Neo Geo Battle Coliseum, who handled the artwork. For some odd reason, Nona is also being blamed from the story developments, an area that he has minimal influence in at best.
    • Similarly, people have whined against fellow artist Falcoon for his work in Maximum Impact. While he is the artist in charge, it doesn't mean he handles all the decisions in regards to the artwork, and he didn't certainly have ALL the shots in regards to the character roster and story.
  • Moe: Athena (more so starting in XII), Hinako, Momoko, Hotaru. Leona might count, but this overlaps with her status as The Woobie.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Rugal crosses it several times:

      A KOF '94 drama CD has him killing his servants for making minor goofs and not being "perfect". That same action is repeated in Tatsuya Shinjyouji's KOF '94 manga, where in the second volume he bloodily murders a barely teenaged maid for merely bringing him the wrong wine for dinner. As he slowly approaches the poor little girl, you see him walking and looming over the poor girl as she begs him to not hurt her... and then "SPLAT."

      In the third volume of the same manga, Rugal orders one of his subordinates to kidnap Kyo's girlfriend Yuki and lock her in a room with a time bomb only to force Kyo, Benimaru and Daimon fight the Women's Team in the streets of Osaka, in a sort of Deadly Game where instead of fighting to the death, they fought to rescue poor Yuki. Thank God the bomb was fake and Yuki was rescued in the nick of time. Rugal didn't even really need to have them fight that way, and did just to troll Kyo and co. For the Evulz.

      And then, there's the wicked pleasure he took on having Saisyu Kusanagi tortured within an inch of his life and then Brainwashed and Crazy to make him his servant in '95. Double when you play with the Japan Team and he gloats about it in front of Saisyu's son Kyo, who understandably ends up screaming "This Is Unforgivable!!"

      There's also his mauling of Heidern's family and mercenary unit (mind you, this was single-handed and that Heidern's unit was fifty men strong). Apparently done for no other reason than to provoke and slight Heidern. It was also featured in Shinjyouji's manga, with an added bonus: Clara and Sandra were killed while trying to protect the badly injured and now eye-less Heidern.
    • Goenitz, in response to Gaidel turning down his offer to join him in the attempt to resurrect their master Orochi, awakened Leona's Orochi blood for the first time when she was still a child, causing her to destroy her whole village and kill every inhabitant, her own family included.

      Also, he has several in Ryo Takamisaki's KOF: G. First, he gives Mai Shiranui a cruel Breaking Lecture when she's at a very low point, which causes her to go Unstoppable Rage on Kyo and Athena. Second, he wreaks havoc in the finals, and we get to see the people collapse and almost surely die when his power rises and destroys everything, with the side-effect of making Benimaru snap completely on Kyo and sending other fighters into Brainwashed and Crazy states. Third, he almost beats both Kensou and Chizuru to death, and shows up bragging about it while lifting the badly beaten Chizuru by her head. And fourth, remember what he did to Leona in her past? In this version, he does this again, making her go into the Riot of the Blood with words alone so she'll kill everyone for him, with only Clark and Ralf's timely intervention keeping her from doing so.

      His murder of Maki Kagura in front of her twin sister Chizuru is already bad, but in the KOF: KYO manga it's even worse because, in that particular continuity, Chizuru and Maki were little girls under the age of ten and he was barely a teenager.
    • Yashiro Nanakase, Shermie, and Chris: Revealing themselves as members of the Orochi Clan and becoming the sub-bosses. In the Sacred Team's pre-fight talk, add revealing that they plan to use Yuki as a Human Sacrifice, and mocking her boyfriend Kyo's anger and concern. The last one is worse in the KOF: KYO game, as in the original '97 game they still have not gone searching for her, but here it's done in front of a restrained Yuki, who has already spent at least two days as their hostage.
    • Igniz: Upon deeming himself a god, and choosing to use NESTS clone for his own goals, all while playing on all other NESTS members' utopian (or at least utilitarian) ideals and then having (and/or setting up) even the NESTS organization's most faithful servants (Krizalid, Foxy, Diana, Kula Diamond, Candy, Original Zero, Nameless, and Isolde), to be killed off for no longer being useful to him, he has demonstrated that he is a sociopath who has absolutely no respect and value for human life, but only seeing human beings as being like oranges and that he can throw the peel away.
    • Jivatma ordered the death of Lien's parents and family because her father would not join Addes.
    • Ron, former leader of Hizoku, crossed this point when he razed his own village and murdered a sizable number of his clansmen to offer his services to NESTS for reasons unknown. Ron was labelled as a traitor by the clan and nearly every survivor of that massacre who didn't jump ship with Ron is now hunting him down for answers and retribution.
    • Saiki, already established as a massive Jerkass and a master of horrendous underling treatment (despite Those from the Past's plans going off with only the most minor of slip-ups), has his when he callously kills his most loyal and sympathetic servant, Mukai, right after he had offered to fight in his stead. Seeing him take over Ash's body to transform him into Evil Ash and keep fighting the heroes is not much better.
  • More Popular Spin-off: Of both Fatal Fury and Art of Fighting. Even here at this very wiki, people mention some FF and AOF characters as being from The King of Fighters even when those characters, at best, only make cameos in the series.
  • Most Annoying Sound: The "OOOOOOOUUUUUUAAAAAAAAGH" sound Andy makes when you hit him. Not so prevalent in the Fatal Fury series but it cropped up quite a bit in early KOF titles. It got ridiculous in '99 onward where for no apparent reason they made it his KO cry. You will hear this especially in 2002 and Unlimited Match, where he groans this practically every time you hit him.
    • "KOKO DESU KA? KOKO DESU KA? KOKO DESU KA? KOKO DESU KA? KOKO DESU KA?" This is the sound of Goenitz's Yonokaze murdering you.
    • Some of Malin's yells have her sounding like a strangled duck.
    • Angel's voice (mostly her 2002 seiyuu; the 2001 one wasn't so grating on the ears).
  • Narm: Now with its own page. Though it sometimes qualified more as...
  • Narm Charm:
    • SNK's Dodgy Engrish usually downright HILARIOUS lines in otherwise serious circumstances. From the slightest misspellings to Rugal's almost babyish "I'LL BE BACK... YOU JERKS!" line from '95.
    • Any time anyone insults anyone. Which happens often. "Absolute karate. That's Kyokugenryu. And don't forget it, dweebenheimer!"
    • And of course, the English dub of the Maximum Impact games.
    • Terry's mangled English has become a vital part of his character.
  • Never Live It Down/Old Shame: Athena. It doesn't matter how many KOF or fighting games she appears in, most older NES owners are still gonna remember her awful game on that system, which was actually a disastrous port of a decent arcade game.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • If Magaki's highly unsettling "true form" doesn't give you nightmares, the way he fights will.
    • Duo Lon's idle pose involves him holding his leading foot in such an extreme twisted inward angle that it suggests that his ankles are broken or at very least he can easily dislocate them at will.
      • Considering how odd the Hizoku clan is to begin with, with a gamut of abilities ranging from necromancy to stretching their limbs at will to naturally producing poisonous substances from their bodies to dissipating into skeletons in order to disappear/reappear on a whim, it's safe to say they're more than a bit unsettling. Seeing as some of the other fighters are creeped out by Duo Lon (a Nice Guy and a shining example of Dark Is Not Evil), it's very possible the heroic members of Hizoku are full-blown Type 4 Terror Heroes firmly settled in Creepy Good territory.
    • Literally in the case of Geese. He has an alternate form called Nightmare Geese that will give you nightmares trying to fight him. In this form he's one of the cheapest SNK Bosses in existence. Subverted in Maximum Impact 2 where he's balanced, but then doubly subverted in 2002UM, which introduces an even cheaper version of Nightmare Geese that you have to fight as the last Expert challenge in Challenge Mode to unlock everything.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Oswald's fight with Shen Woo in their team's XI ending. Word of God says that the fight was left open-ended because the fans would be disappointed with the final result.
  • Older Than They Think: Jhun's Zankou Haki Geki HSDM in 2002 Unlimited Match actually first appeared as his MAX2 in the lesser known Neowave, the sort of alternate 2002 where Jhun was playable.
  • Polished Port: The upcoming Steam release of The King of Fighters XIII will apparently have better netcode than the console releases.
  • Relationship Writing Fumble: Kyo and Chizuru are acquaintances, if not good friends (with Chizuru as a Cool Big Sis figure that Kyo can't deny a lot to, if Sky Stage is to be believed), and have close roles in guarding the Seal of Orochi. When Kyo became majorly pissed at Ash for stealing Chizuru's powers in 2003 (and pretty much violating the poor woman while doing so), some fans were led to believe that Kyo has beyond brother-sister-friends feelings for her. It doesn't help that Kyo's intro with Ash in XI has him screaming "YOU BASTARD!" at the top of his lungs. Apparently, these fans have forgotten that Kyo has Yuki. (To be fair, it's not like poor Yuki has been seen around in years.)
    • Word of God also jokes on the Anniversary website that Chizuru must have envisioned Kyo eternally as a schoolboy (i.e. from the time they teamed up during the Orochi Saga) when creating Kusanagi. And then in Sky Stage Kyo claims to Terry that Chizuru is almost babying him and the other fighters. Cue fans claiming she's in some type of a Loving a Shadow relationship with Kyo.
  • Replacement Scrappy:
    • While K' managed to avoid this during NESTS, Ash Crimson got the full brunt of hatred from fans, especially when he started actively upstaging Kyo by beating Riot of the Blood Iori. His flamboyant appearance doesn't help, either.
    • May Lee was once seen as this due to replacing Jhun in 2001 and then replacing longtime regular King in 2002 and taking her spot on the Women Fighters Team alongside fellow vets Yuri and Mai. The Japanese essentially screamed, "I RAGED. HARD" over the latter to the point that not even adding King back in the home ports could undo the damage. Most of this scorn has passed over since and May Lee is seen as an Ensemble Dark Horse elsewhere.
    • Momoko is sometimes considered as such. To Bao of all people. Frequently cited reasons are her voice, Button Mashing, and the fact that she was based off of discharged designs of Bao.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Bao. Added to the Psycho Soldiers team in '99. Too annoying to fight as, overpowered (at least his first incarnation) to fight against; stealing Kensou's powers. The strangest thing about this? He was conceptualized as beginner friendly. How they could screw that up so much is a mystery.
    • SNK Playmore sees K9999 as this due to the blatantness of his tribute to Tetsuo Shima, which eventually led to his replacement by Nameless.
  • Ship Mates: Ryo/King and Robert/Yuri shippers get along very, very well.
    • Kyo/Yuki fans tend to ship Iori with Athena (see below), and sometimes Leona and Chizuru. If not, they'll likely go for Kensou/Athena.
  • Ship Tease: Iori and Athena, believe it or not. They both like music and Iori is seen in Athena's band in Days of Memories. He appears to think she is cute because he thinks she should "be at home baking cookies" instead of fighting in one of their pre-fight dialogues, and Athena is among the few who show some degree of worry for his sake. Also, their battle quotes have to do with Iori telling Athena to take care of herself, in his own way. Finally, in the KOF: KYO manga, Iori and Athena's hearts connect when his attack accidentally hits her; he shows regret for hurting her, she takes the time to look for him, and she tells Kensou how much sorrow she could sense coming from him. Unsurprisingly, this has been followed by the mild popularity of the Iori/Athena ship.
  • Self-Fanservice: Muscle fetishists tend to fawn over a sizable portion of the female cast (namely the adult ones). They're particularly fond of Leona for some reason, but the list of likely runner-ups for fan artists includes (but certainly is not limited to) Mai, Blue Mary, Athena, Vice, Shermie, Vanessa, Angel, and even Kula.
  • Shipping Goggles: All over the place, Relationship Writing Fumbles or not. But let's be honest: every company in charge of KOF is very, very aware that the franchise as a whole is EXTREMELY popular among female gamers of all ages (from teenage girls who are new to the games, to older ladies who grew up either watching others play or played alongside the boys). With the buttloads of Ship Tease, it'd be weirder to NOT have a good part of the fandom all over it.
  • So Bad, It's Good: The movie. In the same vein, Andy Seto manhuas. While they loosely follow the canon of the story, there's some questionable designs in the art, ranging from Only Six Faces to You Don't Look Like You, or passing through wrong colouring, to plain standard colouring, and rarely (for dramatic purposes only), full-blown BEAUTIFUL digital colouring looking almost as good as or even better than official art. On the "good" part, the fight scenes are well done and the power attacks look amazing, almost like they were ripped from Dragon Ball Z (but you wouldn't mind it because they look, well... pretty badass).
  • So Okay, It's Average: The '94 manga by Tatsuya Shinjyouji. On one hand, the drawing style is very simplistic and unremarkable and the Cliché Storm is undeniable. On the other, the storytelling flows in a relatively smooth manner despite the cliches and it offers some interesting background tidbits and possible interpretations—like Heidern's story (Sandra and Clara died in an Heroic Sacrifice to save him from Rugal), how the Women's Team met in this continuity (Mai and Yuri become friends over being rejected as prospect members of the AOF and Fatal Fury team and then have to recruit King together), there's a background story in regards to the stages used by the Korean Team note  and the Japan Team note , etc.
  • Stoic Woobie: Heidern, adult Leona, K', Nameless, Clark (once you learn where his dogtags come from), Elisabeth.
  • Surprisingly Improved Sequel: XIII is this to XII. It added a lot more characters, including those that were inexplicably missing before, more modes, closed the Tales of Ash saga, and made the fighting more fun overall.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: "Jungle Bouncer," the theme of the Ikari Team in both '94 and 2002 sounds very similar to Faith No More's "Surprise, You're Dead!"
  • Tear Jerker: If you know how XIII ends, you know why this phrase (an except of a Robert Browning poem) stings:
  • That One Attack: Heidern's neck roller in 2002 UM. It's unblockable and has a deceptive hitbox.
    • Rugal's Genocide Cutter will beat your ass if you don't prepare accordingly. When you couple all of this with his already impressive arsenal...
    • Goenitz's Yonokaze technique. Dude will use it for all it's worth. Nonstop. KOKO DESU KA?
    • Marukare is probably the first thing to come to mind when one thinks of Orochi, although his Harue special (the projectile-esque attack that can't be nullified by anything) is pretty bad too. Just be thankful that they didn't have him spam his Honosu Sori like Goenitz's Yonokaze.
    • Krizalid, who could be considered NESTS' equivalent to Rugal in several aspects, has Typhoon Rage, as noted in Game Breaker above. Better get to writing your will while he's juggling you to death.
  • That One Boss: Rugal in every KOF except '98.
  • They Just Didn't Care: From '96 to 2001, King kept using the same vocals. Even in Capcom vs. SNK, where every other SNK character had new vocals, King kept the same dated audio.
    • The same point could be made for Robert. It wasn't until 2003 that Robert finally received an updated audio track.
    • In the PS2 port of XI, all of the extra characters ported over from Neo Geo Battle Coliseum sans EX Kyo and Geese lack their own character themes, instead receiving "Secret Circumstances," the theme of the Agent Team. While by no means is it a bad choice in music, it is rather ill-fitting, especially when you consider that the console version included multiple remixes of older themes, either for characters who were first in rotation note  or fighting at the Concert stage note . Even if they weren't given rearrangements of previous themes, you'd think that the sound team would at least quickly put together a catch-all theme like "Jack", the theme for mid-bosses Silber and Jyazu (after all, there's an "Ace" missing from the card motif of XI's musical tracks), or, failing that, match up the characters with themes belonging to their closest in-game buddies (ex: giving Robert "After a Long Absence", the Art of Fighting Team's BGM).
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • Despite being toted as "the other protagonist" of "The Tales of Ash" saga, Adel Bernstein (noble son of Rugal) plays no role in the climax. Hell, he's not even present in XIII. Only his sister Rose appears.
      • Subverted by the console version, which shows Adel working behind the scenes to help the Ikari Warriors in their investigation of Those from the Past. He's still not playable, despite concept art indicating that he was considered for the roster.
    • This is a general consensus about the revelation that Kyo-1 and Kyo-2 were two of thousands of Kyo clones created by NESTS when it was Left Hanging immediately afterwards.
    • The Out of Focus status of the Fatal Fury and Art of Fighting cast (and to a lesser extent some of the characters from the earlier KOF games); they are either Demoted to Extra, become The Artifact, or are a case of Chuck Cunningham Syndrome. SNK seems to be downplaying the fact that the KOF series is supposedly a big crossover of various SNK series and is focusing more on the characters that are more made for this series instead. However, SNK Playmore is showing some signs in trying to rectify this with XIII as they are starting to flesh out the older characters more.
  • Tier-Induced Scrappy:
    • Choi Bounge. He wasn't the most popular character (outside of Korea, of course) to begin with, but after his appearance in 2002, he became flat out despised.
    • There is also a respectable number of people who have come to despise Kula after KOF XI.
    • Igniz is a SNK Boss-Induced Scrappy; while having the voice of Norio Wakamoto is always a blessing, fans do not enjoy the idea of having to face him. There's a reason he was once the poster boy for SNK Boss.
    • K' is seen as such in XIII, right next to Raiden. The best teams have both as staple members with a rotating third.
      • While revisions for the console version have knocked down Raiden a peg or two (mainly due to lengthening the charge time for his dropkick, a staple part of Raiden's lockdown and pressure game), fans are divided on whether the changes to K' have really made him less of a threat, as some have actually served to improve his ability to string together hits in a combo.
  • Uncanny Valley: Sprites before XIII had Kula resembling a human-sized doll with bug eyes.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion:
  • Villain Decay: Duke in Maximum Impact 2.
  • What an Idiot: It's already strongly implied that Eiji was on the receiving end of a Yagami beatdown at the end of '95, but his XI backstory states that he also challenged the entire Kyokugen Team after the tournament. If the latter happened immediately after the former, we all may need to reconsider Eiji's status as a threat. Maybe.
    • Saiki gets this in XIII, due to a big case of a Villain Ball. Sure, one of your strongest minions who has nothing but loyalty for you offers to fight in your stead, which would really help if you needed to duck into the door to the past in a hurry... and your response is to kill him for no reason other than that he spoke up to you. Yeah, that's REALLY going to help. Especially when you follow it with taking over the body of your own descendant despite knowing clearly that he is NOT to be trusted.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Badass?: The other reason Yuki was hated. Since she was a mix of Barrier Maiden and Ordinary High-School Student who didn't fight, fans of other female characters thought she was stupid, useless, weak, and stole Kyo from "more deserving" strong females (and/or other males). Because a woman's fighting skills and physical strength are what determine if she "deserves" a love interest or not, and if she's a strong female character her success in life won't be complete unless she gets the boyfriend that the fangirls want for her.
  • Wheelchair Woobie: Kaoru started out as such, but her interactions with the Psycho Soldier Team managed to improve both her health and disposition

    Chizuru is seen briefly as one, more exactly in the Story Mode of XIII.
  • Win Back the Crowd: XIII is this by virtue of completing the Obvious Beta that was XII (although the Russia stage from XII is mysteriously absent). Mai and K' are back as well as a true SNK Boss. You'll find every known character that was planned for inclusion in XII in XIII as well.
  • The Woobie: Chizuru, young Leona, Kula (especially with Candy's heartbreaking "death"), Hotaru, Krizalid, Nameless, Xiao Lon. Arguably Iori, K', and Ash.

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