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Zeref Dragneel

Voiced by: Akira Ishida (Japanese), Aina Kusuda (Japanese – child), Joel McDonaldnote  (English), Emily Fajardo (English – child)

Zeref is considered to be the most evil wizard who ever lived, having left a legacy of death, destruction, and demons of his creation. Some of his devoted fanatics have sought to use his magical tools of resurrection to bring him back from his presumed death centuries ago; others have believed he was merely sealed away and waiting for someone to unleash his dark powers on the world—but none of them could be further from the truth.

As it later turns out, Zeref is a kind yet tormented young man who has been kept alive for over 400 years by the Black Magic of Ankhselam, a curse that steals all life around him the more he wishes to preserve it. For this reason, he has wandered aimlessly while avoiding as many people as possible, unless he chooses to see them as pawns that can be used as a means to an end. After witnessing too many conflicts done in his name, however, he decides to step out of the shadows to wreak havoc on mankind—all while holding out hope of being stopped by his younger brother, Natsu, whom he is certain is the only one capable of ending his life.

  • Adaptation Dye-Job: His tunic was initially red before changing it to black like in the anime.
  • Affably Evil: One of the very few villains that can fit in this trope. He begs people around him to stay away from him in order not to get killed, and taught Mavis and her friends magic as gratitude for her showing kindness to him. He is also cordial to Natsu, considering Natsu is his little brother.
  • All According to Plan: He counted on Ajeel and Brandish losing, but also states that Fairy Tail's weakness is their Thou Shalt Not Kill policy, possibly implying he's got a Batman Gambit up his sleeve. This ultimately pays off as Mavis, who still loves Zeref, intervenes in his fight with Natsu in an attempt to bring him salvation - only for him to drain her of all her power when she leaves herself vulnerable.
  • All-Powerful Bystander: What he was prior to the Sirius Island arc, and what he wanted to be indefinitely. Until Hades forced his hand. Though given The Reveal in Chapter 444, he apparently spent part of the last few hundred years establishing an empire on another continent.
  • The Aloner: He is never around anyone else, mostly because he kills them simply by being near them. Never around anybody else but Mavis, anyway, and that's because she's immortal like he is.
  • Aloof Big Brother: To Natsu.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: An effect of the Curse of Contradictions Ankhselam slapped on him. Between his conflicted or even polarizing emotional states and his making contradictory statements within one sentence with no memory of it in Mavis' flashback, it's implied that Zeref's curse causes him suffer from some form of acute schizophrenia, explaining both his fragmented sense of rationality and occasionally-contradictory desires.
  • And I Must Scream: The reason why he truly fears Acnologia. While Acnologia can't kill him thanks to his Complete Immortality, Zeref himself can't kill Acnologia due to the gap in their powers and Acnologia's ability to eat magic. As such, Acnologia can essentially turn him into an immortal stress-ball/chew-toy while he wipes out the rest of humanity. Forever.
  • Anti-Villain: The guy has had it so rough throughout his very, very long life that it's really no surprise that he turned out the way he did, and just wants it to be over, by any means necessary.
  • Apologetic Attacker:
    • When he can't control his powers, he constantly apologizes to people, animals or plants that get near him.
    • In Chapter 532, he puts on a tough front, but breaks down and sheds tears while forcibly ripping Fairy Heart out of Mavis, while apologizing to her for everything he's done and promising her that he will "fix it" with Neo-Eclipse.
  • Arch-Enemy:
    • Zeref is intentionally trying to invoke this trope with Natsu, to the extent that he's will to kill Natsu's loved ones to make it happen. This is because Natsu is the one being capable of killing him, and Zeref desires him to be at his very strongest to make it happen.
    • Mavis is this since she's the founder and de facto Big Good of the guild that is the biggest threat to his plans, Fairy Tail. That being said, the relationship is further complicated by the fact that she's also the love of his life.
  • The Archmage: The greatest example of this in the series. His power and knowledge of magic dwarfs that of any other character so far. Fairy Tail Zero reveals that the some of the other top contenders for this title Mavis, Precht, and Walrod were his students, and another, August, is his son. He was the one who taught them the magic that they would eventually master to become some of Fiore's strongest mages. Chapter 10 of Fairy Tail Zero reveals that one of Fairy Tail's strongest signature spells, "Fairy Law", was a spell that Zeref taught Mavis.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority:
    • This is the guy who conquered an entire continent and united its 700+ magic guilds, Light and Dark alike, by himself. The fact that he could and did do this is the main reason Ishgal is so wary of him even though they know so little about his 'Spriggan' persona. If they knew Spriggan's true identity, they surely would crap their pants at the mere thought of Zeref being in charge of Ishgal's greatest geopolitical threat.
    • He single-handedly turned Alvarez from a small city-state into a massive, continent-spanning superpower, and it's implied that a good portion of it, if not all of it, was done through pure martial force. The Spriggan 12 follow him seemingly for this reason alone; most of them don't even get along with each other, and are united purely by their respect and admiration for the Emperor.
  • The Atoner: His final plan was to go back and reset the world and undo all the damage he caused throughout his lifetime, which would result in the obliteration of an entire timeline. However, his atonement could only come through the other way around- by meeting his death and owning up to his mistakes, and doing so gracefully. What he tried to do was just running away from them and a thinly-veiled attempt to wipe out the reality where they happened just to say they technically never took place.
  • Badass Boast: When Mavis asks him if he is going to war, he answers, "No. It will be a one-sided annihilation."
    Mard Geer: Mard Geer... can realise... what you wish...
    Zeref: No, you can't.
    • And again during the invasion of Fiore once the gloves come off.
    Zeref: "All my doubts have been cleared. Natsu... Mavis... I'll paint over your very existence with the darkest of black!"
  • Badass Fingersnap: Gives one in Chapter 414 which turns Mard Geer back into book form and promptly lights him on fire.
  • Badass Long Robe: A black tunic of some kind, worn under a white, toga-like outer layer, complete with High Collar of Doom.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: He appears to mean well, so the bad guy part is currently debatable, but when Hades is driven off with no sign of repenting, he's the one who takes care of him.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Mavis, after witnessing his curse and seeing just how lonely and miserable he was, used her illusions to let Zeref pet some animals. Zeref was so moved by the encounter that he agreed to teach Fairy Tail's founding members some magic to help defeat Blue Skull. When she became immortal like him and she suggested they give Eternal Love a shot since they only have each other, her kindness made Zeref fall in love with her. Tragically, the curse wouldn't allow them to be happy together.
  • Been There, Shaped History:
    • Despite the fact that 'official' history has gotten a lot of things wrong about him, Zeref is quite possibly more responsible for the state of the world than the entire rest of the cast combined. The Eclipse Gate? His invention. The R-System? Also his invention. Tartaros and the other Etherious? His creations. The Alvarez Empire? He founded it, and is The Emperor. The dragons disappearing? Part of his, Igneel's, and Anna Heartfilia's plan to kill Acnologia. The Dragon Slayers? Without him, they would not be in the present, and Natsu in particular wouldn't have lived past the age of two. Lucy's mother, Layla? She died because of the aforementioned plan with Igneel and Anna, because Layla was the one who had to open Eclipse from the other side, and had to Cast From Life Force to do it. And finally, Fairy Tail itself? If he hadn't taught its founders magic, the guild itself (as well as Grimoire Heart) would have never existed, and Mavis Vermillion, Zeref's former lover, would have never become Fairy Heart, which is quite possibly humanity's last, best hope to stop Acnologia now that Zeref and Igneel's Plan A seems to have failed. And the icing on the cake? Not only did he teach its founders magic and was mutually in love with its First Master, but three of Fairy Tail's members (Natsu, Wendy, and Gajeel) are even in this century at all because he sent through through Eclipse with their dragon parents inside of them as a part of the plot to stop Acnologia! If it's a major plot in the series, in some way, it can all be traced back to him, for better or worse.
    • About the only thing in the series he doesn't seem to be responsible for is Acnologia becoming a dragon, which is apparently a natural side-effect of abusing Dragon Slayer Magic. Ironically, he was blamed for this in-universe by the Fiore Royal Family, for seemingly no other reason than because, hey, he's done so much damage to the world already that it would just be one more way in which he's screwed it up.
  • Benevolent Boss: While he shows indifference towards Tartaros, he shows a very friendly and positive relationship with his servants from Alvarez Empire. Played with, since he sees them as mere pawns, he doesn't display sadness or grief whenever they are defeated or killed and shows occasionaly amused smiles.
  • The Berserker: Zeref is usually quiet and melancholy at best and cold and calculating at worst, but once he gets to fight Natsu at full power, he gets a little too excited at the very opportunity, sporting a Slasher Smile while at it. Clearly, the Curse of Contradictions messed with his mind a tad too much.
  • Big Bad: The definitive main antagonist of the series, Zeref's responsible for the existence of demons, and becomes active after he's found on Sirius Island and decides to wipe out humanity, building himself up to a final battle with Natsu. He returns to this position after he takes E.N.D.'s book from the protagonists and kills Mard Geer for failing him. Zeref's story is the longest-running storyline in Fairy Tail, lasting 24 volumes in the manga.
  • Big-Bad Ensemble: For a good part of the series, he's only served as a secondary villain to Arc Villains Hades, Future Rogue, and Mard Geer. With him killing Mard at the end of the Tartaros arc, he and Acnologia are forming one for the endgame.
  • Big Bad Friend:
    • Fairy Tail Zero shows that Zeref is this to Mavis when it's revealed he taught her and the other founding Fairy Tail members how to use magic, and that she has the exact same curse he has. Makarov even implies that this is the real reason Zeref wants to get his hands on Lumen Histoire. His reasons become even more suspect when it's revealed that he was in love with her prior to her death. Even when Mavis later acknowledges that Zeref has become a threat to humanity, the expression on her face makes it clear that she would really, really prefer that he just come to his senses instead of having to fight him.
    • Likewise, despite his threatening demeanor when Mavis is released from Lumen Histoire, he orders Invel to free her from his ice saying he can't 'bear to see her lose her freedom again.' He also can't bring himself to watch Irene's Separation Enchantment, which is apparently excruciatingly painful. No matter how hard he might try to deny it, it's painfully obvious that he still cares about her to some degree.
  • Big Bad Slippage: Of a sort: while he was the Greater-Scope Villain prior to being discovered, he still wasn't evil after he was discovered until he felt the human race was too evil to keep on living.
  • Big Brother Instinct: His entire Start of Darkness was caused by his desire to resurrect his younger brother, Natsu. Yes, that Natsu. After he was cursed, he shifts between wanting kill Natsu and wanting Natsu to kill him — which is only possible because he still considers Natsu one of the two most important people in his life, alongside Mavis.
  • Big Fancy Castle: Apparently, he lives in one of these as of Chapter 416. Makes sense, as it's later revealed that he's The Emperor of Alvarez.
  • Bishounen: Particularly when Chapter 7 of Zero displays that he's one of the few young adult males in the series to be lean rather than muscular.
  • Bling of War: Once he starts dressing the part of The Emperor. Turning his white toga thing into a Badass Cape? Check. Badass Longcoat and Badass Long Robe? Check. Making the gold trim on his Badass Long Robe even more elaborate? Check. Clearly, Invel knows his stuff when it comes to fashion.
  • Blood Knight: When he finally fights Natsu seriously, he's shown to be enjoying himself a lot, and reacts negatively when Larcade tries to interfere with their fight.
  • Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl: The Brooding Boy to Mavis' Gentle Girl. She was the first person to show him kindness and be able to understand him in his lonely immortal life. Tragically, falling in love with her got her killed.
  • Brutal Honesty: Does not make any attempt to sugarcoat that Mavis is going to start inadvertently killing everyone around her just like he does.
  • Cain and Abel: The Cain to Natsu Dragneel's Abel. Although Natsu was clueless of the relation until midway through the Alvarez Empire arc, it doesn't change the fact that Zeref is hell-bent on eradicating mankind while Natsu is a force for good who treasures family links and companionship. Zeref practically invoked this trope by using his late brother's body to create the one being he thinks will be able to kill him.
  • Can't Live Without You: None of the beings created by Zeref's magic can survive without his magic sustaining them, including Natsu. If he dies, they die with him.
  • Child Prodigy: He was the most brilliant student at the Mildian Academy, to the point where he made his teachers nervous for studying magic typically considered taboo and creating several magical theories most sane mages wouldn't even touch. According to his teachers, this is supposedly what pissed Ankhselam off.
  • Climax Boss: Despite being the Big Bad of the series, he's not technically the Final Boss. That's the more powerful Acnologia.
  • The Coats Are Off: When he is about to have his true Final Battle with Natsu at Fairy Tail's guild hall, he removes his white toga for the very first time, indicating that he isn't fighting just to die like the last time he and Natsu faced off — he's fighting for keeps.
  • Complete Immortality: His immortality is part of a divine curse, so it's not going to be overcome that easily. Killing him is tantamount to overcoming the will of the gods, who want him to suffer for eternity. Notably, even when Natsu finally overcomes Zeref's power, he still couldn't kill him, and Zeref even notes that he will regenerate from even those injuries. He only dies when his and Mavis' love for each other overcomes their curse.
  • Cosmic Plaything: He received a cruel curse from a Jerkass God merely for wanting to bring his little brother back. Ever since then, the curse has found its way to make Zeref miserable and ruin any chance of happiness he might get. Including killing the girl he loved, even though she had the same exact curse he has.
  • Create Your Own Villain: Inverted. In a huge twist of irony, both the guilds that pose a credible threat to him owe their very existences to him. Fairy Tail and Tartaros. Fairy Tail because without him, the founding members might have never learned magic, and Tataros because he created most of its members, including its Guild Master and founder.
  • Creating Life: He (literally) wrote the book on Living Magic. While other dark mages, including Hades, have been shown using it to create mooks, Zeref has used it to create anything from giant Eldritch Abominations to fully-sentient demons, many of which make up the Dark Guild known as Tartaros.
  • Creepy Monotone: Interestingly, his voice has become this in the anime following the Grand Magic Games. Possibly justified, however, considering how much he's changed since the Sirius Island arc.
  • Cry Cute: Admit it, this is not what you first imagined after the way he was built up throughout the series.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Zancrow and Hades got their asses handed to them by him.
  • Curse: Zeref suffers from a rather cruel variation of this. The more he values life, the more everything around him dies. On the other hand, if he does not value life, he will regain control of his immense magic, and he will no longer automatically kill everything around him. However, the fact that he doesn't value life means that he will probably still kill people anyway, only intentionally this time. This way, it is set up so that he will always end up killing people, whether he wants to or not. Of course, it's heavily implied that he brought this upon himself. The Mildian Academy claims that Zeref was committing blasphemy against the gods for studying taboo magics in order to resurrect his dead brother, hence a curse that was designed to kill anybody he could ever care about or even being in the same general area as him, with immortality to boot.
  • Curse Escape Clause: The immortality is permanent, but the "kill everyone around you with uncontrollable waves of death" part of it seems to go away if Zeref stops caring about other people. If that happens, Zeref's able to control it. When they became a couple, Zeref loved Mavis more than she did, so he killed her despite Mavis also being immortal. When Mavis is able to bring herself to love Zeref as much as he loves her, they both die.
  • Cursed with Awesome: The immortality that is part of his curse did give him enough time to complete his original goal of bringing back his brother.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: The first one was the death of his little brother and his attempts to revive him which got him cursed. The second one was when Zeref finally finds somebody he genuinely cares about, and comes to believe he can safely be with Mavis, even falling in love with her. And then she died... mostly.
  • Dark Is Evil: He's not called "Black Wizard" for nothing; along with other, more common dark magics, he could create his own demons and magical objects that were designed to kill people. He himself wasn't that bad of a guy, though; the evil part came much later.
  • Dark Messiah: Zeref genuinely wants to see the world become a better place. Zeref outright states that his sole motivation for becoming an Omnicidal Maniac is to 'cleanse the world of its sins,' and is perfectly prepared to die to atone for his own, and wants his brother Natsu to be the one to do it. He even has twelve disciples in the form of the Spriggan Twelve, including a Sixth Ranger Traitor, as if Mashima was intentionally trying to invoke this trope. His true master plan puts him firmly in Well-Intentioned Extremist territory.
  • Dating Catwoman: Zeref is an evil wizard who eventually becomes the Big Bad of the series and it's eventually revealed he was romantically involved with Mavis, the First Master of Fairy Tail.
  • Death Glare: The absolute master of this in the series. Zeref's glares have been enough to make grown men burst into tears and crap themselves. If Zeref is giving you this look, run!
  • Death Seeker: He expects to be killed by Natsu someday. And he'll wage war on humanity if he has to for it. The entire reason the demons of Tartaros even exist is because Zeref was trying to create something powerful enough to kill him. When it becomes clear that he can't and won't die, he decides to invoke a Reset Button to travel back to the past and Set Right What Once Went Wrong.
  • Despair Event Horizon: He was already well on his way there, but the big one came when he fell in love with Mavis and she died as a result, right when he thought he finally found somebody he could safely allow himself to care about. By the present storyline, Zeref has fallen so far into the deep end that his idea of fixing the problem is to go Flashpoint and reset his life before he became immortal, ensuring that all the tragedies that befell him and others as the result of his actions never happen.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Zeref is an extensive planner and is thus rarely caught off guard, however, even he never expected Gray to be willing to sacrifice everything, up to his very existence in history to seal Zeref for a hundred years or more with an even more powerful version of Iced Shell. The only reason why he escapes is the fact that Natsu stops Gray from using the spell once again.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: One of the very first things he says to Acnologia when the two finally meet:
    Zeref: How's the arm?
  • Died Happily Ever After: After he and Mavis departed to the afterlife, Makarov dreamt of them running through a field together, happy as can be.
  • Disappears into Light: He and Mavis break their curses through The Power of Love, causing them to finally escape their immortality and pass on to the afterlife, disappearing into a heavenly light with flower petals encircling them.
  • Dissonant Serenity: He can talk about wiping out humanity in the same sad, apologetic tone he uses when killing people by accident.
  • Doom Magnet: Even though it's probably all his fault, wherever he goes, Acnologia is never far behind. And that's assuming he doesn't kill everything around him himself, first.
  • The Dreaded: Very few names in Earth-Land invoke as much unmitigated terror as his does.
  • Driven to Villainy: He really was not that bad of a guy to start with. Honestly, seeing everyone you've ever cared about die and becoming the Cosmic Plaything of a Jerkass God would make anyone snap, eventually.
  • Dying as Yourself: He and Mavis finally come clean that they still love one another, despite everything. It is through this act that the One Magic lifts both of their curses, allowing them to die in each other's arms.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: He lost his whole family at a young age. He was cursed by a Jerkass God for the act of trying to resurrect his little brother with a horrifically cruel curse that he had to suffer with for the next four centuries. He was hated and feared by (almost) everyone. His magic and his very name were used by dark guulds to justify their own evil. He lost the love of his life right when it looked like he had a chance at happiness. He was dragged kicking and screaming back into the world by a dark guild led by somebody he thought he could trust as his former student. He learned that in the future, Acnologia ruled the world. He started a world war to try to fix everything with a Xanatos Gambit. And in the end? It was all worth it; he and Mavis were finally free.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: He has black hair and pale skin, and is considered the most evil wizard in history.
  • The Emperor: Of Alvarez Empire, where he is referred to as Spriggan.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Apologizing to the wolves that die trying to attack him.
  • Eternal Love: Tragically subverted. Once Mavis became immortal like him, Zeref thought he finally found somebody he could safely allow himself to care about. Sadly, that same love got his beloved Mavis killed. They eventually can at least be Together in Death.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • Although he isn't really that evil to begin with until later on, Zeref still loves his younger brother, Natsu. He is what he is today because he tried to bring the deceased Natsu back to life, and can do nothing but cry when he sees his brother alive and well and all grown up.
    • Again, even though he wasn't exactly evil at the time, Zeref fell in love with Mavis after she assured him that they could be together forever until they found a way to break their curse. Sadly, their mutual love resulted in Mavis' 'death' and is implied to be when Zeref's true Start of Darkness began.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: He has a noted disgust for most Dark Guilds, especially those who commit atrocities in his name, with Grimoire Heart having earned the dubious honor of being the guild whose actions finally convinced him that Humans Are Bastards. Zeref has also apparently decided that the one thing he definitely wants to do before he dies is kill Acnologia.
  • Evil Costume Switch: His original outfit was a holdover from the culture of his childhood village and fairly plain. However, when it gets damaged in a fight with Natsu in the final story arc, he decides to switch it for clothing more befitting an emperor, and thus dons a rather regal and grandiose outfit, fully embracing his position as a conqueror.
  • Evil Counterpart: To Mavis, in a number of ways. For example:
    • Both were Child Prodigies in magic, having a near-encyclopedic knowledge of magical theory; Mavis in magic in general, Zeref in more taboo forms of magic. Mavis went on to create the titular guild, which became the defining guild of Fiore, while Zeref was indirectly responsible for just about every dark guild in the series that came after his heydey (especially Tartaros).
    • Mavis did die (except not really), while Zeref wants to die but is immortal. Both gained their inability to age by messing with magic they didn't fully understand for somebody else's sake, with Zeref pissing off Ankhselam by trying to resurrect Natsu as E.N.D., and Mavis using Law without having mastered it first to save Yuriy's life, which also pissed off Ankhselam.
    • More subtly, both also resorted to magic to cope with loss: Mavis subconsciously used her Illusion magic to pretend that Zeira was still alive while Zeref devoted himself to exploring forbidden magic to revive his dead little brother Natsu. And the clincher? They both have the exact same Curse. Probably helps that they were romantically involved, too.
    • The Fairy Tail Zero anime takes it a step further: Both were Conveniently an Orphan, with Mavis being entirely self-educated and desperately wanting to attend school, whereas Zeref was shipped off to a boarding school after his parents and younger brother were killed by dragons. Mavis only left Sirius Island after meeting Yuri, Warrod, and Precht, all of whom later became her co-founders in Fairy Tail, whereas Zeref was surrounded by his fellow students and teachers. He may or may not have had friends his own age, but his teachers were both awestruck and incredibly nervous about Zeref's chosen field of study, and was later more or less completely isolated up until he met Igneel, Anna, and later, what would become Alvarez, and Mavis herself.
  • Evil Overlord: Subverted. He is clearly considered supreme among the rest of his subjects, and each member of his Praetorian Guard could be considered a candidate for The Archmage. Makarov is surprised to find he is friendly and willing to negotiate, and his subjects are genuinely happy to see him return. Although Makarov realizes that Spriggan is Zeref a short while later.
  • Evil Sorcerer: A very, very Deconstructed Character Archetype. While he was indeed a Child Prodigy in the field of magic, already writing entire theses on magic most adult wizards won't even touch while he was barely even a teenager, he never once becomes Drunk with Power like so many other examples of this trope do. His turn to Living Magic was less about power for power's sake and more about ending his own life and saving his brother's. As for his "Instant Death" Radius and Complete Immortality? He didn't choose them. They chose him. The 'evil' part of the trope came much later, after years of being ostracized and hated by virtually the entire world, all while, hypocritically, doing many of the things they were accusing him of doing.
  • Eviler Than Thou: Hades never stood a chance against this guy.
  • Exact Words:
    • His threat to "wipe out humanity" to Mavis. Him waging a war was entirely true, and perhaps he overestimated Alvarez's strength, but 'wiping out humanity' apparently only meant that the current world would be Ret Gone should his plan succeed.
    • He does reject the world. In its current form..
  • Fangs Are Evil: He has large canines in his early appearances, but they disappear later on.
  • Fate Worse than Death: He's immortal, but he also has an "Instant Death" Radius designed to kill anybody he could ever care about. The only way around it is to stop caring about their lives (which kind of defeats the purpose), or if the person he cares about is also immortal. Like Mavis, for instance. And even then, the curse still kills her when they fall in love. The reason he fears Acnologia despite his immortality is because both he simply can't kill Acnologia as he is and he believes (with good reason given what Acnologia is like) that an eternity as Acnologia's chewtoy would be a living hell.
  • The First Cut Is the Deepest: He did not take Mavis' death well. After delivering her body to Fairy Tail, he unceremoniously drops her on the ground at Precht's feet, while walking away claiming that he's sick of being around people and will therefore go back to Alvarez (since he sees the people that live there are mere pawns), and that he shouldn't have fallen in love.
  • Foil: The revelation of Acnologia's Freudian Excuse makes him one to Acnologia. Both lost their entire families and loved ones to dragons four hundred years ago. While Acnologia became a revenge-driven monster worse than anything he killed, Zeref at least tried to undo some of the damage the dragons did, by attempting to resurrect his little brother (that resulted in Zeref getting cursed and subsequently hated and feared by everyone else, and it only went downhill for him from there). The dragons created both sides of the series' Big Bad Duumvirate, but the way they responded to their respective Starts of Darkness could not have been more different, nor could the end results.
  • Forgot About His Powers: For Natsu to even stand a chance at winning required Zeref to completely forgot all his powers. Timestop, enchantment, teleportation and "Instant Death" Radius, etc were all traded for basic punches and rudimentary dark magic. While the "Instant Death" Radius can be explained away by Natsu's scarf being able to protect him (as it did on Sirius Island and even then it seems to work for only one blast), less excusable is, after noticing that Natsu's book is gone, he doesn't teleport it back into his hand, something he did long before Fairy Heart gave him control over spacetime. Justified in that Zeref's curse has driven him completely crazy to the point he's still not sure if he wants Natsu to kill him or for him to kill Natsu, despite what he says, and he really wants to fight Natsu.
  • Founder of the Kingdom: He created an entire country where he rules as a relatively benevolent Emperor, though he himself admits he didn't create Alvarez for the sake of being a ruler.
  • Friendly Enemy: Towards Natsu. When the two finally see each other again in Chapter 372, Zeref greets him by smiling, and saying that he knew Natsu would be strong enough to make it that deep inside of Tartaros' headquarters. The reason he's rather friendly to him is because he doesn't hate his brother at all — everything that Zeref has done that led him to being what he is today was to bring the deceased Natsu back to life.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Zeref went from being a fairly normal, if absolutely brilliant and defiant student at Midlian Magic Academy to The Dreaded Black Wizard.
  • Front Line General: Marches right alongside his soldiers during the invasion of Fiore. Much to Mavis' chagrin.
  • Given Name Reveal: Overlaps with Wham Line below. Go on, click that spoiler next to his name if you dare.
  • A God I Am Not: Many Dark Guilds worship him as a Physical God of Evil. Zeref thinks they're scum and resents their reverence, with Tartaros being the only possible exception.
  • A Good Way to Die: In the end, he got everything he wanted when he died: Acnologia is dead, his curse was broken, and he gets to spend an eternity in the afterlife with the love of his life, Mavis. The end text even lampshades it, by saying that at long last, he's finally happy.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Before becoming active in the Sirius Island arc, he lives in isolation from the rest of humanity and is distant from the other villains, pondering whether or not he should step down and become the Big Bad. However, the demons he creates affect the plot even before his return, and there exist wizards who wish to resurrect him. Even his projects to revive his brother such as the Eclipse Gate and the R-System have an effect in story arcs. Arguably the only villain greater in scope than him is Acnologia — considering that even he wants to kill Acnologia, that speaks of how dangerous the Black Dragon is.
  • Headbutt of Love: He gave Mavis a loving headbutt when she told him she used an incomplete version of Law, but he was Tempting Fate to see if she'd die. She didn't.
  • Healing Factor: After his fight with Natsu, where he was clearly holding back because he had hoped Natsu would kill him, his wounds healed so quickly that Invel did a double-take. Apparently, it comes with the Complete Immortality.
  • Heel Realization: Had one over 400 years ago. Or it'd be more accurate to say that he was never really evil to begin with; he just delved a bit too deeply into forbidden magic, and screwed the entire world up as a result. He would do anything - anything - to fix it.
  • Hero Killer: Came so dangerously close to killing Makarov that it's not even funny. And that was after sending him flying with one flick of his wrist.
  • Hope Spot: Congratulations! You've stopped Face, you prevented E.N.D. from being activated, and all that's left is to destroy or take the Tome of Eldritch Lore back to—... wait, where did it go?
    Zeref: "This belongs to me. I'll be taking it back, now. It's really important, you know."
  • Humans Are Bastards: He believes that humans never learn from their mistakes, and that war, hatred, evil, and all of the more unfortunate sides of human nature will never disappear. Though, given villains such as Zero, who wanted to destroy everything that has form; Hades, who planned to eradicate 90% of the world's population for a so-called utopia; Future Rogue, who wanted to Take Over the World at the cost of the extinction of the human race; and Acnologia, by far Fairy Tail's greatest Jerkass, are all humans, it is not that hard to agree with him. The big surprise is that he blames himself for this as he views that his influence had led to the rise of so many dark wizards along with pain and suffering, it's why he wanted to wipe away the world... via changing the past.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: Wanting to die yet being near perfectly immortal, Zeref struggles with this one. At some point, he took to creating demons in the hopes that one would become strong enough to kill him.
  • Identical Stranger The epilogue reveals one in the case of Arleos who takes an instant liking to Mavis's doppelganger Mio. While the scene is heartwarming it is odd because at most a year has passed since the final battle. The two share no relation to the other two other than their identical appearance and happening to fall in love at first sight.
  • Idiot Hair: Has one spike in the middle of his head. Of course, he's no idiot.
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die: Mavis' death was what broke Zeref for good. To make it worse, his love for her was the very thing that killed her.
  • "Instant Death" Radius: Things die around him. No touching needed.
  • Invincible Villain: He is believed to be the most powerful mage ever, rivaled only by Acnologia, who isn't even entirely human. The mere possibility of his return made the Magic Council ready to cross the Godzilla Threshold and fire Etherion regardless of collateral damage, and his level power is more or less the only thing uniting the Alvarez Empire around him. The reason he's considered unbeatable is because of his Complete Immortality, something Zeref himself would rather not be the case; Zeref can't even kill himself, and based on his own words, he tried. He's only lost twice that we've seen, and one case was an example of Worf Had the Flu (see below), and in the other, he was deliberately holding back, because he was hoping Natsu would finally put him out of his misery, and thus had no intention of winning. The only being who could possibly defeat him in a straight-up fight is Acnologia himself, and that's because of a technicality: While Zeref is immortal and Acnologia is not, none of Zeref's magic, not even his death curse, can kill Acnologia due to the latter's status as The Dragon of Magic, rendering each other's main edge to kill the other useless. And since one of them is a giant dragon and the other a human, the fight essentially turns into Acnologia using Zeref as a chew toy. Forever.
  • Irony:
    • He came up with the idea of the Eclipse Gate, so he can go back in time and avert his brother's death. 400 years later, the Kingdom of Fiore finish the Eclipse Gate, so they can go back in time and kill Zeref.
    • He taught magic to Mavis' group, who would form the very same guild where his brother Natsu would later join.
    • He decided to live out the rest of his days on Sirius Island. He had no idea that it was a sacred place to the same guild where both his lover and brother belonged.
    • And let´s not forget the greatest Irony of all! For hundreds of years humans have called Zeref the most evil wizard that ever lived, but Zeref only became truly evil after witnessing humans commiting evil acts, and became so disgusted with them that he decided to wipe them out. The last straw was Hades who forced him out of his self-imposing exile in order to create a so-called utopia which would kill ninety percent of the world's population. Becoming the 'most evil wizard of all time' was a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy created by humanity.
  • It's All My Fault: Ultimately, this is his mentality and in fact, he blames himself for why Humans Are Bastards.
  • Just Between You and Me: He tells Gray that his intentions with Fairy Heart go beyond defeating Acnologia, something which he hasn't even told the Spriggan 12, because he intended to kill Gray by the time Natsu arrived.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • To Mard Geer, in the form of You Have Failed Me.
    • He almost did this again to Makarov, saying he was going to kill him and then send his dead body back to Natsu for the sole sake of pissing him off. Mest saved him just in time.
    • He repays Larcade attacking Natsu in an effort to give his "father" the advantage by blasting a hole through his chest, telling him he's nothing but a prototype to E.N.D., and finally killing him off while Larcade begs for mercy, all while Natsu watches in disgust.
  • Killer Rabbit: Easily the most feared wizard to ever walk the face of Earth-Land, and with good reason... who also happens to be a youthful self-loathing Death Seeker who has a tendency to break down in Tears of Remorse.
  • Kiss of Death: Subverted. At first, it was heavily implied that confessing his love for Mavis and kissing her 'killed' her, thus began his true Start of Darkness. Of course, not only does Mavis come Back from the Dead, it's implied (and then shown) that it wasn't a Kiss of Death, but, uh... something else.
  • Knight of Cerebus: His subordinates might not seem that scary compared to the likes of Tartaros, but the fact they're being lead into by Zeref is nothing to laugh at.
  • Knight Templar: God help you if he thinks you're evil.
  • Kung-Fu Wizard: When he finally decides to start fighting seriously, he's shown to be able to match Natsu, the Kung-Fu Wizard, blow for blow in hand to hand combat.
  • Lack of Empathy: He admits to treating his people like pawns in a game of chess. This is how he protects his own subjects from his curse.
  • Lean and Mean: As could be seen from Mavis' Naked First Impression, he's noticeably much thinner in build and less muscular, especially in comparison to the vast majority of the rest of the cast. Not that that means a whole lot, given his level of power.
  • Light Is Not Good: After absorbing Fairy Heart, his clothing, hair, and wings all gain a white and gold scheme that makes him look like a divine being. He's still the Dark Messiah he always was, and first act upon gaining this power is to impale Natsu through the chest and tell him Makarov's dead.
  • Living MacGuffin: Several villains are out to gain his power, if not his very existence. Also it's examined: This status of his is why Zeref wishes to gain ultimate power to time travel and change the past, as he views his influence having been a dentriment to the world, as noted by how nearly every if not all villains arose from his involvement.
  • Long-Lost Relative:
    • He's Natsu's long-lost brother.
    • He has his own in August, his actual biological son. In all the years he's lived with Zeref, August has yet to tell him the truth about their relationship.
  • Love Hurts: Trying to bring back the little brother he loved got him cursed. Falling in love got the girl he loved killed. Every time Zeref has allowed himself to love anything, it blows up in his face.
  • Love Makes You Evil: On two levels. His love for his little brother and his desire to see him brought Back from the Dead started him down the slippery slope. Inadvertently killing his lover Mavis when they became intimate pushed him right down it, and watching humanity repeat the cycle of war and death endlessly were the last straws.
  • Made of Iron: Thanks to his Complete Immortality, Zeref is practically invulnerable to pretty much anything. Natsu's Fire Dragon King Mode which was meant to be a trump card, while left some injuries, weren´t very accentuated and they were negated thanks to his Healing Factor.
  • The Man Behind the Man: While he is not technically the leader of Tartaros (that would be E.N.D.), because he is the one who created the demons that make up the guild they idolize him, making him something of a de facto figurehead. He otherwise has no direct involvement with them.
  • Manly Tears: When he realizes his injuries from his final battle aren't going away and both he and Mavis are beginning to disappear, he starts shedding tears of relief at the realization their curses have broken and he's now going to find everlasting peace along with Mavis because they truly love each other, as well as tears of sorrow for causing so much hurt on the path to breaking the curse when the solution was this simple all along.
  • Meaningful Name: His Spriggan alias. Spriggans are depicted as grotesquely ugly, and said to be found at old ruins and barrows guarding buried treasure and generally acting as fairy bodyguards. They were also said to be busy thieves. He wants Lumen Histore which houses Mavis inside. He later lampshades this, himself, telling Makarov that he picked this alias specifically because it means "Ugly Fairy".
  • Mentor Archetype: He plays this role in Fairy Tail Zero, where he effectively taught Mavis, Yuriy, Walrod and Precht, of all people how to properly use magic.
  • Merlin and Nimue: Mavis was his magic apprentice and eventual lover. Because she used an incomplete version of the Law that he taught her, she ended up cursed like him. Mavis wanted her and Zeref to form an Eternal Love relationship to have each other and find a way to break the curse together, but sadly them falling in love with each other got her killed. Driven mad by grief, Zeref lost it, spiraling even further into darkness and despair and eventually resolved himself to wipe out humanity. Mavis, who still loved him but nonetheless recognized he needed to be stopped, declared that Fairy Tail would wipe him out instead.
  • Mind Rape: Mavis correctly deduces that Ankhselam's Curse is causing Zeref's own thoughts to contradict themselves, such as when he seemingly can't decide if he wants his brother to destroy him, or if he wants to destroy him. This explains his rather massive mood swings and constantly switching back and forth between being a Friendly Enemy and wanting to become the Arch-Enemy to Natsu, and even struggling with his own feelings for Mavis after her death.
  • Misanthrope Supreme: Chapter 340 reveals that he has become this since the events of Sirius Island. Turns out that being Really 400 Years Old has given him the unique perspective to observe some rather unfortunate traits of human nature as well as the fact that humans never seem to learn from their past mistakes. What Hades pulled was the last straw to him, and Future Rogue's actions probably didn't help, either. However, then it turns out that this is due to his own attitude on himself, having viewed many of the human tragedies as it being all his fault.
  • Mood Ring Eyes: They change between red and black depending on his mood.
  • Mood-Swinger: Ankhselam's Curse is a curse of contradictions, causing Zeref to suffer severe mood swings and his thoughts and wishes to contradict themselves.
  • Mook Maker: His "Living Magic" allows him to create giant demons of immense, nigh-unstoppable power, including Eldritch Abominations such as Lullaby and Deliora. In fact, Tartaros is made up of nothing but demons created by Zeref.
  • Muscles Are Meaningless: Despite his relatively thin frame, Zeref is capable of sending Natsu through a wall with roundhouse kick to the side of his head. Subverted post chapter 531, as Zeref has been shown to have put on more muscle mass.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Upon seeing what his research into magic governing life and death had done to the entire rest of the academy, Zeref had a mental breakdown. His life was a downward spiral of guilt culminating in a death wish ever since.
  • Naked First Impression: Mavis first met him when he was taking a bath in a lake.
  • Necromantic: The reason he studied all of that forbidden magic was to resurrect his brother, Natsu, who had died at a very young age. He succeeded, by giving Natsu an Etherious body, hence E.N.D.
  • Nigh Invulnerable: Takes a punch from Natsu without a scratch.
  • Not Evil, Just Misunderstood: When he's finally introduced, Zeref is shown to not be the legendary evil wizard that he's made up to be. He's a lonely and tortured man with an uncontrollable "Instant Death" Radius that just wants to be left alone so he doesn't have to hurt anyone anymore. But later on [[Then Let Me Be Evil he finally gets fed up of humanity and getting rejected by the world.
  • Oh, Crap!: It takes a lot to make him have this kind of reaction.
    • When Acnologia shows up at the end of the Sirius Island Arc.
    • When one of his followers, Irene Belserion, decides to take matters into her own hands and 'use her Reality Warping magic on all of Fiore because she thinks Zeref is Just Toying with Them during the Alvarez invasion of Fiore, and she thinks they should just decisively end it already.
    • Natsu suddenly getting back up after he impaled him prompts this before he figures out someone (Lucy) is writing in the E.N.D book to keep him alive. But a much bigger one comes during their final blows when he realizes Natsu's flames, powered by his raw emotions for Fairy Tail, are much stronger then his infinite magic before Natsu proceeds to finally defeat him.
  • Official Couple: With Mavis. Chapter 450 reveals they were lovers in the past and despite everything, it's clear they still have feelings for each other. They're even on the cover of Volume 53 of the manga holding hands, with a giant heart-shaped tree behind them, and their... complicated relationship is the focus of the Alvarez Empire arc.
  • Offing the Offspring:
    • Zeref is more-or-less the father of the Etherious. When he kills Mard Geer, it gives vibes of this trope, which is probably why everyone watching reacted badly to it.
    • He unceremoniously blasts a hole into the chest of another Etherious, Larcade, with a lethal black magic spell, who had attempted to give Zeref an edge and kill Natsu, coldly telling him not to interfere. After Larcade asks him why, Zeref shows him no sympathy, explaining his origins and continuing to beat him down, much to Natsu's disgust. He finally straight-up annihilates him without mercy.
  • One Head Taller: He tops Mavis' height by at least a full head.
  • One-Hit Kill: He kills Zancrow and Hades with a single spell.
  • One True Love: With Mavis Vermilion. Throughout his hellish existence, Mavis was the only person to have ever made Zeref truly happy, and his time with her are his fondest memories. As the only other bearer of the Curse of Contradictions, she was also the only other person that could ever fully understand and empathize with him — the only person that can connect with him. It was Mavis' death that drove Zeref off the deep end, and when enacting his plan to rewrite the timeline, his only regret about his new world is that it will be one where he and Mavis will never meet.
  • Opposites Attract: Zeref is an evil wizard whose moods constantly switch from brooding and melancholic to wrathful and violent, while his lover Mavis is a kind-hearted and cheerful All-Loving Heroine.
  • Tragic Keepsake: His necklace that he's always seen wearing, even while bathing, is, in fact, a locket. And inside is a picture of him and his little brother Natsu when they were children.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: His biological son August dies from his aborted Taking You with Me, with Zeref never finding out about their true relation.
  • Overarching Villain: He remains a villain for the entire series.
  • Parental Neglect:
    • Even though he created the demons of Tartaros, he never shows any slight care for them. Everything that Mard Geer and the Nine Demon Gates did was they thought it would please their creator, and yet Zeref is not even touched by such dedication and lets his own creations be defeated and kills Mard Geer for his failure.
    • Played with in regards to his relationship with August, his actual son. Zeref never showed him any parental love, because August never told him the truth of who he really was, and may or may not have been intentionally invoking this trope (for his own safety/wellbeing). Considering the complicated relationships Zeref has with his brother Natsu and his lover Mavis, August's uncle and mother respectively, this might've been for the best. August seems content with keeping their relationship as it is, being Zeref's most powerful and most loyal soldier.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: The most powerful wizard in history, bar none.
  • Pet the Dog: He came across Irene Belserion one day, and correctly identified her as having been a Dragon Slayer who had transformed into a dragon a la Acnologia. Without even being asked or without asking anything in return, Zeref restored her human form, but said that it was only in appearance only; Irene still is and always would be a dragon, biologically. She has been his loyal follower and one of the most powerful members of the Spriggan Twelve ever since.
  • Physical God: Considered one as part of being the strongest being in the setting aside from Acnologia and definitely became one after absorbing Fairy Heart's power.
  • Power Gives You Wings: To complete his new divine look after absorbing Fairy Heart's power, he gains glowing energy wings.
  • Power Incontinence: Zeref's harmless without his powers, but once they've activated he can't stop them.
  • Put Them All Out of My Misery: Once reaching the conclusion the world will never accept him, Zeref casually states that he will wipe out humanity. In a manner of speaking.
  • Really 700 Years Old: He doesn't look like it, but he's over 400 years old.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Yajeel claims that he is one. Supposedly the Spriggan Twelve are the ones who were really eager to invade Ishgal, and Zeref had been keeping the peace for years. Though he later intends to start a war once he plotted his 'Kill Them All' plan.
  • Red Baron: "The Black Wizard."
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: A sign that he will kill on purpose, as opposed to the uncontrollable blasts of death magic that normally surround him.
  • Redemption Demotion: Played with. Zeref outright states that learning the value of life made him weaker, but it also led to his Power Incontinence, suggesting not so much a loss of power as a loss of control.
  • Reluctant Warrior: The reason he kills Hades is solely because Grimoire Heart wanted to use him to destroy more lives.
  • Renowned Selective Mentor:
    • A minor example, but he was the one who personally taught Mavis and Fairy Tail's founding fathers how to use magic. Each of them would then later on become the strongest mages within the series.
    • According to Acnologia, he also trained Irene Belserion in the art of High Enchanting, only she took that form of magic to its logical conclusion and won the Superpower Lottery's grand prize.
  • Reset Button: Neo-Eclipse. His desire to 'destroy the world?' It's Metaphorically True. He wants to destroy the current world by going back in time and stopping himself from ever becoming immortal, which would alter the current timeline, to such a degree that it would essentially be Ret Gone.
  • Ret Gone: His master plan involves this happening to Acnologia. He's fully aware that the same can probably be said for everyone else in the current world, but naturally, doesn't care.
  • The Scapegoat: For the first part of the series, every time someone misused Zeref's studies most of the blame would go to Zeref, believing that he was the reason why said people turned evil in the first place. While it is true that Zeref created several studies and demons, the first was to resurrect his brother and the second was to kill himself, but most of them were used for much less altruistic goals, such as Lullaby being used by Eisenwald, R-System by Jellal (secretly by Ultear and by Hades) and Eclipse by Future Rogue.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Ultear and her guild are out to unseal him. His "resurrection" by Jellal was part of a plot to help unseal him. Ultimately subverted later on; he was never sealed to begin with, he just didn't feel like doing anything.
  • Seeing Through Another's Eyes: Mavis implies that Zeref was able to do this through Obra during the Grand Magic Games.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: His master plan, revealed in Chapter 530, is to go back in time using Neo-Eclipse to prevent Natsu's death, thus ensuring he never gets cursed in the first place. According to him, this also means Acnologia will also never gain power, essentially making him Ret Gone... along with the rest of the present world. Which, to him, would be a good thing, after all he's been through.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: He has never fallen in love with - or even expressed a casual interest in - anyone other than Mavis, in the entire four centuries of his life. Justified since their shared curse pretty much made them each other's only option.
  • The Slow Path: Zeref stayed behind while the Dragon Slayers (and by extension, the dragons) were sent forward in time through Eclipse. It was over the next 400 years that Zeref came to believe that Humans Are Bastards and had his Start of Darkness when Mavis died.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: With Mavis. Ankhselam's Curse all but ensured the two can never truly be together. They can only be Together in Death when their mutual love kills them both.
  • Start of Darkness: Everything that made Zeref "The Black Wizard" was stemmed from his attempts to revive his younger brother, Natsu. He immersed himself in the dark arts, and his studies apparently pissed off the gods enough to curse him. Things went downhill from there, culminating with Mavis seemingly dying and the first bit of genuine happiness in his life being tragically taken away from him.
  • Stepford Smiler: During his appearances in the Tartaros arc, he's constantly smiling and speaking in a polite tone. When he threatens Natsu in Chapter 414, it looks like a mix between his now-legendary Death Glare and a Slasher Smile.
  • Suicidal Cosmic Temper Tantrum: While more sympathetic than most, this is what Zeref's motives ultimately boil down to. He's cursed with Complete Immortality and doesn't like it one bit, so he created a bunch of demons in the hopes that one of them will be strong enough to kill him. When it becomes apparent that this won't work, he claims he will wipe out humanity. In a manner of speaking.
  • Supernaturally Young Parent: Thanks to his ageless immortality, he looks a lot younger than his son August.
  • Survivor's Guilt: He lived, while his younger brother died at an extremely young age. It was what spurred him to learn dark magic, in an attempt to resurrect him.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: He became romantically involved with his magic apprentice, Mavis. Admittedly, he didn't fall in love with her until long after he mentored her.
  • Tears of Remorse: Especially after he realizes Natsu isn't powerful enough to kill him yet.
  • Thanatos Gambit: The entire reason he created his demons, and why his demons are trying to activate Face, is so that E.N.D would be released, and would serve its original purpose: killing Zeref. That's right, his demons are just an elaborate way for him to try to commit suicide, since almost nothing else in all of Earth Land even comes close to being able to put him out of his misery.
  • That Thing Is Not My Child!: Larcade Dragneel is the only one of the many Etherious that Zeref kept at his service and he views Zeref as his father who he wants to please. Zeref, however, doesn't think of Larcade as his son, or anything but an expendable pawn.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: Since the events of Sirius Island, he kept pondering whether the world would truly change for the better and, having decided it won't, he opts to wipe out humanity to cleanse the world of its sins. However, even this is a matter of Exact Words, since he plans on wiping out the world by changing the past, this destorying the world as we know it, in the hopes that his influence would not corrupt humanity as he puts it.
  • These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know: Studying these has been his life's mission ever since he was a child. It was initially to resurrect his dead little brother, Natsu. After he was cursed, it was for finding a way to kill himself.
  • Time Stands Still: Before he appeared to Natsu in Chapter 372, he somehow caused the Tartaros mooks attacking him to freeze in place, while the world around him had its colors inverted, so that the two can speak one-on-one.
  • Together in Death: With Mavis. They finally confessed that they still loved each other despite everything, providing yet another contradiction; only this time, it was with the help of the One Magic. Their curses ended, and with it, their suffering, and they could spend an eternity in the afterlife together at last.
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: The Books of Zeref, named after him, and written by him as well. They're all how-to book for the Black Arts, and explains in detail how to summon demons. In the case of his higher demons such as those that make up Tartaros, they literally are demons.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Chapter 414 confirms that he did in fact step down from Greater-Scope Villain to Big Bad.
  • Tragic Villain: He Used to Be a Sweet Kid who just wanted his baby brother back, and never quite understood why researching the connection of life, death, and magic was so taboo. As a result of his curiosity and dedication to somebody he loved and cared about, he was cursed by a Jerkass God, and everything went downhill for him there.
  • Tranquil Fury: He never raises his voice when he's angry, and yet his Death Glare can reduce people to being petrified with fear.
  • Tsundere: A bizarre case of this trope being justified. He confessed his love for Mavis prior to her death. His mind was already a mess due to the Mind Rape caused by the Curse of Contradictions messing with his thought processes. After her death, the Curse caused him to deny his own feelings for her, even to the point where he unceremoniously dumped her body at Precht's feet before walking away.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Turns out Zeref's a textbook example of why These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know. All he wanted was to resurrect his younger brother. He became the most powerful dark wizard to ever live in the process.
  • The Villain Knows Where You Live: Overlaps with Wham Line. He reveals to Makarov that not only does he know what Lumen Histoire is, he knows that 'Lumen Histoire' is a code name for 'Fairy Heart,' which is a magic that is even more powerful than the Three Great Fairy Magics.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Beloved by the people of Alvarez. Not so much in Ishgal.
  • Villainous Breakdown: If he hadn't gone off the deep end before, he definitely does in Chapter 529, babbling incoherently and sporting a Slasher Smile, all while refusing to call Natsu by his name, calling him "E.N.D." instead. It's a rare justified example, in that it's caused by the Curse of Contradictions, given Zeref screaming the entire time about how he wants Natsu to destroy him, and how he wants to destroy Natsu, the exact same thing he said while having a mental breakdown in front of Mavis.
  • Walking Spoiler: It's virtually impossible to talk about him to someone who hasn't gotten to the point where he shows up without ruining just about every single major plot point of the series. His relation to Natsu is an even bigger spoiler, along with the fact that he's Emperor Spriggan of the Alvarez Empire.
  • Walking Wasteland: His Ankhselam Black Magic can turn an entire forest into a lifeless desert full of corpses in mere seconds.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: He's painfully aware of why the world hates him, and all of the damage his very existence has done to it. His way of fixing it, however? Use Mavis to power a universal Reset Button to alter the past so drastically that the present ultimately no longer exists. He does not care how many people have to die in order to achieve this, because in his mind, they'll be alive, well, and much happier in another timeline. And he is fully aware that once it happens he will never meet Mavis, which he states would be his only regret.
  • Wham Line:
    Zeref: My name is Zeref Dragneel. I'm your brother, Natsu.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: The real reason why he's so miserable, according to Mard Geer. He's only half right.
  • World's Strongest Man: According to the Magic Council, he is the strongest mage of all time. The only character who comes even close to his level of power is Acnologia, the Black Dragon of the Apocalypse, and he isn't human — at least, not entirely, and he no longer considers himself as such anymore anyway.
  • Worthy Opponent: He wants Natsu to become one to him, as doing so means Natsu is capable of killing him. When Natsu finally reaches his level and fights him, it is by far the happiest Zeref has been in the present storyline — he meets his brother head on with a visible Slasher Smile on his face.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: A Death Seeker who hates himself so much that he chose to become The Aloner out of guilt and fear of what his power has could still do to the world. And yet, the moment he's pissed off, it becomes clear that he's The Dreaded for a damn good reason. He really was not that bad of a guy to start with, however. Honestly, seeing everyone you've ever cared about die and becoming the Cosmic Plaything of a Jerkass God would make anyone snap, eventually.
  • Worf Had the Flu: Zeref states that this is why he lost to Ultear, who is, for all intents and purposes, not even close to being in his league. Because he didn't want to kill her, his control over his magic was weakened enough for him to lose to her in single combat. Despite winning, and despite Zeref not being at the top of his game, Ultear was still so exhausted after fighting him that she collapsed.
  • Xanatos Gambit: His plan to 'wipe out humanity' is clearly this. If he manages to use Neo-Eclipse, he will be happy that the world has been fixed. If he is killed, then he will overjoyed to finally being free of his curse. Either way, he will in a way get what he wants.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Right when it looked like he finally found somebody he could safely bring himself to care about in Mavis, he ends up killing her.
  • You Are Not Alone: As Mavis ran away crying after Zeref revealed to her that she's Cursed just like he is, he thinks to himself that, finally, there's somebody else out there who knows exactly what he's going through, and can safely walk alongside him. Until he fell in love with her, at least...
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Believes in this to an extent. He spent years trying to subvert his cursed fate, either by finding companionship (Mavis) or by getting himself killed (Natsu), but constant failure left him no choice but to accept it. Ironically, his 'master plan' involves throwing the very idea of fate out the window and into a woodchipper that feeds into a burning septic tank. Which makes perfect sense when you remember his curse.
  • You Have Failed Me: To Mard Geer, complete with Dissonant Serenity and a Pre-Mortem One-Liner.
  • You Won't Like Me When I'm Angry: His mere expression has been enough to make people cry when he's pissed off.



Voiced by: Kosuke Toriumi (Japanese), J. Michael Tatum (English)
Click here to see his original form. 

Acnologia is the Black Dragon who flies around the world, bringing destruction to wherever dark thoughts gather. Originally a Dragon Slayer who participated in the Dragon King Festival 400 years ago, he went on to drive dragons to virtual extinction, becoming the most powerful and feared being on the face of Earth-land.

  • 0% Approval Rating: Zeref at least has several worshipers and, at one point, had a romantic relationship with Fairy Tail's first master. By contrast, nobody, heroes or villains, wants Acnologia around, and the only thing preventing more characters from trying to kill him is that it won't work.
  • The Ageless: Heavily implied, since he certainly hasn't aged since he became a dragon 400 years ago. Zeref admits the reason he fears him is because one can't kill the other, but Acnologia would turn him into an immortal stress-ball/chew-toy forever. Note the use of the word "forever", with no mention whatsoever of the idea that Acnologia would die of old age eventually and free him that way.
  • Almighty Idiot: After absorbing so much magical energy from the space between time, Acnologia's physical body goes completely berserk while his "soul" has to contain the other Dragon Slayers in order to stabilize himself. As such, the monster fighting Fairy Tail and the other guilds on the outside is essentially a mindless engine of destruction running entirely on instinct like a true animal. The reason he even attacked them in the first place was because he sensed the gathering of so much magical energy he thought "food", and he destroyed the ships at Hargeon because he instinctively knew they could use his motion-sickness against him.
  • Anti-Magic: No magic spell, not even Dragon Slayer Magic, is effective against him. That's because, as the Dragon of Magic, he has the power to eat any kind of magic used against him. This includes the magic of the Space Between Time, originally believed to be a perfectly inescapable prison, and even Zeref's own Black Magic of Ankhselam, a divine curse that's supposed to kill anything.
  • Arch-Enemy: To the Dragon Slayers' parents for ruining their attempts to bond dragons and humanity; part of the reason that they sealed themselves in their foster children when Acnologia took their souls was to extend their own lives until they could find an opportunity to kill him. He definitely becomes this for Natsu as well after he brutally kills Igneel, to the point where Natsu goes off to train for a year to become strong enough for vengeance.
  • The Archmage: He is the most powerful being in the entire series, both as a human and a dragon. Not even Zeref, a magical genius and powerful dark wizard, has the kind of power to kill him.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Igneel tears off his left arm in the Tartaros arc, not that this makes him any less dangerous.
  • Assimilation Backfire: Once he gets the Space Between Time, he warps all the Dragon Slayers into his mental form to assimilate them as he needs Dragon Slayer magic to stabilize the newfound power, lest his psychical form run berserk. It almost works when he captures Natsu last and starts assimilating him, but their friends calling out to them manages wake them up and break free from their bonds, resulting in the final battle.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: He became the Dragon King by killing many other dragons and eventually transformed into one. He also takes over the world in Future Rogue's timeline.
  • Ax-Crazy: He's spent so many centuries killing and destroying that it became a pastime for him.
  • Barbarian Longhair: His hair is long and untamed in his human form, giving him a wild look that matches his destructive nature.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: A rare, rather odd villainous case of this. Due to eating the Space Between Time, his soul was separated from his body, resulting in his physical form running amok without him in the driver seat, so to speak. So he warps all the Dragon Slayers to his mental form within the spacetime rift with intent to use their magic to stabilize himself. Naturally, the Dragon Slayers aren't going down without a fight, so they must deal with his human half in the rift while their friends stall his dragon form in the physical world.
  • Big Bad: He takes the role solo after outliving Zeref in the Big-Bad Ensemble, making him the final villain of the original manga with his reign lasting the final eight chapters.
  • Big-Bad Ensemble: He's not connected to the Balam Alliance or other enemies Fairy Tail goes up against, but he's still a bad guy who would just as soon destroy the world.
  • Black Bead Eyes: Inverted; he has white beady eyes that don't seem to have eyelids. This, along with his facial markings, makes him look utterly alien compared to other dragons.
  • Blood Knight: Zeref states that Acnologia's ultimate goal is to go all out in a battle; he believes that himself and humanity will suffice.
  • Boomerang Bigot: He walks a two-way street on this. He looks down on humans despite being one once, and he despises dragons despite becoming one.
  • Breath Weapon: His breath attack is a Wave Motion Gun that seemingly reduces Sirius Island to a smoldering crater in the ocean floor, and judging from various comments that's exactly what would have happened had Mavis not used Fairy Sphere.
  • Creepy Monotone: When he's not roaring or laughing like a maniac, this is his default manner of speech.
  • Dark Is Evil: He is a black dragon and no friend to humans. He's also indiscriminately destructive, seeing both humans and demons to be beneath him.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: He walks barefoot in human form, adding to his barbarian look.
  • Dragons Are Demonic: He's a dragon that beats out Zeref, the Big Bad himself, as the most evil being in the series, regarded by many as a calamity that brings nothing but destruction. You don't get a title like "Black Dragon of the Apocalypse" for being a Nice Guy, after all.
  • The Dreaded: Even Zeref, who is himself an example of The Dreaded, fears him, considering him to be a being that humans could never match. The same goes for most dragons, too, if wiping their race to near extinction is anything to say. Ignia, one of the God Dragons of 100 Years Quest who is said to possesses strength to rival his, reveals the reason they spent 400 years as All Powerful Bystanders was because they were hiding from Acnologia ever since the Dragon King Festival out of fear and growing in power to perhaps someday challenge him.
  • Drunk on the Dark Side: Acnologia was hardly sane to begin with, but after absorbing the power of the Space Between Time, he becomes "the ultimate dragon of destruction", and begins annihilating everything in sight with glee.
  • Evil Laugh: He is prone to bouts of maniacal laughter whenever he revels in particularly brutal acts of violence.
  • Fangs Are Evil: As a Dragon Slayer, his human form has pronounced canines, which are all the more visible as he laughs maniacally while mutilating his opponents.
  • Feed It with Fire: Like with other Dragon Slayers. Only he doesn't eat one specific element; he eats magic in general, effectively rendering any form of magic useless against him.
  • Final Boss: He is the true final villain of Fairy Tail, one of the most powerful villains in the story and absolutely the most dangerous one.
  • Flash Step: One second he's in front of God Serena, the next he's behind him, arm outstretched from having torn a hole through his side, and God Serena, Jacob Lessio, and August can barely even comprehend what just happened even as the former Wizard Saint collapses dead on the ground.
  • Foil: For Zeref. Both lost their loved ones to dragons, but while Zeref used the experience as motivation to research taboo forms of magic to resurrect his little brother, Acnologia became a Dragon Slayer motivated purely by the desire for revenge, ultimately becoming worse than any of the dragons he killed. Whereas Zeref was at least repentant for his actions and wanted to undo them (literally), nothing short of the total extinction of dragons would be acceptable to Acnologia, and if the rest of the world is destroyed in the process, so much the better.
  • For the Evulz: Whenever asked what his motivation for bringing pain and misery to the world is, his answer is always the same: destruction, pure and simple. Seeing how he views dragons to be Always Chaotic Evil, he's simply embracing what he feels dragons are any good for.
  • Forgot About His Powers: While chasing after Christina in an attempt to kill Wendy, he never even considers trying to shoot it down with his roar. Especially noticeable when he does use it on Jellal, who should be a non-issue to him.
  • Freudian Excuse: His descent into madness and destruction all started when he experienced the cruelty of dragons firsthand, leading him to exterminate them all as a Dragon Slayer, only to lose his humanity and his mind as a consequence of his magic.
  • Gotta Kill Em All: His creed as a Dragon Slayer. Not so much that he was being a Knight Templar about his role, but moreso that he really liked his job, and massacred all dragons he came across. This even extends to the other Dragon Slayers as well.
  • Hate Sink: The sheer swathe of destruction he's left in his wake for the last four hundred years would negate any form of sympathy he might gain from anyone.
  • Hates Everyone Equally: In Acnologia's eyes, humans (his former species) are vermin, other dragons are an eyesore (though he can at least be bothered to speak to them), and demons are abominations.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Acnologia was once a human who lost everything he had to dragons, becoming a Dragon Slayer to protect other humans that were senselessly tormented and killed in the same manner. Eventually, his overuse of his magic turned into the very thing he sought to destroy, though by then, he realized he had far too much fun wreaking destruction of his own, acting out in the very same manner he viewed other dragons in.
  • Hell Is That Noise: Acnologia's roar. Those who hear it in the distance are suddenly gripped with dread, as if it beckons the end of the world.
  • Hero Killer: He's the reason why Gildarts lost his left arm and most of his organs. He also very nearly succeeds in obliterating the main cast had it not been for the intervention of Makarov and Mavis, and later successfully kills Igneel, one of the Big Goods.
  • Humans Are Insects: Zeref describes his view of humanity as insects that aren't worth speaking even a word to as he attempts to massacre them. Irene questions this attitude given that Acnologia was born a human, and was even in his human form during their encounter.
  • Hypocrite: He sees himself as something greater than both human and dragon entirely, but it's really just delusion talking. In the final showdown, he pointed out that he can't afford to leave a single dragon alive, but Natsu immediately reminds him that there will always be one left as long as he survives. It then comes to light that Acnologia is just trying to overcome the losses of his past caused by the original dragons by making sure no more dragons can even have the remote possibility of existing, because as long as they do, there also will always be the possibility they will cause him to suffer.
  • I Have Many Names: He is known as the "Black Dragon of the Apocalypse", the "Dragon King", and the "Wings of Darkness", just to name a few of his titles. It's also stated that "Acnologia" wasn't his original name as a human.
  • Invincible Villain: Considering he literally eats magic, he is practically unstoppable in a setting where magic is the most potent weapon in the series. The only one who seemed capable of harming him at first was Igneel, but even then, it was at the cost of his life. Both Zeref and Anna believe nothing short of weaponizing a Time Paradox to Ret Gone him will finally take him down. While he is eventually defeated, it takes the combined power of every wizard on Ishgal to do it, and even then, it only works because he had splintered his body and mind, which finally made him more vulnerable.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The mere mention of his name is enough to overturn the overall lighthearted tone of the series.
  • Lack of Empathy: Acnologia considers humans to be no more than mere insects, and hardly even notices any of the people he blasts away.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: After brutally tearing the left half off of Gildarts and later Igneel, Acnologia loses his left arm, courtesy of the latter.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Even in his human form, he's able to tear a hole into Ishgal's strongest wizard before the latter even realizes what's going on, and he can tank the blow of a massive airship head-on.
  • Magic Eater: Above even other users of magic. His element is magic, so he can devour any spell thrown at him.
  • Meaningful Name: Combine the meanings of the Japanese phrase Aku no (Acno) and the Latin word Logia, and you get "Harbinger of Evil".
  • Moral Myopia: He massacred dragons to stop the death and destruction they caused. Aside from the issue that he is stereotyping dragons as Always Chaotic Evil, the only dragon who's been causing death and destruction for the past few centuries is himself.
  • Motive Decay: One that occurred before the series began. Once upon a time, Acnologia had a powerful motive to kill other dragons. He lost his family, home, and practically everything else of value to him to the most vicious of the dragons, which caused him to go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge upon being granted the power to kill them. And so he began a purge, using his magic so much it turned him into an actual dragon. But that's when things went From Bad to Worse—he realized he could devour practically any magic, and decided to kill everything because he grew to love causing destruction. From that point forward, it stopped being about Revenge and more For the Evulz.
  • No-Nonsense Nemesis: Played with. On the one hand, he doesn't even let God Serena finish talking before dropping him like a sack of potatoes. On the other hand, he is prone to playing around with his enemies the rest of the time whenever he's bored.
  • Non-Elemental: Acnologia doesn't have any elemental attribute like the other dragons. In fact, his "element" is magic; being a Dragon Slayer, this not only makes him immune to all magic, but he can also devour any kind of spell thrown at him.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: The one thing he has on his mind is the destruction of anything and everything he sees.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: According to Zirconis, Acnologia had another name when he was still human. What that name is, we never know.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: He is just as intelligent and capable of speech as the other dragons in the series. He is also ruthless, brutal, and completely chaotic. Not to mention, he Was Once a Man.
  • Orcus on His Throne: For someone who claims to desire destruction, he's rather passive about it. Zeref points out that he could easily take over or destroy the world if he wanted to, but is content to mostly just sit around doing nothing. Zeref comes to the conclusion that Acnologia is a bored Blood Knight who just wants to go all out in a massive battle, and promises to set up such a battle for him. Acnologia finally gets personally involved during the Alvarez Empire arc by hunting down all of the remaining Dragon Slayers, starting with God Serena.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: In his first appearance, a single one of his Dragon's Roars seemingly wipes Sirius Island off the face of the earth and leaves a crater in the ocean floor, and judging from comments by various characters and his own reaction to it that's exactly what would have happened had Mavis not been able to use Fairy Sphere. For context, Lahar had previously speculated that the Magic Council would have to use the nation-destroying Etherion to achieve the same result.
  • Physical God: After he devours the power of the Space Between Time, he gains the ability to transcend entire dimensions, on top of his already indomitable power and ability to shrug off any spell thrown at him.
  • Pride: He considers himself to be above everyone else, humans and dragons alike. He won't even talk to anyone unless he acknowledges them as a modicum of a challenge.
  • Pummeling the Corpse: After Irene commits suicide and Universe One wears off, Acnologia arrives at the battlefield and, upon recognizing her as the creator of Dragon Slayer Magic, takes time out to stomp on her corpse in front of a horrified Erza and Wendy.
  • The Quiet One: He knows how to talk; he just chooses not to, unless faced with someone he deems to be a significant threat. He eventually breaks his silence against Igneel, becoming quite a bit more chatty afterwards.
  • Really 700 Years Old: He has existed for 400 years since the Dragon King Festival. Not even his human form has aged a day since then.
  • Red Baron: He's known as the "Black Dragon of the Apocalypse" and the "Dragon King"; the former because of the destruction he leaves in his wake, and the latter because he wiped out virtually all other dragons. He also has another title not many are privy to: "The Dragon of Magic", because his element is magic.
  • Slasher Smile: He is known to have flashed these in his human form, when literally bathing in the blood of dragons.
  • Superpower Lottery: He chose to learn Dragon Slayer Magic without any particular elemental trait, which gives him immunity to any form of magic in general, and he can eat any spell thrown at him. And plain old ordinary weapons, while capable of pushing him back, do absolutely no damage on account of him being a dragon.
  • Super Strength: In his dragon form, he's easily able to overpower Makarov's Titan form once he stops holding back. Even in human form, he easily tears a hole in the side of God Serena with one strike when minutes before the strongest mage of Ishgar tanked multiple powerful blows from his fellow Wizard Saints without much of a scratch.
  • Take Over the World: He does so in Future Rogue's timeline, and Zeref notes that he's perfectly capable of doing so whenever he feels like it, even with one arm.
  • Tattooed Crook: His humanoid form has markings on his face and body that are identical to those on his dragon form.
  • There Can Be Only One: His motive for joining the Ishgal-Alvarez war is to kill Dragon Slayers, keeping tabs on their numbers until he is the only one left. After he absorbs the properties of the space between time, the Final Battle begins with him using his power to drag all seven of the remaining Dragon Slayers into it for their final showdown.
  • Tragic Bigot: If his cameo on Fairy Tail: Dragon Cry is anything to go by, he was once a Nominal Hero who wanted to protect humans, but his hatred of dragons for devouring his family and loved ones, coupled with his transformation into the very thing he hated, drove him completely insane and replaced any remaining concerns he had for humanity with insatiable bloodlust.
  • Transhuman Treachery: His original intent for becoming a Dragon Slayer was to protect other humans that suffered under the dragons' heel. But then he became a dragon, and the rest is history.
  • Victory Is Boring: Seems to have this problem. He happily slaughtered dragons and just about everything else the world had to throw at him 400 years ago, and in the ensuring years he grew so ungodly powerful that the very act of burning the world down, killing everyone, and ruling over the remains would provide no challenge whatsoever. He ended up laying low for several centuries, only leaving when he caught a whiff of Zeref's activity and occasionally finding unusually strong people (and winning handily). The main reason he gets involved in the finale, aside from killing the Dragon Slayers, is because Zeref's intent for a massive war would provide the best (and probably only) chance he has left of getting to use his full power against somebody before he took over the world.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: He's seen in his human form when he's not doing anything, showing he can change between a human and a dragon whenever he feels like it.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: In his human form, he only wears a black cloak over his otherwise bare upper body. Even then, the cloak still reveals enough that it seems to be there just to conceal his missing left arm.
  • Walking Spoiler: Not so much his existence as his true identity and his actions are huge spoilers.
  • Was Once a Man: Acnologia was once a Dragon Slayer who turned into a dragon after slaughtering too many dragons. However, he can change back into his human form at will.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Just like all other Dragon Slayers, he suffers from debilitating motion sickness. The protagonists use this to their advantage in all of their attempts to stop him at the end of Fairy Tail, first by using Blue Pegasus's airship to ram him into the space between time, and then luring him to a port full of ships to trap him in Fairy Sphere.
  • Weredragon: His draconic transformation was brought about by the Dragon Seed that afflicts all Dragon Slayers when their magic reaches a certain stage. He can also change back and forth between these forms at will.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: According to Irene, Dragon Slayer Magic can drive their users into an unstoppable rampage, which explains why Acnologia is such an Ax-Crazy Blood Knight.
  • Worf Had the Flu:
    • During his appearance in the Tartaros arc, he was indeed affected by Face when Mard Geer ordered Kyôka to activate it. Justified because as the Dragon Slayer of Magic, Face is exactly the kind of thing that would work on him. Ironically, that was probably Igneel's one and only real chance at killing him.
    • This is the only reason the protagonists managed to defeat him: his body and soul were split up, meaning that Acnologia's body acted merely out of instinct, making it easier to fool him, and it took the magic of nearly all wizards in Fiore to seal him; his soul missed his left arm (because Igneel ripped it off) and was paralyzed when his body was being sealed, giving Natsu the opportunity to finish him off.
  • World's Strongest Man: He is considered to be the most powerful character in the entire series—not even Zeref could hope to match him in sheer power. While his soul is thrashing the other Dragon Slayers, he boasts that he is the "Dragon King" because there is no dragon that has ever been stronger than him, and dragons are (or were, in any case) the strongest species on the planet, being immune to all forms of magic except the one they helped create.
  • Worthy Opponent: He doesn't speak to anyone other than those whose power he recognizes. Igneel is the first to make him break his silence, followed by Zeref and the other Dragon Slayers in the Alvarez Empire arc. His final words as he's finally killed by Natsu are acknowledging him as a worthy successor to the title of Dragon King.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Wendy is on his "must-kill" list, simply for being a Dragon Slayer. She ultimately fares no better than her fellow Dragon Slayers in the Final Battle against him.
  • Your Soul Is Mine: According to Grandeeney, Acnologia's Dragon Slayer Magic gave him the ability to do this, as he extracted the souls of the Dragon Slayers' dragon parents, leaving them half-dead.


E.N.D. (Etherious Natsu Dragneel)
Click here  to see his original form.

E.N.D. is Zeref's magnum opus, a demon said to be the ultimate force of destruction in all of Earth-land, and the inactive master of the dark guild Tartaros. While most of his time is spent in the form of a book, he is universally regarded as one of the most feared beings in history this side of Acnologia and Zeref.

  • Ambiguously Evil: Natsu (E.N.D.'s physical body) was raised by Igneel as a human, so he doesn't have a bad bone in his body apart from his thoughtlessly destructive sensibilities. On the other hand, Igneel is determined to prevent E.N.D.'s soul from being unleashed from the book at all costs, as doing so would force it to take over its host's body.
  • Arch-Enemy: He becomes one for Gray after tracing Deliora and all the other tragedies he and his loved ones faced back to him.
  • Artifact of Doom: His Book of Zeref. Those who attempt to tamper with it end up being overtaken and killed by the dark force within, whatever it is.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: He's the strongest demon ever created by Zeref, and he is respected by his Etherious brethren as the master of their guild even while he is still sealed away, despite none of them ever meeting the guy. Then it turns out that Mard Geer simply used E.N.D.'s book as a beacon for the other demons to rally around so he could carry out E.N.D.'s purpose himself.
  • Badass on Paper: He is known far and wide as Zeref's most powerful demon, commander of the most terrifying dark guild on the continent, and the only one besides Acnologia whom Igneel couldn't kill. While he is certainly powerful, E.N.D. is merely a figurehead Mard Geer used to rally Zeref's other demons around. As for Igneel, it wasn't that E.N.D. was too powerful to kill; he was his own foster son, whom he simply loved too much to even try.
  • Can't Live Without You: Since the Books of Zeref channel their creator's magic, if Zeref were to die, then E.N.D. will die with him. This is why Happy prevents Natsu from landing a possible finishing blow on his brother/creator after learning the truth of his origins.
  • The Corrupter: Those who attempt to rewrite the Book of E.N.D. are overtaken and killed by whatever is inside by means of getting burned from the inside out.
  • Decoy Leader: Despite being labeled as Tartaros's master, E.N.D. never had any association with the guild. Mard Geer simply used E.N.D.'s status as the strongest Etherious as a source of inspiration for his fellow demons to rally behind.
  • The Dreaded: The very name E.N.D. sends shivers up the spines of the most fearsome of dragons. His own guild is apprehensive about the thought of unsealing him even when all of their attempts to stop Fairy Tail fall through. Mard Geer himself even speculates that E.N.D. is the only being Acnologia fears (though he's sorely mistaken). And most of all, he is known for being so powerful, Igneel who failed to kill him. However, much like Zeref himself, E.N.D.'s reputation as the most powerful demon far outweighs the truth: he is Natsu, who was raised for the express purpose of becoming the unstoppable force of destruction he was made out to be.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: The very trigger for his awakening was DiMaria's attempt to maim Lucy, and her apparent death. The retribution was quite severe.
  • Excalibur in the Rust: The book containing him is visibly worn and covered in burns and tears.
  • Foreshadowing: There are multiple hints at E.N.D.'s true identity scattered throughout the series long before he's even introduced. Throughout the series, Natsu does things others consider abnormal even for a wizard, such as surviving a bullet to the mouth and changing the properties of his own magic as it suits him. Then there is Zeref's familiarity with Natsu, and his statement that only Natsu can kill him, mirroring Mard Geer's later statements that E.N.D. was born for this very purpose. Lastly, if one looks at the shot of the guild in very first chapter, Natsu can be seen standing over a label that reads "E.N.D.".
  • From a Single Cell: E.N.D. is able to take over Natsu thanks to Brandish re-enlarging what Poryluscia initially mistook for a sort of anti-magic tumor. Where it came from and how long it had been there isn't quite clear, but whatever the case, it had reached critical mass shortly after Natsu's fight with Zeref.
  • Fun with Acronyms: His name is an acronym for Etherious Natsu Dragneel.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Subverted. He is touted as the strongest demon ever created by Zeref, and powerful enough that Zeref hopes to be killed by him. In reality, E.N.D. was simply Natsu all along, completely oblivious to his own demonic heritage. While Zeref tries to provoke a transformation, Natsu manages to destroy the magical seed that would trigger it, while Gray exorcises the demon's lingering presence from its book.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: He was created from the body of Natsu, Zeref's deceased younger brother, infused with Zeref's demon magic.
  • Hidden Villain: E.N.D. is Natsu, the main character, unbeknownst to all but only a handful of people until the Alvarez Empire arc. Although the villain part comes only through the Demon Seed, which is an internal beacon ordering him to kill Zeref and waste anyone who stands in his way.
  • I Will Find You: Like all Etherious, E.N.D. was bred with a homing instinct that would lead him directly to his creator. Unlike the rest of his kind, however, he is fully aware that the point of this is to kill Zeref.
  • Meaningful Name: Zeref gave him the codename "E.N.D." to single him out as the only being capable of "ending" his life.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Not so much what his name really stands for, but his initials spell out the word "end".
  • No-Sell: He has the power to burn away any and every magic spell used against him. This even gives him immunity to DiMaria's Age Seal, allowing him to move even when time is stopped.
  • Only I Can Kill Him: Zeref created him for this very purpose, and is certain none of his other demons have what it takes to get the job done.
  • Our Demons Are Different: Unlike the other Etherious, who were born of pure magic given physical form, E.N.D. is a dead human resurrected through the power of demon magic.
  • Playing with Fire: E.N.D. is a flame demon who wields unimaginable power.
  • Rage Breaking Point: When Natsu's demonic instincts begin to emerge, the one thing that causes E.N.D. to awaken is the sight of his friend, Lucy, motionless and seemingly dead.
  • Satanic Archetype: It's practically spelled out by his fiery powers, species, buildup, position of power, and the fact that he was born with the sole instinct to kill his own creator.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: It is said that E.N.D.'s soul is trapped inside the book, and it is Tartaros's Evil Plan to bring it back out. What this means isn't entirely clear, except that his "body" (a.k.a. Natsu) is out and about, and could turn into E.N.D. at any time with the proper trigger. However, it's clear some part of the demon is in there, as it corrupts and kills those who handle the book without the utmost care.
  • Steven Ulysses Perhero: A type of demon called an Etherious is created from the body of a boy named Natsu Dragneel. Zeref really lucked out when it came to naming him.
  • Superpowered Evil Side: Besides the soul that's sealed in the Book of E.N.D., his entire existence pretty much amounts to this for Natsu. After briefly being taken over, Natsu effectively eliminates the threat of this happening again by destroying the Demon Seed that triggered his transformation.
  • Walking Spoiler: Mere knowledge of his existence is enough to give away one of the biggest mysteries to Natsu's backstory.
  • Wreathed in Flames: When E.N.D. takes over, Natsu's entire body is covered in flames, especially around his arms, which take on the appearance of claws.

Alternative Title(s): Fairy Tail Zeref And His Demons


Example of: