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Characters / Fate/Zero: Humans

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This page is for the human characters of Fate/Zero, the prequel to Fate/stay night.

WARNING: This character sheet will assume that you have read Fate/stay night. Major spoilers will be found ahead for both Fate/stay night and Fate/Zero.

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    Kiritsugu Emiya 

(Master of Saber)

Voiced by: Rikiya Koyama (adult), Miyu Irino (child) (Japanese), Matthew Mercer (adult), Marianne Miller (child) (English)

"Even if I am to carry 'all the evils of this world', it won't matter. If that can save the world, then I'd gladly accept it."

Kiritsugu is the protagonist of Fate Zero and an infamous mercenary known as the Magus Killer. Despite his brutal methods, he actually has the best intentions of mankind as a whole at heart and enters into conflicts with the intention of ending them as quickly as possible before they can escalate. He stands far on the cynical side of the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism due to his belief that it is impossible for everyone in the world to be happy; in order to be a true hero, one must eliminate the destructive factors which would in turn threaten the survival of humanity as a whole. Killing one to save a hundred, dozens to save thousands.

Because he finds his normal methods insufficient due to the matter of scale, he chose to work for the Einzbern family, who allowed him to marry into the family. Ten years later, the Fourth Grail War begins and he and his wife Irisviel leave their daughter Illya behind in order to hopefully use the omnipotent wish granting abilities of the Grail to bring true peace. He is the Master of Saber, but the pair are so incompatible that they never speak to each other, leaving Saber to work with Irisviel instead while Kiritsugu operates behind the scenes.

  • Anti-Antichrist: Downplayed. When Kiritsugu realized he was chosen by Angra Mainyu, an Eldritch Abomination of Evil to unleash it into the world, he rejected it by his own will. However, when one sees the results of his actions, Kiritsugu himself can be considered a minor Antichrist. See below for more details.
  • The Antichrist: Downplayed and implied, likely for the purpose of a Mind Screw. The clues are:
    • The number of rib-powdered Origin Rounds: 66 (one 6 short of the Number of the Beast). It isn't six-hundred-and-sixty-six because such a large number tarnishes Kiritsugu's reputed skill, the significance of each bullet, and the Willing Suspension of Disbelief on account of their creation from two of his ribs.
    • The removal of two of his ribs: historically, post-mortem, Jesus was stabbed between the ribs to certify his death; mythologically, the blood and water that poured from the subsequent wound was caught by the Holy Grail. Those two ribs are likely the two removed from Kiritsugu via Natalia. This means it is completely impossible for such a ritual as the aforementioned one to be performed on Kiritsugu, specifically disqualifying him as a candidate for The Messiah while simultaneously distinguishing him as a unique individual on the planet.
    • A Self-Made Orphan, on account of his murdering his father. This act seemingly violates the Fifth Commandment. Secondarily yet more importantly, the murdering of the parent has been the most prominent and distinguishing desire of the characters portrayed as the Antichrist in cinema.
    • His Arch-Enemy: the most pragmatic Catholic Priest alive during the Fourth Grail War is his most dangerous, personal opponent. The Catholic Church, like the noted trait mentioned above, is the typical nemesis of the Antichrist.
    • His Command Seal symbol: while it is meant to look like a sword, it can also be viewed as an upside-down cross. This would seem to be coincidental until Kirei confronts him in the anime: literally a moment before their climactic fight, Kotomine kisses his necklace-bound crucifix; immediately following that shot is a view of Kiritsugu's Command seals as an upside-down cross, as the hand beneath them grips his Thompson Contender.
    • The error of his wish: Kiritsugu needs the Grail simply because he knows, better than anyone, the impossibility of the realization of his desire by practical means. Simply, he absolutely cannot produce a miracle, and this understanding is the singular reason for his pursuit of the Grail, including every decision made since murdering his father. Yet, it is the necessity of an understanding of the method by which to produce a miracle that Kiritsugu needs to make his initial, six-year-old-boy's wish a reality. This specific lack of understanding - particularly because it is what ultimately denies him his desire - is the polar opposite trait of the purported Messiah that Jesus claimed to be.
  • Anti-Hero: Kiritsugu is The Unfettered and always willing to kill the few to save the many. Innocent victims or unwilling opponents are not exempt. If, at the crux, he must look a single person in the eyes and murder them in cold blood to save another ten, he will do so, and has done so many times.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: During the last stage of the war, Kiritsugu implants Avalon into himself, which grants him very powerful passive healing and stops aging. However, even it cannot repair damage if Kiritsugu is instantly killed by attacks that completely destroys his brain.
  • Badass Longcoat: Combined with Badass in a Nice Suit.
  • Batman Gambit: He defeats Kayneth by utilizing a strategy that hinges on predicting the ways Kayneth would try to counter his attacks, and changing up said attacks accordingly.
  • Berserk Button: If you do so happen to display your idealistic hopes for the future towards him in any way, especially making allusion to his past self's hopes to become a "Hero of Justice" to the world, expect his temperamental cynicism to completely shut you down. This is why he and Saber have practically no cohesive chemistry during the Grail War.
  • Boring, but Practical: Kiritsugu doesn't use fancy magic attacks or familiars to win fights. Instead he uses very mundane tactics such as traps, conventional weapons and explosives. Most mages consider these means improper and beneath their dignity to use themselves, so they rarely plan to counter them. And that's why those methods are the most effective on mages.
  • Break the Badass: He experiences a number of fairly major breakdowns over the course of the story, even though he's already a hardened killer:
    • He briefly breaks down in front of Irisviel and proposes that the both of them just take Illya and run away from it all.
    • Long before that, he broke down after he was forced to blow up the plane in which his mentor Natalia was trapped.
    • Finally, his biggest breakdown was in the aftermath of his battle with Kotomine. The only reason he clung to life was because he found a young Shirou, still alive amidst all the death and destruction.
  • Break the Cutie: His backstory, revealed in Volume 4, involves watching his childhood friend turn his entire village into zombies after she drank a potion which turned her into a failed Dead Apostle after he did not Mercy Kill her. To prevent future damages, he killed his own father for making the potion in the first place so that he could not do it again. Later, he took down a plane with his mentor and mother-figure on it after they attempted to stop an outbreak of vampirism on said plane.
  • Broken Ace: His horrible life prior to meeting Maiya and Iri, emotional issues, and choice to sacrifice his family for his dream has the worst compatibility with his Servant out of the seven Masters.
  • Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl: He's very broody because of the tragedy he's encountered and all the death he's dealt even before the war started, which is underscored by his wife's gentleness and innocence.
  • Bullet Time: Through an extension of the Emiya magecraft called 'Innate Time Control', he can internally affect time. He once uses it to avoid Kayneth's autonomous search-and-destroy weapon by slowing down his own bodily functions.
  • Byronic Hero: Kiritsugu has strong ideals, but pursues them at a very steep emotional cost. In the end, he finds proof that he would never achieve the dream he did so many terrible things for, and that he sacrificed his family for nothing, causing him to break down and abandon the Grail Wars for good.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: His skill at orthodox magecraft is immense and it's reasonable to think he has passive strengthening, which is why he can perform feats like throwing knives with pinpoint accuracy in the midst of triple-backflips.
  • Chekhov's Skill: During Kiritsugu's first scene after coming to Fuyuki City, he practices reloading his Thompson Contender, noting that the process takes about two seconds. This speed is put to the test during his final battle with Kirei, where on two occasions he needs to reload the gun before his opponent can get back into melee range.
  • Cold Sniper: Realistic and frightening, in that Kiritsugu temporarily shuts off his emotions to achieve this state.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Kiritsugu despises war so he ends all conflicts as quickly as possible. Brutally, if necessary.
    • A subtle example in the beginning of the series, when he is strolling through the woods with Illya and competing to see who can find the most chestnut buds. When Illya catches up to his score he counts a wingnut bud in his favor to get ahead. Even Illya knows he's simply cheating, and he admits that this is the only way he can win. It's lighthearted, but sets a precedent for his ruthless and cunning approach to conflict.
    • This is most evident in his fight with Kayneth. Kayneth mistakes his use of conventional weapons as a sign that he has no magic or abilities. In truth, it leads him into a trap Kiritsugu sets by using his Origin Bullets.
  • Confusion Fu: As an explicit Mage Killer, he relies on a combination of clever tactics and mundane weaponry supplemented by practical magecraft. His magic skill is decent at best, but his equipment and skillset are directly stated to be extremely effective against magi exactly because he thinks, acts and fights in ways inconceivable and unpredictable to the typical magi.
  • Contrasting Sequel Main Character: The protagonist of Fate/Stay Night, Shirou Emiya, is a Wide-Eyed Idealist who is dragged into the 5th Holy Grail War with no knowledge of how it works and very little talent as a magus. In Fate/Zero, his adoptive father Kiritsugu Emiya is a Well-Intentioned Extremist who willingly enters the 4th Holy Grail War and prepares himself as thoroughly as possible, and he already has a reputation as the "Magus Killer".
  • Coup de Grâce: His Origin Bullets, made from his ribs. This actualizes his dual Origins of Severing and Binding, turning a magus' own magic circuits against them by making them tear themselves apart and mend, like crossing wires that don't match. A magus struck by it will never being able to use magic again, may be rendered severely crippled, and go through excruciating agony. Just ask Kayneth.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: His inability to Shoot the Dog when he was a child haunts him. His failure to put down Shirley while he still could forced him into the conclusion that the most lives are saved with brutal pragmatism and not soft feelings.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Use of Time Alter causes significant damage to Kiritsugu's body, especially when speeding him up, thus he is unable to go beyond a twofold speed boost. However, with Avalon and its passive regeneration factor he was able to go three, and then four times faster, in his fight with Kotomine.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: See Break the Cutie.
  • Dark Messiah: Kiritsugu in his Magus-killing prime was described as appearing at battles around the world only at their most critical stages. Combined with Necessary Evil and I Did What I Had to Do, his modus operandi is exactly how Counter Guardians (the 'verse's resident Dark Messiahs) protect humanity from itself. It serves to create a parallel with his adopted son's future self.
  • Death by Origin Story: By Shirou's origin story, and so he's Plot Armored through this story.
  • Death Glare: Kiritsugu gives one to Saber after the deaths of team Lancer when she figures out through his nihilist speech that he once used to dream of being a Hero of Justice which considering his usual look shows how much of a nerve Saber touched.
  • Despair Event Horizon: At the end of the novel his hopes for using the Grail to bring about a better world fall through when it turns out to be corrupted and he is forced to kill an illusion of Irisviel and Illya with his own hands and then destroy the Grail he sacrificed the real versions of them for. When he's finally done that, he saves Shirou and becomes a broken man who can no longer believe in his childhood dream until his dying moments with Shirou.
  • Dull Eyes of Unhappiness: Kiritsugu kills off his emotions, leaving his eyes almost perpetually flat and blank as a visual cue.
  • Dungeon Bypass: In order to get to Kayneth through his multi-layered magic fortress, Kiritsugu has Maiya rig the building with explosives, thus rendering all of Kayneth's careful preparations useless.
  • Emotion Suppression: He actually invokes this one on himself. He can feel the full range of normal emotions, but he shuts them away so that he can do what he believes needs to be done. He might feel sorry or haunted afterwards, but in the moment, he simply acts.
  • Fatal Flaw: Kiritsugu is idealistic, but he can't imagine a practical way to achieve his ideals without some sort of "miracle". The means he does resort to wear away at his soul, and so he bets everything on the hope the "omnipotent" wish-granting device would give him his long-desired perfect way. When he realizes that the Grail can't do that and can only provide the raw power to make what means he already knows apply on a global scale (means that he himself realizes would only cause even more pain), and that ultimately he lost everything he cared about for a false hope, he finally breaks completely.
  • Fights Like a Normal: His primary fighting abilities tend to revolve around the use of normal human technology like high powered weaponry in place of offensive magecraft, cameras in place of easily tricked familiars and exploiting the mental blindspots of his opponents. The largest one, of course, is that most of his opponents do not expect to have to deal with human weaponry. He does perform some magecraft such as Innate Time Control, using the Origin Bullet, or giving himself Innate Night Vision.
  • Firing One-Handed: Uses his Calico M950 and Thompson Contender thus, despite the latter being modified to fire rifle bullets.
  • Flash Step: His Time Alter magic allows him to move at faster-than-the-eye speeds for short bursts.
  • Freudian Excuse: He watched his childhood crush become a Dead Apostle because of mis-handling information she stole from his father, denied her request to be killed, allowed her to duplicate herself through everyone in town, murdered his father in response to the latter's insistence that they save themselves without taking any accountability for the current state of the island and with intent to allow the mistake to repeat through his planned action, and ensured the incineration of civilization on the island before he leaves. He did all this at the age of six and within a day.
  • Geas: He uses a self-geis scroll to bind himself from attacking Kayneth as part of a contract to remove both Kayneth and Sola-Ui from the war. Of course, it doesn't say anything about someone else attacking Kayneth on Kiritsugu's orders made prior to the use of the scroll.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Kiritsugu's actions can be considered entirely pragmatic in nature. It's the realization that he still couldn't do good in the end that breaks him.
  • The Gunslinger: Kiritsugu prefers to use simple, direct methods like guns to anything as flashy as magecraft. He in fact defines himself as a magecraft user because he does not follow the practices of a magus.
  • Hand Cannon: His Thompson Contender is an handgun chambered to fire rifle rounds. Full powered rifle rounds.
  • Happily Married: While his marriage to Irisviel had such practical benefits of making him part of the magus Einzbern family, he was also in love with her. The only time he looks happy or at peace in this series is when he is spending time with her or their daughter.
  • Healing Factor: He takes back Avalon from Irisviel near the end of the war, which allows him to survive his heart and lung being demolished by Kirei and use Time Alter: Triple and Square Accel without killing himself.
  • Heartbroken Badass: Given his Freudian Excuse, he definitely qualifies.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: After the "fight" against Kayneth and Lancer, he agrees with Saber's assessment of him as this.
    Kiritsugu: I will break this endless cycle. The Grail will make that possible. I'll ensure that the blood I spill in Fuyuki is the last that humanity will ever shed. If that means I must stain my hands with every evil in the world, I don't care. If that will save the world, then I'll do it gladly.
  • Hidden Depths: He is presented as a notorious assassin, mercenary and professional Mage Killer with the blood of innocent casualties on his hands. He seems as cold and ruthless as his reputation would suggest, and initially comes across as an Unscrupulous Hero at best. Beneath his jaded exterior, however, is a loving husband, doting father and passionate idealist who harbors emotional scars and noble intentions.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Kiri's signature Origin Bullets. They sever a magus' circuits and then "repair" them - messily and badly, like a broken bone set the wrong way. They do more damage the more power is running through them when they're broken, the more heavily a magus is using them. So he first shoots a normal bullet so that will make them pump up their defenses, and then he shoots the Origin Bullet.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: His justification for blowing up buildings full of people, taking hostages, sniping in public, etc.
  • I Have Your Wife: He takes Sola-Ui hostage and uses her as blackmail to make Kayneth withdraw from the War. Both are then killed by Maiya.
  • In-Series Nickname: During his time living in Arimago Island as a child, his friends called him "Kerry" since they couldn't pronounce his full name.
  • Irony: Kiritsugu's wish for the Grail is to save the world, but he instead ends up inadvertently destroying a section of the city.
    • After a lifetime of killing mages via crippling their magic circuits, his own are crippled by the Holy Grail's curse. This leaves him too weak to bypass the Einzbern barriers and get his daughter back and ultimately kills him.
  • Jade-Colored Glasses: As a kid, he wanted to become an "hero". Then shit happened, and now he believes that being and hero means being ready to Shoot the Dog without hesitation whenever necessary, no matter how much you may love that particular dog.
  • Jedi Mind Trick: He is capable of convincing a bellboy that he is Kayneth and that "he" and "his wife" Sola-Ui have evacuated said bellboy's building.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: On the outside he's a cold and stoic hitman, on the inside he's a loving father and husband with a childlike dream of world peace.
  • Kick the Dog: The tactics used by Kiritsugu to destroy his enemies are so ruthless that his wish to be granted by the Grail is the only token on the idealistic side to qualify him as an Anti-Hero. The best example of this is how he deals with Kayneth: Kiritsugu shoots Kayneth with an Origin Bullet to ensure that he is permanently crippled and can never practice Magic again, and when Sola-Ui — Kayneth's wife — becomes Lancer's new Master he sends Maiya to remove her Command Seals and the potential for her to receive any more by amputating her arm. By plot logic, this is clean and necessary to guarantee victory. However, he subsequently kidnaps Kayneth's wife and blackmails Kayneth into forcing Lancer to kill himself — thereby forfeiting any chance of winning the Holy Grail War. Kayneth concedes, Lancer dies, and Sola-Ui is returned to him; and by the terms of his contract Kiritsugu cannot harm either him or his wife. The kicking part comes in when Maiya fatally wounds Kayneth and kills Sola-Ui acting on an order issued before Kayneth agreed to Kiritsugu's terms; and when Kayneth begs Kiritsugu to to end his suffering, Kiritsugu refuses as per the terms of his contract. This enrages Saber, who puts Kayneth out of his misery herself and then lays into her Master for his callous lack of honor.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: The impact of his crueller actions is often diminished by his targets being assholes (of which he may or may not be aware - he doesn't care).
  • Kill the Ones You Love: His willingness to go through with it stems from his past, when he refused to kill his First Love.
    • To "make things right", he kills his father, who was the cause of a zombie outbreak. Kiritsugu might not have done it, if his father hadn't been completely indifferent about it and hadn't mentioned that he'd keep trying these experiments.
    • He was forced to kill his mentor and mother figure to stop her from unleashing zombies into a major city.
    • In his dream, he kills Illya and Angra Mainyu (who took on Iri's appearance), who offered to spare Kiritsugu, Illya and Iri, when Kiritsugu realizes that the Grail will kill every human on the planet.
  • Knight Templar: He is made aware of this by the Grail: so, taking the Grail completely by surprise, he continues templaring to the extent of sincerely and psychologically murdering his wife and daughter, agreeable to his method of realizing his ideal. This sets up an unprecedented opportunity for Kiritsugu to save the world and destroy the Grail, as Angra Mainyu was impersonating his wife at the time, leaving the Grail apparently soulless and vulnerable. He both fails to destroy it and allows the city-destroying fire to ensue.
  • Leitmotif: Magus Killer.
  • Loophole Abuse: How Kiritsugu is able to kill Kayneth and Sola-Ui. He signs a contract that forbids him from killing the two if Kayneth uses his last Command Seal to force Lancer to commit suicide. However the contract only stipulates that he can't kill them, once Lancer is out of the way he has Maya kill the two of them to prevent them from potentially contacting with another Servant.
  • Mage Killer: His title, and he demonstrates the skills throughout the story.
  • Mage Marksman: Magecraft is just another way to get him close enough to blow up or shoot his targets.
  • Meaningful Name: "Kiritsugu" means "cut, connect". His parents named him after his Origin, so this is directly tied to his powers.
  • Missing Mom: His father plays an important role in his backstory, but his mother is never mentioned. She apparently died, while their family was fleeing from the Enforcers, due to Norikata's Sealing Designation.
  • Moral Event Horizon: In-universe example: Saber thinks he crossed it and calls him out on it when he forces Kayneth to have his own Servant commit suicide, and then kills him and his fiance anyways to tie up any loose ends despite the fact Kayneth was pretty much broken by this point. Kiritsugu justifies it by invoking Necessarily Evil and War Is Hell. Played Straight later: he crosses it along with the Despair Event Horizon simultaneously when he fails both to realize his wish and to destroy the Grail. His awareness of his hypocrisy ensures that he will never harm another human again.
  • Muggles Do It Better: Kiritsugu is a magus (albeit an unrefined one), but his methods and tactics are decidedly muggle. Most magi in the Mages Association look down on his crude application of magecraft and reliance on modern technology as disgraceful, but his mundane guns, clever traps and underhanded tactics are exactly what make him a Mage Killer of the highest caliber.
  • Mutual Kill: Narrowly averted during his final duel with Kirei. He manages to aim his loaded Contender at Kirei just in time before Kirei's punch would have destroyed his head. To enforce the point, in the light novel Kiritsugu even notes that he would have won, but would also have died, an assessment Kirei shares at the exact same moment.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Kiritsugu blames himself for the Great Fuyuki fire that destroys a section of the city after ordering Saber to destroy the Grail.
  • Necessarily Evil: Kiritsugu's most basic rule is "The needs of the many outweigh those of the few." One dies to save ten. Five die to save twenty. Six hundred die to save a million. A handful of hundreds die to save billions. He will commit the deed himself and live with the burden on his own conscience, because he seeks a way to ensure no one else will ever need to choose his way again. Viciously deconstructed in the end when the Grail points out the inherent contradiction in this logic by forcing him to choose between two hypothetical groups of differing quantities, knowing he will always spare the greater number, over and over and over until there are only two people left of the whole of humanity, at which point he realizes that the Grail is hopelessly corrupt and cannot grant the wish he wants it to, which leads to him following through on his ideal one last time, destroying the grail and sacrificing his wife and his last chance to see Illya ever again for the good of the world. However, that simply allows the grail's mud to leak out, killing hundreds in the great Fuyuki fire. In the end, Kiritsugu is left a broken shell of a man, wandering the ashes searching for even a single survivor until he finds and saves Shirou. And with that one act of kindness, he manages to accomplish more good than he was able to with all of the guns, knives and bombs in the world..
  • The Needs of the Many: His main principle in saving people — "kill one to save tens", "kill ten to save hundreds". Part of what breaks him is the realization that if he kills the few to save the many often enough, he'll still end up killing more people than he saves.
  • Oh, Crap!: Twice.
  • Perma-Stubble: Somewhat reasonably. At one point he mentions it's been 40 hours since he last slept, which would make it odd if he found time to shave instead.
  • Pet the Dog: Kiritsugu is a ruthlessly efficient assassin with a seemingly cold, jaded outlook on life, but his love for Irisveil and Illya is deep and genuine. When he isn't strategizing or fighting, he seems to be a loving, if aloof, husband and father. Even Saber is taken aback when she sees that side of him.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: His most lethal bullets are made out of powdered ribs. His own powdered ribs, capable of forcing his Origin on his target, which severs their Magic Circuits and crudely reconnects them, hopelessly mangling them in the process. The reason they qualify for this trope is that he made them while he was still a child.
  • Precocious Crush: He had a crush on his older friend Shirley back when he was a boy and was unhappy that she only saw him as a little brother.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: "For me, anyway." Changed to Bond One-Liner in the anime.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: When Saber calls him out on his absolutely ruthless behavior, he retorts that the legends of heroic spirits like her are what have beguiled mankind into glorifying war and suffering for thousands of years.
  • Red Baron:
    • "The Magus Killer".
    • "Mage of the Einzberns" by Kayneth.
  • Save the World: This is Kiritsugu's wish, and aptly so. He takes practical measures to win the Grail War so that he might request that it be done, but, once he wins, the Grail explains that a wish is not a command, as Kiritsugu must use a method he knows will grant what he desires. Once it suggests they use Kiritsugu's methodology in life to realize his dream, Kiritsugu rejects the Grail.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Kiritsugu killed his father to keep him from continuing his experiments and later his mother figure to stop her from unleashing zombies into a major city.
  • Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!
    • He absolutely despises Saber's form of idealism and chivalry because he believes it only leads to more conflict.
    • Near the end of his life, he adopted this attitude towards his own childish ideals, though Shirou helped to come to peace with it.
      Kiritsugu: When I was young, I wanted to become a Hero of Justice very much.
      Shirou: What? You're saying you had wanted to, then have you given up now?
      Kiritsugu: Hmm, it is rather regrettable. Heroes have a time limit too, and it's hard to keep being one once you become an adult. It would have been better if I realized that earlier.
  • Smoking Is Cool: He starts smoking to emulate Natalia. She doesn't stop him, but warns it's an unhealthy habit.
  • The Stoic: He kills his emotions in order to do his job more efficiently. However, he's not always entirely successful.
  • Theme Music Powerup: In the Drama CD, a remixed version of EMIYA plays during his fight with Kirei near the end. This is consciously averted in the anime adaptation; according to Word of God the moment was too tragic, and a Theme Music Powerup would imply that something heroic and uplifting was taking place.
  • This Cannot Be!: His word-for-word reaction to the Great Fuyuki Fire. The result of Angra Mainyu's imperfect incursion into the world at the behest of Kirei Kotomine.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: As the 2014-2015 Unlimited Blade Works anime shows, and the ending of Fate/Zero anime implies, Shirou surviving is a massive one for him, especially after all the crap he's gone through.
  • Totalitarian Utilitarian: His brand of utilitarianism deliberately skirts the line between heroism and villainy, with the story being unclear on whether it sides with his ideas, Saber's, or how different they are in the end.
  • Tragic Hero: The story begins by asserting that it is about how Kiritsugu destroyed himself.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Even as a boy, he barely blinked when called upon to Shoot the Dog. Natalia says it takes most people years to learn how to shut off sentimentality that way.
  • The Unfettered: Anything is permissible so long as the net lives saved is greater than those lost.
  • Unscrupulous Hero: An extreme example. Originally, he wanted to be a "hero of justice" who would help the weak and desperate, but this led him to become an assassin capable of committing many atrocities in his belief that choosing the smaller sacrifice to avoid the greater is always the best outcome.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Unfortunately. His sweetness left him unable to Shoot the Dog, a lot of his actions later in life are driven by his resolution to avoid making that mistake again.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: His general mindset. He sees the Holy Grail as a concrete means to fulfill his ideals, and thus believes any sacrifices made to obtain it are justified. This is precisely why discovering that the Grail has been corrupted since the Third Grail War (by the actions of the family that hired him, no less) completely breaks him.
  • War Is Hell: Here's a game. Pick a few quotes from Kiritsugu and a few from William Tecumseh Sherman, mix them up, and then see if you can tell who said what.
  • Weak, but Skilled: His knowledge of magecraft is not really that impressive due to him specializing purely in killing other people. However, his killing skills are on the same level of an Executor and it's his usage of conventional skills that makes him such a threat.
  • Weapon of Choice: His Mystic Code, the Contender Custom.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The village he lived in as a child was destroyed partially due to his own failure to act. He decided from that moments to end conflict swiftly without his emotions clouding his decisions. He hopes ultimately to remove such conflicts from the world. The realization the evils he purported and the personal sacrifices he made for the greater good would ultimately never be justified breaks him.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Kiritsugu was one as a kid, only wanting to become a hero of justice. This ironically led to him becoming an assassin, albeit one who focuses on killing those who are a danger to others. From a Certain Point of View Kiritsugu is a Wide-Eyed Idealist as an adult as well, since he does his best to believe that his utilitarian philosophy actually can fix many people's problems and has faith that the Holy Grail will allow him to end all suffering, cruelty and death. By the end of the story, he's lost those ideals, though some return in his final moments when Shirou vows to become a hero.
  • Wowing Cthulhu: Kiritsugu's willingness to sacrifice innocent lives to achieve his goals, even if it means taking all the evils in the world onto himself, piques the interest of Angra Mainyu.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Angra Mainyu identifies with him after seeing his willingness to kill people, and voices strong praise for his philosophy of killing others for the greater good. It even encourages him to take pride in the consequences that will result once the Grail takes his methods to their logical extreme to grant his wish. Kiritsugu is visibly disturbed.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Played with. Kiritsugu is carrying on an affair with his partner Maiya behind Irisviel's back. Though it's implied that Irisviel is aware of what is happpening and does not care; and Kiritsugu only does it for self-punishment and emotionally preparing himself to 'betray' his wife, as it's impossible for her to survive the Grail War.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: The Grail's corruption slowly burns away his life, health and magus abilities, leaving him frantic in his attempts to get back to Illya. Unfortunately, he fails.

    Tokiomi Tohsaka 

(Master of Archer)

Voiced by: Show Hayami (Japanese), Marc Diraison (English)

"From the moment a magus is born, he is someone that has 'power'. And some day, he will achieve a 'greater power'. This responsibility was already flowing in his 'blood' before he realized this destiny. That is what it means to be born into this world as the child of a magus."

Tokiomi Tohsaka is the father of Rin and Sakura, the husband of Aoi and the head of the Tohsaka family. Of the three families that founded the Grail War system, he is the only one that is still pursuing the original goal of reaching the Origin. To give himself an advantage, he conspires with his close friend and Grail Overseer Risei to give himself an advantage of the war.

Though he loves his daughters, he allowed his younger daughter Sakura to be adopted by the Matou family because he felt it would give her a better life, earning the hatred of Kariya Matou, who feels that Tokiomi has sold his own daughter to a monster. Tokiomi also works with Risei's son Kirei, who he has taken as his apprentice. Kirei is the Master of Assassin and uses them as an information network while Tokiomi uses the immensely powerful Archer class Servant Gilgamesh. The arrogant Gilgamesh is highly independent, making him very difficult for Tokiomi to control, but he does seem to accept Tokiomi as a subordinate that will occasionally be listened to.

  • '90s Hair: Wears his hair with middle-parted bangs and a soul patch-esque goatee, like a member of a 1990s boy band.
  • The Ace: Reconstructed. He's not an inherently strong mage due to only decent magic circuitry and being from a family that's pretty unremarkable, their only involvement in the creation of the Holy Grail being owning the land. Instead of this hindering him, Tokiomi spent his whole life training and honing his skills as a Magus, even though he was at a major disadvantage. By the time of the story, he's an excellent, though not quite amazing Magus only outdone by Kayneth.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: The anime leaves out a crucial inner monologue when he visits Rin, that fully explains the reason why he gave Sakura up for adoption. In the anime, it looks like Tokiomi is an ambitious magus who only follows tradition. Tokiomi reveals to Kariya that he gave Sakura up because both her and Rin were born with unnatural talent and he couldn't protect both. Finding a distinguished magus family that is willing to adopt and train a child to make them their heir is nigh impossible, which is why he immediately accepted when Zouken promised protection and education for Sakura, so she wouldn't be robbed of her future and fall into "mediocrity". The Light Novel reveals that robbing Sakura of her potential future is technically true, but was interpreted in the most negative way by Kariya. Sakura receiving a Sealing Designation would rob her of her future, so Tokiomi didn't see another choice for her but to become a mage. His belief in the magi institutions and their practices made him fear for Sakura's safety, as Sakura was born with a non-conventional Elemental Trait, which would make her a target for rare specimen-seeking magi.
  • All There in the Manual: Important plot points are left out in the anime and only revealed in the Light Novel, material books and interviews. For instance, one of the reasons he married Aoi is because she can bear her partner a Superior Successor. Word of God revealed Tokiomi didn't intend to have a second child, knowing the second one couldn't receive the Magic Crest of the family. Sakura was conceived because Rin was in serious danger of dying and he needed an heir. As Rin obviously didn't die, he was left with a dilemma, as both daughters were born equally talented and with rare Elemental Traits. Both of them would be in danger of attracting supernatural events and receiving Sealing Designations, but only one could become the Tohsaka family's heir and receive their protection, so he had to find a family that would take in Sakura and protect her.
  • Anti-Villain: Tokiomi is actually decent enough for a mage - but magus values are strict, conservative, elitist and can lead to unpleasant outcomes, and his judge of character is deeply flawed. Pet the Dog below shows some good examples of how. Urobuchi was hesitant to kill him, since Rin apparently inherited her kindness from her father, so he made Tokiomi look like a villain.
  • Arch-Enemy: Kariya utterly hates him because he believes that Tokiomi values his daughters being important more than them being happy. Tokiomi thinks that they are equivalent and in turn despises Kariya for quitting being a magus. They are incapable of understanding each other.
  • Badass Beard: He's a powerful mage with a damn sweet goatee.
  • Badass Bookworm: Mediocre in terms of talent, but very hardworking. Also together with his father the first Tohsaka who made a profit out of maintaining Fuyuki's leylines, which would bring economic success to the tenants on the lands above said leylines. In one of the few actual Master to Master conflicts in the War, he utterly dominates his opponent.
  • Beneath the Mask: Tokiomi gives the impression of a perfect magus, who is elegant and absolutely confident in every decision he makes and never loses composure. Which also fooled Kariya. Tokiomi lost his confidence after Risei's death and was deeply conflicted about Sakura and Rin's lives. He felt very guilty about not being able to give them the choice to walk the path of the magus themselves, a choice his father gave him. Rin would later on put on a similar "perfect" mask in stay night, but beneath that mask would be a far more warm-hearted person compared to her father.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: His magus morality is really strange to muggles. For instance, when Kariya claims that his family has brought him great happiness, Tokiomi agrees; however, where Kariya sees two adoring daughters, Tokiomi sees two talented successors to his legacy. However, since magus tradition demands that only the firstborn child can be cultivated as another magus, Sakura is given to the Matou family. Tokiomi sees this as the best possible life for Sakura, since Sakura would be doomed to mediocrity if she continued living with the Tohsakas. Like his daughter, though, he has some more conventional morals, and prefers to conceal them behind the rhetorical mask of a magus. For instance, the explanation above is a load of bunk and the true reason why he gave Sakura away is only revealed in the Light Novel.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Apparently one of Tokiomi's parents was a foreigner, possibly one of the Edelfelt sisters in the 3rd Holy Grail War (as the Tohsaka somehow acquired the Edelfelt's magic crest).
  • Charm Point: According to supplementary materials, his goatee, which he spends a long time daily carefully grooming.
  • The Chessmaster: Tokiomi fancies himself as one in the 4th Holy Grail War. Of course, he stacked the deck in his favor before the battle actually started. Over the course of the battle though, it becomes obvious that he's not good at coming up with new strategies on the fly as the spanners pop up. Gilgamesh's lack of loyalty and Kirei being the actual brains is what does him in.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Kariya brings out a massive swarm of giant insects. Tokiomi simply roasts them all as well as Kariya himself.
  • Death by Irony: On many levels:
    • Tokiomi starts in the most advantageous position. His house is such a well-fortified stronghold that had Caster not gone super Ax-Crazy he would not have to step outside even once. He successfully summons the strongest Servant in the war and, if all else fails, has another Master working for him undercover. He even exclaims "We have won this war!" with full confidence right after the successful Summoning Ritual. His Servant and his student grow unsatisfied with him and he gets killed in his house.
    • One of his first actions in the War is ordering Kirei to stage an assassination attempt on him. Kirei's second attempt is not staged.
    • He entrusts Kirei with an Azoth Dagger, Kirei kills him with that same dagger shortly afterwards.
  • Didn't See That Coming: He is killed by his own apprentice, Kotomine, because he made the false assumption that his pupil was as loyal as he appeared.
  • Doomed by Canon: It's mentioned early on in the prologue of Fate/stay night that he died while taking part in the 4th Holy Grail War, so it's only a matter of finding out how he dies. Visual Novel readers also knew from the beginning that it was Kirei who ambushed and killed Tokiomi, as Kirei joyfully confesses to Rin in Unlimited Blade Works right before he tries to kill her.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: He appears very shocked when Kotomine stabs him In the Back. In the novel it was over before he knew what was going on.
  • Fatal Flaw: Although he is in many ways the perfect magus, his downfall is that he has too much faith in the institutions of the magi and is a Horrible Judge of Character.
  • Gentleman Wizard: Very much so. In the anime, he discusses the importance of fusing power and elegance.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: Totally averted. He became such an outstanding magus through sheer determination and hard work.
  • Horrible Judge of Character:
    • Tokiomi hands off his daughter to a wrinkled old man who is known to be several centuries old without the slightest concern over whether he could be trusted, just because their families are allied. And because he made An Offer You Can't Refuse.
    • Tokiomi underestimates just how large of an Awesome Ego Gilgamesh has.
    • Kotomine is an aversion, however, because despite what the audience knows, Kotomine has an uncanny ability to gain the trust of others.
  • Irony: He gave Sakura up to protect her from supernatural events and abuse from the monsters of the Mage Association. Ironically, he didn't see that the man who adopted Sakura is a monster that would abuse her for the next ten years. She also would play an important role in a supernatural event, the Fifth Holy Grail War.
  • Magic Staff: His ruby-topped cane is one.
  • Manipulative Bastard: He acts servile to Gilgamesh in an attempt to manipulate him. It works occasionally. Gilgamesh thinks he's pathetic and boring, but since he knows his place he will occasionally deign to do as asked. However, since Gilgamesh has no true respect for Tohsaka, he is quite likely to do whatever he pleases. It turns out that Tokiomi was planning to betray Gilgamesh, who had absolutely no idea. Had Kotomine not clued him in, it likely would have succeeded.
  • Pet the Dog: The story likes to show us that he is well meaning, but misguided and rather stuck in the traditional magus ways. His last meeting with Rin shows his true concern for her. He's also visibly upset when innocents are caught in magical accidents and along with Waver he is one of the only Masters disturbed by the actions of Caster and Ryuunosuke.
  • Playing with Fire: Tokiomi's elemental attribute.
  • Sadistic Choice: The Light Novel reveals that no matter which daughter he would have chosen as his successor, the other one was from Tokiomi's point of view in constant danger of getting a Fate Worse than Death, namely in the form of Sealing Designations given out by the Association. The heir of a distinguished magus family is "protected" from such a fate and also receives the magic crest of the family for further protection from outsiders and supernatural events. Zouken's offer was basically a godsend that instantly solved Tokiomi's dilemma of leaving one daughter in danger. Too bad he didn't see what a monster Zouken is. So Tokiomi either would put one of his daughters in danger for the rest of her life, without any way to protect her (especially because as a Tohsaka he had to participate in the upcoming Grail War and could possibly die), or even if he did find a family for her, he would separate her from her family and she also would have to go through the harsh, bloodstained life of a magus. The latter would mean a better chance at survival.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: He makes a point of being "elegant" even in difficult situations.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: He summoned Gilgamesh into the modern world, which led Kirei to embrace his inner malevolence, and gave Sakura over to Zouken. These two events are the source of pretty much every bad thing that's happened in Fate/stay night, save for the corruption of the Grail itself.
  • Weapon of Choice: His Mystic Code is a staff with a ruby embedded in the top.
  • Wine Is Classy: Like Servant, like Master.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: As soon as the other Masters and Servants were defeated, he was planning to use a Command Spell to make Gilgamesh commit suicide. Kirei warns Gilgamesh, so he retaliates by convincing Kirei to kill Tokiomi first.

    Kayneth El-Melloi Archibald 

(Master of Lancer)

Voiced by: Takumi Yamazaki (Japanese), Doug Erholtz (English)

"In the world of mages, bloodline is everything. The secrets of magic cannot be discovered in a single generation."

Kayneth is a renowned magus and lecturer at the Department of Euryphis in the Magi Association. Apart from this, Kayneth is the head of the noble Archibald family and the El-Melloi faction, and engaged to the department head's daughter, Sola-Ui, though she is less than thrilled about the idea. He is Waver Velvet's teacher and tore his whole controversial thesis to pieces without examining the ideas it contained. In retaliation, Waver stole the catalyst that Kayneth intended to use in the war and entered himself. Upon discovering what Waver had done, an enraged Kayneth uses a second artifact to enter the War, summoning the Lancer class Diarmuid.

  • The Ace: Of all the Masters in the war, he's head and shoulders the most skilled Magus, period. Not only does he have mastery of several high-level magical fields, but he is highly respected, his magical lineage is top-notch and is considered superior in combat to even Tokiomi. Problem is, the War pitted him against Kiritsugu, who despite being an inferior Magus in every single way, he's known as the "Magus Killer" for very damn good reasons and Kayneth paid a steep price for failing to adapt and fighting against him like a Magus would.
  • Alchemy Is Magic: A very skilled alchemist, and creator of Volumen Hydragyrum through his talent.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: He does legitimately love his fiancée Sola-Ui, and part of his beef with his Servant Lancer is that he's well aware that she's infatuated with him instead.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Or at least they're jerks.
  • Arranged Marriage: He's engaged to Sola-Ui Nuada-Re Sophia-Ri as a result of her family pressuring her to marry Lord El-Melloi. Kayneth makes it clear he does have feelings for her, but she couldn't care less about him and soon becomes obsessed with his Servant Lancer.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Able to decipher Kiritsugu's Time Alter after seeing it just once.
  • Badass Bookworm: In sheer magical talent, Kayneth is far and away the single most powerful human magus in the Grail War. Sadly, his first opponent happens to have an extremely powerful countermeasure to such a trait.
  • Break the Haughty: The most blatant case in Fate/Zero, going from someone who has everything but the love of his fiancée to a powerless victim who gets summarily dispatched. After a Hope Spot, no less.
  • Bullying a Dragon: He mocks Lancer despite being wheelchair bound. The only thing that saved him is Lancer's sense of honor.
  • Crazy-Prepared: There's no discernible reason he should have brought a gun all the way from Britain, yet he was shown in possession of a customized Webley .38 Mk IV, a gun that he could have not procured anywhere else.
  • Cuckold: A lot of Kayneth's antagonism towards his servant Lancer is that his fiancee Sola-Ui does not hide her attraction towards Lancer. And then after Kayneth's magic circuits are destroyed, Sola-Ui more or less calls him useless and steals his Command Seals to carry on the battle without him.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • During his battle with Kiritsugu, he uses Volumen Hydrargyrum defensively, but is injured by Kiritsugu's Origin Round anyway. As a result, he rationalizes his injury as being his own fault and so choses to use his entire magical abilities to block the next Origin Round, which results in his Magic Circuits destroying themselves and nearly killing him due to basically dumping his entire magical power to block an attack designed to be used in said situation.
    • In his desperation to still somehow win, he kills Risei after being given a Command Seal. In doing so, he inadvertently allowed Kotomine to inherit them and use them down the road. He is fortunate he died before having to deal with the fallout of said choice.
    • He then willingly accepts a contract with Emiya to put the latter under a geas that prevents Emiya from harming him or Sola-Ui, as long as he uses his final Command Seal to force Lancer to commit suicide. Seconds later, Maiya guns both of them down, on orders Emiya gave her before said geas was placed.
  • Elemental Powers: Possesses wind and water affinities, which is what allows him to make use of his Volumen Hydrargyrum, which is also metal due to being made of mercury.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good:
    • Kayneth is too selfish and/or paranoid, albeit not without reason, to believe that Lancer really does just want to serve with honor.
    • A variation. Kayneth fails to understand why Lancer would be willing to fight honorably with Saber during the Grail War. He makes it clear he sees it as silly, unable to understand why a fundamentally good Servant like Lancer would value honor, chivalry, and pride over just flat out winning.
  • Evil Counterpart: His negative relation to Lancer, and the friction due to their beliefs, is much like a more antagonistic reflection of Shirou and Saber's relationship. The difference here is that Shirou and Saber eventually patch things up between themselves and come to an understanding through communication, even falling in love with one another in the Fate Route. Here? Despite Lancer's attempts to try and reach his Master as respectfully as he can, Kayneth is far too cruel and arrogant to even try and see his Servant's point of view, leading to their deaths.
  • Evil Cripple: After having being crippled by Kiritsugu, he initially seems pitiful, but quickly proves he is still the same by murdering Risei Kotomine after getting an extra command seal from him.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Acts polite, but is a selfish and egotistical man.
  • Frame-Up: He used a gun to kill Risei because he thought that would make everyone believe it was Kiritsugu who did it.
  • Foil: Visually, Kayneth is a blue-clothed blond with the full backing of the Magi Association, a longer pedigree at magecraft, and an unbearable sense of superiority. It is not entirely difficult to look at him as what Luviagelita Edelfelt (from the epilogue of Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works] and Fate/hollow ataraxia) could have been if she did not have charismatic soft touch for people. The only thing missing was that he never had a chance to duel with the Tohsaka involved in the Fourth War—who for his part was potentially a very Worthy Opponent.
  • Gentleman Wizard: Presents himself as such, with the pedigree to match.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Part of the friction between him and Lancer is that Sola-Ui doesn't even bother hiding her attraction to Lancer. As a bonus, he even has green eyes.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Kayneth sneers at modern muggle weaponry, but Kiritsugu's Mystic Code is a gun that shoots anti-magus bullets that destroy the target by shorting out their magic circuits and blowing out their bodies with their own overloaded prana. When Kayneth, a powerful mage, pours all his power into his already-powerful Mystic Code, Kiritsugu's bullet nearly tears Kayneth apart from the backlash.
  • Hypocrite:
    • Kayneth is a firm believer in the superiority of magecraft over modern weapons. He also carries a Webley .38 Mk IV, an extremely improbable gun to find in Japan. That said, his primary objection to modern weaponry seems to be their use in what he had expected to be a test of magical firepower.
    • He also rages at Kiritsugu for using cheap tricks in a prestigious battle like the Grail Wars, but himself used a loophole in the summoning contract to have his fiancee supply Lancer's prana, allowing Kayneth his full magical might in battle. Once again, the distinction seems to be that Kayneth's loophole is an example of magical finesse, while Kiritsugu's "cheap tricks" are mundane things like explosives.
    • He clearly derides Lancer's code of honor and Chivalry and knightly honor in general as foolish, yet at the same time he clearly enjoys the proposition of honorably dueling another magus and is extremely disdainful of Kiritsugu for his "Dishonorable" un-magus-like tactics. This seems to be because he sees Lancer as merely a tool and not as a living being, which is also extremely shallow of him still.
  • Immune to Bullets: His Mystic Code automatically shields him from damage, even explosions.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Volumen Hydragyrum, his Mystic Code, is 140 kg of weaponized liquid mercury. He can shape it according to his will, creating anything from Combat Tentacles to Razor Floss. He can even use it to scout out his environment, locating enemies through their heat signatures and vibration.
  • Insufferable Genius: He really is talented, but Kayneth's arrogant nature makes him rather unsympathetic for the majority of the war.
  • It's All About Me: He's a pathological narcissist and like most narcissists, doesn't realize it. He eventually realizes his mistakes, but he is killed before he can reconcile them.
  • Jerkass: Kayneth is a massive asshole.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Kayneth dismisses Waver's theory to increase one's potential through effort and experience which would allow a new mage to overcome the handicap of being generations behind. Well, Waver would later concede that Kayneth was right. Even after becoming a great and respected lecturer, as a mage, Waver is nothing more than mediocre. More delicate control does make one better, but not better than a mage who has the knowledge of decades of work and a bloodline that continuously brings out children with more and better circuits. However, while he does make a good point, the issue is that he uses this to belittle Wave instead of encouraging him. So he had a good point, but he still is an asshole for said point.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Also his Establishing Character Moment: In his arrogance and his beliefs in tradition, he not only dismisses Waver's paper, he denounces and ridicules Waver in front of the whole class, making him a laughing stock.
    • He murders Risei Kotomine (in his own church, no less) to ensure none of the other Masters can get extra Command Spells. Very unfortunately, by doing so he unwittingly cleared the way for Kirei to do just that.
  • Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: He is praised by Tokiomi for how well he abides by the rules of the Holy Grail War... though his challenge to Kiritsugu for a proper duel doesn't end well for him.
  • Loophole Abuse: Kayneth modifies and exploits the contract system so that while he carries the Command Seals and serves as Lancer's anchor in the present world, Sola-Ui is the one supplying Lancer with the prana he needs. This allows Kayneth to fight at full strength without needing to worry about sharing his prana with his Servant. It's a double-edged sword though, as it means that taking out Kayneth or Sola-Ui would make Lancer disappear.
  • Love Hurts: He really does love Sola-Ui, but she isn't too happy about the Arranged Marriage, and nothing he does wins her over. The fact that Sola seems enamored with Lancer means that he not only has to worry about the Grail War, but also worry that his own fiance might leave him for a Servant of all people.
  • Love Martyr: Zigzagged. He tries to save Sola-Ui even though she betrayed and tortured him. However, he acknowledges his ambitions were at fault for their marriage falling apart.
  • Morph Weapon: His mercury is capable of forming whips, spears, blades, and even shields for attack and defense.
  • Pet the Dog: Despite Sola-Ui threatening to break his fingers in order to make him give her his Command Seals after he's crippled, he still cares enough about her that when Kiritsugu has both of them at gunpoint with a one way for her to survive, he takes, though it means he's removed from the War and potentially shames the Archibald family in the process.
  • "Reason You Suck" Speech: Gives one to Waver, calling him weak and inexperienced. Iskander responds that Kayneth is far too cowardly to ever be his master.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Subverted. Much of his bad relationship with his wife is due to prioritizing his career as a mage over his marriage. When Kiritsugu offers the trade of Sola-Ui life for his backing out of the tournament, Kayneth ultimately accepts. Considering that the Grail was the only thing that could possibly restore his magic circuits, he was essentially choosing his marriage over his lifelong dream. The subversion comes from the fact that him and her getting shot by Maiya was not part of the deal.
  • Rules Lawyer: How he attains one of the Command Seals after the defeat of Caster in Season Two - he rightly points out that it's his name on the paperwork, rather than his fiancee's.
  • Sadist Teacher: He cruelly mocks and humiliates Waver in front of the class by tearing up his thesis, and later graduates to Evil Teacher by threatening to very painfully kill Waver for stealing his first summoning artifact, though he largely leaves Waver alone after the threat.
  • Smug Snake: He's utterly convinced of his own invulnerability, and believes that his victory is nearly a foregone conclusion. If the War was actually a test of magic, he may well have been right. Of course, it's not.
  • Tragic Villain: Over the course of the War, Kayneth goes from a mostly unsympathetic Jerkass who lacks only the love of Sola-Ui to have everything he could imagine, to a crippled, saddened wreck torn apart by trust issues with his fiancee and Servant before he is offed without mercy. By the time he finally bites the bullet, it's almost impossible to not feel at least some sympathy.
  • Villainous Breakdown: His composure quickly deteriorates once Kiritsugu manages to hit him during their battle, complete with disappearance of his usual Gentleman Wizard façade.
  • Weapon of Choice: His Mystic Code, Volumen Hydragyrum, is a mass of weaponized mercury.
  • The Worf Effect: He's the most skilled Magus of all the Masters in the Holy Grail War and the most stiff-necked and haughty about their methods and traditions, so he's the one that Kiritsugu beats several times by using his pragmatic and destructive methods, cementing his title as the Magus Killer.

    Waver Velvet 

(Master of Rider)

Voiced by: Daisuke Namikawa (Japanese), Lucien Dodge (English)
Click here to see Waver's apearance post-Zero 

"What I wish for is only to be judged equitably. To renew the impression of my colleagues at the Clock Tower, who never acknowledged my talent..."

Waver Velvet is a non-traditional student at the Clock Tower of the Magi Association. He put forward the notion of increasing magical potential with methods that go against the ancient tradition of bloodline inheritance, which not-coincidentally sneers at the potential of his own unremarkable bloodline. His teacher, Kayneth, openly mocked his work and humiliated him in front of his class for questioning tradition and "basic rules". In retaliation, Waver steals Kayneth's summoning artifact and enters the War, intending to win the Grail to prove his worthiness.

While Waver is young and neither particularly strong nor talented, he tends to favor simple but effective methods that his enemies in the war frequently overlook. This along with his humility leads to Waver having the closest Master and Servant bond in the war with the mighty Iskander of the Rider class.

  • Action Survivor: Waver wasn't directly involved in any fights (leaving the fighting to Rider and only supporting him with his mana and investigative skills) and is the only Master that makes it out of the Grail War unscathed.
  • Adorkable: It shows all the more since he's a straight-laced type A Tsundere Master with a Boisterous Bruiser for a Servant.
  • The Atoner: Post-Zero, Waver picks up the pieces that were left behind after Kayneth was killed and the El-Melloi faction was on the brink of ruin, as he acknowledges that he was partially responsible for Kayneth's death. The heir to the El-Melloi faction, Reines, eventually makes him restore the Archibald family's Magic Crest, pay off their debts and become her personal tutor. To bind him to her, she also adopts Waver into the family as her step-brother and grants him the title "Lord El-Melloi" until she comes of age.
  • Badass Bookworm: He found Uryuu's lair using what amounts to magic-based Forensic Science. Also, after he returns as a lecturer at the Clock Tower, he quickly gains reputation as a practical and superior instructor. The El-Melloi heir eventually recognizes his achievements, orders him to serve her as her personal tutor and makes him Lord El-Melloi II, the youngest Lord of the Clock Tower in its entire history.
  • Boring, but Practical: His method to find Caster's hideout is basically forensic chemistry, just with magical residue instead of blood or skin cells, and would be considered novice-level among magi. Waver is disappointed that he can't do anything flashier, but Rider considers his clever use of limited tools more worthy of praise than raw talent.
  • Breakout Character: Has appeared in multiple series after this; even in adaptations where he didn't appear in the original. Like Aoko and Touko before him; many of these series are Alternate Universe but he is depicted as roughly the same character. He's The Cameo in the anime adaptation of Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works], a cameo in the anime adaptation of Fate/Apocrypha, and a cameo in Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA, he has a more major role in Fate/strange fake, he is the main character in Lord El-Melloi II Case Files, and is a major Caster Servant himself (although fused with Zhuge Lang) in Fate/Grand Order.
  • Butt-Monkey: Waver gets to be the butt of a lot of jokes involving himself and Rider, due to his teenaged ego and small stature contrasting with Rider's boisterous confidence and enormous build but this just leads to his growth as a character, making him the only good character to end up better off at the end of the war than before it. The All Around TYPE-MOON Drama CD really plays it up as well.
  • The Cameo:
    • Appears briefly in the 2015 Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works] anime (as Lord El-Melloi II) to have a short conversation with Shirou. Despite not managing to exchange names, Shirou and Waver seems to mutually understand and respect how their experiences of participating in the Holy Grail War made them realize their ideals—and what they should do to attain them.
    • He also appears in the first episode of the Fate/Apocrypha anime alongside Flat Escardos to provide exposition for the concept of the Great Holy Grail War. He returns in the final episode to take Caules Forvedge Yggdmillenia under his wing as his newest student after the war is over.
  • Character Development: Goes from a self-centered, obnoxious, arrogant brat to a true man, a dignified and loyal follower of the great King of Conquerors that even Gilgamesh somehow considers worthy of living.
  • Charm Person: One of the few things he can accomplish with magecraft. He uses it on the Mackenzies just to score free room and board, although it stops working when they start to notice inconsistencies. In a CD drama he uses it to convince Taiga to go home and stop trying to catch the guy who walked off with a barrel of wine from her family's bar, left a giant hole in the wall, and took off in a flying chariot, before she realizes she's been walking around with him and his Master all evening.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: He's the only Master in the war who doesn't cheat at some point, and while he doesn't win, he makes it through the war alive, and is the only one of the surviving Masters who is better off at the end of the war than he was at the start.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: Fate/Zero is one for him.
  • Cowardly Lion: As scared as he is about the war, he's willing to stand and fight alongside Rider.
  • Cowardly Sidekick: He cries and screams as his Servant drags him to the action. He gets better.
  • He Is All Grown Up: Following the 4th Grail War, Waver hits a major growth spurt that turns him from a short, mousy nerd into the Tall, Dark, and Handsome lust object of many a female student.
  • Heroes Gone Fishing: An avid videogame player later in life.
  • Hero-Worshipper: In the end, facing Gilgamesh alone, Iskander asks if Waver would serve him. Without hesitating, he replies that he would. When Gilgamesh confronts him after defeating Iskander, he proudly replies that he's not Rider's Master, but his follower. Although later he wished more to be his friend than his servant.
  • His Own Worst Enemy: The guidebooks list his natural enemy as "Himself", because of how his arrogant yet self-deprecating immaturity is the biggest obstacle in his life. As Fate/Zero is his Coming-of-Age Story, he spends the Holy Grail War learning to overcome himself.
  • His Quirk Lives On: Later in life, he becomes a passionate videogame lover just like Iskander. He also wears Iskander's colors when he becomes Lord El-Melloi II.
  • Hot Teacher: According to his profile as Lord El-Melloi II, "Professor Charisma" is apparently very popular with his female students: they even voted him the number one man they'd have sex with.
  • Humble Hero: He quickly grows less arrogant and bratty. Supplemental materials mention that he's outright annoyed with the prestige and popularity he's gained as Lord El-Melloi II after the War, because he wants to be recognized for his personal efforts as a magus rather than a teacher with extraordinary students.
  • Humble Pie: Kayneth utterly humiliates him in public at the very start of the story. This prompts him to impulsively enter the Grail War to prove his worth and rebuild his shattered ego.
  • Identical Stranger: In the anime, the camera lingers on a soldier in Rider's Ionioi Hetairoi with a peculiarly strong resemblance to Waver's future self. And given how the Throne of Heroes exists outside of time, it's even possible that the soldier is Waver.
  • I Have Many Names: Waver acquires a large swath of titles and nicknames upon becoming a Clock Tower professor. Examples include Master V, Great Big Ben ★ Londonstar, Professor Charisma, and — most notably and amusingly — Lord El-Melloi II.
  • Inept Mage: He says that the Charm Person trick he used on the Mackenzies is a basic spell any mage should be able to do... but it fails twice. Within ten years post-series, he outgrows this trope in the sense that he becomes an expert in the theory of magecraft, even though his raw power remains quite frankly pitiful.
  • Inferiority Superiority Complex: While Waver begins the series as quite arrogant and self-assured, Rider's forceful presence quickly strips away that confidence, revealing his insecurities about his less-than-stellar talent at magecraft.
  • Lovable Coward: Frequently panics and worries about the dangers of the War. Despite this, Iskander is quick to point out that Waver rides with him into battle, making him more courageous than several other masters.
  • Manly Tears: After Iskander dies, Waver weeps, but he maintains his dignity.
  • Naïve Newcomer: The only contender in the Grail Wars that wasn't already accustomed to high stakes mage battles. Kayneth briefly mocks him over his inexperience.
  • The Napoleon: Iskander's even joked that he should use the Holy Grail to make himself taller.
  • Non-Action Guy: Waver is merely a student and lacks any real combat ability.
  • Occidental Otaku: Later in life, he has a well known preoccupation with Japanese video games. He was quite excited to learn that one of the students he was sponsoring was actually Japanese... until he discovered that she knew absolutely nothing about Akihabara or otaku culture. Said student was Rin Tohsaka.
  • Odd Friendship: With Iskander; it's like a shy booknerd and a boisterous sports team captain.
  • Older Than They Look: He's nineteen or so, but he's so short and skinny he looks several years younger. Particularly highlighted in any scene where he's wearing pyjamas, and official art that sticks him in a group of six-year-olds. Plus, he somehow gets an incredibly late growth spurt post-series, which makes his nineteen-year-old appearance look much younger by comparison.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: He's that type of otaku that loves what Japan has to offer, but doesn't quite like the Japanese themselves. The above incident mentioned in Occidental Otaku ends with Waver exclaiming that she's "the worst Japanese there" after she tells him what he didn't want to hear.
  • Remember the New Guy?: In the original Fate/Stay Night visual novel, it is often mentioned that the only masters to have survived the fourth Holy Grail War were Kiritsugu and Kirei. However Waver did manage to survive in the end. Later, he gets a cameo in the Ufotable anime adaptation of Unlimited Blade Works. Could also be a minor case of Ret Gone as he lost the Holy Grail War (which implied that people forgot he participated in the War) and went by another name in his later years and was known as a teacher but not a magus.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Subverted. After Gilgamesh kills Iskander he mentions that as Iskander's retainer, it is Waver's duty to avenge his king. Waver refuses, as that would be suicide and Iskander had ordered him to live. Gilgamesh considers this a sign of true loyalty and allows him to live.
  • Running Gag: His Servant can literally knock him down with one flick of the finger, which is an efficient means of silencing his many complaints.
  • Sidekick: Ironically, to his own Servant. And he knows it. And he's bitter about it - at least at first.
  • Staring Down Cthulhu: His unwavering stare and loyalty to Iskandar actually causes Gilgamesh to back down from otherwise killing him, and even compliments him on his great courage while leaving.
  • Surpassed the Teacher: Nope. At least not as a mage. Kayneth wasn't wrong when he said that one cannot overcome the generational gap between mages just with proper education, as Waver stays a mediocre mage. He inherits Kayneth's Mystic Code, Volumen Hydragyrum, reworks and upgrades it into a Meido Automata bodyguard for Reines and widely becomes known as a great instructor and the youngest Lord the Clock Tower has ever seen, but his most famous work is also just him finishing Kayneth's research and organizing it into a single encyclopedia.
  • They Called Me Mad!: His reasons for joining the Holy Grail War are an attempt to prove his beliefs that Kayneth sneered at and the other students laughed at.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Iskander's videogames. Character materials also show him wearing the shirt emblazoned with "The Admiral's Great Tactics" that Iskander previously wore. He even keeps the fragment of Rider's cloak that he used as his catalyst.
  • Translation Convention: A special Voice Drama featuring teenage Taiga, reveals that Waver doesn't know Japanese at the start of the HGW, and has been speaking English the whole time until now. You would never know this otherwise as he barely speaks any English.
  • Tsundere: In great Nasuverse tradition, Waver is exasperated and frustrated by Iskander's boisterous nature, but develops a strong respect for him.
  • Undying Loyalty: Eventually has this to Iskander, swearing to serve and follow the King of Conquerors' ideals for the rest of his life.
  • Wizarding School: He is formally studying to be a mage, and later goes on to teach future mages.

    Ryuunosuke Uryuu 

(Master of Caster)

Voiced by: Akira Ishida (Japanese), Johnny Yong Bosch (English)

"Nah, it's fine. I'm kind of a demon. But if there were real demons beside me, I'd like to try to talk a little with them. Now that'd be nice."

Unlike the rest of the participants in the Grail War, Ryuunosuke is not a magus nor is he even aware of the Grail War (or even what a grail is) when the story begins. Rather, he's a bog-standard serial killer with latent magus potential who simply stumbles across a grimoire, performs the rituals inside using the blood of his victims out of curiosity, and summons a Servant where he vaguely expected a demon. Because of his own twisted nature and insanity, he summons an equally insane Servant in the form of Gilles de Rais, a Caster class Servant that shares his love of murder. Neither of the two has any actual interest in winning the Grail War (nor any idea how to actually do so) and Ryuunosuke simply amuses himself by killing civilians with his Servant in extremely gruesome ways that are, oddly enough, played for a measure of dark comedy. A brutal, heartless, Hidan-level sadist, and all-around not very nice man, he delights in causing pain and suffering, especially in children.

Despite being the least in touch with reality or the Grail War, Caster and Ryuunosuke have a cheerfully deranged, friendly relationship matched only by that of Waver and Rider.

  • Animal Motifs: Ever since he saw an animal program about leopards, he became obsessed with them, and made their way of life a model for his own. This is depicted by him always wearing something with leopard print on it (his shoes in the anime).
  • Ax-Crazy: He starts out the story as a serial killer and exits the story as a serial killer. To illustrate just how fucked up Ryuunosuke's brain is, his Servant has a skill called "Mental Pollution" based on his insanity which prevents Caster from getting along with anyone whose mind is not equally twisted. Ryuunosuke and Caster understand each other perfectly.
  • Badass Creed: Delivers a truly epic speech about his strange morality after Rider and Waver destroy their "art studio" on the subject of how God appreciates both benevolent and evil actions.
  • Beauty Is Bad: He is very attractive, but is also probably one of the most evil of the characters in the Fate series.
  • Bishōnen: Rather pretty and effeminate to look at.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: His introduction to Caster includes his name, his employment - odd jobs and errands, mostly - and his hobby. Which is murder.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: He really delights in being evil.
  • Catchphrase: "Cool!" Caster picks it up later on thanks to him.
  • Churchgoing Villain: The curious thing is that he seems more devout in his affection for God than even the characters who are actually priests. Granted, his worship comes out as mass-murdering and macabre "works of art"...
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: As part of his hobbies.
  • Death Seeker: His happiest moments in probably his whole entire life was watching his own blood gushing out after getting shot in the stomach by Kiritsugu, and after lamenting that he wished he had thought of spilling his own blood/dying sooner, he died with a smile upon his face after getting the top of his head blown off by the second shot.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Ryuunosuke's first appearance is him acting casual around a boy whose family he just murdered so he could summon a demon. He then gets excited at the thought of a demon killing someone. He even offers up the boy to Caster after he thinks he summoned one.
    "Here, wanna eat this kid?"
  • Evil Duo: He and Bluebeard spend most of their time slaughtering children together.
  • Evil Is Not Well-Lit: Seems to enjoy hanging out in dimly lit areas. His sewer base had only a few flood lamps and the lights are kept off when he is in normal rooms. This serves to hide the mutilated corpses of the children that comprise his "art."
  • Evil Redhead: What with the child murder and all.
  • Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon: Sure he may look innocent, but keep in mind the "Mental Pollution" skill brings in the servant whose mind matches his the most and it just so happens to give him possibly the single most twisted and sadistic servant in the entire Fate series and that guy most certainly does not look like an angel.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Like his Servant, he's friendly and cheerful a lot of the time, right down to asking one of his victims politely if he'd be okay with getting killed by a demon. There are fleeting moments when the cheery façade cracks and reveals the vicious murderer beneath.
  • Foil: Of Souichirou Kuzuki, The Master of Caster during the Fifth Holy Grail War.
    • To start, both of their occupations involve killing people with Souichirou being a Professional Killer while Ryuunosuke is a Serial Killer. However Souichirou has been trained to be an assassin from childhood onwards and takes no pleasure in his kills, even regretting them, while Ryuunosuke has a normal life, chooses to be a Serial Killer, and enjoys taking the lives of others without remorse.
    • Furthermore, both meet their Caster Servants completely by chance and have no interest in obtaining the grail, but still follow them anyway because of the strong bonds they share with their servant. For Souichirou, it is because he's found someone that can make him truly happy for the first time; for Ryuunosuke, it is because he's found someone who enjoys committing depraved acts just as much a he does. Also, Souichirou would fight alongside his servant against anyone who opposes them, while Ryuunosuke usually stays out of his servant's way and continues killing innocents.
    • They also share the view of Good and Evil being equally important in the world, but while Souichirou is mostly neutral, its obvious that Ryuunosuke lies within the Evil spectrum.
    • Even their deaths serve as parallels to one another, in that Souichirou dies in a furious attempt to kill the people who murdered his servant - the one person who showed him any happiness in his life - while Ryuunosuke calmly accepts his death making him the happiest that he has ever felt in his life, leaving his still-living servant alone.
    • Appearance and personality-wise, Sourichiro looks thuggish and menacing and shows very little emotion, but is actually a Nice Guy capable of caring for others, while Ryuunosuke looks innocent and harmless and shows a wide variety of emotion, but underneath the facade lies a truly reprehensible sociopath, with no redeeming qualities.
  • For the Evulz: He thinks murdering women and children is fascinating and "cool".
  • Freaky Is Cool: Ryuunosuke is incredibly happy to be friends with someone who shares his hobby.
  • Go Out with a Smile: In Volume 3, when Kiritsugu snipes him. It's visible in the anime, too.
    Even though his entire head above the nose had been blown away without a trace, his lips still traced a smile of total bliss.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Used in a rather dark way after Rider burns up their lair:
    Ryuunosuke: How could someone do that and call themselves a human?! (sob)
  • In Love with Your Carnage: He's fascinated by how inventive his Servant can be when it comes to murder. People contain all sorts of cool stuff and pretty colors.
  • Irony: In spite of being the Master/Servant duo who expected each other the least (the rest had specifically selected their Servants), they get along far better than all the other servants, especially the ones with higher moral standards. It's justified in-universe since he was one of the few Masters not to use a catalyst in order to retrieve a specific Servant, meaning the Grail assigned one that matched his personality.
  • Karma Houdini: Despite having killed families and many children, the only "justice" he ever receives for his actions is getting shot to death by Kiritsugu, and that actually made him the happiest he had ever felt in his entire life.
  • Kick the Dog: Let's just say he makes this a hobby.
  • Laughably Evil: Despite his being a terrifically creepy sadist, his gushing over evil is too Played for Laughs to be taken seriously compared to the heinous acts of his partner. He draws the summoning circle in blood with his big toe, the grimoire in one hand and the other being used for goofy gestures, and stumbles through the ritual, going off on bizarre tangents and holding a conversation with his one surviving victim by interpreting his muffled screams.
  • Luminescent Blush: In the anime, Bluebeard's sadistic shenanigans often make Ryuunosuke's face turn pink in excitement.
  • Malevolent Mutilation: Although for censor reasons it wasn't depicted in the anime, in the light novel and manga, Ryuunosuke would often mutilate the bodies of children into things such as furniture and musical instruments. If that wasn't bad enough, thanks to Caster's magic, the children were still alive throughout the process and could not pass out from the torture. They could do nothing but wallow in pain.
  • Misanthrope Supreme: It's clearly obvious based on his personality and his "hobby" that he has absolutely no love nor care for other humans, not even his own family. Also according to an entry on him in the Fate/Zero material encyclopedia; he is fond of animals, and loves going to safari parks and watching nature documentaries on TV. However, it seems he can only appreciate violence when the target is a human. While he may admire sharks and other predators, he has never once desired to be one himself, because as far as he's concerned the most skillful hunter of humans is another human.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: He finds his servant, a creepy-looking mage who summons even creepier looking monsters, to be really cool. He was also enchanted by the sight of his own blood.
  • Pastimes Prove Personality: He works odd jobs but murder is his hobby.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Ryuuonsuke's actions and mental state are equivalent to those of a six year old burning ants with a magnifying glass. Just...scaled up.
  • Rousing Speech: Delivers a long and coherent speech on his thoughts on the role of evil and God in the universe after Rider burns down the duo's art studio, which succeeds at getting Caster out of his slump and accept his role as a villain in God's great narrative.
  • Sadist: He enjoys torturing and killing people, and his first response after summoning Bluebeard is telling him to find new and more brutal ways to torture and kill.
  • Slasher Smile: A more amiable one than usual, but it fits.
  • The Sociopath: He casually talks about the artistic value of his torture to the people he's torturing, and is utterly devoted to dog-kicking.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: As explained under Ax-Crazy, Caster is a Servant with insanity leagues beyond human standards, and Ryuunosuke is equally messed up, meaning the two are perfect partners.
  • Villainous Friendship: He and his Servant seem to be genuinely fond of each other, making them ironically the best Master/Servant relationship in the entire series including Fate/stay night. Most of the other servants and their masters have ideals that clash too much to have a functioning bond that doesn't require bantering.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Something he and his Servant have in common is butchering children.
  • You Monster!: He is called a demon by the news. He doesn't mind. His introduction has him giving a little speech casually contemplating whether he likes that title, or if actual demons would think it was impolite. Which is one of the reasons he tried summoning one - so he could ask.
    Uryuu 'Sup! I'm Uryuu Ryuunosuke, and I'm a demon! I don't know if that's how I should be introducing myself...
  • Your Head Asplode: Kiritsugu's second bullet takes off the top of his head, though the anime downgrades the violence somewhat and obscures the damage.

    Kariya Matou 

(Master of Berserker)

Voiced by: Tarusuke Shingaki (Japanese), Liam O'Brien (English)

"Say, Sakura-chan, shall we play together again when uncle's work is finished? Together with your mother and big sister."

Kariya is the White Sheep of the Matou family and the first in many generations to have any real talent for magecraft. However, due to his disgust with his family he severed ties with them ten years prior, earning him the ire of family head Matou Zouken. Kariya has loved Aoi since they were childhood friends, so upon seeing Tokiomi Tohsaka apparently abandoning one of the girls he views almost as his own daughters he vows to protect her. While Kariya has no interest in the Grail, he made a deal with Zouken that should he win the Grail for him, Sakura will be taken from the horrible abuse Zouken intends for her and released back to the Tohsaka family.

However, despite his noble intentions, Kariya simply lacks the training to participate as an equal and is inflicted with parasitic worms that will boost his abilities in exchange for rapidly degrading his health. Making matters worse, Zouken forces him to summon a Berserker class Servant, all previously summoned examples of which have killed their Masters either directly or through the staggering power they consume in battle. Berserker and Kariya cannot interact directly due to Berserker's madness, but Kariya can issue orders, and sometimes glimpses Berserker's thoughts while sleeping, though these only disturb him. He has no interest in his Servant's identity.

  • Adaptational Attractiveness: The anime adaptation toned his Two-Faced face down a bit, making it look like the consequences of a bad stroke in comparison to his appearance in the light novels.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: The anime leaves out most of the monologues, which includes him calling everyone else idiots and him being the only who supposedly knows the truth. It also in general puts him in a better light, as his flaws aren't called out by the narrator.
  • All for Nothing: He gives up his pursuit of Aoi in order to protect her from Zouken's plans. Later on, he would even join the Fourth War to try to save Sakura and help Aoi. In the end, Kariya would fail to win the Grail War, fail to save Sakura, strangle and handicap Aoi, and end up dying miserably without having accomplished any of his goals.
  • Big Damn Heroes: He destroys one of Caster's familiars right before it can kill Rin.
  • Body Horror: He is filled with Crest worms that are eating him alive. The damage is so extensive that he's half-blind, half-paralysed and exhibits all the signs and symptoms of a stroke victim. Trying to use magic makes his capillaries explode. And those worms? He lets them turn into giant beetles and expels them from his body. He's got it as bad as poor Sakura.
  • Butt-Monkey: Even though he doesn't physically appear in the Einzbern Consulation Room specials, Berserker and Iri both view him as hopeless.
  • Byronic Hero: Kariya starts off entirely well intentioned, but his resentment and envy of Tokiomi merely grows with time and is partially to blame for the two failing to understand the full situation when they confront each other. In the end, he fails to save Sakura; nearly kills Aoi himself; and dies a lonely, ugly death.
  • Cain and Abel: With Byakuya. He is the Abel, while depressed alcoholic Byakuya is the Cain.
  • Cast from Hit Points: He lacks training as a magus despite his talent and thus Zouken infests him with worms to boost his abilities at the expense of them slowly devouring him.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: He has loved Aoi since he was young, but due to his abandoning the Matou family she married Tokiomi.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Contrary to what his sinister appearance might suggest, he's a pretty decent guy whose reason for entering the Holy Grail War is the nicest of all the Masters excepting perhaps Kiritsugu, who just wants to fix the world.
  • Despair Event Horizon: When Aoi, never realizing Kariya's love for her, accuses him of never having loved someone, he snaps.
  • Determinator: He begins the War infested with carnivorous worms that slowly rob his bodily functions. It only goes down from there, but he does not give up.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: This is his status with Aoi at the start of the story. The two were Childhood Friends and it's greatly implied that the two may have ended up together had Kariya not walked away from his life as a Mage.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: So dogged, he still hangs around Aoi despite her being married for several years to and having two children with Tokiomi. And he fails to realize that Aoi actually loves Tokiomi.
  • Doomed by Canon: He enters the war on the condition that Zouken will release Sakura if he manages to win. Needless to say, he's destined to fail.
  • Driven by Envy: Though he genuinely wishes to save Sakura and help Aoi, jealousy is definitely also one of his motivations.
  • Dying Dream: His last vision before his death is of Sakura, Rin, Aoi and himself safely escaping together. The capstone is the two girls smiling while calling him "Uncle Kariya".
  • Face of a Thug: He looks horrifying after being infested by the Crest Worms, but he's still a good guy.
  • Family Theme Naming: Kariya and his older brother Byakuya have names referring to birds (goose and crane, respectively).
  • Fond Memories That Could Have Been: He dies dreaming of escaping with Aoi, Sakura, and Rin, and bringing them together as a family.
  • Go Out with a Smile: Kariya dies with a satisfied smile, comforted by dreams of escaping with Aoi, Sakura, and Rin and starting a family together.
  • Handicapped Badass: By virtue of controlling Berserker and being a Determinator.
  • Hero Antagonist: Besides Kiritsugu, Kariya is one of few Masters with a noble goal.
  • Honorary Uncle: Rin and Sakura refer to Kariya as 'Uncle Kariya'.
  • Hopeless Suitor: Aoi is not only unaware of how he feels, she's already happily married.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: In order to bolster Kariya's mana levels, Zouken feeds him a special Crest Worm. Said Crest Worm is implied to be the one that stole Sakura's virginity.
  • I Just Want to Be Loved: All he ever wanted was to be a Parental Substitute for Sakura and Rin. Sadly, he gets repeatedly screwed over by the world and his own flaws.
  • In the Hood: Kariya wears a hood to help him look more low key due to the obvious damage the worms have done to his body.
  • Irony: Despite how much he wants to ensure Sakura's safety and happiness, he is partially responsible for all the bad things that happen to her.
    • It is ultimately Kariya's own fault that Sakura was given to the Matou; had Kariya not ran away, become a magus, and gotten over Aoi, he could have extended the Matou line and Zouken would have had no need for Sakura.
    • Given how desperate Kariya is to save Sakura, Zouken feeds him the Crest Worm that stole Sakura's purity and mocks him over it.
      Zouken: "That piece of prana you swallowed just now came from a Lust Worm. The one that first absorbed Sakura's innocence. How about that, Kariya? The vitality of a young girl, absorbed continuously over the course of this past year - it is the best magecraft energy of all, yes?"
    • Finally, Kariya dies in his attempt to save Sakura, succumbing to the worms and being devoured by them right in front of her eyes. His death demoralizes Sakura and convinces her that she should not attempt to fight against Zouken.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: The Zero material states that while he has always loved Aoi, and Zouken in fact did intend to set her up with Kariya due to fertility and ability to bring out the best magical traits, he knew what Zouken intended to do with any heirs they might have. This is a large factor in why he abandoned the Matou clan. In the present, however, he can't or won't admit that Aoi is happy with Tokiomi and supports his decision to have Sakura adopted.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Before the Crest Worms had their way with screwing up his body, Kariya actually looks quite nice, even if unremarkable.
  • Laughing Mad: When he starts laughing his ass off, it's not a sign his mental health is particularly robust.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Two times he sends Berserker charging into the fray, despite not being a trained magus and Berserker consuming unbearably large amounts of Kariya's mana. Why? Why, to attack Tokiomi's Servant, the strongest Servant in the Grail War. Kariya completely forgets his actual goal to win the Grail because of his personal vendetta.
  • Leitmotif: "The Kariya's Theme".
  • Locked into Strangeness: His hair has turned white as a result of the worms implanted in his body.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Not realizing that Aoi never wanted Kariya to fight Tokiomi, when she raged at him for apparently causing Tokiomi's death, he strangles her, leaving her with brain damage for the rest of her life.
  • Love Martyr: He endures so much pain and attempts to sacrifice his life in order to save Sakura and earn Aoi's gratitude, but she only loves Tokiomi and is totally oblivious to his love for her.
  • Madness Mantra: "Endured, endured, endured, endured..." Right before he strangles Aoi.
  • Make an Example of Them: Sakura sees Kariya's death as an example of what happens to those who oppose Zouken.
  • Manchild: Urobuchi, Nasu and Takeuchi describe Kariya as a 中二病 (chunibyo), "someone who pretends to know how the world works in spite of being a kid, or someone who pretends to be special far from others". They were actually surprised how popular Kariya turned out to be, despite his obvious flaws. In Kariya's case, he never got over Aoi and moved on. Getting her back and getting rid of Tokiomi was one of his motivations to participate in the Grail War. He also never understood Tokiomi's view regarding Sakura's adoption, lacking the knowledge Tokiomi had about Sakura and Rin and never bothering to explain why Tokiomi made a mistake.
  • Martyr Without a Cause: Perhaps the true tragedy behind of all of Kariya's suffering; his actions are driven without any real consideration for what Aoi actually wants. He believes that by saving Sakura, and killing Tokiomi, she and her daughters will ultimately be happier with him as the father instead.
  • Mistaken for Murderer: Kotomine tricks Kariya and makes him look like Tokiomi's murderer in front of Aoi. Kariya doesn't react well to Aoi's grief-stricken rage.
  • Motive Decay: Kariya enters the Holy Grail war with the express purpose of freeing Sakura from her fate as the new Matou heir. Overtime, it becomes apparent that his true motive being to kill Tokiomi so that he can replace him as the patriarch of the Tohasaka family.
  • Nice Guy: As shown in the prologue, he is the nicest of all the Masters. Sadly, his desperation to save Sakura before the Crest Worms kill him as well as his hatred for Tokiomi causes him to degrade in this regard when he's not interacting with Sakura.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Kariya, despite his ambitions, ironically creates a worst situation for Aoi and her daughters. He causes Aoi to have a mental breakdown, demoralizes Sakura from ever wanting to rebel against Zouken, and ends up burdening a young Rin to shoulder being the head of her family without any support.
  • Not Quite Dead: Kotomine heals him after Tokiomi roasts him because he wants to see Kariya suffer even more.
  • Papa Wolf: For Sakura and Rin, even though he's not even related to them, he is fiercely protective of them. Surely, this is due to his desire of being their real father instead of Tokiomi.
  • Parental Substitute: He wants to a father-figure for Rin and Sakura, and a better one than Tokiomi.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Angrish version. He's a little too busy screaming at Tokiomi how he's such a bastard to actually explain why. Given what Zouken was doing to Sakura and Tokiomi's apparently genuine desire for his daughter to have a good life, there's a decent chance Tokiomi would have helped Kariya do something about it.
    • Urobuchi further implied in an interview that Tokiomi would not mind the "means" so much as the "end": Zouken reneged on their agreement when he decided to turn Sakura into a breeding ground for future heirs, instead of making her a proper Mage heir to the Matou line. Meaning, their moralities and mindsets were too different to have a non-emotional conversation on that topic.
    • Later, Kariya is too mentally worn down to explain to Aoi that he didn't kill Tokiomi, and after Aoi accuses him of never loving anything he basically suffers a psychotic break and only realizes what he's doing when Aoi's already near death.
  • Psychic Nosebleed: His eye bleeds during the servant summoning.
  • The Resenter: He despises Tokiomi for having everything he always wanted and seeming to not value it in the slightest. And repressed as it is, he also resents Aoi to some degree for not resisting Tokiomi's idea to give Sakura over to Zouken when Kariya himself basically agreed to let Zouken torture him to death for more than a year to return Sakura to Aoi and Rin. He only admits this consciously when Aoi accuses him of never having loved another and having been entirely responsible for Sakura being taken.
  • Revenge: His secondary motivation, which grows more important with time, is his hatred of Tokiomi.
  • Sanity Slippage: As his body and mind are consumed by the worms - and possibly due to his link with Berserker - Kariya's stability degrades with every battle until he barely resembles the person he used to be.
  • Secretly Selfish: His goal and motivation for fighting in the Grail War initially seems like a heroic act, as he willingly sacrifices his well being to try and keep Sakura safe. While he genuinely wants to save Sakura, as the series goes on it becomes clear his heroic desire to keep her safe is merely the first step in a larger goal: the love of Aoi. When it becomes clear Aoi does not feel the same way as him, he snaps and sides with Kotomine under the belief he would be able to obtain the grail and achieve his dream of saving Sakura and having Aoi fall for him. His dying dream makes it clear his ideal victory would of been bringing Sakura to Rin, and having them both call him father instead of their actual father, with Aoi falling for him.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: In a series full of a cast of characters who suffer Tragic Dreams, Kariya gets hit the worst of all. Kariya abandons his life as mage and his One True Love Aoi moved on with her life and did not wait for him. Kariya enters the Holy Grail War in a bid to rescue Aoi's daughter Sakura from his family, all in a bid to win her affection. He's subjected to physical and mental torture, becoming a shell of his former self. His body is infested with worms that are guaranteed to kill him within a month's time, meaning even if he were to win the Holy Grail war, he won't be able to start a family with Aoi like he dreamed. When he finally comes face to face with his Arch-Enemy Tokiomi, he suffers a Curb-Stomp Battle and is only saved by Kotomine because the latter finds the strife he is going through amusing. Ultimately, in the end he's unable to accomplish any of his goals; he plays no role in Tokiomi's death, Aoi rejects him, and Sakura remains with the Matou family.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: With Byakuya, being the black sheep of the Matou Family.
  • Tragic Dream: His deepest wish is to win Aoi's heart, and to be called 'Daddy' by Sakura and Rin.
  • Tragic Hero: His Fatal Flaw is his envy of Tokiomi. He wasn't doing well before it rose to the fore of his thinking, but once it does, it begins a cascade of events that destroy him.
  • Two-Faced: He has a hideously disfigured left side of his face as a result of the crest worms in his body. The anime adaptation toned it down a bit, but did take the opportunity to portray them wriggling visibly beneath his skin.
  • Unknown Rival: To Tokiomi, who barely acknowledges his existence. He got a confrontation with Tokiomi... which went nowhere, because they couldn't understand each other.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Kirei's moral decay gets going when Gilgamesh prompts him to realize that he really enjoys watching Kariya's suffering and just generally crappy life.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Kotomine saves his life and then promises to bring him to Tokiomi in exchange for Kariya's assistance in another matter... except Tokiomi is already dead and Kotomine brings in Aoi to see Kariya standing next to Tokiomi's body. She jumped to conclusions, and he was in no state to argue his innocence. The strain on his body and mind reaches the breaking point.
  • White Hair, Black Heart: Averted. He is actually a pretty good guy.
  • White Sheep: Of the Matous, rejecting Zouken's rule and twisted way of maintaining magical power.
  • The Worm That Walks: Not as extreme an example as Zouken, but Kariya's body is infested with the Matou family's crest worms. He can actually vomit these worms out and transform them into much more dangerous bugs to use as weapons.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: With the Crest worms in his body, Zouken estimates he has maybe a month after the beginning of the Grail War before he dies. Of course, exertion will hasten his death... In the end he only lasts two weeks before the worms overcome him due to Berserker's intense drain on his body and mind. And also getting set on fire.

    Kirei Kotomine 

(Master of Assassin)

Voiced by: Joji Nakata (Japanese), Crispin Freeman (English)

"Why would the Holy Grail choose me? Someone without any ideals to accomplish; someone without any cravings to fulfil... Why am I chosen?"

Kirei Kotomine is an Executor for the Church and the magecraft apprentice of Tohsaka Tokiomi. Prior to the story, his wife died after a long illness, plunging him into despair. He received the Command Spells in the same week, but unlike the other Masters he had no wish or desire for the Grail whatsoever. Due to his passive nature and lack of desire, Tokiomi and Risei inform him that he is to support Tokiomi in his bid for the Grail, to which he complies. He summons Servant Assassin and uses his unique abilities to both trick the other Masters and work as an information gathering force.

Though he has no interest in the Grail and no apparent desires, he terrifies Kiritsugu. Kirei, however, thinks he may have found a being similar to himself in Kiritsugu and attempts to research him and the other Masters. While he does not speak much with his own Servant, Gilgamesh finds Kirei to be of great interest to him.

  • 11th-Hour Superpower: A rare villanous example. Obtaining both the accumulated Command Spells and Gilgamesh as his Servant considerably increases his power just in time for the finale.
  • The Ace: Pointed out by Kiritsugu that Kirei is basically able to be good at anything he tries; he's a skilled fighter and even though magic may not be his forte, he has enough knowledge about it and experience combatting it. Kiritsugu recognizes him as the most dangerous Master in the grail war.
  • Admiring the Abomination: Kirei expresses awe towards the Grail, and cannot comprehend why Kiritsugu would go to such lengths to obtain it, only to stop at the last second. Kirei even goes so far as to demand that if Kiritsugu does not want to unleash Angra Mainyu, then he should let him do it. After Angra Mainyu grants his dying wish by immolating most of Fuyuki, he vows to fully unleash it upon the world during the next war.
  • Arch-Enemy: Kiritsugu fears Kirei because while the latter is not that interesting on paper, the former can see his true nature and talents. Kirei, on the other hand, believes that he has found someone like himself and wants to meet Kiritsugu.
  • Back from the Dead: Kiritsugu kills him at the end, but the Grail revives him.
  • Badass Baritone: Kotomine's voice is very deep, as expected from Joji Nakata and Crispin Freeman.
  • Badass Longcoat: His clothing is technically priest robes, but the general appearance is this.
  • Badass Preacher: A trained killer serving the Church who possesses genuine faith in God.
  • Batman Gambit: After killing Tokiomi, he places the latter's corpse together with an unconscious Kariya in order to set Aoi against him, then manipulates Kariya into kidnapping Irisviel with Berserker disguised as Rider using the former's Noble Phantasm For Someone's Glory. This provokes Saber to attack Iskander, whose chariot is destroyed in the process. Gilgamesh then moves to finish off Iskander while Berserker duels Saber, ensuring that Kirei faces Kiritsugu alone.
  • Battle Butler: To Tokiomi, in whose service he is obedient, dutiful, and effective. Until he decides he does not wish to quit the war.
  • Berserk Button: To have capability to love and have normal happiness, and still throw it all away. Kiritsugu presses this button by hitting too Close to Home, and this is the ultimate reason why Kirei wants to destroy him. It's more obvious in the light novel where Irisviel and Kirei's last conversation is longer than in the anime. After Kirei learns Kiritsugu's true nature (an idealistic man who turns off his emotions for greater good), he feels that Kiritsugu's way of life is a cruel mockery of his inner emptiness and lifelong struggle to be a good man. It's a mixture of jealousy, disappointment, and incredulity that makes him hate Kiritsugu.
  • Big Bad: While it was foretold by canon, as of Zero he hasn't realized it yet.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Kirei and Gilgamesh agree to betray Tokiomi Tōsaka and form a Master-Servant pact — something Gilgamesh had been subtly suggesting Kirei do for some time, finding Kirei to be a much more interesting and entertaining person than Tokiomi — after the former is told to leave Japan to maintain a ceasefire with the Einzberns and the latter learns that Tokiomi was planning to force him to commit suicide once the Grail was obtained.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Tokiomi, Aoi, and his father all consider him a upstanding young man. It's helped by the fact that even he himself doesn't know that he's a bitch at heart.
  • Bodyguard Betrayal: Near the end of the story, he stabs Tokiomi because he refuses to quit the Grail War.
  • Broken Ace: As good as Kirei is at what he does, he finds no solace in his talents, and doesn't feel happy about anything, and the one thing that makes him happy goes against his faith.
  • Bulletproof Vest: Not just vest, but his entire priest robes (including the sleeves) are reinforced with Kevlar and magic, making them bullet-resistant. However, it is not invincible, as a full-powered rifle round from Kiritsugu's Thompson Contender is able to easily pierce his arm, and knives could tear it just fine like any other Kevlar vests.
  • Byronic Hero: Kirei starts out a moral man greatly troubled over his inability to find happiness without the suffering of others. Due to Gilgamesh, he eventually descends to full blown villainy for its own sake.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Of the Destruction sphere. His only finds pleasure in the suffering of others, which is ironic because his profession directly contradicts his "passion". He is, however, a slightly unusual spin on this trope as he spends most of his life trying to repress it, which puts him into Tragic Villain territory.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Executors are trained to enhance their physical body to the absolute limit, to the point he can dodge bullets from close range with a high backflip and shatter a tree that he is tied to. He can even keep up with Kiritsugu when the latter is using time manipulation to speed himself three, and later four times past the human limit with his magic, through sheer physical ability alone.
  • Confusion Fu: With magic no less. Kirei baffles Kiritsugu by using Magecraft to counter the latter's Origin Bullets, which are designed to kill magi with their own prana, by utilizing his one-time use Command Spells in place of his own magic circuits.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Bulletproof priest's robes, anyone? He even creeps Kiritsugu, Maiya and Irisviel by attacking them during unexpected times.
  • Cry Laughing: Once he sees that the burning of Fuyuki City and three hundred of its inhabitants is his most practical and truest desire, as realized by the Grail, he laughs; then, he laughs harder; then, he cries as he laughs. The contradiction entertains him so thoroughly that he resolves to repeat his participation in the next Grail War, so as to see what else he's hiding inside his head.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: Kirei's motivation for literally everything he does for most of his life. With a little help from Gilgamesh, he eventually finds it.
  • Dissonant Serenity: In the novel, his murder of Tokiomi is accompanied by a cheerful laugh and a bright smile.
  • Doomed by Canon: Given that he dies in all three routes in Fate/Stay Night, his whole desire for the Grail after his victory becomes this.
  • The Dragon: While technically supposed to be withdraw from combat after Assassin is formally declared defeated and as the Church's Overseer, he is (initially) allied with Tohsaka Tokiomi and uses his expertise as a Mage Killer to illicitly do away with the competition.
  • Dull Eyes of Unhappiness: Especially in the anime, it's easy to tell he doesn't care about almost anything.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: As sadistic as Kirei is, Zouken Matou disgusts him, because the latter is openly, shamelessly and thoughtlessly accepting of his own evil nature, and has no rhyme or reason beyond self-indulgence. During their encounter near the end of the war, his internal thoughts reveal that Zouken's lack of remorse and reason leads Kirei to conclude that a duel to the death is the only way he could reasonably interact with Zouken.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: In his first encounter with Irisviel, he demands her to tell him who's ordering her to get involved in the Holy Grail War, unable to realize she's doing it because she loves Kiritsugu and helps him out of loyalty. This is because Kirei believed the 'Magus Killer who threw away his pride' was like him in that he was alone, empty, and understood by no one enough to have loyal allies, and Kiritsugu being sufficiently understood to be loved so deeply would invalidate that belief.
  • Evil Counterpart: To Kiritsugu. The two contrast in all aspects of their lives, from reputation, motivation, family life, and fighting technique.
  • Evil Feels Good: He's particularly aware of this because evil is the only thing that feels good to him, despite a lifetime of service to God.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Comes with his Badass Baritone.
  • Evil Virtues: Primarily Resourcefulness, Determination and Diligence. Kirei actually lacks a lot of the resources the other Masters boast and does not initially have a particularly strong Servant.
  • Extreme Doormat: Early on. Even goes through a villainous version of the "growing a spine" and "finding your own reasons for living" stages, thanks to Gilgamesh.
  • False Reassurance: Not at the beginning, but after the midway point when Character Development makes him close to the Kirei of Fate/stay night, he starts to give Exact Words as if it was his new personal dogma. Examples include his conversation with Tokiomi right before he stabs him with his "parting gift" and his promise to Kariya that he'll find Tokiomi in the church.
  • Genius Bruiser: All the time. Unable to draw out the Magus Killer? Attack him when he is attacking other Masters, or invade his castle when his Servant is busy. Tied against a tree by your forearms by a few dozen meters of magical wire? Just snap the fucking tree in half with Fa Jin. Not a good magus, standing against the Magus Killer? Use Command Spells to boost your magic.
  • A Glass of Chianti: Double subverted. Kirei has a wine collection that surpasses even Tokiomi's wines quality wise, but he has never touched them. Later on, he is seen drinking wine (after a horrific Kick the Dog scene) and describing it delicious.
  • Good Powers, Bad People: Halfway to the series, he uses his healing magic to save Kariya (who has just been curb-stomped by Tokiomi) in order to prolong Kariya's suffering; eventually allowing Kirei to manipulate him.
  • Healing Hands: Kirei finds it ironic that his natural talent — and the only area of magic in which he's naturally above-average — is healing and spiritual surgery.
  • Heel Realization: Gilgamesh reveals Kirei's true nature as a sadist to him early on, leading to him committing an act of betrayal, but it isn't until he causes a massive amount of destruction that he fully realizes and accepts how evil he is.
  • Immune to Bullets: Even if he doesn't dodge or parry them, his priest robes are almost completely bulletproof to low caliber firearms, as they can take a salvo of about 50 rounds during his fight with Kiritsugu and not even get scratched. There are limits however, as his robes are unable to stop bullets from a high-powered gun, and he is unable to dodge a bullet from grazing his head when he's dropped his guard.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: He can throw his Black Keys to accurately strike even unconfirmed targets such as illusions in the midst of a forest, at night. Kiritsugu's analysis in the light novel even notes that his throwing accuracy is 100%, and Kirei himself states he can draw the hilts from his sleeves and complete preparatory movements to throw them at around 0.3 seconds, and perform four separate throws with a single hand under 0.7 seconds.
  • In the Back: Stabs Tokiomi in the back with the Azoth dagger that Tokiomi himself gave him.
  • Irony: Invokes it, killing Tokiomi with the Azoth dagger he gave to Kirei as a parting gift, and then gives it to Rin as a gift. This comes up again in Fate/stay night.
  • Jack-of-All-Trades: Invoked. Kirei could easily become a Master of All, but he chose not to master any of the skills he almost mastered due to finding himself not happy with the results. When Kiritsugu reviews all the information on him, he outright claims he reached the point of mastery, than stopped as he seemed unsatisfied with the process. Thus he's the most balanced mage in the war, which is why he's arguably the deadliest.
  • Karma Houdini: As can be expected, he avoids the consequences for his various evil deeds until Fate/stay night.
  • Kung-Fu Wizard: You can't get any more literal. Word of God says his "Super Baji Quan" fighting style is actually the real life Baji Quan being augmented with Magecraft, to the point it's more like a magical martial art than anything resembling the traditional school.
  • Laughing Mad: In the final episode, he looks over the devastation the Grail War has wrought and laughs his head off. This is because Angra Mainyu realized his dying wish, setting half of Fuyuki ablaze, and then resurrected him. It is this that finally causes Kirei to realize how evil he truly is, and he vows to fully unleash Angra Mainyu upon the world.
  • Love Makes You Evil: It was the death of his wife Claudia that caused Kirei to become depressed and came to believe that joy itself was sin, because not only was he not saddened by her death, he wanted to be the one to kill her himself, which horrifies him.
  • Made of Iron: His final confrontation with Kiritsugu just goes to show how ridiculously tough he actually is. Among other things he takes a massive rifle-caliber bullet through his hand without even keeling over, suffers a massive blow on the same hand with the butt of Kiritsugu's Thompson Contender and a knife through the thigh without as much as a flinch.
  • Mage Killer: Executors are trained to combat mages along with other supernatural entities. He happens to be a very skilled one.
  • Magic Knight: Already well-versed in the techniques of an Executor and master of real-life martial art Bajiquan at the beginning of the series, his crash course in magecraft yields remarkable results and complements his physical fighting style perfectly. His combined skills make him one of the most dangerous masters in the war. No small feat for a man who didn't know the Grail War even existed before he was selected.
  • Manly Tears: In the novel, he cries upon finding his father's body, even though he feels the same as he did when his wife Claudia died. He would've rather killed him himself.
  • Mutual Kill: Narrowly averted during his final duel with Kiritugu. Kirei is just about to blow Kiritsugu's brain out with one of Baji Quan's Eight Grand Openings strike, when Kiritsugu's own Contender is ready to be fired at him point-blank. To enforce the point, in the light novel Kirei even notes that he would have won, but would also have died, an assessment Kiritsugu shares at the exact same moment.
  • Not So Different: Believes that he and Kiritsugu are very similar. He's wrong.
  • Not Worth Killing: At the end of the novel, a triumphant Kirei is gloating with Gilgamesh when he spots Kiritsugu going through the rubble. While initially excited at the chance to fight the man again, Kirei is obviously angered by Kiritsugu's broken state, and just lets him go. Quite telling for someone who enjoys the suffering and despair of others.
  • Professional Killer: He's officially an Executor in service of the Church.
  • Psychotic Smirk: Kirei starts as a Stoic with some Perpetual Frowner mixed in, but he relaxes gradually and smiles and laughs more and more until he has his final Not So Stoic moment when the light novel specifically states that a constant smile becomes his default expression.
    Narrator: Perhaps from today on, he would always keep this expression.
  • Red Herring: It's part of the Foregone Conclusion that Kirei will kill Tokiomi and early on Kirei dispatches Assassin to do just that. Assassin is promptly killed by Gilgamesh and it's revealed that this was all a plot by Tokiomi to let Kirei fake a defeat and use the rest of the Assassins to observe their enemies from the shadows.
  • Red Mage: He's a master of martial arts and is noted to have studied each branch of magecraft to just short of the point of mastery before switching to another discipline and starting over. The result is a combat-oriented magus who performs well in any situation, though lacks the specialized mastery of a clasically trained magus. His collective talents more than compensate for any potential shortcomings.
  • Saved by Canon: Fate/Zero was written after Fate/Stay Night so his survival is guaranteed.
  • The Sociopath: As with stay/night, Kirei's case is played with. While he is incapable of empathy and eventually accepts that he can only derive joy from the negative emotions of other people, he has a functional conscience and moral compass, thus Kirei has a great deal of remorse over his nature, something he retains even 10 years later.
  • Stalker Without a Crush: Kirei is fascinated by Kiritsugu because he thinks he has found someone as empty as himself. Thus, he goes out of his way to track Kiritsugu's movements and attempt to meet him.
  • Start of Darkness: Fate/Zero is as much about how Kirei turned to evil as it is about how Kiritsugu destroyed himself.
  • The Stoic: With Not So Stoic moments, such as learning the truth about Kiritsugu from Irisviel, the aftermath of his fight with him, and his hysterical breakdown during the fire.
  • Suicidal Cosmic Temper Tantrum: While the anime makes it ambiguous due to omitting Gilgamesh's and Kirei's encounters with Angra Mainyu, as he was dying he wished for something, and then Angra Mainyu granted that wish in the form of the Great Fuyuki Fire, resurrecting him in the process. Although it should be noted that since the Grail was corrupted and thus would result in destruction no matter what, his actual desire might or might not be this.
  • Super Speed: Zig-zagged. He is actually not so fast that he can dodge or parry bullets once they are fired, but he has mastered the technique of "hearing an attack" - by feeling the air difference and hearing the movement of the gunman's arm, he positions himself in such a way that he can either avoid the bullets, block them with his bulletproof vestments or parry them with his Black Keys.
  • Super Strength: The guy breaks and rips a tree out of the ground while tied to it.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: When Gilgamesh suggests that Kirei could wish for happiness from the Grail, Kirei exclaims that he wouldn't wish for anything so sinful. Gilgamesh immediately notices Kirei's choice of words, which is his first clue that Kirei might be more interesting than he initially believed. And thus Gilgamesh starts a series of Breaking Speeches For the Evulz.
  • Taught by Experience: Kirei has had years of service under the Church as an Executor, hunting down and eradicating mages and other supernatural entities such as Dead Apostles. As such, he is barely fazed when he realizes Kiritsugu survived his heart-demolishing strike at the final battle. Kirei merely decides he will go after the next weak point, the brain, which would indeed kill Kiritsugu even with Healing Factor.
  • Teen Genius: Graduating valedictorian from the Theological College of St. Ignatius at Manresa, where he was Student Council President, after skipping two levels at the age of fourteen. He began his Executor career at the age of ten. And as his ridiculously long exposition and speeches in Fate Stay Night had displayed, he has lost none of the genius.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: The standard equipment of The Church's Executors are Black Keys, hilts capable of generating magical blades sharp enough to penetrate iron even when thrown at a minimal force. The blades are rapier-like in design, and are designed to be thrown or at most stabbing rather than slashing. When not thrown, they are usually held in the knuckles between the fingers with (thus he can wield four at most with each hand).
  • Tragic Villain: He really just wants to find out why he enjoys evil so much and finds joy in nothing else, yet was still born with a human conscience and a strong moral compass.
  • You Are What You Hate: Initially, Kirei tries to convince himself he despises violence, suffering and killing. Just look at his early conversations with Gilgamesh, where he states that he sees Gilgamesh as immoral and a sinner for enjoying others' suffering. Then compare to what he does later, when he accepts the only thing that makes him happy is the suffering of other people.


Supporting Characters

    Irisviel von Einzbern 

Voiced by: Sayaka Ohara (Japanese), Bridget Hoffman (English)

"You don't need to grieve over me. I am already part of you. Enduring only the pain of your own sundering is enough."

Irisviel is a homunculus created by the Einzbern family as a vessel to activate the Great Grail. She is Kiritsugu's wife and the mother of Illya. Having lived her whole life inside the Einzbern castle in Europe, she is bright and cheerful, and follows Kiritsugu on pure faith and trust. During the War, she is partnered with Artoria as a decoy so the other Masters will assume that Irisviel is a Master.

She has absolute loyalty and faith in Kiritsugu's goals, though she doesn't appear to entirely understand them.

  • Alchemy Is Magic: Yes and no. Einzbern alchemy is responsible for her life, but other mages clearly consider it a step down from real magic.
  • Alien Blood: While Kirei is surprised to see she has red blood when he stabs her with his Black Keys, in the opening credits of Season 2 she's shown oozing Angra Mainyu's black mud from her eyes and mouth.
  • Badass Adorable: Healing isn't her only skill. She only fails to take out Kirei because he can punch trees in half.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Shows signs of this in the Einzbern Consulation Room special omakes. A result of the Holy Grail influencing her.
  • Blade on a Stick: In the Einzbern Consulation Room shorts, she wields a naginata.
  • Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl: The Gentle Girl to her husband Kiritsugu's Brooding Boy. Her caring and innocent nature is a solace to him in his angst. They fit in this trope so well that they're the page's image.
  • The Chick: While there are two other girls on team Kiritsugu, it's generally up to Irisviel to keep everyone from killing each other.
  • Clone Degeneration: By the latter half of the series, Iri's body deteriorates until she can stand only with the help of Avalon and Saber's presence. In her Dying Dream, she even sees all the previous homonculus bodies like her, piled in a heap and staring lifelessly.
  • The Cutie: The most idealistic and upbeat member of Team Einzbern.
  • Demonic Possession: Towards the end of the Grail War, she is killed by Kotomine. A corrupt copy of Irisviel is created by Angra Mainyu and operated like the Grail's puppet, bearing her personality and appearance but not truly being her.
  • Doting Parent: For Illya. Tragically, this is because she knows she'll never see her again.
  • Drives Like Crazy: She's actually a pretty great driver, except that she has absolutely no idea about traffic restrictions and treats the car like it's a toy. She managed to make Saber sweat...
    Irisviel: (nailing sharp turns at high speed on a cliff-top road) See? See? I told you so! This car takes the turns really fast!
    Saber: (sweating) Well... that's because you're a... surprisingly good driver.
    Irisviel: (grinning like a maniac as the car jumps over a speed-bump) I know! You may not believe it, but I practice all the time. Of all the toys Kiritsugu has brought me over the years, this is my absolute favourite!
    Saber: Th-this is... a toy?
    Irisviel: At the castle, I was only allowed to drive around the courtyard, so this is great!
    Saber: Shouldn't we have hired a professional driver?
    Irisviel: No, that would be boring! I mean, that would be really dangerous! What if the enemy were to suddenly launch an attack against us?
  • Dying as Yourself: In the finale of the post-canon Einzbern Consultation Room Specials, thanks to Zecchan, she remembers everything she loved about Kiritsugu and his ideals. Doesn't stop the Grail from using her image to manipulate Illya later on, but Irisviel as a person at least fades restored to her old self.
  • Dying Curse: Already possessed by Angra Mainyu, "Irisviel" dies cursing Kiritsugu after he rejects the Holy Grail.
  • Evil Makeover: As her personality is finally overcome by the evil of the Grail, she appears one last time in black vestments.
  • The Glomp: Cuddly in canon, this gets turned up to eleven in the Einzbern Consultation Room Specials.
  • Happily Married: To Kiritsugu. The first episode alone shows her devotion to him and she sneaks in a "I love you" during their pre-war strategy session. Her "Cheaters must die!" rant in the Einzbern Consultation Room shorts reveal that she's not as accepting of Kiritsugu's infidelity as she appears but then again, she is being influenced by Angra Mainyu at this point.
  • Healing Factor: Carries the healing artifact Avalon for most of the war, though since she is not Saber's Master it only works when the owner is near. It saves her life when Kirei stabs her through the stomach, but she eventually gives it to Kiritsugu when it's clear she's going to die of health problems anyway.
  • Healing Hands: Her natural abilities tend towards healing.
  • Heh Heh, You Said "X": This conversation she had with Saber concerning the nature of her "Riding" ability:
    Saber: If required, I could even pilot this aircraft.
    Irisviel: You could pilot it?
    Saber: My Riding ability allows me to command any beast or vehicle. Excepting only divine or fantastical beasts. Once I put it {The Saddle/Seat} between my legs and take the reins, intuition does the rest.
    Irisviel: You take it between your legs... (starts giggling)
  • Heroic Albino: Homunculi descended from Justeaze Lizrich von Einzbern, the Einzberns' original homunculus, have white hair and red eyes by default. This one is helping her husband bring about true peace for the world.
  • The Ingenue: She is pretty sheltered due to isolation in the Einzbern mansion. That she can innuendo where none exists is only because she had become a mother by then.
  • Lady and Knight: She is the Bright Lady (kind, loving, feminine etc.), Saber is the White Knight (traditionally chivalrous and selfless).
  • Long Hair Is Feminine: She's the only girly girl on Team Kiritsugu and the only one with long hair.
  • Loving a Shadow: Non-romantic version. She admits she's far too sheltered to truly understand Kiritsugu's ideals or the necessity of him getting his wish, but supports that wholeheartedly since it sounds like a noble aspiration.
  • MacGuffin Super Person: Being a homunculus, she is the vessel for the Holy Grail.
  • The Maiden Name Debate: She and Kiritsugu are married, but she keeps the von Einzbern last name because it is the name of an old mage family.
  • Manchild: Played with. Her childish attitude is not only because she was raised in seclusion, but also because she's younger than she appears. It's that same childishness that allows her to get along with her emotionally-stunted assassin husband.
  • The Medic: She has some effective healing abilities, though thanks to Lancer's cursed spear she doesn't get much of an opportunity to use them.
  • Morality Pet: To Kiritsugu Emiya. This is one of the reasons why Kiritsugu is still an Anti-Hero but not a Villain Protagonist.
  • Mum Looks Like a Sister: She could likely pass as her daughter Illya's older sister, especially since her chronological age is only about nine years old.
  • Mystical White Hair: Standard for a homunculus along with her red eyes.
  • Nice Girl: Irisviel is the only openly friendly female member of the cast.
  • Our Homunculi Are Different: A homunculus is a being created in the shape of a human with the internal structure of the phantasmal races, allowing them to freely use magic just as naturally as a normal human breaths. However, they generally do not have souls, though a naturally conceived homunculus like her daughter may be an exception.
  • Plucky Girl: Even when outmatched, Irisviel is pretty determined.
  • Pretty in Mink: She wears a fur-lined jacket and hat.
  • Proper Lady: As Lady Einzbern, though she has her moments of childish wonder and naivete.
  • Proper Tights with a Skirt: Her casual outfit, being a proper lady and all.
  • Rapunzel Hair: Lady Einzbern has hair that goes down to her hips.
  • Rei Ayanami Expy: Not Quite Human, pale skin, sliver hair. Plus there are couple clones before her.
    • And a whole vat/pile of clones too. With full blown Uncanny Valley for bonus points.
  • Rescue Romance: Her relationship with Kiritsugu began to develop after he rescued her when Jubstacheit decided to cast her into the wastes of the Einzbern forests to prove her durability.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: She dies for nothing as the Grail was already corrupted.
  • Sheltered Aristocrat: She lived her whole life inside Einzbern grounds and this is her first time in the outside world. She has also admitted she doesn't understand the hardships of the world Kiritsugu wants to fix. She fits the plucky-type with child-like innocence and kindness.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: Fits the bill in several ways despite being a woman-child, such as aiding Saber in her fight against Kirei.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: She loves Kiritsugu because of his gentler side and good desires despite his murderous actions and sordid past.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: The girly girl to Saber's tomboy. When comparing Kiritsugu's love interests, it's still girly girl to Maiya's no nonsense combatant attitude.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Her health breaks down as the Grail War continues and she dies convinced that she is making the world a better place, though she doesn't understand how and its later shown her death changed nothing.
  • Troll: In the later "Einzbern Consultation Room" shorts, she starts deliberately driving the vanquished Servants - namely Lancer and Berserker - to despair and madness instead of consoling them, and is rather sadistic about it. Unsurprising, when your very existence and personality are subsumed by the Grail.
  • The Von Trope Family: Von Einzbern
  • White Magician Girl: She mainly casts healing spells.
  • Winter Royal Lady: The Einzberns live in northern Europe.
  • Woman in White: To match her hair.
  • Younger than She Looks: Appears to be an adult woman in her early twenties, while her chronological age is about nine.
  • Zettai Ryouiki: She wears white thigh-high boots.

    Maiya Hisau 

Voiced by: Ayumi Tsunematsu (Japanese), Carrie Keranen (English)

"Even if I were to give up this life of mine, I would protect you till the end. Therefore, for Emiya Kiritsugu, please don't die. For the fulfilment of that man's dream."

Maiya is Kiritsugu's gunslinging partner and "other woman" of sorts, though she and Irisviel get along well. She was found as an orphan on the battlefield and saved by Kiritsugu and dedicated her life to assisting him. She is most satisfied when Kiritsugu is most businesslike and willing to Shoot the Dog. She either assists Kiritsugu move about behind the scenes, acquires and assembles the components for his plans, or helps guard Irisviel.

  • Action Girl: She can certainly handle herself well enough.
  • Almost Dead Guy: After being attacked by Berserker, she lives long enough to talk with both Artoria — who arrives almost instantly — and Kiritsugu unspecified tens of minutes later.
  • Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: She's tall, dark-haired, attractive, and aloof.
  • Badass Normal: No magic and no special Church-ninja training, yet still proves to be very competent, even if her only real win in a one-to-one fight is against Sola-Ui.
  • Child Soldier: Part of her backstory, as revealed near the end.
  • Dead Sidekick: Is killed by Berserker in the back half of the story.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: She dies in Kiritsugu's arms after being attacked by Berserker, but she kept telling Kiritsugu to focus on his objective instead of grieving for her.
  • Foil: To Irisviel. Both love Kiritsugu and both are mothers, but while Irisviel is a puppet who acquired human emotions, Maiya is a human who willingly shut down her emotions and became a puppet. She is also the woman in Kiritsugu's life who knows his Magus Killer personality, unlike Iri who only knows Kiritsugu's human loving side.
  • Friends with Benefits: With Kiritsugu before he met Irisviel.
  • Go Out with a Smile: In an attempt to keep Kiritsugu from mourning her.
  • It Meant Something to Me: It's explicitly stated that there's no real emotion involved on Kiritsugu's part in their Friends with Benefits relationship. Kiritsugu does it as a form of masochistic self-punishment, and as a "rehearsal" for how he'll eventually have to betray Irisviel, though Maiya still treasures it.
  • The Mistress: For Kiritsugu. On his end it's only so he can prepare himself for having to betray Irisviel.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: "Maiya Hisau" was the name on the first passport Kiritsugu made for her. She no longer remembers her real name.
  • Rape as Backstory: She was raped by soldiers in a war-torn battlefield before she was found by Kiritsugu. She had a Child by Rape, Sigma from Fate/strange fake, that way.
  • Sidekick: To Kiritsugu, helping him in his Magus-assassination missions.
  • The Stoic: Describes herself as emotionally dead inside.

    Sola-Ui Nuada-Re Sophia-Ri 

Voiced by: Megumi Toyoguchi (Japanese), Karen Strassman (English)

Sola-Ui is Kayneth's very reluctant fiancee through an Arranged Marriage and the daughter of the head of the Department of Euryphis at the Clock Tower. Kayneth bent the rules of the War by removing the burden of Prana supply to her, allowing him to keep the rights of the Master and still be an effective combatant. Sola-Ui views herself as a mere pawn in magus politics, thus she has buried her emotions completely - and for worse, when they do arise, it's because she has fallen for her fiancé's Servant Lancer, and doesn't hide her feelings for him.

  • An Arm and a Leg: She has her right arm cut off by Maiya in order to remove the Command Spells.
  • Arranged Marriage: She is engaged to Kayneth as a result of a strategic marriage arrangement and the decision of her family to entrust their crest to her older brother, Bram Nuada-Re Sophia-Ri instead. Because her brother did not succeed as a mage, there is increasing pressure from her family to marry Lord El-Melloi. Although Kayneth does have feelings for her, Sola doesn't bother to hide the fact she's unhappy with Kayneth and attracted to his Servant.
  • Bodyguard Crush: To Diarmuid, and incredibly so, though he's technically not her bodyguard to start with.
  • Faux Action Girl: Justified. She's spent so long in Kayneth's shadow that she is a weaker master than even Waver. After stealing control of Lancer from Kayneth, she barely does anything in the Holy Grail War before Maiya ambushes and cuts her arm off.
  • Irony: Threatened to cut Kayneth's arm off if he didn't surrender his Command Seals to her after his defeat. Guess what happened to her in the end?
  • Lady and Knight: She wants this with Diarmuid. Badly.
  • Longing Look: In Episode 9, as shown here
  • Love Makes You Crazy: She seems like a typical high-class Ice Queen until she falls for Lancer, after which she begins torturing Kayneth for the rights to the Command Seals.
  • Mad Love: Lancer makes it obvious that all he wants to do is serve his lord faithfully and that he isn't romantically interested in her. However, this just makes her even more infatuated. She breaks one of Kayneth's fingers as he lies paralyzed and threatens to continue unless he hands over the Command Seals to control Lancer.
  • More Than Mind Control: A magus of Sola-Ui's caliber would be able to resist Lancer's C-Rank "Mystic Face," meaning she willingly gave in to the power of the Love Spot. That, or she did resist and in the end couldn't hack it. Or she just fell for the guy and the spot had nothing to do with it.
  • No Pronunciation Guide: "Sola-Oo Nwatha-Raynote  Sophia-Ri".
  • Overly Long Name: Sola-Ui Nuada-Re Sophia-Ri. Yeah.
  • Skewed Priorities: In her panic after her arm with the Command Spells is cut off, Sola-Ui seems less distressed by the loss of her dominant hand than she is by her connection with Diarmuid being severed. Priorities, lady.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Diarmuid has to force her to stay away out of combat after she takes over, pointing out that she doesn't have Kayneth's training; Sola only gives in because she doesn't want Lancer to think she lacks confidence in him, not out of any concession to her own safety.
  • The Starscream: After falling for Lancer, she blackmails her crippled fiancé into giving her the command seals, calmly breaking one of his fingers, then threatening to amputate his arm.
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Disenchanted and already aware that she was little more than a pawn in magus politics, Sola is usually indifferent and cold, especially towards Kayneth. Lancer's chivalry and bravery bring out Sola's affectionate and clingy side with incredible speed. She doesn't bother hiding it from Kayneth.
  • Yamato Nadeshiko: Subverted, she isn't one, but Kayneth wants her to be obedient and entirely dedicated to his goals. This is one of the reasons she betrays him.
  • Yandere: She calmly tortures her crippled fiancé into giving her Lancer's command seals.

    Aoi Tohsaka 

Voiced by: Hasumi Ito (Japanese), Michelle Ruff (English)

"I was prepared for something like that when I decided to marry into the Tohsaka family, when I decided to become the wife of a magus. When you enter the bloodline of a magus, it is a mistake to seek for the normal happiness of a family."

Aoi is Tokiomi's wife, the mother of his daughters and the childhood friend of Kariya Matou, who has always loved her. Despite knowing exactly what was meant by marrying a magus (ie. being used to produce a capable heir) she accepted and was happy with her life. Devoted and unquestioning, she supports all of her husband's decisions and makes no objections; the ideal 'traditional wife'.

  • Extreme Doormat: Extremely submissive, never challenges the decision to marry Tokiomi and once married never questions him, following him devotedly and obediently no matter what, even when he decides to give her youngest daughter to the Matou family. It's even more evident in the bonus Drama CDs.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Aoi was rendered brain-damaged by Kirei's machinations.
  • Hime Cut: Classical and traditional; it's a good look for her.
  • House Wife: This is basically her assigned role; homemaking and heir-producing.
  • Oblivious to Love: Has no idea of Kariya's feelings for her. This goes rather badly after she tells him he never loved anyone in her grief over Tokiomi's death. Kariya snaps and strangles her.
  • Superior Successor: Aoi's family possesses a trait which will make the children of their partner more powerful than the parents. It's why Zouken and Tokiomi wanted Aoi. This turns out to become a problem, as Tokiomi and Aoi unintentionally had two children.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: She calls Kariya out when she wrongly believes he killed her husband, and even blames him for Sakura being taken away, since Kariya leaving the Matous is why Sakura was adopted into them.
  • Yamato Nadeshiko: Wants to and tries to be this but lacks the "iron core", leaving her as more of a doormat.

    Risei Kotomine 

Voiced by: Masashi Hirose (Japanese), Michael Donovan (English)

"I am obliged. My debt toward the Holy Church and both generations of the Kotomine family will be carved as a family precept."

Risei is the Church appointed overseer for the Grail War and the father of one of its participants, Kirei. He secretly supports the Tohsaka family due to a close friendship with Tokiomi and faith in his goals. While he is proud of his son, he does not understand what torments him, seeing only a talented and tortured young man.

  • Badass Pacifist: Unlike his son, he uses Baji Quan as a meditation method and for pacifying opponents, whereas his son uses it to kill.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: Before dying, Risei leaves the letters "jn424" transcribed in blood, so he can transfer the Command Spells to Kirei.
  • Dies Wide Open: Kirei waves them shut.
  • Doting Parent: He thinks that he knows what makes his son tick. Unfortunately...
  • Eyes Always Shut: His eyes never seem to open.
  • Grandpa, What Massive Hotness You Have: Under the Church robes, Risei is supremely ripped.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Risei trusts Kirei unconditionally, although this is kind of justified - Kirei is Risei's son.
  • Old Master: Kirei didn't learn his martial arts as an Executor, Risei taught him. His badassery is mostly implied by the time we see him.
  • Older Than They Look: Considering Risei apparently supervised the 3rd Holy Grail War as well, which happened 60 years prior to the story, he has to be at least 79-ish, but he only looks maybe 55.

    Zouken Matou 

Voiced by: Masane Tsukayama (Japanese), Michael Donovan (English)

"There were terrible cries for the first three days, but by the fourth day, she was silent. Today, she was thrown at dawn in the worm storage to test how well she would last, but, ho ho, she endured it for half a day and is still breathing. What do you know, the Tōsaka material isn't defective."

Zouken is the head of the Matou/Makiri family, grandfather to Shinji Matou and uncle to Kariya Matou. Before the beginning of the story, Tokiomi decides that the Matou family would make a good home for his younger daughter as mage families are not supposed to have multiple children. Thus, Zouken becomes her adoptive grandfather. Unfortunately for Sakura, Tokiomi is a terrible judge of character and Zouken is, in fact, extremely cruel and manipulative. He has no plans of giving Sakura real training and instead introduces her to the Matou parasitic worm pit. Upon learning what has happened, a horrified Kariya makes a deal with Zouken that if he obtains the Grail for him, Sakura will be returned to her true family.

Zouken desires to use the Grail to become immortal. While he is already two hundred years old thanks to his use of the worms, his body is starting to fail him. Because he doubts Kariya's ability to win the Grail by his own merit, he infests him with worms that temporarily boost his abilities in exchange for causing him agony and a death sentence.

  • Bald of Evil: He is bald and very evil. How evil? He has his Crest Worms rape a child in order to turn her into a replacement body for himself.
  • Black Eyes of Crazy: His sclera are black and he has white irises, emphasizing how inhuman he's become in his pursuit of immortality. He has pupils, but they're tiny and rarely shown.
  • Dirty Old Man: Has the worms that comprise his body violate Sakura on a daily basis, and laughs when he feeds Kariya the Crest worm that stole her purity.
  • Evil Old Folks: An abhorrent old man who will do anything to attain immortality.
  • For the Evulz: He sends Kariya into the 4th War, although he considers Kariya's victory improbable from the very start, just because he wants to torture Kariya for betraying his expectations and leaving from the Matou clan. In fact, he does much to ensure Kariya will fail and endure horrible pain in the meantime.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Though he is a Big Bad in one of the routes of Fate/stay night, his presence is relegated to the background in Fate/Zero.
  • Immortality Seeker: He wants the Grail to live forever.
  • Jerkass: Just look at what this evil bastard did to both Kariya and Sakura.
  • Karma Houdini: His survival is a foregone conclusion due to his presence in the Fifth Grail War.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: He offered Tokiomi to adopt Sakura and train her to make her the heir of the 500 year old Matou family. Of course the latter is Blatant Lies. Zouken takes over the bodies of his "heirs" and he merely trains Sakura's body with his worms, he never gave her magical education like Tokiomi had in mind. Kariya knew this, which is why he left the family in the first place.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Zouken throws Sakura naked into his pit of Crest Worms, creatures which are a part of his body, which the anime implies are raping her. The manga is more explicit about it.
  • Really 700 Years Old: He is over two centuries old. In fact, he's one of the mages who established the Grail War to begin with.
  • Sadist: Zouken has no faith whatsoever in Kariya winning the Grail War, and gets a kick out of seeing his futile struggling and suffering.
  • The Worm That Walks: His body is made of the worms he uses to attack people with.
  • Would Hurt a Child: He mentally and physically violates Sakura using his Crest Worms, turning her into a Broken Bird.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Whether Kariya wins the 4th Grail war or not, he's happy. If he wins, then it is a Matou victory. If he loses, then he gets to watch Kariya suffer, which is something he never tires of.

    Byakuya Matou 

Voiced by: Katsumi Toriumi (Japanese), Kirk Thornton (English)

"Kariya? I don't know where that fool is!"

Byakuya Matou is the father of Shinji, brother of Kariya and eldest nephew of Zouken Matou. He was passed over as heir to the family due to holding almost no magical potential.

He died three years prior to Fate/stay night and he only is mentioned in flashbacks.

  • Adaptational Villainy: Happens in the manga version of Fate/stay night, where he takes Zouken's stead as the third antagonist.
  • Ascended Extra: Went from a deceased minor character in Fate/stay night to a whole scene in the prequel...where Kiritsugu subjects him to a beating trying to get Kariya's location out of him. Lucky him!
  • Bystander Syndrome: The novel clearly states that Byakuya doesn't care about what happens to Sakura, Kariya or the family and simply follows Zouken's orders out of resignation.
  • Cain and Abel: Byakuya hates Kariya and believes that because of Kariya leaving he had to endure the cursed destiny of the family much in the same way Shinji hates Sakura in the original. When Kariya returns, Byakuya believes it's for a selfish reason.
  • Dirty Coward: It's Shinji's dad we're talking about.
  • Does Not Like Magic: According to the Fate/Zero' Material he despises magic and wants nothing to do with it. And according to Fate/stay night, he also wanted his son not to get involved as well.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: More obvious in the novel, in which he starts cursing Kariya and blaming him for his misery.
  • Even Mooks Have Loved Ones: Despite the horrible way he treated Sakura and the distant way he treated Shinji in his later years, he truly cared about his son enough to try hiding the background of the family from him, as shown in the backstory in Fate/stay night.
  • Family Theme Naming: Byakuya and his younger brother Kariya have names referring to birds (crane and goose, respectively).
  • Freudian Excuse: Due to being considered as a disgrace by Zouken because of his few magic circuits, he is an Alcoholic Jerkass who hates everything related to magic.
  • Jerkass: In both the novel and Drama CD.
  • Like Father, Like Son: They even share several tropes.
  • Never My Fault: In the novel he even justifies his drinking habits.
  • Parental Neglect: The Drama CD reveals that Zouken ignored him because of his lack of Magic Circuits.
  • The Resenter: Towards Kariya.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Byakuya is selfish and cowardly while Kariya was brave enough to abandon his family and potential happiness with Aoi for her own sake.
  • The Unfavorite: Kariya was supposed to be the Matou successor while nothing was ever expected of Byakuya. However, Kariya ran away, meaning Zouken holds both in contempt now.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: He has blue hair, like his son.


    Rin Tohsaka 

Voiced by: Kana Ueda (Japanese), Mela Lee (English)

Rin is the elder daughter of Tokiomi and Aoi. She is energetic, outspoken and shows great promise as a magus. Her father Tokiomi is responsible for training her.

  • Adaptational Badass: In the anime, she manages to stand against Ryunosuke Uryu and free a bunch of children he had captured. And keep in mind she was only 8 years old at the time. There was no such segment in the light novel, however, where she was attacked by a monster and saved by Kariya before she could enter the enemy's lair. note 
  • Badass Adorable:
    • In the anime, using a magical trinket and her own barely-controlled powers to thwart Ryuunosuke.
    • Standing up to school bullies and making them back down with words alone.
  • Born Winner: She is born with more talent than her father and her Elemental Trait allows her to manipulate all of the five natural elements.
  • Daddy's Girl: She adores Tokomi, treasures the time he spends teaching her gem sorcery and really wanted to help him win the Holy Grail War. All of this is consistent with how she's characterized in Fate/stay night.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Gets a short chapter from her POV in the book and it is expanded into a full-fledged episode, fittingly titled Rin's Adventure, in the anime adaptation.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Her appearance, emphasizing her cheerful youthfulness.
  • Kid Hero: Takes a shot at this during her spotlight chapter/episode. In the novel it ends in complete failure. In the anime her attempt is more successful.
  • Saved by Canon: Since she's a major character in Fate/stay night, it's unlikely the Caster-Uryu duo would be able to cause her any harm.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Tokiomi notes that Rin doesn't look much like her mother, but more like Tokiomi's mother.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Being a beginner, she's not all that good at controlling her magical ability but she's strong enough to destroy the hypnosis bracelet Caster gave Uryu.
  • Zettai Ryouiki: Even back when she was a child she sported this look.

    Sakura Matou 

Voiced by: Noriko Shitaya (Japanese), Cristina Valenzuela (English)

Sakura is the younger daughter of Tokiomi and Aoi. She was given away to the Matou family because the laws of the magus world prevented Tokiomi from training more than one of his daughters to carry on his family's tradition, and Tokiomi didn't want Sakura's potential to go to waste. However, Zouken is not really training her as a magus but instead putting her through hell. Kariya made a deal with Zouken to win the Holy Grail in exchange for Sakura's freedom to return to the Tohsaka family.

  • Blessed with Suck: Sakura is actually a Born Winner, possessing more Magic Circuits than her father and being born with an extremely rare Elemental Trait: Imaginary Numbers. Unfortunately, her trait isn't useful against anyone except for ethereal beings and Rin was also born with just as much talent as Sakura, forcing her father to find a family to adopt and protect Sakura. He chose Zouken.
  • Body Horror: Her body has been infested with parasitic worms.
  • Creepy Child: In full effect in her final appearance in the anime, when she coldly watches Kariya's corpse being eaten by the worms.
  • Curtains Match the Window: Purple hair and eyes.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Seeing that Kariya failed to keep his promise to save her and died for trying to defy Zouken, Sakura loses all hope and chooses to subdue herself to Zouken's abuse for the following 10 years.
  • Dull Eyes of Unhappiness: She's in a perpetual state of this because of the crest worms.
  • Hair Decorations: Wears a ribbon in the left side of her hair, which was the first ribbon her sister, Rin, ever made.
  • Living Macguffin: In Fate/Zero, her purpose in the story is so that Kariya has a reason to fight.
  • Locked into Strangeness: Her hair and eyes have turned purple as a result of the worms implanted in her body.
  • Purple Eyes: A sign of her Matou magic, inflicted by Zouken's experiments.
  • Rape as Drama: Sakura is thrown into Zouken's pit of worms naked and it is implied that she is sexually violated by them. The manga makes it disturbingly explicit.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: She had the same hair and eye colors as Rin before Zouken got a hold of her.

    Illyasviel von Einzbern 

Voiced by: Mai Kadowaki (Japanese), Stephanie Sheh (English)

Illya is the daughter of Kiritsugu and Irisviel. She is perhaps the only person that Kiritsugu is shown acting entirely comfortable and happy with, which surprises Saber somewhat.

  • But Not Too Foreign: Half Japanese, half German (since her mother is a German-made homunculus).
  • Cheerful Child: A much more genuine example than the jaded and unstable person she'd later become in Fate/stay night.
  • The Cutie: Bright and cheerful, in stark contrast to her Fate/stay night self.
  • Daddy's Girl: Eagerly awaits Kiritsugu's return. That he never comes back is a big reason for her rage towards Shirou.
  • Heroic Albino: Red eyes and white hair are shorthand for Einzbern homunculi. At this point she doesn't show Evil Albino tendencies like she does in Fate/stay night, since she's still a genuine Cheerful Child.
  • I Will Wait for You: She promises Kiritsugu to wait for him until he returns from his "business trip" during their last moment together.
  • Mystical White Hair: Like all the Einzbern homunculi, she has pure white hair.
  • Nom de Mom: Given the Von Einzbern's are essentially mage royalty, this is to be expected.
  • Older Than She Looks: As opposed to her mother. Due to being a homunculus that was born instead of created, she doesn't have a 'set' age from the beginning nor does she grow like a normal human would. Kiritsugu guesses (correctly) that she'll never have secondary sexual characteristics.
  • Our Homunculi Are Different: Illya is a naturally-conceived homunculus. This has warped her growth patterns so that despite being around eight years old she is absolutely tiny, only weighing about twenty pounds.
  • The Von Trope Family: The Von Einzbern is from Germany.

    Shirou Emiya 

Voiced by: Junko Noda (Japanese), Mona Marshall (English)

Shirou is a boy Kiritsugu finds while wandering through the destroyed city after the War. Finding a survivor gives Kiritsugu some measure of hope that his own life is still worth something. Ten years down the line, Shirou becomes the protagonist of Fate/stay night.

  • Empty Shell: Partial. Pretty much everything about this child was lost in the flames. He is later able to build a new identity for himself, but who he was before the fire is gone completely.
  • Future Badass: He is the future protagonist of Fate/Stay Night and then, of course as Counter Guardian EMIYA, the Archer of the next Grail War.
  • Happily Adopted: He was taken in and raised by Kiritsugu.
  • Heroic Resolve: It's eventually revealed in "Unlimited Blade Works" that this is a trait that survived with him.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Discovering him alive in the rubble is all that kept Kiritsugu from succumbing completely to despair.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: He vows to take on Kiritsugu's ideals with blind faith when his adoptive father is dying.


Voiced by: Hisako Kanemoto (JP)

An amnesiac teenaged girl somehow pulled into the Grail in the metafictional "Einzbern Consultation Room" shorts. She befriends Irisviel and helps console the defeated Servants of the Fourth Grail War.

  • Adaptation Expansion: She doesn't appear at all in the light novel, but makes a few background appearances in the anime and stars prominently in the Einzbern Consultation Room shorts and one of the drama CDs.
  • All Just a Dream: At the end of the Einzbern Consultation Room shorts, she awakens and wonders if everything she'd seen had only been a dream. She realizes it wasn't a dream when she sees the Einzbern Consultation Room signpost, which inspires her to set up the Tiger Dojo.
  • Big Eater: She eats three days' worth of food in one go.
  • The Cameo: She appears a couple of times as a background character in the Fate/Zero anime, as well as prominently starring in one of the special drama CDs. However, she was deliberately omitted from the light novel.
  • Canon Character All Along: She's really a younger Taiga Fujimura.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: When Zecchan praises her instructions in Episode 2, Irisviel gushes that Zecchan is close to turning her into a lesbian.
  • Foreshadowing: Her true identity is foreshadowed when Irisviel remarks that Zecchan would make an excellent teacher and that she hopes Illya will be like Zecchan six years in the future, and Zecchan takes up studying English.
  • Genki Girl: She is always eager and excited to learn new things, and to help the vanquished Servants come to terms with their losses.
  • Identity Amnesia: After somehow getting sucked inside the Grail, she loses her memories. All she recalls is that her name started with a "T".
  • Innocently Insensitive: She and Iri insult Zayd (one of Assassin's personalities, who died in Episode 2) to his face, without intending to.
  • Mafia Princess: She is the granddaughter of the leader of Fuyuki's branch of the yakuza.
  • Master-Apprentice Chain: Zecchan studied the Fate series lore under Irisviel von Eizbern in the Einzbern Consultation Room shorts, and would later go on to mentor Irisviel's daughter Illyasviel von Einzbern in the Tiger Dojo shorts.
  • Master Swordsman: She's extremely talented at kendo.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: She cannot remember her name and is dubbed "T-chan", "Student #0", or "Zecchan" for short. Her real name is Taiga Fujimura.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Joins in delivering a Circling Monologue to Zayd with Iri in Episode 3, pointing out what he'd done wrong.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Even after finding out that Irisviel is a manifestation of Aŋra Mainiiu, Zecchan insists on trying to save her from the nihilism and hatred of All the World's Evil, delivering a passionate Declaration of Protection.
  • Time Travel: Zecchan is somehow pulled back in time to the events of the Fourth Grail War after being sucked into the Grail.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: As Irisviel's Avenger starts showing, Zecchan calls her out on driving Lancer and Berserker to despair and madness instead of consoling them.
  • Yaoi Fangirl: When Irisviel comments on Iskander's compatibility with Waver, Zecchan remarks that the dōjinshi featuring them will be sexy.

Past Characters


Voiced by: Ayahi Takagaki (Japanese), Carrie Savage (EN)

"Kerry, what kind of adult do you want to be when you grow up?"

Shirley is a young Filipino woman whom Kiritsugu was friends with in his childhood. She admired the work of Kiritsugu's father and acted as his assistant. Unfortunately, her curiosity got the better of her and without Norikata's approval she tested a potion he was making on herself, causing her to undergo a vampiric transformation.

    Norikata Emiya 

Voiced by: Isshin Chiba (Japanese), Kirk Thornton (English)

Norikata was Kiritsugu's father and a magus researching manipulation of time who took up residence in the rustic, out-of-the-way Alimango island. While his experiments proved successful for plants, they were not suitable for use on humans.

  • Destroy the Evidence: He attempts to destroy the evidence of the disaster that took out the island's population, waving it all off as the results of a failed experiment.
  • Dull Eyes of Unhappiness: Just like Kiritsugu, possibly due to his failures towards finding immortality.
  • Immortality Seeker: While working out a way to bring immortality to humans through time control, he stumbled across the problem most magi do: it means you become a Dead Apostle.
  • Lack of Empathy: Concerning the disaster on the island. It's ultimately what sets off his son into killing him.
  • Megane: Wears glasses around, fitting for a professor.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Out of concern for Kiritsugu, who had just got out from the house and saw the Zombie Apocalypse in the village caused by Shirley and his own potion, he waits for him so they could escape together. His son stabs him and then shoots him three times.
  • Perma-Stubble: Like his adult son.
  • Posthumous Character: He died not long after Shirley when his son stabbed him and then shot him three times in cold blood.
  • The Stoic: Consistently even toned in all circumstances. He burns his research notes without hesitation and reacts to the news of Shirley's death as if it were a prediction of bad weather.

    Natalia Kaminski 

Voiced by: Akeno Watanabe (Japanese), Wendee Lee (English)

Natalia was a freelance mercenary who sold information concerning Norikata and his research on vampires. She rescued a young Kiritsugu from Arimago Island and took him as her apprentice. Over time, she became a mother figure to him.

  • Cold Sniper: Pleasant when she wants to be, but on the job she's all business.
  • Cynical Mentor: To Kiritsugu for the tactics and outlook.
  • Expy: Basically a gun-toting version of Aozaki Touko. Her design in the anime even resembles the original, novel-only design of Touko.
  • Parental Substitute: Her last speech was about how she found herself thinking of Kiritsugu as a son, much to her own surprise. Kiritsugu clearly agrees.
  • Posthumous Character: She died when the plane she was on was destroyed by Kiritsugu.

    Claudia Ortensia

Claudia Ortensia was Kirei Kotomine's wife, who died three years prior to the 4th Grail War. She was nearing death and wanted to prove to her husband that he truly had compassion in his heart, so she committed suicide to remind him of this. However, her actions only brought him into deeper despair when she failed.

  • Driven to Suicide: Due to being married to a man who was unable to love her in a conventional way, though she was already dying. Her suicide was also an attempt to make Kirei actually care about her (or at least her death) and show him he could love, but it didn't work.
  • Go Out with a Smile: After committing suicide. She thought her plan had worked and Kirei crying proved he loved her, but in reality he was crying because he wouldn't get to kill her.
  • Ill Girl: Part of the reason that Kotomine tried to love her is because she was ill.
  • Love Martyr: She was devoted to a man who was literally incapable of loving her in a way she would understand, but like everyone else, including Kotomine himself, she was not aware of his true nature.
  • Posthumous Character: She died several years before the Fourth Grail War began.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: She ended up committing suicide in hopes that Kirei would find compassion within himself again. Not only did it fail, it drove him further into despair.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Her daughter Caren takes after her quite a bit.


Example of: