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Kiritsugu Emiya

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

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/emiya_kiritsugu.png

"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."
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Kiritsugu is the protagonist of Fate Zero and an infamous mercenary known as the Mage 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.

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    # - D 
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: Irisviel gives him Avalon near the war's end, which is what allows him to go toe-to-toe with Kirei in the finale.
  • '90s Anti-Hero: Crosses lines beyond morality to achieve his greater good? That is one aspect of the trope and the latter is regarding his ruthlessness and badass portion. Even using firearms with the ability to manipulate time is one example and with Saber as his servant shooting particles is something in common that other 90s Anti Hero have in common. Kiritsugu is equivalent to The Punisher in terms of exterminating evil with evil...Which ultimately bites him in the ass at the story's climax where the Grail confirms that his methods will ultimately lead to more suffering instead of actually saving anyone.
  • Adapted Out: Zig-zagged during the crossover event with Fate/Grand Order. In short, HUMAN Kiritsugu doesn’t make an appearance, his Assassin Counterpart does.
  • 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 "anti-christ" in the older, more general sense of the term. (That is to say, someone who is notably un-Christlike.) 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.
  • Ascended Extra: Went from a minor character in Fate/stay night that motivated Shirou to become a hero, to the protagonist of his own series.
  • 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.
  • The Atoner: Becomes this in his final days by adopting and raising Shirou.
  • 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.
  • Beyond Redemption: Saber thinks he's gone past it and calls him out on it when he forces Kayneth to have his own Servant commit suicide, and then kills him and his fiancee 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. Definitely 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.
  • 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.
  • Break the Haughty: His cold pragmatic ways to win the war end up erasing everything that truly matters to him. When he adopts Shirou at the end, he undergoes a minor revival of idealism though.
  • 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 Equation: Operates in the Holy Grail War this way, though near its end he finds it deconstructed to his grief and failure.
  • 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 mages exactly because he thinks, acts and fights in ways inconceivable and unpredictable to the typical mages.
  • Contrasting Sequel Main Character: Inverted. 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 mage. 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 "Mage Killer".
  • Coup de Grâce: His Origin Bullets, made from his ribs. This actualizes his dual Origins of Severing and Binding, turning a mage's own magic circuits against them by making them tear themselves apart and mend, like crossing wires that don't match. A mage struck by it will never being able to use magic again, may be rendered severely crippled, and go through excruciating agony. Just ask Kayneth.
  • Cursed with Awesome: King Arthur is the strongest Saber and a top-tier Servant in general, so your average Master would be very happy to have her. Too bad Kiritsugu is not like most Masters and would much rather have a Servant that suits his underhanded methods like Caster or Assassin were it not for the Einzberns foisting her onto him. Their conflicting methods of chivalry vs. pragmatism actively hinders Kiritsugu at multiple points, especially after his duel with Kayneth in the Einzbern castle.
  • 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: Considering all the messed up stuff that happened to him, it is no wonder he became such an extremist. See Break the Cutie for more details.
  • Dark Messiah: Kiritsugu in his Mage-killing prime was described as appearing at battles around the world only at their most critical stages. Combined with Necessarily 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 Irony: After a lifetime of killing mages via crippling their magic circuits, his own are crippled by the Holy Grail's curse, the object that he sought to save the world and prepared for for over ten years. This leaves him too weak to bypass the Einzbern barriers and get his daughter back and ultimately kills him.
  • 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.
  • The Dreaded: He's legendary in the Mage's Association as the "Mage Killer" for his extreme ruthlessness and pragmatism, and any mage with two brain cells to rub together will do all they can to stay out of his way. Note this does not include Kayneth. In Fate/Grand Order, the Crypter Kirschtaria Wodime has heard of his existence, and his Origin Bullets have become famous enough that a poison was made to emulate its effects of crippling Magic Circuits.
  • 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.

    E - L 
  • 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.
  • Expository Pronoun: Despite coming across as a jaded and ruthless mercenary, he still uses the boyish pronoun "boku", indicating that beneath his cold exterior he's actually very idealistic and hasn't grown out of the ideals he's had since he was young.
  • 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 mishandling 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.
  • Good Parents: He's shown to be a good father with Illya, playing with her and promising to come back to her as soon as he can after he finishes his "job". After the Holy Grail War, Kiritsugu returned to Germany several times to save Illya from the von Einzbern family, but he was never able to, which was yet another big regret he died with.
  • 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 mage.
  • 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 mage 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 mage's 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 mage 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.
  • Hypocrite: Kiritsugu loaths Saber, and all heroic spirits, for being deluded mass murderers who paint themselves as heroes and fool mankind into thinking that war is something other than hell. As the Grail makes him understand he himself is nothing more than a deluded mass murderer who tries to paint his own murders as the practical way of becoming a Hero of Justice and avoid something worse, when his ideal of saving the world is taken to the logical conclusion by the Grail, the only thing that will achieve is an insurmountable mountain of corpses and he would have effectively saved no one. The realization of this hypocrisy breaks him, leading him to never harm another human being again and to arguably his first and only truly heroic act: saving Shirou.
  • 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. After Kayneth does as he says, Maiya guns down the couple.
  • 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.
  • I've Come Too Far: He continues his quest despite the heavy losses he endures, or more accurately because of them. It culminates in him slaying Irisviel and Illya in a dream, which leaves him believing he has absolutely nothing left, at which point Kotomine says he should just hand the Grail over to him, but he just can't do that.
  • Jade-Colored Glasses: As a kid, he wanted to become a 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.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: He's a ruthless Knight Templar assassin whose only real redeeming quality as a person is his love for his family and his genuinely noble goals, but there are times where it's hard to necessarily disagree with him, whether it be his methods or views.
  • 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, and even goes so far as to point out the loophole with a matter-of-factness that borders on smugness. 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: Mage 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 gone, Maiya kills the two of them on orders Kiritsugu gave in advance to prevent them from potentially contacting with another Servant.

    M - Y 
  • 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.
  • Manly Tears: For a hardened magus killer, Kiritsugu isn't entirely heartless as he sheds a tear when he has to kill Natalia, his mentor and adopted mother figure, strangling Irisviel in an attempt to release her from Angra Mainyu and finding Shirou as an only survivor among the flame wreckage saving him.
  • 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.
  • Muggles Do It Better: Kiritsugu is a mage (albeit an unrefined one), but his methods and tactics are decidedly muggle. Most mages in the Mage's 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.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: "For me, anyway." Changed to Bond One-Liner in the anime.
  • 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.
  • "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 Mage 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.
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Kiritsugu adopted the mindset of a cold-hearted, ruthless and calculating mage assassin in order to accomplish his goals without letting personal emotions get in the way. His wife Irisviel and their daughter Illya are the only people who ever get to see his compassionate human side.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Kiritsugu loathes Saber since he views heroes like her to be self-righteous mass murderers who have deluded themselves and society into thinking they're idols worth admiring and worshipping. He pairs her with Irisviel so he doesn't have to deal with her most of the time, gives her the Silent Treatment and pretends she doesn't exist despite her loyalty to him, and if he really needs to get a message across he'll either speak to Irisviel while Saber's in earshot or use a Command Seal. Saber recalls that he only spoke to her three times- when he used the aforementioned Command Seals.
  • 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.
  • Too Much Alike: This is why Kiritsugu really hates Saber; she reminds him too much of his past idealistic self who wanted to be a hero who could save everyone.
  • 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 Days Are Numbered: The Grail's corruption slowly burns away his life, health and mage abilities, leaving him frantic in his attempts to get back to Illya. Unfortunately, he fails.
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