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Ema Skye: Why can't we have a normal, straightforward killing once in a while in this country!?
Apollo Justice: I'll pretend I didn't hear that.
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, "Turnabout Serenade"

Originally released in Japan as the Gyakuten Saiban (Turnabout/Reversal Trial) series on the Game Boy Advance, the Ace Attorney franchise chronicles the adventures of hotshot young defense attorney Phoenix Wright and his friends, allies, and protégés as they investigate their clients' cases (which are usually murders). It is one of the rare Visual Novels to have a large-scale distribution in the West, where the entire series (aside from one spin-off title) has received an official release. The gameplay is part point and click, part mystery game where one finds logical inconsistencies in dialogue, part visual novel. There is no item combination and the story is mostly linear. It is well-known in English-speaking locales for its colorful cast of characters, its twists and turns, and its above-and-beyond localization (outside of a few grammatical errors).


The central series consists of the following games:

  1. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (2001note ): The first game in the series, which chronicles the start of Phoenix's career, the beginning of his association with the Fey family, and his reunion with childhood friend-turned-rival-prosecutor Miles Edgeworth.
  2. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice for All (2002): The second game in the series. Still reeling from Miles Edgeworth's disappearance, Phoenix continues to solve cases.
  3. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations (2004): The third game and original Grand Finale to the trilogy. Phoenix and company start to uncover a nefarious plot involving the Fey family.
  4. Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney (2007): Set seven years after Trials and Tribulations, the fourth game sees Phoenix's protégé Apollo Justice take the reins as the truth about Phoenix's disbarment comes to light.
  5. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies (2013): The fifth game, in which Athena Cykes joins the firm. However, her past casts a long shadow over events.
  6. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice (2016): The sixth game. Phoenix and Apollo become embroiled in events happening in the Kingdom of Khura'in.

Additionally, a few spinoffs and cross media instances have been released:

  • Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom 3: A Fighting Game that includes Wright as a playable fighter. The game also includes cameos from Maya, The Judge, and Missile, as well as Miles Edgeworth, Franziska von Karma, and Godot as cards in the Heroes and Heralds mode.
  • Project X Zone 2: a crossover game between Namco, Capcom and Sega which includes Phoenix Wright and Maya Fey as playable units and an NPC appearance by prosecutor Miles Edgeworth.
  • CROSS×BEATS: a Rhythm Game series also by Capcom that features an abridged version of "Pursuit ~ Last Promotion Version" from the Dual Destinies soundtrack and an arrange of "Turnabout Sisters" by OSTER project of Vocaloid fame as playable songs.

The franchise has also branched out into other media, including:

There is a (work-in-progress) recap page for the series here.

This franchise provides examples of:

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  • Absence of Evidence:
    • If the murder was brutal and little blood was found near the body, most probably it was moved from the real scene to a fake one.
    • Sometimes there will be a lack of fingerprints on an item (e.g. a gun) and the prosecution will claim this is proof that your client used it because they were wearing gloves, logic be damned.
  • Accuse the Witness: The real culprit almost always testifies at some point in each case. Your only chance to get a Not Guilty verdict is usually to prove their guilt by finding contradictions in their testimony and exposing their lies until they freak out and confess to the crime. There are many instances, however, where you'll be accusing a suspicious but innocent person at first before getting to the perp. And more rarely, you actually don't get to accuse the criminal at all, like in case 4 of Dual Destinies or case 3 of Spirit of Justice.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Franziska in all of her appearances, often with some good ol' rhyming added for good measure.
    Franziska: You huffy, puffy, loosey-goosey excuse for a whimpering whining wuss of a witness.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": The Evil Magistrate's name in the Japanese original is "Akudai Kan". "Aku Daikan" literally translates as "Evil Magistrate". This is lampshaded in the official lyrics for the Steel Samurai theme song.
  • Adult Fear: Common themes include fears about, "what if the person you either love or are starting to love is actually a much worse person than you think they are?" It obviously gets taken to ridiculous extremes in a series of murder mysteries.
  • Aerith and Bob: Being a series that's absolutely full of oddly-named people, any real-sounding names could count as an example of this. A good one in particular though, would probably be Troupe Gramarye's line-up. Magnifi, Valant, Thalassa... and Zak.
  • After-Action Villain Analysis: Many cases have one of these, typically in the Defendant Lobby after the verdict's been declared.
  • Alternate Character Reading: In the original Japanese version, the Meaningful Names of some of the characters are disguised to look like normal names by turning everything into kanji (while others just straight up pick special, meaningful combinations of kanji to use as their names). For example, Ryuuichi Naruhodō (Phoenix Wright)'s last name, Naruhodō, comes from なるほど (Naruhodo, "I see" in the "I understand what you're thinking" sense), but is written as 成歩堂 (Naruhodō), where 成 is Naru, 歩 is ho, and the last do is prolonged into dō and written as 堂.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: Many Western fans are surprised to learn that attorney lapel pins are real in Japan and not invented for the games.
  • Always Identical Twins: Two pairs of twins shown in the series (Dahlia and Iris, as well as Bonny and Betty de Famme) are identical. Naturally, this makes for some good Twin Switch hijinks.
  • Always Murder: Most cases will be straight murders, with some exceptions:
    • Case 1-3 involves a Killing in Self-Defense.
    • The second case of the third game initially appears to be about a case of grand larceny (which creates an odd scenario where the victim of the crime is alive, and yelling at you for taking the defense case), but within a day, you have to defend the same guy for a related murder.
    • Apollo Justice:
      • Occurs in case 2, with 3 related cases — 2 thefts and 1 hit-and-run. But then, of course, a murder occurs. It's also the reason one of the thefts occurred.
      • Subverted in Phoenix's last case, which is eventually revealed to be a suicide.
    • Dual Destinies:
      • The first case has bombing as the primary charge against the defendant, with murder as a secondary charge (a body was found in the rubble). Assault is later added as a third charge. The game's demo completely averts this, as the murder aspect is not included in the portion of the first case you play.
      • Played with in the DLC case, as Blackquill insists on a formal murder charge even though the defendant is an orca. It later becomes a traditional murder charge when Buckler is arrested, and in the end it turns out to have been an accident!
    • Spirit of Justice:
      • Subverted in case 6-3, where the deaths turn out to be a perfectly justified Killing in Self-Defense against an assassin and a suicide, respectively.
      • Subverted in the first trial of case 6-5, where a death is said to be accidental — the actual case is a civil case about the legal ownership of an object the victim had possession of. Subverted again in that the accidental death was a murder.
    • Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney:
      • The first case is an assault case, with no murder happening. It also turns into a theft case later.
      • The ending of the game reveals that no one was murdered. All deaths in this game were suicides, accidental, or faked.
    • The Great Ace Attorney: Adventures:
      • The charge in the fourth case is attempted murder, as the victim is alive but unconscious. It ultimately turns out to be an accident.
    • The Great Ace Attorney: Resolve:
      • The charge in the second case is also attempted murder, as the victim ended up coming back alive during the investigation itself. Interestingly enough, it's directly linked to the case above, as it takes place the very next day with nearly everyone from said case involved. In the end a murder from some time back is solved however.
  • Amateur Sleuth: Despite the fact that the defense attorneys have no police training whatsoever, it's also their job to do all the detective work for their client- you don't have any kind of Paul Drake equivalent. It's been stated on-record in interviews that the entire series is a gigantic middle finger to the Japanese judicial system, which is quite accurately depicted in the games.
  • Ambidextrous Sprite: Occasionally (particularly in the Investigations series but it has happened in the main series as well) there will be characters who can stand on either side of the screen and their features will flip. It also changes which hand they point with. Now that the series uses 3D graphics, it works more like a 2½D fighting game where features won't flip but animations will (for instance Phoenix standing at the prosecutor's bench in Spirit of Justice, where his animations will keep him facing the screen but his attorney's badge stays on his left lapel regardless of his orientation).
  • Americasia: The English localization changes the setting from Japan to California. However, the games still have a lot of Japanese set pieces (such as Kurain Village or the rakugo performers in case 6-4). The localization team's official explanation is that the games are set in an Alternate Universe where no anti-immigration laws were passed in California, allowing American and Japanese cultures to coexist and flourish, resulting in this trope.
  • Amoral Attorney:
    • Every prosecutor the protagonist faces (except Klavier Gavin and Winston Payne) comes to this at some point. Peaks especially when dealing with Manfred and Franziska von Karma, who prioritize their guilty verdict and reputation over justice. However, Character Development often makes them change their ways.
    • Likewise on the other end of the field, Marvin Grossberg sold top secret information about one of the murder cases his firm handled that resulted in no less than two separate, additional murders. Downplayed in that he completely regrets the entire fiasco. Other jerkbags on the defense's side include Robert Hammond, who forced an innocent man to plead insanity to a crime he didn't commit because he was too lazy to investigate properly, Kristoph Gavin, who ruined the career of another attorney and later murdered a man after a client rejected him, and Aristotle Means, who is terrifyingly devoted to the idea that a truly innocent client must be proven innocent by any means necessary.
    • Klavier Gavin is a famous aversion. While he's known for being a perfectionist who gets into foul moods if something wasn't done right, that only applies to his music career. In court, he's rather polite and friendly, if a little teasing towards his peers. He quickly becomes a powerful ally for Apollo especially when they testify against Klavier's brother, Kristoph.
    • Barok van Zieks also ends up being an aversion. While he often can be a complete Jerkass, especially due to his racism against the Japanese, it's made very clear that he is very dedicated to find justice rather than just a Guilty verdict. He wastes no time in turning on witnesses and aiding the defense if they seem suspicious or are blatantly lying.
  • Anachronic Order: Many of the games present their cases out of chronological order to some extent, for plot reasons.
    • Justice for All: Case 2 happens before case 1.
    • Trials and Tribulations: Cases 1 and 4 are flashback cases, with case 4 happening before case 1.
    • Apollo Justice: Half of case 4 takes place 7 years in the past.
    • Investigations: Case 4 is another flashback case, and case 1 happens between cases 3 and 5.
    • Gyakuten Kenji 2: Half of case 3 takes place 18 years in the past.
    • Dual Destinies: Case 1 takes place between the two trial days of case 4, cases 2 and 3 happen before case 1, and the DLC case occurs between cases 2 and 3.
    • Spirit of Justice: Mostly averted, though the intro to case 1 shows some events from case 5.
    • The Great Ace Attorney 2: Resolve: Case 2 is a flashback case taking place after case 4 of the previous game.
    • For the series as a whole, the Investigations games and the Professor Layton crossover were released after Apollo Justice but take place before it, and The Great Ace Attorney takes place long before the rest of the series but was released after Dual Destinies.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: Games and entries occasionally jump between protagonists for specific cases.
    • There's a minor example in Justice For All. You briefly play as Maya on three occasions in the last case after she has been kidnapped, exploring Matt Engarde's mansion.
    • Trials and Tribulations is the first major example, with the first "tutorial" case being from Mia Fey's perspective. This returns in Case 4, where Mia is controlled again, and for part of Case 5, where Edgeworth temporarily acts in Phoenix's place.
    • Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney uses two varieties, first with him being the series' second recurring protagonist, and secondly when Phoenix is controlled for the Case 4 flashback sequence.
    • Dual Destinies also uses this, as the plot jumps between three perspectives: Apollo, Phoenix, and newcomer Athena Cykes all act as the game's protagonists.
    • Also used in Spirit of Justice, where the Case 5 goes to court as a civil case. That is, it is the only case in any of the games that doesn't have a prosecutor, instead pitting Apollo's legal prowess against Phoenix's. Though, considering the series, it should come as absolutely no surprise that the "accidental death" still turns out to be a murder. Case 5 is also actually two completely distinct cases- the aforementioned civil case, and the actual finale in Khura'in, which has never been done before, either.
  • Animal Stereotypes: Used in different ways for character designs to help build their characterization. Maggey Byrde's name is a pun based on a magpie, thought to be a very unlucky bird. Furio Tigre isn't just named for an angry, powerful tiger; he has one on his shirt and roars when he's upset. The Kitaki mafia family has trickster foxes on their clothing, and Wocky's hair makes him look like a fox. Alita Tiala has bird wings on her dress to help her look sweeter. Daryan Crescend's hair and jacket are reminiscent of a vicious shark. Phoenix's name is a reference to his trials ability to, essentially, come back from the dead.
    • Not surprisingly, some of these characters have the same puns in their Japanese names. Furio Tigre's surname "Toranosuke" literally means Tiger boy. The tiger devouring a dragon on his shirt is actually a reference to Phoenix that is lost in translation, because Phoenix's name in Japan is "Ryuichi" and is spelled with the kanji for "dragon." "Ryuichi" isn't supposed to have any meaning at all, but the writers chose to play around with it in the third game anyway when they make his "evil twin". The English release gave the main character's name meaning anyway, via Woolseyism. Same for Maggey Byrde, whose name has no animal references in Japanese (but literally means "continues to lose").
  • Anime Hair: Nearly everyone has some improbable hairstyle. Phoenix's and Apollo's hair spikes are constantly lampshaded, but there's also Athena's ridiculously long side ponytail, Pearl's pretzel hairstyle, Klavier and Kristoph's drill-like ponytails, Daryan's...torpedo... pompadour thing. Lampshaded in "Turnabout Revolution," where Edgeworth fears that "weird hairstyles" will end up being associated with Americans.
  • Arc Words: "X years ago" is a common one. In the first game's second and fourth cases, it's "15 years ago." In case 1-5, it's "2 years ago" to the point of being lampshaded (and to a lesser extent, "6 months ago"). In Apollo Justice, it's "7 years ago." The third game has a bunch of them, but "5 years ago" is probably the most common.
    • In Dual Destinies the words "Dark age of the law" are said so many times some characters comment on it. In "Turnabout Academy", there's also Aristotle Means's creed, "The end justifies the means."
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: The primary characterization of every prosecutor Phoenix encounters in his career (minus Butt-Monkey Winston Payne).
    • Franziska von Karma is this through and through, as she pummels people in the legal sense (figuratively) and with a whip (literally).
    • Klavier Gavin plays both sides of the fence. In his younger days, he exhibits some of the attributes but is cooler-headed than someone who might be the AKFG. Currently he averts it by being rather friendly, helpful, and approachable, even though he has a tendency to tease his peers.
  • Art Evolution: The series' character design style has changed quite a bit over the years — progressively getting more detailed and anime-like. Also, the character design itself has gotten more wacky and outlandish over time.
    • There's a very visible difference between the sprite art of the games that originated on the GBA, and the one of the games that originated on the DS. Most notable is the height of the DS sprites made for the taller DS screen.
      • The contrast between the styles and quality of spritework is almost jarring in Apollo Justice, when you see the judge's old GBA sprite on the new modern courtroom design, and vice-versa with Klavier's sprite in the old courtroom during the trial seven years ago..
      • The characters of the first game's Rise from the Ashes were designed by a different art director, and they look more detailed than the rest of the game's older GBA sprites (compare April May to Lana Skye or Angel Starr, or Gumshoe to Jake Marshall). Thankfully, the difference is not nearly as noticeable as the above example, and the whole original trilogy getting all its sprites redrawn for a Compilation Rerelease somewhat reduced the difference between styles.
    • Dual Destinies is probably the most apparent entry, what with the series upgrading its 2D sprites to animated 3D models. Spirit of Justice then went and redid all its 3D models to match the updated art.
  • The Artifact: The 3-Day limit for trials. Most cases nowadays go on for 2 days and do it just fine, allowing more content per trial sections and faster pacing for the narrative.
  • Artistic License – Geography: Playing the games might lead one to assume they take place in Tokyo or some other large city in Japan. This is the case in the Japanese version of the games, but not in the international one due to Cultural Translation: Word of God says the city is Los Angeles. Apparently, it's an Alternate History version where the Japanese culture was allowed to thrive, rather than harshly rejected as it was in Real Life.
  • Artistic License – Law: Since the series is meant to parody the Japanese legal system and its high rate of conviction, and the localization team couldn't risk changing things around too much lest the game would become completely different, many of the things said and done in the court don't translate as well and are downright unrealistic for the American judicial system's standards. An episode of Buzzfeed's Professionals Play, where they got an actual defense attorney from L.A. to play through the first case of the first game's HD remake, explains it in better detail (even the fact that Mia's attire would be considered unprofessional IRL). There is also Legal Eagle's dissection of the first episode of the anime, which is based on the same case.
  • Ascended Meme: The Attorney's Badge (or variants like the Prosecutor's Badge or Attorney's Armband) appear in the Court Record for nearly every case in the series, which doesn't merit much use in investigations, not that it stopped players from showing it to just about every NPC in each case. While some do comment on it, later games include more acknowledgment of this, including Phoenix commenting that he showed his old attorney's badge a lot in Apollo Justice.
  • Asshole Victim: Roughly half the victims in the series. Sometimes they're done in by other assholes, other times by more sympathetic characters, but in many cases, there's at least two people who hate them enough to kill them.
  • Author Tract: The franchise is somewhat a satire of legitimate corruption in the Japanese Judicial system.
  • Awesome Anachronistic Apparel: Used to make character designs stand out compared to the standard suits you'd expect from a Courtroom Drama. There's the von Karmas and their cravats, the Marshall brothers and their cowboy attire, Simon and his samurai get up, etcetera. Justified with the Feys; they wear traditional robes relevant to their discipline.
  • Awesome McCoolname: Phoenix Wright, Apollo Justice and Athena Cykes. Miles Edgeworth counts too, if you understand his Meaningful Name's reference to the edge of a sword.
  • Back from the Brink: A staple of the series. The deck is always stacked against you, and some of your clients will even try to get convicted for varying reasons. Even as you make progress in a case, there's almost always a point where your case hangs in the balance and you'll come perilously close to losing. Cue the Turnabout moment which often flips the case on its head and things finally start to go in your favor. Phoenix Wright has earned a reputation of rescuing even the most hopeless of cases, earning various titles such as The Turnabout Terror and The King of Comebacks.
  • Be as Unhelpful as Possible: Neither Phoenix, Apollo nor Athena will get a single useful bit of information out of a witness, suspect, or even the detectives unless they drag it out of them.
    • Apollo Justice deserves special mention here, with most of the defendants and witnesses (including your own clients, mentor and assistant) going out of their way to obscure the truth, often because they are trying to protect someone or conceal some secret. Wocky Kitaki (your client in Case 2) outright requests a guilty verdict in court for a murder he didn't commit. Machi Tobaye and Lamiroir from Case 3 are particularly bad about pretending they don't speak English to cover for their illegal smuggling of Borginian cocoons and extensively lying on the stand in order to protect Machi, respectively, making Apollo's case much more challenging to prove. They're both innocent of the murder being investigated.
    • Larry also embodies this in general, except in the final case of Investigations.
    • Whoever the co-council happens to be often does this, because it's a way of giving the player a hint without telling them the answer. "I think I see the contradiction, Kitten..." But they don't tell you, causing the player to guess wrong and get a guilty verdict. The player characters are fond of this too; Wright will tell Maya that it's finally come together, only to leave her and the player in the dark for dramatic effect.
    • Truth in Television since witnesses in trials are instructed to only give as much information as asked for. "You didn't ask" is therefore a legitimate reason for withholding a specific detail if it wasn't in the scope of the original question.
  • Berserk Button: For everything that Phoenix goes through and sees in his time in court, it's amazing he only has 2: using poison and betraying others' trust. These two happen to cross into This Is Unforgivable! for him and it makes perfect sense considering how badly case 3-1 shook him when he was at his most naive.
  • Better Manhandle the Murder Weapon: One reason why Edgeworth ends up accused of Robert Hammond's murder, even though Yanni Yogi was the other person in the boat. Even though said character should have known better, the stated reason was being in shock at the time.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: This trope is invoked by several games:
    • In Justice for All, Franziska von Karma and Matt Engarde serve as main villains.
    • In Trials and Tribulations, Godot and Dahlia Hawthorne are the main villains in an Evil Versus Evil situation.
    • The major problems of the first two post-time skip games all end up being traced back to each of the games' main villains: Kristoph Gavin and the phantom. Further reinforced in Dual Destinies, when it's stated that the Dark Age of the Law was caused by the cases that led to Phoenix's disbarment and Blackquill's conviction, which were respectively masterminded by Kristoph Gavin and the phantom.
  • Big Brother Instinct: In general, sibling relationships are given high importance in the series, and any major character with a younger sibling will likely have this as at least part of their motivations. For example, Mia Fey left Kurain partly to avoid a power struggle with Maya, Lana Skye took the heat for someone corrupt to protect her sister Ema, Simon Blackquill took the fall for Athena's murder charge and went to prison for seven years in her place, Nahyuta Sahdmadhi pretended to be an evil queen's lackey because he was being blackmailed with Rayfa's reputation, and so on. This has even been used to humanize one of the series' few Sympathetic Murderers, Acro from 2-3. Evil characters tend to not have this, however.
  • Big Damn Heroes: About to lose? No hope left? Cue a crucial witness or a person carrying vital evidence barging into the courtroom with a cry of "HOLD IT!" or "OBJECTION!".
  • Big "NO!": Witnesses have a tendency to do this when you manage to break their alibis. Even the Judge shouts one in "Rise From the Ashes", then he remembers he's not the one on trial.
  • Big Red Button: In the Stolen Turnabout, there's one at KB security. Of course, Maya feels inclined to press it, revealing it is an emergency alarm.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family:
    • The Fey clan. Morgan Fey conspired against her more spiritually powerful younger sister Misty (who became the clan's head because of that) by framing Misty's daughter Maya for murder, so that Pearl (Morgan's very talented daughter) could take over. And that's not even including the Morgan's own secret twin daughters, one of them (Dahlia Hawthorne) being a terrible human being herself.
    • The von Karma family belongs here as well. The patriarch adopted the son of his own murder victim so that he could corrupt the boy's views and mold him as an Amoral Attorney who would stand opposite to everything his own father believed in, only to later frame him for the murder of his father anyway. And the patriarch's own daughter has a very complex relationship with her adopted brother.
    • If they can be considered a family, Troupe Gramarye fits too.
    • And the Kitakis. Actually, practically any two related characters belong to one of these.
    • Phoenix's inner monologue lampshades the Blackquills' version:
      Phoenix: Robot abuse and hawk attacks... Blackquill family life must be interesting...
    • The Khura'in Royal Family probably takes the cake though. The former queen and the current queen are sisters, with the latter (a prosecutor at the time) claiming that the former queen's husband attempted to kill his own wife, leading to a complex conspiracy where the current queen claims the throne while the former queen hides herself as a servant for protection. The former queen's husband becomes a revolutionary, their son becomes a prosecutor (who in turn is constantly blackmailed by his aunt/current queen with his mother's life). And then there's the current princess who believes that the current queen and her minister of justice husband are her real parents, when in fact she's also the child of the former queen and her revolutionary husband (and thus, sister of the prosecutor), and also has her life threatened by the current queen in order to keep the former queen and the prosecutor nephew in line.
  • Big "WHAT?!": Frequent, often in response to case-breaking evidence being presented.
  • Big Word Shout: Several, each of which is used in a unique situation:
    • "Objection!": The most common speech bubble, used to point out an inconsistency during a cross-examination, denounce an opponent's claim, halt court proceedings, object to some outrageous situation, or its real-life purpose of ensuring the opposition plays by the rules.
    • "Gotcha!": Used when Apollo attempts to invoke the You Can Always Tell a Liar trope.
    • "Eureka!": Used by Edgeworth (and, in a flashback case, his father) when deducing something about a crime scene using evidence.
    • "Overruled!": Used by Justine Courtney in place of "Objection!"
    • "Silence!": Used by Simon Blackquill interchangeably with "Objection!"
    • "Yes!": Used by Ryuunosuke Naruhodou and Susato Mikotoba interchangeably with "Objection!" and "Hold it!"
    • "Satorha!": Used by Nahyuta Sahdmadhi interchangeably with "Objection!" Displayed on screen as a Khura'inese character.
    • "Welcome!": Used in a single scene in the Layton crossover when Phoenix welcomes the professor to the bakery he works at.

      Additionally, there are several other speech bubbles which, despite being multiple words, still fit the spirit of this trope due to their abruptness and succinctness:
    • "Take that!": Used when presenting evidence outside of a cross-examination.
    • "Hold it!": Used when pressing a witness for more information or to halt court proceedings.
    • "Not so fast!": Used by Shi-Long Lang in place of "Objection!"
    • "Hang on!": Used in Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney to question a witness about their reaction to another witness's statement.
    • "'Scuse me!": Used in The Great Ace Attorney games in the same circumstances as "Hang on!".
    • "Have a look!": Used by Hershel Layton in place of "Take that!"
    • "Got it!": Used to point out an inconsistent emotion or cause of emotional overload during a Mood Matrix session. Also sometimes used to point out a visual contradiction, such as a location in a picture or a detail on a piece of evidence.
    • "Shut up!": Used by Jezaille Brett in place of "Objection!"
    • "That's enough!": Used by Rayfa Padma Khura'in in place of "Objection!"
    • "Such insolence!": Used by Ga'ran Sigatar Khura'in interchangeably with "Objection!"
  • Bishōnen: Toyed with significantly throughout the series. While there are several characters who could be considered bishonen, they are all either tall and broad-shouldered (Edgeworth and the Gavin brothers) or downright unattractive (Lance Amano and Florent L'Belle). Even the most seemingly straightforward bishonen, Maximilian Galactica, is revealed to be putting on an act and is in reality not as typical as he seems. Until Spirit of Justice, the straightest examples of this trope are 14-year-old pianist Machi Tobaye and Ron DeLite, though it's hard to see how skinny he is under his broad-shouldered costume. Spirit of Justice finally gives two standard examples: Prosecutor Nahyuta Sahdmadhi and Pierce Nichody from the DLC case.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing:
    • Usually the true murderer. Dahlia Hawthorne before she developed her Ax-Crazy tendencies towards Mia, and Alita Tiala from Apollo Justice. Matt Engarde had this as his defining character trait — even his name is a hint. And from Gyakuten Kenji 2, Sōta Sarushiro/Simon Keyes. In Dual Destines we have the phantom/Bobby Fulbright
    • Characters who end up in magatama sessions can be this, regardless of actual personality. Justified that they clearly have things to hide from the protagonists but when not played well this tend to turn into out-of-character moments for people like Pearl and Adriannote .
  • Boke and Tsukkomi Routine: Pretty much the core comedy dynamic between your main attorney character (tsukkomi) and their side-kick (boke). In court, your attorney is usually the tsukkomi for the prosecutor, the judge, and the more loony witnesses, though Edgeworth often flips the tables on Phoenix in their games.
  • Brick Joke:
    • In case 1-4, Phoenix mentions a line that was already really funny on its own: "When something smells, it's usually the Butz".
    • In case 1-5, upon examining a white rope outlining the victim's body, Ema goes off onto a tangent where she deduces that the victim was murdered by being crushed to death by the door of the car's trunk the body was found in. In Trials and Tribulations upon examining a similar outline coming out of a safe, Maya comes to the exact same conclusion: that the victim was murdered by being crushed to death by the safe door.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs:
    Gumshoe: Any real detective would look at his bandana!
    Judge: Mmm, banana.
    Edgeworth: That's bandana, Your Honor.
    Judge: Right, his banana-scented bandana.
  • Broken Aesop: An example relating to degree of openness. The main aesop of the games (with entire cases like 2-4 and 3-5 dedicated to it) is that bringing The Truth to light should be the main goal, especially when Edgeworth is involved. The issue is that the view of when the truth should be brought to light expressed through the events of the game is a nuanced one, while the view expressed through the dialogue is an absolute one. Edgeworth's dialogue after his Heel–Face Turn could be summarized as "expose the truth, no matter how painful." Yet there are situations in which players are supposed to hate someone for exposing the truth.
    • An example where revealing the truth is praised: telling a man who already knows that he was deceived by his girlfriend five years ago exactly how he was deceived? Sure, the truth turned out to be that he hadn't been as bad a judge of character as he thought he was, but Edgeworth starts pushing for the Truth to come out without knowing what it is. Edgeworth inherently knows that The Truth will heal the man's pain even if it gives him more to be upset about.
    • Situations in which revealing the truth is condemned:
      • Telling a jealous man the truth about his fiance's ex in order to make him reconsider the marriage? How evil! (The timing of the reveal is implied to have been part of what made it evil, but the heroes don't exactly tread lightly when it comes to the timing of big reveals either.)
      • This is Matt Engarde. And he didn't expose his past with Celeste to Juan for any reason other than to cause more pain. He didn't love Celeste, and Celeste never did anything to hurt anybody, but he told Juan because he knew his rival would never marry Celeste because of it. Sure enough, Celeste commits suicide over it and both men use her death as just another means to hurt each other. That's why what Matt did was evil, and even worse he used an assassin in the most abusive sense of the word.
      • Telling a skeptical public about a very unconventional technique the police used to solve a case, that lead them astray? Or publicizing a politician's affair with a secretary? The work of an evil man who caused nothing but pain. (The truth was definitely not the culprit's motive, but revealing the truth about what the police did was an effect nevertheless.)
    • Situations in which exposing the truth was portrayed in a mixed light:
      • In Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth, it is clear that the Yatagarasu's tendency to "steal evidence of corrupt dealings of all kinds" and send it to the press is illegal and that Edgeworth would like to be above such actions, but the Yatagarasu's actions in this regard are hardly portrayed as evil. The Yatagarasu was just "stealing the Truth" in order to bring it to light.
      • At one point, Edgeworth threatens to publicize a witness' embarrassing psychological diagnosis unless that witness testifies truthfully. He says that it's not his problem if the witness chooses to commit suicide in response to the psychological profile being publicized.
      • Edgeworth played a similar card when it came down to accusing Athena Cykes of killing her mother when she was 11. The circumstances of the murder were particularly disturbing and grisly given who the suspect was and it was enough to get the judge and Phoenix to try and plead with him not to say it, be it the truth or otherwise. Simon Blackquill's reaction to having his testimony about the UR-1 incident dissected and undone has a similar effect (the truth is there but it is far worse than what was hiding it).
      • Revealing who the killer is, even when there's already enough evidence to prove the defendant didn't do it, and the killer is in some ways a decent person who had a compelling reason for what they did and will now likely get in huge trouble? Mia says it's justice (though Maya didn't seem to agree and it's unclear whether Phoenix was fully convinced). Godot, at least, seemed to WANT to be brought to justice, and in fact subtly encouraged Phoenix to put the nail in the coffin, so to speak.
      • In the above case, the judge has explicitly stated that only Maya or Godot could be the killer. Maya knows that Godot had acted in order to save her and is thus protecting him at all costs; however, Phoenix is just as determined to protect Maya, so he has really no choice but to expose Godot. And as stated in the spoiler above, Godot did subtly encourage Phoenix to prove him as the killer.
    • A case could be made that revealing the truth really was good in the situations where it was portrayed as good and bad in the situations in which it was portrayed as bad, but the dialogue describes bringing The Truth to light as though it is a golden ideal that is always good - as long as the person doing it is a good guy, and the person whose truth got exposed only considers committing suicide rather than actually doing so.
    • All in all it seems the games have the aesop of "bringing the truth to light is a good thing", especially when done to help others, but also point out that in some contexts doing so can cause more harm than good, especially if the motives for doing so aren't really pious, and that the matter isn't quite black and white.
    • On top of that, while revealing the truth tends to ultimately be for the best, it's shown that sometimes you actually need discretion regarding when to reveal things, otherwise you have the potential to make things worse. A discretion that Miles Edgeworth never seems to master, however it could be said that he's very blunt because he knows that Phoenix can turn it back around on a dime.
    • Also, revealing the truth when it comes to your own emotions and feelings is not exactly welcome, seeing how much the Japanese love The Stoic. Many times, the characters have to hide their anguish inside for the sake of others, even if it hurts them and they are, technically, hiding the truth (like Maya and how she feels after her mother died, Phoenix after Case 3 in the Layton crossover or after his disbarrment in Apollo Justice, Apollo's "I'M FINE!" scream, the whole "A lawyer always smiles and only cries when it's all over" message, among others). Hiding how you truly feel and lying about it seems to be much more acceptable than expressing your true emotions.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Most of the cast, including any and all lawyers, from the unflappable but hapless title character to the driven, coffee-guzzling Godot. Honestly, it'd be easier to list characters that don't fit this in someway.
    • Characters who aren't really that involved with law are this too: Maya, while showing some rather pronounced Cloudcuckoolander tendencies, is also a very talented spirit channeler (she'd probably be even better if not for her occasional lack of self-esteem). Same applies to Ema, who may have screwed up the exam but is very skilled in Forensics, and Trucy, who is one of the best illusionists you'll ever find anywhere. Kay Faraday, is an exception: She's as untalented as a thief as one can be.
  • Busman's Holiday: This combined with Economy Cast makes many of the characters wonder if it's them that's having the bad luck.
  • But Thou Must!: Since these are Visual Novels, the plot must play out in a certain way. Of course, this acts as Dramatic Irony on replays, as several cases still require making wrongful accusations or having to fail at specific parts.note 
  • Butt-Monkey: Individual characters aside, the protagonist at any time, in any game, inevitably ends up a Butt Monkey. Even those cases with multiple protagonists. Made even more apparent by changes in a character's treatment after they slip in or out of the protagonist slot.

    C - F 
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Played straight with Phoenix and Apollo, averted by everyone else. Witnesses routinely perjure themselves, and they threaten and bully the lawyers; unless their memory is found to be shot, they can continue to provide testimony even if they are called out for perjury in court. Prosecutors withhold evidence; assault the defense, witnesses, and even the Judge; and refer to the defense by insulting nicknames.
    Phoenix: I think I have sufficiently proven one thing Ms. Miney. You are a masterful liar!
    Judge: Mr. Wright! You need to watch what you say!
    Phoenix: The one who needs to watch what she’s saying is the witness!
  • Casanova Wannabe: Larry, with his endless girlfriends and breakups to go with them.
  • Catchphrase:
    • "Objection!", of course! To a lesser extent, "Hold it!" and "Take that!". "Objection!" is shouted one last time in every game's ending before the credits, a habit lampshaded by some characters like Edgeworth and Pearl. Even witnesses and others such as Maya and Trucy scream out "Hold it!" and "Objection!", although they don't use a voice clip for it.
    • Phoenix:
      • "I'll get you for this...! In court!"
      • "I've got a bad feeling about this..."
      • (sob)
    • Apollo's "Here comes Justice!" Also, "Gotcha!" And, of course, "I'm fine!"
    • Edgeworth's "Eureka!"
    • Sister Bikini's "Especially in Winter".
    • Ema's "At my age, no less" in her younger years and 'scientifically speaking' all the time.
    • Grossberg's "Ah, the day of my youth... like the scent of fresh lemon".
    • Shi-Long Lang's "Not so fast!"
    • Justine Courtney's "Overruled!"
    • Simon Blackquill's "Silence!" which probably stems from the time he had to silence the room when little Athena was feeling overstimulated.
    • Rayfa Padma's "That's enough!"
    • Nahyuta's "Satorha!" Also, "Let it go, and move on."
    • Dhurke's is also the slogan of the rebellion: "A dragon never yields."
    • Ga'ran's "Such insolence!"
    • The Judge:
      • "The court accepts this as evidence"
      • "Order! Order! Order!!!" and any variations thereof.
    • "The defense is ready, Your Honor." "The prosecution is ready, Your Honor."
    • Brushel has "For the record" and "End quote."
    • Klavier has "Achtung!"
  • Caught on Tape: A videotape is frequently used as evidence; often the player will have to go through the tape frame by frame and point out a contradiction in it.
  • Chalk Outline: Dead bodies tend to be marked with a string rather than chalk, especially when they're discovered at odd positions (e.g. sticking out of a safe.)
  • Character Tic: Everyone has their own poses, but some are more iconic than others. It'd take way too much just to list everyone's personal tic. Some characters even share tics due to their connection to other characters (like Phoenix slamming his hands on the desk in the exact same way as his mentor, Mia).
  • Check and Mate: Phoenix and the other protagonists love delivering these speeches when they finally prove the real culprit guilty. Expect the Villainous Breakdown to follow immediately thereafter. Occasionally, if you mess up and trigger one of the Non Standard Game Overs, the villain or prosecutor will do it to Phoenix instead.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Larry again. He might be an idiot, but when he falls in love, he falls hard.
  • Chekhov's Armoury: This is a game based on court proceedings with a judicial system requiring that even with logical sense and linked facts, there needs to be concrete and decisive evidence to prove all separate facts, after all. The only way to be sure you have all the evidence is downright kleptomania.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • A series-wide gun was mentioned by Gumshoe during the "Rise of the Ashes" case: "The prosecutor is responsible for the evidence he presents in court". This applies to Miles Edgeworth, who's known in the first game for presenting forged evidence, but also applies to Phoenix Wright, who is not a prosecutor, but presented forged evidence without knowing.
    • Midway through the third game, a silly digression involving a ketchup stain hints at the fact that Godot can't see red on white — which becomes vitally important in the final case.
  • Chromatic Arrangement:
    • From the fifth game onwards, the Wright Anything Agency: Phoenix (blue), Apollo (red), and Athena (yellow).
    • The younger members of Troupe Gramarye: Zak (red/pink), Valant (yellow), and Thalassa (blue). They're led by Magnifi (black) and have a Secondary Color Nemesis in Reus (green and purple).
    • The Childhood Friends trio of Phoenix (blue), Edgeworth (magenta), and Larry (yellow-orange) in the first and sixth games.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Most of the major and recurring characters (save Phoenix and the Judge) from the original trilogy disappeared without more than passing mentions in Apollo Justice. Only Pearl, Edgeworth, Maya, and Larry have reappeared in the series.
  • The Clan: The Fey family, a prominent clan of spirit mediums with a long history —Spirit of Justice even implies that the family is descended from Khura'inese royalty. While their reputation is on the rocks at the start of the series, they still have most of the trappings of the trope: a Big Fancy House in a secluded village, acolytes following their teachings, infighting between the main and branch families, etc.
  • Closet Geek: Edgeworth is a huge fan of Toku serials, particularly the Steel Samurai/Pink Princess series, to the point where he sabotages his own prosecution rather than let his hero, the Steel Samurai (or at least the guy who plays him on TV) go to jail for a murder he didn't commit. His ringtone in Ace Attorney Investigations is even the Steel Samurai theme song. He usually gets defensive about his fandom to everyone... except Maya, interestingly enough.
  • Clothing-Concealed Injury: There are several examples throughout the games where someone is revealed to be hiding an injury under their clothes, which provides more leads to solve the current murder case.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: While plenty of named characters fall under this trope in their own special way, special mention goes out to the nameless officers, guards, investigators, and interpol agents you come across during your investigations.
    • The nameless Chief of Detectives is absolutely proud of his creation, the Blue Badger, and the franchise it's spawned. Such is his pride that he doesn't seem to notice that most people (including his own daughter) are creeped out by the department mascot.
    • The detention center guards are not brave enough to question Mayor Tenma's false confession of being a man possessed by a yokai, so they treat him with utmost reverence (even addressing him as "Your Malevolence") and pretty much cater to his every whim.
    • One guard is known for using jazz hands at the end of spur of the moment musical routines.
  • Color-Coded Characters: Major characters often are associated with the color that is most prominent in their designs. Those colors are occasionally used in official websites and other promotional materials.
    • Phoenix, Apollo and Athena form a traditional Chromatic Arrangement of blue, red and yellow, respectively.
    • For prosecutors, Edgeworth is associated with magenta, due to his coat. Franziska gets cyan (her hair color). Godot has the teal of his shirt. Klavier follows Edgeworth's example with a dark magenta coat. Nahyuta Sahdmadhi has the lavender of his hair. Simon Blackquill has... just guess.
      • A subtle example is Winston Payne, who has an appropriately boring suit of grey color. His brother Gaspen wears a suit that is of a darker shade of grey, to symbolize his more villainous nature.
    • For assistants, Maya Fey has the purple of her robe. Pearl has the light purple of her robe as well. Trucy has the light blue of her magician robe and hat. Kay has the hot pink of her shirt.
    • For detectives, Gumshoe has the olive green of his coat. Bobby Fulbright has the white of his suit, contrasting directly with Simon.
    • The Themis Legal Academy in Dual Destinies follows this code with its student uniforms. Blue for defense attorneys, red for prosecutors and black for judges.
    • Some recurring or important characters like Larry (orange) and Kristoph (violet-blue) count as well.
  • Cool, but Inefficient:
    • The DS supports functions for the microphone and touch screen. While it is cool to press the Y button to turn on the mic and yell "Objection!" and "Hold it!", it's far easier to press the shoulder buttons instead. The touch screen is rarely ever required for any of the games either. Apollo Justice tries to make the best use of both functions by implementing forensic tools to discover clues throughout the game, but for the most part, such a requirement comes up maybe only once or twice per game.
    • In the WiiWare rereleases, while it is cool to do Phoenix's trademark pose with the Wii remote while presenting evidence, it is a lot easier to just press the button.
  • Cool Shades:
    • Ema Skye wears pink glasses for Luminol testing in all of her appearances.
    • Klavier wears sunglasses in the flashback court segment of case 4-4.
    • Shi-Long Lang has what is possibly the most pointlessly elaborate, yet completely awesome pair of sunglasses ever to exist.
  • Continuity Cameo: Phoenix Wright is mentioned by She-Hulk in Marvel vs. Capcom 3. In She-Hulk's ending, both Wright and Edgeworth appear. ...And then Phoenix Wright was added into the same game proper, in Ultimate Marvel Versus Capcom 3.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Lots of cases would be unwinnable were a witness not in the right place at the exact right time. Sometimes, the actual truth of the matter is so ludicrous that Phoenix himself acknowledges it, but that's exactly what happened.
  • Conviction by Contradiction: The only way to make any progress during a cross-examination/rebuttal is to notice and point out factual inconsistencies in the accusation, often leading to the conviction of the accuser. Although it's Played With in pretty much each case, usually to the point where it's actually believable as a trope since the game would otherwise get pretty boring.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: First rule of practicing law in the Ace Attorney universe: if, at any point, it comes to light the victim wrote the identity of their killer in their own blood as they died, it's a Frame-Up by the actual murderer. Also is referenced often and occurs very frequently:
    • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney case 2: Near the victim's body, Maya's name is written in blood. Detective Gumshoe says this is a message from the victim saying that Maya did it. It turns out that the killer wrote it in the victim's blood to frame Maya.
    • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney case 5: The name "Ema" was written in blood on a broken jar, again by the real killer so as to convince Ema's sister to help forge evidence.
    • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice For All case 1: The name "Maggie" was written in the sand in front of the victim and the victim's right index finger was near the last letter. The player shows that the killer used the victim's hand to write this to frame Maggey by showing that the name is spelled wrong (when the victim would have known how to spell it) and that the victim was left-handed.
    • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations case 5: The name "Maya" is written in the victim's blood. It turns out that the victim was channeling a spirit at the time and that the spirit wrote the name to implicate Maya because said spirit was hostile to Maya.
    • Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney case 3: There is something written in blood on the floor in front of the victim, but it's hard to read. It turns out that the victim was an Interpol agent and wrote his agent number. The killer saw this and tried to smear the number to make it unreadable - proving that the person who tried to smear the number wasn't blind.
    • Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth case 1: When you put the binders back on the shelf, you find that the name Gumshoe was written in the victim's blood on the file binders. It turns out that the killer wrote this name to frame someone, but then someone else came and stole one of the binders that the name was written on.
    • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies case 1: After Apollo is knocked unconscious, the name of the defendant, "Woods", is written in blood, apparently by him. It turns out that it was written by the victim, and not by Apollo, and that it was used to implicate the real murderer. However, originally it read L10015R, the number of the culprit's bomb carrying case. The culprit altered the message using Apollo's blood to implicate Woods.
    • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice case 4: The victim supposedly used his karuta cards to finger the defendant (the fourth generation owner of a soba shop called Whet Noodle) as the culprit, spelling out WHET NO 4 to implicate him. However, the soba broth stains on the cards indicate the original order the cards were in actually read OWEN 4TH, and was rearranged by the witness who found the body, though without malicious intent towards the defendant. However, the message OWEN 4th was also a false message, left behind by the true killer.
  • Courtroom Antic: Every one in the book. And several other books, too.
    • Hell, it even named one.
    • The judge states frequently that anyone causing disorder in his court will be held in contempt and detained. This happens exactly once for plot purposes, and even then, Maya takes the bullet for Phoenix.
    • In "3-1" there's a scene where people are trying to catch Phoenix from running away and court descends into madness.
  • Creator Cameo: Prior to Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, all the in-game voice clips were provided by members of the development and localization teams. PLvsAA and Dual Destinies use professional voice actors for most characters due to the greater amount of dialogue and higher sound quality offered by the 3DS, but the teams still do voice clips for the more minor characters
  • Cultural Cross-Reference: All references to Perry Mason are in the original Japanese script. Apparently the Japanese love Perry Mason.
  • Cultural Translation: The English-language versions are posited to take place in an area not unlike Los Angeles (except that it snows in the wintertime and there are a surprising number of Shinto temples in the vicinity), but so many visual elements are so very distinctly Japanese (to say nothing of the court system) that it stretches suspension of disbelief a little much at times. Even parodied by Awkward Zombie. This comes full circle in the musical adaptations, which are produced in Japan and performed in Japanese, yet chose to adapt the English versions of the game as a stylistic choice and are thus set in America and use all of the English character names. In Japanese.
  • Dark Secret: Almost every character has at least one of these. Figuring out what they are is the whole point of the games. Taken to its logical conclusion with Kristoph Gavin's black Psyche-Locks that never (formally) get cracked. We find out in Dual Destinies that they can be broken, however they're so deeply ingrained to the psyche of the person that without caution, you could destroy their soul in the process.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The protagonist, whether it's Phoenix, Apollo, Edgeworth, Mia or Athena (with Athena as the least prone to sarcasm and Edgeworth as the most prone), partly for being the Only Sane Man or woman in each case. They may not always say it out loud, but if they are not saying something sarcastic, there's a very good chance they're thinking it. Sometimes people will react to these statements, meaning that either they're muttering at least some of them under their breath, or there's a bunch of telepaths running around.
  • Denser and Wackier: The series has been getting progressively weirder and over-the-top ever since the first installment, which was already weird enough to begin with.
    • The first game already had spirit channeling as an important plot point, children television conspiracies and Phoenix making a parrot testify. However, the character designs are relatively tame, with Maya's "weird outfit" even used as a plot point (which would hold no water by the later games, where everyone has over-the-top designs).
    • Justice for All features a prosecutor who wields a whip, a murder where all the witnesses are circus performers and the cross-examination of a radio transmitter with a professional assassin at the other side. Character design becomes more elaborated and colorful from this point on, with way quirkier witnesses that would serve as the series' standard.
    • Trials and Tribulations dials up the spirit channeling up to its logical conclusion, with it becoming the central focus of the entry (complete with a vengeful evil spirit being involved), there's also now a masked Gentleman Thief who is actually a guy with Princess Leia's hair, a burly chef who thinks of himself as a little girl, a literal red man that impersonates Phoenix in court, and a prosecutor who is a coffee-addict wearing a glowing red visor and speaking bizarre philosophical coffee analogies.
    • Apollo Justice swaps the spirit channeling clan for a Stage Magician troupe as the main background plot point, Phoenix is now a hobo, the prosecutor is a literal rock star who Air Guitars in court, panties are used as evidence to catch a panty thief during a murder trial and the final villain causes an epic Chunky Updraft through the power of sheer hatred.
    • Dual Destinies has a samurai prosecutor who is a convicted murderer, sending his pet hawk to attack witnesses and the defense, a defendant pretending to be possessed by a Youkai, a reporter hiding inside a cardboard box, a witness acting like he's teaching in a classroom, funny robots and so on. Oh, and did we mention that Phoenix gets to defend an orca in court?
    • Spirit of Justice brings back the spirit channeling aspect with full force, having an entire country based on it, where defense attorneys are hated and punished with death if they lose a case. Then you have the prosecutor, who is a religious nut (like the rest of the aforementioned country), a New-Age Retro Hippie monk who plays heavy metal in court, more Stage Magician troupe shenanigans, an elder spirit gets to testify while possessing the body of a young woman, an entire case revolving around weirdo rakugo storytellers plus soba noodles (not to mention that the defendant is wasted through the whole thing) and a drone armed with a gatling gun and missiles as a witness. Oh, and there's a case with someone seriously saying they are a time traveller?
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Franziska von Karma does this often with the word "fool." Take, for example:
    von Karma: Tsk, tsk, tsk. Mr. Phoenix Wright. I grow tired of the foolish foolery of the foolish fools of this foolish country...
    von Karma: Foolish fool spouting foolish foolishness, just as I expect of a foolish fool such as you.
    von Karma: A foolishly foolish idea born from the foolish mind of a foolhardy foolish fool.
    • Not to mention one of Larry's lines in the first game.
      Larry: It's lonely, being alone on Christmas Eve.
    • Larry has quite a few.
      Larry: My claim is a claim claiming my claim. Do you have a problem with that?
    • Or this from Klavier Gavin in the fourth game.
      Klavier: The jurists will function like a jury.
  • Despair Event Horizon: The second game introduced an "All is Lost" sprite for Phoenix, with him bent over the desk and clutching at his head. Usually subverted.
  • Developers' Foresight:
    • Played straight in some cases. There's no shortage of non-plot-advancing but hilarious comments you can get from showing certain evidence to certain people, and in some cases the game will come up with a justification to prevent you from showing certain evidence to certain people such as showing the Amazing Nine-Tails mask to Jinxie, who if you did would most likely reveal that, contrary to what everyone assumes until the climax of Case 5-2, the Amazing Nine-Tails isn't the Alderman but rather her father Damian Tenma.
    • However, there are some instances in trials where witness's statements are blatantly contradicted by multiple pieces of evidence, but only one of them actually works. For example, in Turnabout Reclaimed, Marlon Rhimes' claim to have witnessed Shipley's poolside death at 10:10 AM is supposed to be contradicted by the penguin calendar that he mixed up with Pearl's at that same time, establishing that he wasn't there at 10:10, but it's also contradicted by the security tape footage that Wright had just established proved that Shipley had been long dead and already underwater before 10:10, meaning Shipley couldn't possibly have witnessed him being killed by Orla beside the pool at that time.
    • A rather odd case is in the 7-year flashback trial in Turnabout Succession. You are told to present evidence that contradicts the prosecution's claim that Magnifi didn't go on to write another entry in his diary because he was killed. A blind man could see that the diary has a very obvious torn-out page in it, right after his supposed last entry, and logically, the mere existence of that tear would be enough to call the prosecution's claim into question without having to use the forged diary page. However, the game (through Klavier) simply tells you you're not allowed to present the diary, you have to present the forged diary page. Essentially, the dev team did think of that, but just basically told the player to pretend it didn't exist to go on with the plot.
  • Devil in Plain Sight: Many suspicious witnesses (and of course, the real culprit of a case) start acting awfully suspicious the more holes you start poking in their testimonies, to the point that some of the culprits could probably have easily been convicted in Real Life simply based on how they were behaving (you wouldn't believe how many of them start openly gloating if the prosecution gets a leg up on you.)
  • Divergent Character Evolution: Ema started out a Suspiciously Similar Substitute of Maya — they're both perky teenagers with renowned sisters in the legal profession who assist Phoenix, the difference being that Ema is more science-inclined than the mystical spirit channeler Maya. Ema's appearance and hairstyle evoke Maya. Lampshaded: Phoenix takes Lana's case because Ema reminds him of Maya. Almost a decade later in Apollo Justice, Ema's moodier and angrier so her rule doesn't clash with Trucy. Ema Took a Level in Cheerfulness between the fourth and sixth games, and when she and Maya interact onscreen for the first time in Spirit of Justice, Ema's notably more down-to-earth than Maya is.
  • Double Entendre: In spades. Hits a real high with Apollo and Ema's conversation about her "tool" in the fourth case.
    • Gumshoe said in 1-4 that he and Edgeworth have a "working relationship." Now, does that mean the relationship is only related to work or that it is going smoothly?
    • Franziska's "I DEMAND SATISFACTION!" before whipping Larry Butz into unconsciousness.
    • In the latter part of Investigations' first case, a lot of time was spent on figuring out who touched Portsman's knob. Only Portsman himself and his partner touched his knob. Possibly unintentional, but who knows.
  • Doujinshi: Two volumes of it were released in English, one with comics focusing on Wright, the other with comics focusing on Edgeworth.
  • Downloadable Content:
    • On the non-downloading side, the first game's Updated Re-release on DS had "Rise From The Ashes", a fifth bonus case. It notably utilized the DS's (then) new features, such as blowing the mic to clear dust when searching for prints.
      • It is downloadable content in the WiiWare version of the first game.
    • Dual Destinies and Spirit of Justice receive canon cases as well as alternative costumes for the main characters. Spirit of Justice also has two cases of what essentially amounts to in-universe Crack Fic.
  • Dramatic Irony: There are several cases (generally the first one in the game) where the murderer is made clear from the very beginning, but the main character doesn't realize it.
    • Looking at the whole series, Phoenix's disbarment could be seen as such. During case 1-2, Mia told Maya that Phoenix should have another three years before he's someone she could rely on in court. Three years forward from the events of the first game, Phoenix is forced out of the legal profession in disgrace.
    • Dual Destinies and Spirit of Justice like to point out Apollo's orphan background a lot — except Apollo Justice reveals that his biological mother, Thalassa Gramarye, is alive, and so is his half-sister by her, who is none other than Trucy.
  • Dub Name Change: Not just from Japanese to English, but also to French, and many other languages, to keep the puns they carry. Interestingly enough, the English names have become so ubiquitous that they were used in the Takarazuka Revue musicals, despite them being entirely Japanese productions.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: The Wright Anything Agency should be, by all accounts, the most famous law office in the country due to constantly taking high profile cases and winning them in the most unorthodox ways. But they are almost always treated like a bunch of no name rookies who are way in over their heads (which, to be fair, isn't always an entirely untrue accusation).
  • Dueling Shows: In-universe, the Steel Samurai franchise and the Jammin' Ninja, which even air at the same time. The plot of 2-4 revolves around the intense rivalry between the two leads, and in Investigations Kay and Edgeworth's arguments about which is better shows that they've got a Fandom Rivalry as well.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Pretty much every major character is subject to Parental Abandonment and/or a screwed-up familial or personal history.
  • Entertainment Below Their Age: Miles Edgeworth, a prosecutor in his 20s, happens to be a Closet Geek of the action Tokusatsu series Steel Samurai, which normally targets kids.
  • Escaped from Hell: Godot claims that he has 'come back from Hell to do battle' with Phoenix Wright. Given the potential for ghosts and spirit channeling in the series, he might well be telling the truth. Although he actually just came out of a five-year poison-induced coma.
  • Every Episode Ending: Every game in the series has the protagonist(s) shout "Objection!" at the very end of the game.
  • Everything's Sparkly with Jewelry: Whether it's evidence or for characterization.
  • Evidence Scavenger Hunt: Every segment between cases involves combing areas for evidence.
  • Evil Costume Switch: Aristotle Means began a regular occurrence in the 3D games where the true killer adopts a new appearance and/or demeanor once it becomes obvious to both the attorney and the audience that they're the true culprit. It also occurs with Marlon Rimes, the phantom, Pees'lubn Andistan'dhin, Roger Retinz, Geiru Toneido, and Ga'ran Sigatar Khura'in.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Multiple instances:
    • Both the victim and the killer are villains in some cases. Some good examples of this are Farewell, My Turnabout, Turnabout Corner, and the second case of Turnabout Revolution.
    • Bridge to the Turnabout puts an interesting spin on this: Godot is a Big Bad, and he killed Misty Fey while defending Maya Fey from Dahlia Hawthorne, the other Big Bad who Misty Fey was channeling at the time and who was trying to kill Maya Fey. Godot is guilty because he intentionally squandered an opportunity to prevent the fight from taking place at all, so lethal force was not required to defend Maya Fey which trashes the defense of others defense which requires that no option other than lethal force exists to succeed.
  • Exact Words: If the contradiction isn't a mistake or an outright lie, it'll usually be in this form and require pressing for further details. One of the most notable examples is Phoenix using the Magatama on Matt Engarde in Farewell, My Turnabout, asking if he killed the case's victim. The response is "No, I didn't kill anyone." The Magatama doesn't register anything because technically he didn't kill Juan Corrida, but hiring an assassin to do it makes him just as guilty.
  • Expy: The Takarazuka Revue production has Monica Clyde for Ema Skye, obvious from the first glance at her. Less direct expies are also present. All necessary for compressing the plot into a 2-hour play, plus dancing.
    • Kristoph Gavin and Manfred von Karma.
    • invokedLet's face it, the other main young female partners to the lawyers (Ema, Trucy, Kay) are obviously expies of Maya. This is lampshaded and used as a plot point in 1-5, as Ema's resemblance to Maya is what spurs Phoenix to take on the case. Maya, Ema, and Trucy are all identified as "in training", and even Takumi stated before AJ that Trucy's role would be "just like Maya's". Subverted with Athena Cykes in Dual Destinies, as it's shown from the start that, while she does share a bit of genkiness with the former helpers, she's a main character all her own and has a different personality. She's the most competent in court (makes sense as she's an actual attorney), can be extremely emotional (usually a hothead) and is also extremely bright and a prodigy in the field of law. Unfortunately for her, she does share the partner's tendency to have at least one of their parents killed.
  • Failure Is the Only Option:
    • In case 1-4, there is a piece of evidence that can turn the case around. However, in order to progress, you have to confront Von Karma with it - at which point he hits you with a taser and destroys the evidence, and it's the only thing left during that particular investigation.
    • The only way to progress in Phoenix's final trial is to present the forged diary page, even though it means Phoenix will be disbarred for presenting forged evidence. Justified as the case in question is set in the past.
  • Fan Boy:
    • Edgeworth is a huge Steel Samurai fanboy. It's subtle in the main games, confirmed in the supplemental materials. Investigations throws all pretense out the window and makes it a minor plot point in the final case.
    • All of the assistants are also a huge fan of something in popular culture, including Gregory's male assistant, a younger Tateyuki Shigaraki. Maya (Steel Samurai and its spinoffs), Ema (Edgeworth), Trucy (Troupe Gramarye and the Gavinners), Kay (Jammin' Ninja), young Tateyuki (Dansweets), and Susato (Sherlock Holmes).
  • Females Are More Innocent: Zig-zagged. While men are significantly more likely to be the culprit than women are, and around half of the women who are the killer have sympathetic sob stories behind them, compared to the men for the most part being just plain evil, there are a few female villains in the series, particularly Dahlia Hawthorne and Ga'ran Sigatar Khura'in, who are genuinely, irredeemably evil, and in fact rank among the most iconic villains in the series.
  • Fictional Country: The franchise ostensibly takes place in Japan/California, with characters often training in America/Europe, but still has some examples of this.
    • Borginia, a country in Northern Europe, with a writing system that looks something like hieroglyphics.
    • Cohdopia is a European principality that was split into two nations (Allebahst and Babahl) which were later reunified.
    • Khura'in, a small nation "on the western edge of the far east," looks like an amalgam of countries in the South and East of Asia, with a distinct Indo-Himalayan feel to it.
    • Zheng Fa is another Asian country, implied to be located near and heavily influenced by China.
  • Figure It Out Yourself: Whenever a rookie attorney has a mentor as their co-council (Phoenix to Mia, Mia to Grossberg or Diego, etc.), usually the mentor will spot contradictions or piece things together faster. They might give hints, but expect them stay hush about it and wait for the Player Character to figure it out; granted, training someone means they can't have everything done for them, but they never object or step in if you lose the entire case.
  • Filler: Every main entry in the series so far seemingly has at least one case that contains minimal to no relation with the entry's overarching story:
    • Ace Attorney Phoenix Wright has Case 3: "Turnabout Samurai", which is about a TV studio murder and doesn't really develop any of the main characters (except Edgeworth, but only for a bit at the end). It does bring plot points that are re-used in the final case (namely, the idea of using a disguise to pin the crime on someone else).
    • Justice for All has Case 3: "Turnabout Big Top", which is about investigating a circus murder and features some of the series' most bizarre witnesses. Again, no main character actually develops here.
    • Trials and Tribulations has Case 3 (notice a pattern?): "Recipe for Turnabout", which is about Phoenix investigating a restaurant murder and a supposed impostor that impersonated him in said murder trial. No development here either except for resident detective Gumshoe.
    • Apollo Justice varies it a bit with Case 2: "Turnabout Corner", which, despite introducing the rest of the game's major characters, hardly advances the game's overarching background or plot, being more of a compilation of silly subplots involving panties and noodles that eventually converge into a murder.
    • Dual Destinies has the Case 2 again, the "Monstrous Turnabout", which features Demonic Possession as its main gimmick. Downplayed as Prosecutor Blackquill is introduced here, but his actual role in the game only becomes clearer from Case 3 onward.
    • Spirit of Justice has Case 4: "Turnabout Storyteller", which has no relation to the Khura'in plot and is there as a Breather Episode according to Case 2 also has nothing to do with Khura'in, but actually continues the Troupe Gramarye arc introduced in Apollo Justice, with Trucy receiving major development.
  • Flanderization: From game to game, this gets more and more notable.
    • Gumshoe's poverty and incompetence. The salary cut thing started out as a couple of quick gags in the first game, but later became overused to the point where it became more cruel/frustrating than funny. (By the final case of T&T, it's mentioned that Gumshoe cannot pay his electric bill, and cried of joy when Edgeworth gave him pasta with extra cheese.) Same thing happened with his clueless traits. By the time the Investigations games came around, Gumshoe's main character traits were: he's dumb, and he lives on instant noodles. He finally gets a break at the end of Investigations 2.
    • The Judge progressively becomes more airheaded; this is most noticeable between Turnabout Goodbyes and Rise from the Ashes, as latter was written after T&T. Dialed back a bit in Dual Destinies.
    • Larry started out as Phoenix's goofy, emotional friend who always gets dumped by girls. Afterward, he became a loser who hits on any girl he sees and turns more and more unlikeable and disconnected from reality every game. Phoenix and Edgeworth's tolerance for Larry also progressively goes down with each appearance — as Larry also made the switch from "clueless, but means well" to seemingly being as actively unhelpful as he can.
    • Oldbag went from being just a troublesome witness who tend to ramble, to a Jerkass who annoyed everybody, especially Edgeworth.
    • Count how many times Edgeworth says "truth" in the Investigations games.
  • Flashback:
    • Used frequently to recall key clues during a case, or to reference events from past games or cases. Can be somewhat annoying as the game will sometimes flash back to things that you just saw a few minutes ago, especially in the third case of the fourth game, when you see one scene something like four times in close succession.
    • About half of 4-4 is a playable flashback.
    • Most of Dual Destinies is essentially a flashback. You play 5-1, then 5-2 to the beginning of 5-4 (and the DLC Case) are all the events leading up to it with the second half of 5-4 and 5-5 taking place afterwards.
  • Fluffy Fashion Feathers: Some of the fancy ladies' outfits. In particular, Alita Tiala from Apollo Justice.
  • For Great Justice:
    • Most obvious in Phoenix and Apollo, of course, but Edgeworth also learns to seek out the truth rather than just more wins on his record. Being a game series based on lawyers, it's justified.
    • It's the Steel Samurai's motto.
    • This is Bobby Fulbright's entire motivation. Phoenix and co. manipulate him at at least one point by convincing him that helping him would better serve the cause of justice than strictly following his orders. Subverted in this case. He's actually an amoral spy, presumably not someone who'd actually care about justice
    • The Yatagarasu's goal: to steal the truth for justice.
  • Foreshadowing: The games have a lot of this, particularly Trials and Tribulations and the bonus case 'Rise from the Ashes' in the first game, which was created as part of an Updated Re-release with the writers knowing what was going to happen in later games, leading to lines foreshadowing Trials and Tribulations ("We certainly can't get a dead person to testify" as well as Phoenix stating he would get found out if he lent his badge to someone (foreshadowing Phoenix lending his badge to Edgeworth). Also, Gumshoe asks if he can work as Wright and Co. after he is fired foreshadowing him working for Phoenix in the last case in Justice for All. The climax of the case in which Phoenix is accused of withholding evidence could be foreshadowing Apollo Justice.
    • Also in the second case of Trials and Tribulations, when talking about Mask DeMasque Phoenix says that when you're famous there are always imitators. Pearl then says that if Phoenix works hard, someday he'll have his own imitators. The next case revolves around Furio Tigre impersonating Phoenix to cover a crime.
    • Investigations has an odd case of reverse-foreshadowing. Specifically case four. It's a flashback to four years before the first game and six months before Edgeworth's first trial, and contains multiple references to future events. If you hadn't played the first few games you wouldn't get the meaning behind von Karma's comments (he killed Edgeworth's father), the fire extinguisher being used in a crime (later used to bash Phoenix on the head and give him temporary amnesia), Franziska mentioning she wouldn't know what to do were her father to die (it is implied in JFA that Manfred dies after being convicted on the murder of Gregory Edgeworth) and saying she would never have to work with Detective Gumshoe or Edgeworth mentioning his badge won't stay shiny forever (his reputation will eventually be tarnished).
    • In case five, the 'shadow of the Yatagarasu' is formed by more than one statue. This foreshadows the fact that the real Yatagarasu is more than one person.
    • In case 3 of the first game, Phoenix makes a somewhat overly-dramatic comment to Cody Hackins, a Steel Samurai fanboy, that seeing through lies is "one of his powers". Fast-forward to case 2 of the second game, when Phoenix is given a Magatama, which literally gives him the power to see through lies, via Psyche Locks.
    • In the bonus case of the first game, 'Rise from the Ashes', when accused of forging evidence, Damon Gant points out that although Edgeworth may have been found to have unknowingly presented forged evidence, says "It's not just prosecutors who can forge evidence, right Wrighto?" Fast forward to Apollo Justice....
      • During 3-3, Phoenix thinks to himself that a "phony case" is "the perfect excuse for some phony evidence". Suddenly, it seems a lot less surprising that this is how he got disbarred in the next game.
    • Apollo Justice, Case 3. A player watching closely during The Guitar's Serenade can notice the flash of the igniter going off and the fire growing.
    • Case 1-5 also foreshadows Investigations as Damon Gant, after being outed for murder in two cases, tells Edgeworth that he will one day need to find a way to deal with certain criminals you can't take down with just evidence and testimony. Fast forward to AAI, and meet Quercus Alba, a criminal who can't be touched by the law due to his diplomatic immunity. Then there's the fact that all the evidence and testimony in the world couldn't touch the killer of the IS-7 Incident because of the Statute of Limitations running out no matter what way the case is looked at. Except one, but even then, the killer is implied to get off scot-free, even though the one who took the fall was released from prison.
    • And that isn't just in the case of Edgeworth as Phoenix Wright himself does it. His monologue at the end of the game talks about not being able to change past mistakes, only make up for them and then move on. What does Nick do in Apollo Justice? He accidentally presents forged evidence in court, and pays for it, then spends seven years making up for that mistake, raising Trucy, and finding out what really happened in the case that caused him to lose his badge. Once he is finally cleared of all suspicion of forging evidence, the fallen attorney "Rises from the Ashes" and picks up right where he left off, cue the return of Nick in Dual Destinies.
    • The opening scene of Apollo Justice's first case depicts a painter in their studio, which doesn't seem to have anything to do with the rest of the case. The rest of the prologue focuses on the murder of this case, but it is drawn in the style of a painted picture. We finally get to meet the painter in case 4, and we find out that they've created paintings of all of Apollo's cases. Also, in a rare soundtrack example, the music in the painter's studio is a remix of the music that plays over the opening scene.
    • Larry's artistic skills are foreshadowed from the very beginning, since he made the Thinker clocks that factored into the first two cases.
    • Godot also does this in case 3-3, when he doesn't notice the Apron covered in blood, but he does notice the coffee. This references the fact that he can't see red through his visor.
      • Even earlier in case 3-2, after presenting a certain piece of jewelry as evidence, we get a strange comment from Godot where he states that he's not very fond of discussing colors.
    • In Case 1-5, Gumshoe uses a flyer of a recently-opened restaurant to write a note to Edgey. Looks closely and one can see Jean Armstrong's profile on the flyer, indicating that the restaurant is Trés Bien from Case 3-3.
    • In Case 3-1, Phoenix says at the conclusion of the case that he doesn't believe Dahlia as she appears on the witness stand is the real deal. This is played off as him being hopelessly naieve and head-over-heels in love with her, but he's actually right on the money - the woman he fell in love with was Iris.
    • In Case 3-2, Godot is noticably distracted when Maya channels Mia.
  • Four Is Death: The fourth cases in the first, second, and fourth games in the main series are the final cases of these games (not counting the fifth case that was added as a bonus case in all of the ports of the first game that were released after the original Game Boy Advance version).
  • Framing the Guilty Party: Crops up on multiple occasions, including one particularly deconstruction.
  • Friend on the Force: The detectives are this, to varying degrees. Although they're on the prosecution's side, they usually contribute quite a bit to the defense's investigation.
  • Friendly Enemy: Edgeworth (after his Heel–Face Turn) and Klavier in general.
  • Frothy Mugs of Water: Oddly, averted; juices are served in wine bottles and glasses, including tomato juice (Justice For All) and grape juice (Apollo Justice, Investigations), which leads to think of this. However, they are juice in the Japanese version as well. Amusingly enough, this was actually inverted in Case 6-4 of Spirit Of Justice, where the defendant spends most of the trial obviously hung over and the main witness' inability to handle even minor amounts of sake without passing out is a major plot point, whereas in the Japanese version, a plot element from a rakugo story was used as a veiled reference to alcohol instead due to the difference in age ratings between the versions, as seen here.
  • Funny Background Event: After accusing the murderer (Acro) in Case 2-3, the hummingbird seen in Acro's idle animation starts poking Phoenix's forehead while Phoenix is sweating nervously. Nobody seems to notice this, not even Phoenix himself.

    G - M 
  • Gag Dub: The "Phoenix Wrong" series. For example, this compilation.
  • Gainaxing:
    • April May could hit herself in the face with her breasts when she bounces them if she's not careful.
    • Geiru from Spirit of Justice pulls her suspenders and then lets them go to make her large breasts bounce. The judge is delighted. This is actually invoked; they're balloons.
  • Gambit Roulette: Many of the arguments for both sides in several cases are these, dependent entirely on a particular character being in possession of the Idiot Ball at a particular time.
  • Gender-Restricted Ability: Spirit channeling, which can only be performed by women, especially those from the Fey clan. It's deconstructed as the Fey clan's high value in spiritual power led to Kurain Village becoming a Lady Land, with the completely normal men being forced to live outside the village in separation. This left said men feeling deeply unappreciated. It's saying something when Kurain Village has one of the highest divorce rates, more than any place in the series.
  • Genius Ditz:
    • Despite Gumshoe's seemingly sieve-like mind and short attention span, he actually seems to have a knack for engineering, over the course of the series building a mechanical puppet, a frequency detector, and a metal detector. The frequency detector is actually a pretty basic model that professional detectives wouldn't usually use, but it's somewhat justified that Gumshoe made it in middle school and didn't have time to fill out the paperwork for the precinct's equipment.
    • Larry, since he built The Thinker clock/statue from the first game.
  • Genki Girl: It seems to be an unwritten rule for all sidekicks in the series to be hyperactive cheerful girls.
  • Giving Someone the Pointer Finger: In a particular pose that's easily as iconic of the series as any of the catchphrases. It's in the series' logo and even in the scroll text button on the touch screen. It is oddly absent on the touch screen in Apollo Justice and Investigations, however.
    • The Pre-Order Bonus for the first DS game in the US was a stylus...whose tip was a hand with that very pointer finger.
    • The Wii port of the first game even allows you to issue an objection by flailing the Wiimote at the screen in imitation of said pose.
    • Case 1-5 (first game, fifth case, Rise from the Ashes) has this exchange:
      Judge: If I cut my finger Mr. Wright, I wouldn't be able to pound my gavel anymore.
      Phoenix: (Yeah. But if I cut my finger, I wouldn't be able to point it at people anymore...)
    • Simon Blackquill from Dual Destinies tries to point at Apollo during their trial but, because he's wearing handcuffs, he can't do it and gets stuck mid-gesture.
    • When Phoenix is asked to teach a seminar at Themis Legal Academy, it's said that the proper way to do the Objection pose is one of the things he will/should touch upon.
    • The fourth opening for the anime is primarily themed around Phoenix and co. pointing at things. A cartoony glove pointing is a recurring symbol, Phoenix and Edgeworth's points are synchronized with the chorus, and it finishes with all of the main characters pointing in sync.
  • Gonk: Perverted hospital "director" Hotti, and the scholar from Apollo Justice are all good examples.
  • Good Lawyers, Good Clients: The defense attorneys you play as always only end up defending people who are innocent. It's completely justified though. In the first game you defend your two best friends, your sidekick, a guy whose good nature wouldn't make anyone believe he's bad, and a woman whose innocence is vouched by your other sidekick. From the second game onwards, Phoenix acquires a special power called the Magatama that allows him to discover if a person is lying instantly. This allows him to discover if a person is really guilty almost instantly. As for Apollo and Athena, they both have their own powers that allow them to discover lies from clients. Apollo has a super developed eyesight that allows him to find even the smallest physical tells that a person give away when lying, and Athena has a super developed hearing that allows her to find even the smallest dusrupitions in a person's voice when they're lying (almost as if she was listening to their heart, like Daredevil). It's also justified for regular attorneys, Mia specifically defends a younger Phoenix because Dahlia's involved and Mia's pretty sure she is the culprit, based on a previous case).
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars:
    • Kristoph Gavin has a scar on his hand that looks like a devil's face that's actually an important clue.
    • Matt Engarde has evil scars behind his eye bangs in Justice for All.
    • The Phantom has no known physical attributes except for the scar on his hand.
  • Graceful Loser: Some of the perpetrators, when exposed, don't have Villainous Breakdowns. Those perpetrators (like Dee Vasquez, Acro, and Godot) almost always fit this trope. Even some of those who do have Villainous Breakdowns fit, like Damon Gant.
  • Greater-Scope Villain:
    • The first game already throws two of those towards us in the forms of Redd White and Manfred von Karma, two people whose involvement in the DL-6 case would have far-reaching consequences that would be only explored in the third game. Karma was the true culprit of that case while White's subsequent leaking of Misty Fey's channeling (which led to accusations of fraud to the Fey Clan) would drive Mia to become an attorney and Dahlia Hawthorne to become the sociopathic killer we all know and love (to hate), leading to the overall plot of Trials and Tribulations.
    • The second game introduces Morgan Fey, who conceived Dahlia and was also responsible for her involvement in the final case of the third game.
    • The plot of Dual Destinies is more or less driven by an unindentified organization which employed the phantom's services.
    • Ace Attorney Investigations 2 has former Chief Prosecutor Bansai Ichiyanagi/Blaise Debeste, who was the one responsible for giving Manfred von Karma forged evidence and penalizing him for using it in court after Gregory pointed out its illegitimacy, leading von Karma to start the DL-6 Case that would affect most of the series' main characters. And this is not even counting all the illegal dealings and international conspiracies he was also involved with.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • Some cases require spectacular leaps of logic, which can prove frustrating for many people—especially younger children. What makes this even worse is that sometimes they're accommodating and let you present different pieces of evidence that, logically, would raise the same argument as each other, and other times they will only allow one.
    • The games are visual novels through and through, so figuring out the case early means absolutely nothing—you must present specific evidence at the right part, as not using it at the perfect moment means the protagonist can't make the connection (presumably to prevent Sequence Breaking in replays). Even parodied here by Awkward Zombie.
    • Related to the above, it's entirely possible to have figured out what you need to do from a logic point of view (ie: what the contradictions are with a current testimony), but be stumped on how exactly the game wants you to present these.
  • Guile Hero: It doesn't get more "Guile Hero" than a defense attorney who can only use evidence, brains and chutzpah to save innocent people from the noose!
  • Guilty Until Someone Else Is Guilty: This is not an actual part of the law system in the games, but due to the ways the trials are set up, it is rare to be able to decisively prove your defendant innocent without proving how the crime happened at every step and who actually did it. In the earlier games, for the few exceptions where you do conclusively prove your defendant's innocence early, the game requires you to continue until you've caught the real killer in a bit of Gameplay and Story Segregation, but some later games will instead give you alternate game over screens to the tune of "your client was declared innocent, but the killer got away", or even in one example work it into the plot and save catching the actual criminal for a later case.
  • Hairstyle Inertia: Played straight for the most part, probably because the prevalence of Anime Hair and limited sprite design in this series leads to characters being associated with their specific hairstyle. Frequently, different outfits will be used to differentiate character designs between different time periods instead (such as Edgeworth in 3-4).
    • Apollo Justice averts this with Phoenix, whose hair is now unkempt and under a beanie (to reflect his more bum-like appearance), but plays it straight with Ema, who has the same half-ponytail, sidetails, and side-bangs she had in Rise from the Ashes. Post-Apollo Justice, Phoenix's barbed hairstyle is back, and returning characters like Pearl, Maya, and Edgeworth retain their hairstyles from 7-8 years ago (though not without slight changes, such as Pearl's bangs).
    • This is present in flashbacks as well. Phoenix, Edgeworth, and Larry have apparently never changed their haircuts since elementary school, the photograph of the Fey sisters shown at the end of 3-5 has Mia and Maya with the same hairstyles they have fifteen years later, and when photographs of Apollo and Athena as children are seen in Dual Destinies, it's invariably with their signature hairstyles as well.
    • Aversions include Franziska (her hair is longer in the flashback Investigations case than it is in the original trilogy), Klavier, and Simon (both of whom had shorter hair in their youth).
  • Hammerspace: See Kleptomaniac Hero, below. Also, someone is apparently lugging around 17 cups of coffee to Godot's every trial. Or the coffee machine to make them, and the water, and the various blends, and assorted ingredients.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: Expect a lot of Big Word Shout back-and-forth during trials.
  • Hard Head: Averted more often than not — many murder victims die of blunt force trauma to the head, including one of the series' most tragic and shocking victims, Mia Fey. Phoenix, Apollo and Edgeworth take a Tap on the Head with no lasting ill effects, but each is the playable character at the time, so Plot Armor is undoubtedly in play.
  • Hate Sink: See here.
  • Heir Club for Men: Gender-inverted with the Fey clan. Because spiritual channeling can only be used by women, Kurain Village is completely matriarchal, with the position Kurain Master being only accessible to the most powerful daughter of the family's main branch. Meanwhile, the completely powerless men and boys are forced to live outside of Kurain Village.
  • Hello, Attorney!: Of course. Miles Edgeworth is this in-universe, with pretty much every woman he crosses paths with finding him attractive, as is Mia Fey (the first thing Gumshoe says to her, in the trial of Terry Fawles, is how pretty he thinks she is). Among the fans, Phoenix, Godot/Diego, and Gregory Edgeworth have been considered plenty attractive.
  • High-Voltage Death: Phoenix is accused of killing Doug Swallow by pushing him onto live wires. It's not true, though.
  • Hollywood Law:
    • All over the place. Procedure is shaky, and conflicts of interest that would force most people to recuse themselves from the case are rampant (in fact, it would be easier to list the cases in which conflict of interest is applied: exactly once, in AI-4, when the prosecutor is accused of criminal activity by a witness). In general: Attorneys do far more direct investigation then they would in real life, cases go to trial far too fast and last far too short, and the burden of proof is effectively on the defense. Prosecutors are able to get away with insane amounts of verbal and physical abuse against the defense and judges.
      • 1-2: The defense attorney was the second person to discover the body, and the victim was his own mentor.
      • 1-4: The prosecutor is the defendant's guardian and mentor and actively tries to usurp the judge's authority. In addition, a critical plot point is that the statute of limitations on an old murder case is about to expire, when in real life murder has no statute of limitations. note 
      • 1-4, 3-5, and 6-5 second trial: Prosecutors are allowed to remain in their role after being directly accused of criminal activity related to the case at hand.
      • 1-5: The defendant was witnessed stabbing the victim in the trunk of the prosecutor's car with the prosecutor's knife. The people in the stands are naturally suspicious. In addition, the judge is friends with one of the witnesses, who turns out to be the real killer.
      • 2-1: The defense attorney is assaulted and rendered amnesiac before the trial begins, and no effort is made to give him time to recover or find a replacement.
      • 2-2, 5-2, and 5-3: The defense attorney was one of the first ones to discover the body.
      • 3-1: The defense attorney has a grudge against one of the witnesses due to her narrowly escaping a murder accusation in a previous trial, and the attorney takes the case with the specific intention of putting her in jail. (Granted, she's right, but...)
      • 3-2, 3-3, and 3-5: The prosecutor has a grudge against the lead defense attorney, and takes these cases specifically to spite him.
      • 3-3: A fraudster is somehow able to con his way into being the defense attorney with nothing but a cardboard badge.
      • 3-5: The defense attorney was one of the first ones to discover the body. In addition, a practicing prosecutor is forced to con his way into filling in for the defense when he is injured, when in real life it would be perfectly OK for him to defend a case outside his jurisdiction.
      • Backstory for 4: A man is allowed to take custody of an abandoned 8-year-old girl while mired in serious accusations of evidence forgery that could and ultimately does cost him his job, eliminating his only apparent source of income and severely hampering his ability to care for said girl.
      • 4-1: The defense attorney is allowed to remain in his position after the defendant accuses his mentor and co-counsel of the murder.
      • 4-3: The defense attorney and the lead detective were the first ones to discover the body, and the murder took place at a rock concert hosted by the prosecutor.
      • 4-4: A man works to have a new and experimental judiciary system in place for the trial with the intention of influencing the outcome, he has a multifaceted personal stake in said trialTo elaborate , and he actively collects evidence for the defense, who is his own employee. In addition, one of the jurors is the defense attorney's biological mother, the defense previously got her good friend acquitted of murder charges, she is a tangential figure in the events leading up to the trial, and the witness the defense tries to paint as the murderer was previously convicted of killing this juror's husband.
      • Layton-3: The defense attorney is a friend of the second victim and one of the witnesses and was one of the first ones to discover the body, the prosecutor is a former student of one of the witnesses, and the judge was an acquaintance of the first victim.
      • 5-1: The defense attorneys are allowed to remain in their role after their co-worker is bludgeoned with a rock and the assault is added to their client's charges.
      • 5-4: The initial defense attorney was the victim's childhood friend.
      • 5-5: The entire trial takes place as a result of a Hostage Situation, the defense attorney is the adoptive father of one of the hostages, and the second prosecutor has a multi-faceted personal stakeTo elaborate  in the outcome of the trial.
      • 5-DLC: The prosecution is filing full criminal charges, complete with trial, against an orca.
      • GAA: Most jurors in this sub-series express a bias against the defendant's character, often before the trial has even begun in earnest.
      • GAA-1: A witness destroys evidence that could have cast reasonable doubt on the defendant's guilt in naked view of the entire courtroom, and is allowed to get away with it with absolutely no consequences for the trial (such as the defendant being pronounced Not Guilty on the spot).
      • GAA-3: One of the jurors is the guildmaster for London's omnibus drivers, giving him a stake in the outcome of a trial in which the crime occurred inside one of his omnibuses, something that he even states out loud. In addition, one of the workers he represents is a witness. Finally, the defence team has only been in the country for a hair over two hours before the beginning of the trial and is given no time to review the case or construct a proper defence.
      • GAA-4: The foreman of the jury was a key witness in a very recent trial which featured the same defence and prosecution teams as the current one, and was directly accused of criminal activity as a result of the defence's assertions during that trial. In addition, two of the jurors are allowed to keep their positions after it is discovered that they have a casual connection to the case, a third juror is the wife of the defendant's landlord, and when that juror is called to the stand as a witness and turns out to be the (accidental) culprit, they keep their representation on the jury by proxy of their husband, who is also a witness.
      • 6-1: The judge is friends with one of the witnesses.
      • 6-2: A teenage girl is tricked into signing a blatant Leonine Contract under provably false pretenses by a man provably acting in bad faith, and this contract is treated as legally binding.
      • 6-3: Again, the judge is friends with one of the witnesses... who also happens to be one of the victims.
      • 6-5 first trial: Two lawyers from the same firm represent opposing parties in a civil trial, and at no point are said parties shown signing an agreement to let it slide.
      • 6-5 second trial: One of the prosecutors involved in the case is the defendant's own son. At least the heroes have the decency to lampshade this one. In addition, the other prosecutor is one victim's wife, the other victim's sister, and the reigning monarch of the country, and actively abuses her power to make life miserable for the defense. This at least has some justification as said prosecutor can change the rules of how the law works as she sees fit.
    • Police investigations rarely last more than a single afternoon, often resulting in glaring and obvious pieces of evidence being overlooked. They also don't look into any additional suspects in crimes after arresting the first one. Furthermore, the DA's office is shown to be directly superior to the police department, with prosecutors having enough influence to decrease officers' pay, have them demoted and even have them fired. This conflict of interest means that officers and detectives care more about pleasing prosecutors than seeing justice served.
    • A glaring issue is that even if Phoenix can prove without the shadow of a doubt that his client is innocent, and the judge can agree with this, the case almost always won't end until he finds (and proves the guilt of) the murderer. 1-3 in particular showcases this. Phoenix proves his client cannot have committed the crime by day 2, with the Judge agreeing this is the case, but the trial stretches for a third day with the judge specifically charging Phoenix with unearthing the guilty party. Awkward Zombie parodies this in a comic. That said, Layton-1 and 5-4 do end with acquittals even though no alternate culprit has been established by the defense, and the culprit of Layton-1 is outright never revealed to the player.
  • Hurricane of Puns: The vast majority of names you meet are a pun of some sort. Some are subtle, most... not so much.
  • Hyper Link Story: Almost every overarching storyline is connected to each other is some contrived way. This is especially true of the DL-6 and IS-7 Incidents as it affected the first three games along with the Ace Investigations duology.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: Some cases are solved by tricking the killer into saying something they shouldn't know about when claiming not to be involved.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every episode (save the bonus case in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, "Rise From The Ashes") contains the word "Turnabout" in the title. The Japanese name of that case can be translated as "Turnabout Revival". And the series itself is originally titled "Turnabout Courtroom", which quite nicely describes Phoenix's tendency to make a dramatic comeback when all seems lost.
  • The Idiot from Osaka: Lotta Hart is this in the Japanese version, though she's translated as being from the South, as per standard procedure.
  • Implausible Deniability: Since the burden of "beyond reasonable doubt" lies entirely with the accused, witnesses for the prosecution can get away with ridiculously obvious lying and denials — and are allowed retell their story to try to cover themselves when you pick holes in it. (In Real Life, once a witness is caught in a contradiction, the opposing attorney is allowed to start acting like the Spanish Inquisition. You get no such leeway.)
  • Impossibly Cool Clothes: In real life, attorneys are not supposed to come to court in flashy suits as to not distract from the court proceedings. Instead, they're supposed to look professional as they can, which often translates to a dull or ordinary-looking suit. Not so much in this series, where over-the-top get-ups are par for the course (especially since the character design has gotten Denser and Wackier over time; Edgeworth's cravat looks positively understated compared to Simon's samurai get-up or Nahyuta's monk attire). A real court may look at Phoenix's blue suit with some raised eyebrows, might allow Athena's bright yellow suit, and flat out disallow outfits like Klavier's full-on bling. Ironically, the two attorneys in the series whose suits would most likely pass in a real court are the Payne brothers.
  • Improbable Age:
    • Edgeworth became a prosecutor at a very young age, but he's got nothing on Franziska von Karma, who started practicing law at age thirteen! And Klavier Gavin started practice at age seventeen while still finding the time to become a rock star. The German/American legal system must be fun! Only gets away with it due to Rule of Cool. Mocked in this strip from Awkward Zombie.
    • Dual Destinies has the Themis Legal Academy, where high schoolers are trained to be defense attorneys, prosecutors, or judges. Given that Klavier is an alumnus of the school, improbably young attorneys may actually be par for the course in-universe.
  • Indy Ploy: At least once every trial, Phoenix comments on how he's making his defense up as he goes along.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Winston Payne, minus the "Sympathetic" part. For someone called a "Rookie Killer," it's quite satisfying to see him soundly beaten at the end of every tutorial case. He wins more sympathy points in hindsight for seemingly not being corrupt, unlike his brother.
  • Informed Ability:
    • Winston Payne is described as a "rookie killer", yet every single rookie he goes up against in the games he ends up losing to. The only time the player sees Winston win a case is when he's arguing against Furio Tigre, in a Paper-Thin Disguise as Phoenix, who was trying to lose. The first trial that he lost was chronologically his first appearance, and this first loss led to him becoming the loser that he is in the rest of the games. On the other hand, his brother, Gaspen Payne, is known as the "rookie humiliator" — and it's actually justified in his case, soundly beating Athena until Phoenix saves the day.
    • The Judge is also frequently described as, ultimately, in spite of his quirkiness, being good at his job and always giving fair verdicts, but given the series' Kangaroo Court nature and the ridiculous circumstances in which the defendant can be found guilty despite it being proven that the defendant couldn't possibly have committed the crime, this is patently untrue. The fact that he always gives the right verdict is due mostly to being in court with the protagonists who do an extremely good job of convincing him.
  • Infraction Distraction: Often used by criminals to create alibis for the crimes they intend to commit (Always Murder, of course). One notable example occurs in the third game, when Luke Atmey deliberately lets himself be caught on camera stealing the Kurain Sacred Urn, so that he'd have an alibi to keep him from being arrested for murdering his blackmailer.
  • Inner Monologue Conversation: Occasionally happens in different games with someone responding to Phoenix's inner monologue written in blue text. He lampshades it at a certain point mentioning how he didn't say that out loud.
  • Intercontinuity Crossover: Wright co-stars in Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, and appears as a Lethal Joke Character in Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom 3.
  • Interface Spoiler: In some cases, particularly longer ones, the current player attorney will dispose of evidence that they no longer need. Evidence that they don't discard will likely be used again later. If a particular piece of evidence hasn't been used at any point thus far, it will be used later.
  • Interrogating the Dead: Certainly a possibility, given the existence of spirit mediums in the setting, but rarely used by the protagonists despite Maya and Pearl being spirit mediums. It does occasionally happen, though.
    • It's justified in the original trilogy. Even prior to the first game, this was only used as a last resort — the police turned to the Kurain Channeling Technique when they had no leads left in Gregory Edgeworth's murder. The technique was dragged through the mud when Misty Fey implicated a man who was later found innocent. The possibility of this happening is the reason spirit testimonies don't really hold much water in court.
    • In Trials and Tribulations, Phoenix gets to do this to Dahlia's vengeful ghost.
    • Spirit of Justice introduces the Divination Seance, where Rayfa calls forth the victim's spirit and shows the court their last moments. Supposedly, the court is to use this information in order to deduce the murderer. The game also has the first straight example in that a dead person is knowingly channeled and called to the witness stand to testify and be cross-examined onscreen, via Maya channeling Tahrust Inmee in 6-3.
  • It Meant Something to Me:
    • Phoenix's relationship with Dahlia. The poor kid was pretty hurt to learn that the girl he was head-over-heals for was only dating him to get back something of hers he had. Then, he learns that "Dahlia" was actually her twin sister Iris, and Iris really had been in love with Phoenix as well. Awww!!!
    • This is also the case with the classroom trial from Phoenix's childhood. Larry and Edgeworth defended him, and it meant so much to him that he became a lawyer so he could do the same when it looked like Edgeworth needed his help. When Edgeworth is reminded of this, though, it turns out he pretty much can't remember the incident and finds the idea of Phoenix clinging to that memory foolish, overly sentimental, and the sort of thing he'd expect Phoenix to do.
  • It Runs in the Family: Shared character tics are used as evidence in trying to prove 'Character X is related to Character Y' in forums. Amusingly, some character poses are shared by members of the Master-Apprentice Chain of attorneys and prosecutors, with Phoenix using some of Mia's gestures and Apollo copying Phoenix, while Edgeworth used a gesture borrowed from Manfred von Karma and Simon Blackquill uses a gesture that imitates Edgeworth.
  • It's All About Me: Some witnesses lie on the stand because they're genuinely confused, or trying to protect someone. But a few witnesses (Lotta Hart, Wendy Oldbag, etc.) seem perfectly happy to ruin a defendant's life for their own entertainment.
  • It's Always Spring: Sun, green trees, and blue skies nearly all-year round, sometimes even in cases that take place in what should be winter (eg. the bulk of Dual Destinies)note . Justified in the localization, which takes place in Southern California, which does have pretty mild winters.
  • Joggers Find Death: One of the several victims of Joe Darke is found by a jogger... just before the jogger is killed.
  • Justified Tutorial: No formal tutorial, per se, but the beginning of each game's first trial is marked by an adviser explaining testimonies and cross-examinations. Justified because in games 1 and 4 it's Phoenix's and Apollo's first trial, game 2 has Phoenix suffer from amnesia right before court and game 3 has Mia Fey on her second trial and hadn't practiced law for a while. Oddly enough, when her first trial gets played, Diego Armando feels no need to explain anything to her, but then again, it is case 4 and the player knows everything at that point.
  • Just in Time: Often times, just when all seems lost... someone bursts in with case-breaking evidence at the very last moment, usually backlit by the sun for extra dramatic effect.
  • Kangaroo Court: The legal system in this universe clearly operates on presumption of guilt... but it doesn't stop there. It's not enough to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that the defendant is innocent. There is at least one point in the games (probably more) where it is actually possible to have the defendant found guilty despite the Judge acknowledging that you've already proved their innocence. It's not even enough to prove who else did commit the crime. To get the defendant acquitted, you have to identify the real criminal and make them confess on the stand. In addition, eyewitness testimony, in Real Life considered to be the least reliable form of evidence, is in this series considered, on its own, to be grounds to convict somebody as long as what they said is physically possible, even if you've already established that they're incredibly shady people whose honesty and/or impartiality are highly questionable.note  This is all Hand Waved by the Next Sunday A.D. fictional legal system having undergone legislated reforms to drastically shorten and simplify the trial process, resulting in a system where the majority of defendants are quickly found guilty unless the defense can prove their innocence.
    • To be fair, the series originated in Japan, which has a significantly different legal system. It has an inquisitive court system, where the goal is to find the truth. Even trial by jury was not established in the Japanese legal system until 2009—and even then only for certain severe crimes (and the arrangement has far more in common with a court-martial than a common law trial). Yeah, it seems mildly biased against the player, but that's simply a gameplay mechanism. The prosecutors tend to treat the inquisitive court system as an adversarial one, doing anything to get their guilty verdict. Phoenix is not corrupt, and tries to only defend clients he truly believes innocent. The Rule of Cool and the Rule of Funny let the characters get away with murder (well, not literally, that's the one thing no one actually gets away with). When the judge believes there are loose ends, he will not give a verdict until the loose ends are tied up. So it's not guilty until proven innocent, except where it inconveniences the player.
    • Even most countries with the inquisitive system, including Japan, have the principle where one is "innocent until proven guilty." However, in a bit of Truth in Television, the Japanese court system has a >99% conviction rate (though it has been attributed to limited funding leading to only the most solid cases being tried), forced confessions are allowed frequently, and prosecutors can appeal not-guilty verdicts. In 2008, the Justice Minister noted that the idea of "innocent until proven guilty" was one that he wanted to constrain. However, this game takes it even further than the broken system in Japan and makes it so that one is "guilty until someone else is proven guilty". More in this article.
    • The trope becomes a plot point between the Trials & Tribulations and Apollo Justice chapters in the series. Phoenix notices just how utterly broken and biased the court system is and how he would have lost several cases if something didn't turn the tide of the trial at the last minute. After Phoenix becomes disbarred from practicing law, this sets off a string of events. In order to get Kristoph Gavin for evidence fraud and murder, Phoenix had to fight to get the court system to instate a jury system so that the fate of a client is decided by their peers rather than a single judge and he used Apollo as a catalyst for seeking out the truth during trials, something Phoenix was no longer able to do anymore legally.
    • And then between Apollo Justice and Dual Destinies comes the "Dark Age of Law", where the justice system became SO corrupt that all the people lost their trust in the legal system, and the Jurist System was abandoned. Thus, the original system is in place for Dual Destinies.
  • Karma Houdini: Dee Vasquez's guards, Shelly de Killer and Viola Cadaverini never get a comeuppance for their crimes.
  • The Killer Was Left-Handed: If someone's dominant hand is emphasized, it'll most likely come up as a plot point in trials. Occasionally subverted, though.
    • In case 4 of the first game, the gun bears prints from the defendant's right hand, while the photograph shows the killer holding it in his left.
    • In Case 1 of Justice For All, it is an Inverted Trope. The victim was left-handed, as evidenced by a baseball glove he was offered by the defendant, which is a plot point: the message written in the sand implicating her was written with his right hand.
    • Happens twice and in different ways in Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth:
      • The trope is subverted in case 3. Upon proving that the culprit that hit him with a sword did so with their right hand, Kay says that Lance, the person who Edgeworth suspects did it, is left-handed. Edgeworth however says that he simply used his non-dominant hand on purpose to throw suspicion away from him, stating that swinging a simple prop sword is easy, no matter what hand you use.
      • Played straight in case 4. The gun was used with the right hand, but the person who held it was a lefty, as demonstrated by another piece of evidence. This leads Edgeworth to conclude that another individual had to fire the gun.
  • Kimono Is Traditional: Worn by characters whose origins are steeped in Japanese tradition, such as the Feys, whose mystic powers of spirit channeling are inherited from Japan, Victor Kudo (a Grumpy Old Man and kimono embroiderer who bemoans the lack of business due to modernization), Jinxie Tenma (the daughter of the mayor in a traditional Japanese village), and the Toneidos, who practice the art of rakugo.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: If it even conceivably passes for evidence, Phoenix or Apollo nabs it. However, it's difficult to tell if Phoenix or Apollo actually grabs the evidence, or just takes a picture of it or something similar. It would be highly improbable for them to lug around a large statue or noodle cart, for example. The general consensus seems to be that if it disappears from the scene, Phoenix or Apollo took it, and if it stays there, they took a picture. However, for extra fun, simply imagine them holding everything, and then presenting it in court by lugging it out from Hammerspace.
    • Well, there is always Trucy's panties...
    • Godot and Edgeworth also seem to share this trait, both finding the safest place for evidence to be their pocket and satchel respectively.
    • In Investigations, it's "Jotted down in the Organizer" unless the object is clearly handed to you, and you can examine it in detail.
    • "Stuffed Bear snatched up by Edgeworth." Yeah, that bear the size of a hotel room.
    • The assistants, Maya and Trucy, are also fond of grabbing things and the protagonist often has to talk them out of stealing things. Not that they call it stealing mark you. Subverted with Kay, ironically enough, who, despite calling herself a great thief, never once steals anything.
  • Lady Land: Justified with Kurain Village; because spiritual channeling is primarily a female domain that is passed from mother to daughter, only women and girls are allowed to live in Kurain Village. The completely normal men and boys are forced to live outside, which understandably led to deep feelings of resentment and high divorce rates.
  • Lady of War: The Pink Princess, the Steel Samurai's love interest, wields a rapier.
  • Large Ham: Is the character a lawyer? They are this. Is the character a witness? They are this. Really, there's just something about the court system that turns everyone involved into one of these. Even the judge gets to join in once or twice.
  • Last-Name Basis: In a world of lawyers, you would expect everyone to call each other by their surnames, and it happens. Your character always refers to the prosecutor as such. But it's not limited to them:
    • Edgeworth and Phoenix, even though they were childhood friends, always do this when addressing each other.
    • Detective Gumshoe doesn't want anyone to call him by his given name (which is Richard/Dick). Some of his workmates do call him Dick, though.
    • Redd White is the only person who ever refers to Edgeworth as Miles in court.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler:
    • Unaware that Miles Edgeworth makes a Heel–Face Turn? Don't even look at the title of Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth.
    • Dahlia Hawthorne's leitmotif is in the Kurain medley on the Gyakuten Meets Orchestra album.
    • This trope is generally averted in regards to the true culprit of any given case. If a character turns out to have murdered someone, odds are they won't show up or be mentioned in any other game to preserve the twist. So far, only three characters have broken this trend: Frank Sahwit (who is shown in the act in the first game's prologue), Shelly de Killer (who is an assassin anyway), and Manfred von Karma (who is a major player in Edgeworth and Franziska's backstories). Even in the case of these three, it is never explicitly stated who they killed or why in their reappearances.
  • Laughing Mad: Several guilty parties once they're exposed. Examples include Luke Atmey, Calisto Yew, Damon Gant and, in Apollo Justice's last case, Kristoph Gavin. The game describes the killer's laugh thusly, as you look on his final breakdown.
    A laugh louder than any ever heard before... or since.
    A laugh that echoed in the halls of justice, lingering for what seemed like hours.
  • Leitmotif: Several characters have their own personal theme songs that changes through the series. Compare Gumshoe's themes from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney and Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth. Also doubles as Leaning on the Fourth Wall with Klavier and Godot, whose phone ringtones are chiptunes of their leitmotifs. In fact, so many characters have specific theme music associated with them that it's almost easier to list the characters who don't.
  • Life Meter: Used throughout to measure mistakes made when examining witnesses and breaking Psyche Locks; running out means the Judge loses patience due to your wild accusations and gives a verdict, or the secret keeper refuses to continue (thus stopping your investigations). In Spirit of Justice, this literally becomes a life meter for the trials conducted in Khura'in because a defense attorney who loses a case is sentenced to the same punishment that the defendant gets. Since the crimes in this series are Always Murder and the punishment for murder in Khura'in is decapitation, letting this meter empty out means that you get sent to the headsman to be decapitated!
  • Like Brother and Sister:
    • Edgeworth and Franziska were raised as siblings, and are known to squabble and compete as such (through the series, but particularly in the first Investigations game).
    • Apollo and Trucy quickly develop this sort of relationship, as they work well together but not without the bickering and minor arguments you'd expect out of this trope. By Spirit of Justice, Apollo admits that he's so fond of her it's difficult to say no to her requests. Of course, they actually are brother and sister, although neither of them are aware of this.
  • Lineage Comes from the Father: Inverted with spirit channeling. Only female direct descendants of Khurai'nism's Holy Mother are capable of channeling spirits. This extends to the Fey family — in fact, because this trope is inverted, men are given low importance within the village, with Disappeared Dads being quite common.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Celeste and later Franziska for Adrian Andrews. The Case Files manga parodied this with the suggestion that Adrian, by accepting Franziska's advice, was just as co-dependent as ever.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Each individual episode takes pains to avert this, only including characters who are relevant to the case at hand. The greatest number of characters in any individual episode is 27 in The Grand Turnabout, many of whom are already dead. Most cases average around 10-15 characters, with tutorial cases having fewer. Further, each game typically only has one detective, one judge, and one or two major prosecutors/rival investigators, making Ace Attorney a rare example of a series with Loads and Loads of Characters which employs an Economy Cast and a Minimalist Cast. However, as a whole, it definitely qualifies, with the vaguely-defined "core cast" growing bigger with every game.
  • Lost in Translation: Mostly averted: character name meanings and puns are generally carried over to English and French about as well as can be hopednote . A few things are lost that make things somewhat more sensible (notably the kanji for dragon in Phoenix's Japanese name, see Animal Stereotypes above). Of course, the Japanese Pronouns are lost, but most of the time it's not a big deal. However, at one point they're used to emphasize that the Matt Engarde you meet at first and the one he reveals himself to be are not the same person. The former uses "boku" (a boyish pronoun) while the latter uses "ore" (a more serious, adult one). Thankfully, the rest of The Reveal is enough to make the change very obvious.
    • In "Turnabout Beginnings" there is a wordplay-based plot point involving Dahlia (Chinami in the original) - the phrase "Chinami ni" ("to Chinami") looks identical to "chinamini" ("by the way"), which was meant to obscure that she was mentioned in Valerie's note. The translation doesn't preserve the ambiguity, creating a minor spoiler.
  • Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter: Franziska von Karma is the daughter of the Big Bad of the first game (not counting DS 1-5), though she doesn't fall in love with Phoenix. At the same time, Miles Edgeworth is the adoptive son of von Karma and Franziska's "unrelated little brother". It's symbolic of Franziska's personality that she calls Edgeworth her "little brother" when he's both older and taller than her.
  • Magic Realism: Ghosts regularly become involved in what would otherwise be a fairly realistic setting.
  • Malicious Misnaming: Many characters keep calling Phoenix under different names (Mr. Wrong, Trite, etc.) as an insult, and Klavier Gavin's favorite nickname for Apollo is Herr Forehead. Franziska does the complete opposite by always addressing Phoenix and Edgeworth by their full names, but notably refers to Gumshoe as "Scruffy McTrenchCoat".
  • Matriarchy: Due to magic generally being the domain of women in this series, there are societies based around that.
    • The kingdom of Khura'in is always ruled by a spiritually powerful queen, as the founder and first ruler had been the Holy Mother. In Spirit of Justice, the main conflict started because the powerless sister of the rightful queen usurped the throne out of sheer jealousy. Once Ga'ran is exposed and removed from power, Queen Amara steps down to help prepare her spiritually-inclined daughter, Rayfa, in ruling, while her son, Nahyuta, rules as king regent until his sister is of age.
    • The Fey clan, very distant descendants of the Khura'in royal family, are also matriarchal. Because spiritual channeling can only be used by women, Kurain Village is solely occupied by women and girls, with the powerless men and boys living outside the village in separation. Only the position of Kurain Master can only be held by the most powerful woman of the main family branch. The toxic environment caused by the Fey clan's societal and familial neglect of their men leaves said men feeling deeply unappreciated by their wives and daughters, which is why divorce rates in Kurain Village are so high.
  • Meaningful Name: Too many to name. Especially notable examples are:
    • The Japanese version of Apollo Justice spoils the reveal of Kristoph Gavin, whose Japanese name "Kirihito Garyu" (as in "hitokiri" — "murder").
    • If you know the correct pronunciation and can make a small logic leap, Prosecutor Godot from Trials And Tribulations contains this. It's the last syllables of his real first and last name (Diego Armando) smashed together.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Very frequent:
    • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney has Mia Fey murdered, Gregory Edgeworth is murdered in an old case, and Manfred von Karma is executed off-screen for his murders.
    • Trials and Tribulations has Diego Armando being almost killed by poisoning, which put him in a five-year coma. He then symbolicly died when Armando abandoned his old life and adopted an alias.
    • On the non-legal side, Trials and Tribulations also has artist Elise Deauxnim, who was the mentor to Laurice Deauxnim (aka Larry Butz).
    • Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney has Kristoph Gavin convicted of two murders.
    • Another instance has Defense Attorney Marvin Grossberg, who ends up being... Grossberg.
    • Dual Destinies has its third victim, Constance Courte, who was the mentor to Klavier.
    • Spirit of Justice plays with this twice, though the mentor in question is always a mentor to another character from the case- Abbot Tahrust Inmee is the mentor to Puhray Zeh'lot, and is the victim in the case actually killing himself to protect his pregnant wife from being prosecuted for her killing of Zeh'lot in self defense when Zeh'lot was trying to murder her, and done again in the very next case with Taifu Toneido, who was the mentor to two of the witnesses and died shortly after passing on his title to one of them.
  • Milking the Giant Cow: Didn't they teach you in law school that it's rude to point?
  • Mistaken for Romance
    • Phoenix and Maya. Pearl is constantly saying that he is Maya's "special someone".
  • In Dual Destinies when Klavier assumes Athena is Apollo's girlfriend.
  • Mission-Pack Sequel: Aside from the introduction of Psyche-Locks and a Life Meter in the second game, the first three games are almost identical. The fourth game mixes things up a little bit, the gameplay is still extremely similar. The Ace Attorney Investigations and Dual Destinies games avert this.
  • Moon Logic Puzzle: Frequent.
    • Sometimes the Moon Logic comes in when you have two or more pieces of evidence that are equally relevant to the contradiction in question, and/or two or more bits of testimony that the character could reasonably object to. Sometimes the game designers realized this, and give the player more than one correct option. Other times, not so much.
    • Dual Destinies actively tries to correct this problem, and actually combines multiple pieces of evidence into single presentable units. For example, it's not uncommon for a photograph, a newspaper clipping, and a police report to be treated as a single, presentable piece of evidence.
    • Sometimes, players have to press "Part A" of testimony for new evidence, then use it to object to "Part B"; in Case 1-5: "Rise from the Ashes", however, Damon Gant's requested testimony is notorious for being an incredibly complicated variation. To continue, it requires a mix of pressing statements in a specific order, answering a few multiple choice parts correctly, examining new evidence, requestioning a previously pressed statement for a different response, and then objecting with evidence.
  • Motive Rant: Often accompanied by a brief Freak Out or a Big "NO!".
    • In fact this is apparently so omnipresent in the Ace Attorney Universe that when, in 2-4, Adrian Andrews fails to deliver one, Phoenix immediately become suspicious of her guilt.
    • Averted, though, with Kristoph Gavin, who confesses to a murder but refuses to disclose his reason for doing so. Then Drew Misham bites the dust, Apollo and Phoenix investigate the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death, and we finally realize why Kristoph is so tight-lipped about his own agenda.
    • Interestingly, Marlon Rimes gives one in the Downloadable Content case of Dual Destinies so he can take the fall for the victim's death because he hates himself for all the unnecessary chaos he's caused when in actuality no one is guilty of murder that is eventually proven to be a complete accident.
  • Motor Mouth: Wendy Oldbag in all of her appearances.
    Oldbag: *rambling*
    * Edgeworth objects*
    Edgeworth: O—objection! I... object to the witness's talkativeness!
    Judge: Objection sustained! The witness will refrain from rambling on the stand.
  • Mukokuseki: A significant part of the reason the sweeping name changes in the English version don't cause too much complaining; if anything, the number of characters who look distinctly "Asian" - never mind Japanese - are a minority, and passing off characters like Reiji Mitsurugi and Mei Karuma as caucasians (as Miles and Franziska, respectively) is somewhat more believable given how they look.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The series lives and breathes this trope.
    • Basically, it takes law—as any non-reader of End User License Agreement will attest, law is really boring—and makes it awesome, often simply by increasing the volume ("Objection!"). The fact that all lawyers in AA look really cool also helps there.
    • invokedThere's also the fact that after you win a case, confetti rains from the gallery (handcrafted and thrown by Gumshoe) and the crowd cheers.
    • At various points in the series, the dramatic close-up of one of the lawyers that's usually reserved for adding impact to rightfully awesome declarations is used for completely ridiculous (though they make sense in context) statements, such as "What kind of murderer uses a Samurai Slap?" or "Baseballs have stitches! Are you saying that all baseballs are suspicious?"
    • The final case of the third game has an exorcism take place on the witness stand, accomplished with little more than some inquisitive prodding.
  • The Musical: Both an official Takarazuka Revue production and fan project: Turnabout Musical.
  • Musical Nod: Objection 2001 appears when Phoenix objects in the first case of Apollo Justice and all the music in the flashback to the trial in case 4 is taken from the first game.
    • Near the end of Trials & Tribulations, a remix of Cornered 2001 is used in place of T&T's own Cornered track.
    • Investigations reuses music from older games that were associated with characters from past games.
  • Musical Spoiler: If you present the correct piece of evidence in court or rebuttal (Investigations), the soundtrack will cut to silence. Results in subversions in game 3, where, no matter what evidence you submit, the music cuts out and the dialogue is the same... at first.
  • Mystery Magnet: Many cases start with Phoenix having only taken a passing interest in something (an awards ceremony, for example), only for someone involved with whatever it was to turn up dead. Apollo Justice seems to have been set up to become one of these as well, and the same is true for Edgeworth in his Gaiden Game.
    • Lampshaded by Gumshoe, who mentions he's beginning to wonder if Phoenix is the cause of all the chaotic situations he gets wrapped up in. Edgeworth then notes that Gumshoe is usually involved in the exact same incidents.
    • In the manga, Gumshoe again comments that Phoenix "get(s) mixed up in too many murders, pal!" in Turnabout Gallows.

    N - R 
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Quite a few characters, both in English and Japanese. Some of the standouts would be Shelly de Killer, Furio Tigre, Manfred von Karma, and Joe Darke. The worst example by far is Quercus Alba's Japanese name: Carnage Onred.
  • Near-Villain Victory: Frequent. Very frequent. Most trials typically range from Phoenix having one last chance to present decisive evidence before his client is convicted to the judge announcing the verdict, someone comes in with new information.
  • Never Say "Die": An odd example. While the murders are shown and described in bloody detail, and the death penalty is mentioned, it is absolutely never mentioned that the previous killers were executed. In fact, about Franziska von Karma, they only say, "Her father's gone, you know." With one exception: Dahlia in 3-5 talks explicitly about her death, going as far as stating that she was hanged, while her spirit is being channeled. And Investigations 2 suggests that Frank Sahwit seems to have avoided the death penalty, since he appears in prison as a witness in case 2. This is likely because in Sahwit's case, he committed second-degree murder (in other words, he killed his victim without any prior planning), not first-degree (premeditated) murder. It seems that they give death penalties only to first-degree murderers, meaning that Dee Vasquez is probably alive too since in her case it was self-defense (and blackmail).
  • Never My Fault: Edgeworth notes Franziska's tendency to blame others when things go wrong in Case 2-4. Also Godot putting Maya in danger and blaming Phoenix for it in 3-5.
  • Never the Obvious Suspect: The series thrives on this. The scene of the crime will almost always implicate your client and the prosecution is usually guided by Occam's Razor when going up against you in court. However, chances are something more convoluted actually happened, and it's your job to find out what it is to let your client off the hook. Zig-zagged in Case 2-4. Matt Engarde is the "obvious" suspect, but Phoenix manages to implicate Adrian Andrews as the "obvious" one instead. And then it's revealed that while Matt didn't kill the victim directly, he was behind his death.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The official trailer for Ace Attorney Investigations showed several scenes of Kay Faraday assisting with the investigation of the second case. Edgeworth doesn't meet 17-year-old Kay until the beginning of case 3.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: The first Phoenix Wright game takes place in 2016. Nothing's changed at all, really, except the court system. And cell phones have regressed back to the late 1990s.
  • Nightmare Fuel: In-Universe, Phoenix and Apollo seem to have this opinion of the Blue Badger.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot:
    • Starting with the second game, the player comes up against rival prosecutors that sound like mad-libs, carrying both a bizarre appearance and unique quirks:
    • Some witnesses are known to mix and match ridiculously awesome concepts. Notable examples include:
      • Jake Marshall: Literal Cowboy Cop. Also used to be a detective.
      • Daryan Crescend: American shark-themed guitarist and detective who plays in the same band as Klavier.
      • Dane Gustavia: Pastry chef who fancies himself as a samurai.
      • Marlon Rimes: Aquarium keeper who is part pirate, part rap artist.
      • Pees'lubn Andhistan'dhin: New-Age Retro Hippie monk who Looks Like Jesus and eventually plays heavy metal.
  • No Badge? No Problem!: The lawyers frequently overstep their authority in their crime scene investigations. It's very vague about whether the lawyers are actually allowed to do this—sometimes Phoenix will be stopped from entering a crime scene due to lack of authority, and sometimes the police will gladly let him look the whole thing over and take whatever valuable evidence he wants.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: For the most part (they're all just puns), but Gumshoe does mention at one point that he lives in Compton.
  • No Cutscene Inventory Inertia: Equipping the DLC costumes on any of the main cast of characters in either Dual Destinies or Spirit of Justice causes discrepancies in the dialogue.
    • Side characters occasionally refer to Phoenix, Apollo and Athena as nicknames associated with their respective default outfit's primary color, regardless of if the player is wearing any alternate costumes which no longer feature that color with these characters.
    • In Spirit of Justice, one of Athena's DLC costumes is a waitress outfit from Tres Bien, the restaurant that appeared in the third case of the Trials and Tribulations. Depending on whether you have this costume equipped or not, Athena's formal introduction in the game in case takes on a different meaning. Apollo, who's introducing Athena in the narration, says "She might not look it, but at just 19 years old, she's a lawyer as well." If she's wearing her normal outfit, it sounds like he's talking about her age, but if she's wearing the waitress outfit, it's more literal. She really doesn't look like a lawyer in that uniform.
  • Nonstandard Character Design:
    • Maya looks very cartoony in the first three games where everybody is drawn (almost) realistically.
    • Mike Meekins looks quite unfitting compared to other characters, even the ones drawn by the same artist. Kinda looks like someone from Lupin III.
    • Spark Brushel from Apollo Justice would fit right in with the Looney Tunes.
    • Delicia Scones from Investigations 2 is probably the worst offender. Even after a Time Skip of 18 years, she still looks the same and refuses to mention her age.
  • Not Proven: Most cases seem like they'll end like this, until the protagonist puts everything together at the last second. There are a few exceptions:
    • The Terry Fawles case from the third game. Rather than testify against Dahlia, the woman who framed him and who he still desperately loves, Fawles committed suicide.
    • Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney:
      • In the third case, Apollo knows who to accuse but his case hits a wall when he lacks anything concrete enough to get the guilty party to admit to their guilt. The only way he can slam the book on the actual culprit is by having the defendant admit to his own culpability in a different but related crime. The other crime carries a harsh sentence in his homeland but not in Apollo's country, which makes it advantageous to him to confess now instead of being found guilty at a later time. In doing so, the murderer would be revealed as the two were co-conspirators on the latter crime. After threatening to blow the lid off the whole affair, the real guilty party loses it and breaks down.
      • The final case revolves around this: the murderer has covered his tracks well enough to leave no direct evidence linking himself to the crime, but all the other facts at hand point quite definitively at him. The problem is, the existing court system in place in the series' universe requires either evidence, a confession, or incredibly strong testimony... which is why Phoenix has spent the past seven years working towards the re-establishment of a jury system.
    • Happened in the backstory of Ace Attorney Investigations with Manny Coachen. He was never convicted of murdering Cece Yew because The Syndicate that he worked for stole the evidence from the prosecution.
    • The third case of The Great Ace Attorney: Adventures involves this, but in a twist it's your client who gets off on this... right as Ryunosuke (Phoenix's ancestor) starts thinking he may be guilty after all. Unfortunately, he's done such a good job defending his client that the judge and jury feel there isn't enough evicence to be certain of the defendant's guilt, and the trial ends in a Not Guilty verdict. Turns out he is guilty after all... but he's promptly murdered right after he walks free.
  • Numbered Sequels: Only in Japan, all the games simply go by their title plus a number (Gyakuten Saiban, Gyakuten Saiban 2, etc.). For overseas localizations the games are given subtitles (Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Justice for All, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Trials & Tribulations, etc.). The exceptions to this are the original game (simply Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney) and the fourth game (Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney). Edgeworth's name forms the subtitle of Ace Attorney Investigations.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity:
    • Cammy Meele in Investigations. Also Phoenix Wright in the fourth game, to the point that even Apollo believes that he is doing it on purpose.
    • And Yanni Yogi. And Matt Engarde. And April May. And Ini Miney. And Quercus Alba. In fact, if one of your witnesses is extremely ditzy you should probably immediately suspect them of faking it. Although subverted in the case of Colias Palaeno, whose eccentricity and cheeriness seems a bit... suspicious until it's revealed he wasn't the culprit.
    • Damon Gant in Case 1-5 seems to be very happy-go-lucky, even childlike, for a Police Chief. Then things start turning on their head, and you can see how formidable he really is.
  • Oh, Crap!: Half of the fun is watching the reactions of the prosecuting attorneys and witnesses as you rip right through their evidence and testimonies. Especially since almost all of them have insulted you in some way at some point or another.
  • Once a Season:
    • With the exception of Apollo Justice, the last episode features a different prosecutor from your usual opponent for at least part of the case.
    • Almost every game would end with a main character (usually Phoenix Wright) facing some sort of misfortune, that causes him to protest "OBJECTION!" which is prompted by the player.
  • One-Hit Kill: Certain cases will have scenarios where the prosecution or another party raises the stakes by making the next potential penalty be 100%, giving the player character only one chance to present their case/evidence correctly.
  • One-Winged Angel: Spoofed. Poking enough holes in a witness' story can be generally expected to draw out that witness' "true form", so to speak. These "transformations" are usually very, very dramatic.
  • Only Sane Man: The playable character in each game. It seems that they're the only ones to notice that the prosecution is blatantly lying/taking advantage of the Judge/doing something incredibly illegal/whipping people to let off steam/etc. This is a bit jarring in Dual Destinies, when the cases cycle between Apollo, Athena, and Phoenix as the playable characters and, from the perspective of each of them, the other two come across as very ridiculous.
  • Orgy of Evidence: This is how pretty much every trial begins. It's often lampshaded by Phoenix, Apollo, Mia, and Athena, who note that the massive amounts of evidence really do make a compelling case against their clients and that they must look past it to believe in them. Edgeworth also tends to lampshade this in the first game, when he presents his opening statements along the lines of, "We have a lot of evidence and eyewitnesses who saw the defendant do it. We have this in the bag." By the time the trial is over, of course, the defense team has proven that it all points to the real culprit.
  • Overly Nervous Flop Sweat: A lot of characters sweat bullets when they see themselves trapped into a corner, attorneys, witnesses, or otherwise. It gets Turned Up to Eleven when the radio a certain witness is using to testify starts leaking acid instead.
  • Parodies for Dummies: In "Rise From the Ashes", Lana sends Phoenix a book about Evidence Law, which has a cartoony cover but otherwise gives details which he'll find handy later. Later in "The Inherited Turnabout", Justine hands Edgeworth a similar book about the Statute of Limitations which also has a cartoony cover, but contains enough details to officially close IS-7.
  • Parental Abandonment: Seems to be a pretty heavy-handed theme throughout the series. In the very least, every character who has accompanied the current protagonist lost at least one parent in some way (usually death) and the only main character to not suffer the same fate has been Phoenix.
  • Passive-Aggressive Kombat: Cases that don't get heated turn into this. Notably, Mia and Franziska engage in it during Maya's trial (and manage to completely freak out Phoenix in the process). Morgan Fey also seems very fond of invoking this.
    Lotta: Hold on, now, granny!
    Morgan: ...Granny?
    Lotta: How come we ain't allowed in that room!?
    Morgan: Dear madam, you have an "impressive" grasp of English. From where did you learn it?
  • Penultimate Outburst: An essential part of the games. The penalty meter represents how much patience the Judge has left, and when it runs out, he declares the trial over and done with. There are also several points where he demands evidence from the defense to back their claims, on the threat of ending the trial if they can't. (In one trial in Apollo Justice, he threatens to "throw the baby out with the bathwater" if Apollo can't explain how a magic trick works. A question which is all but irrelevant to the trial at hand, at least at that point in time!)
  • Periphery Demographic: In-universe, the Steel Samurai franchise seems to be popular amongst older people like Maya and Edgeworth, despite being designed for little kids.
  • The Perry Mason Method: Courtroom scenes are nothing but this. Even when you aren't confronting the actual killer, you always have to work to get your current witness to reveal some important piece of information.
  • Pixel Hunt:
    • The investigation segments can sometimes fall into this when you have to examine a tiny area to get a piece of evidence necessary for the upcoming trial. Greatly downplayed in Dual Destinies and Spirit of Justice, which give you a magnifier that glows in a notorious color when hovering over an important area and let you know which areas you have already examined.
    • The fingerprinting mechanic presents an interesting -and no less frustrating- variation. The goal is to cover the area where the fingerprint is on the screen with white powder, and then "blow" the powder away, but God help you if you miss even one miniscule section. Exaggerated in Spirit of Justice, where you have to apply powder all over a gigantic 3D object a couple of times in the plot.
  • Phrase Catcher: Rather than waiting for the Judge's input on an objection, several heated scenes consist of the defense and prosecution volleying a single "OBJECTION!" back and forth.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: Often related to That One Case.
    • Gregory Edgeworth's could easily be one of these in the Ace Attorney games. Basically, it was his death that kickstarted Miles' ambition to be a prosecutor, which started Phoenix's ambition to become a defense attorney. You could even go further back and say that it was Isaku Hyodo's death that led to Gregory's, and so on. Gregory's death was also the distant catalyst for Misty Fey's disappearance (which in turn had several repercussions on the Fey clan, such as Dahlia and Iris's father leaving, Mia's Promotion to Parent, etc, Yanni Yogi's Obfuscating Stupidity, etcetera.
    • In fact, a lot of deaths in this game series have kicked off new arcs and plots (Mia Fey, Magnifi Gramarye etc).
  • The Pollyanna: All of the assistants, who tend to throw a naïve perspective on things.
  • Pointless Band-Aid: Detective Gumshoe has been wearing a bandage in the same spot on his left cheek for at least seven years. It's almost-but-not-quite lampshaded in Investigations, when he asks, "Do I have something on my face or something?"
  • Police Are Useless: As best seen when Gumshoe arrests Maya for her sister's murder. The police arrests the first suspect they see on the spot and devote all their energy into trying to prove their guilt, not looking into any other possible suspects until you point them out in court.
  • Poverty Food: Dick Gumshoe likes eating instant ramen because he's almost always broke.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • Edgeworth pulls roughly one "What the hell?" per game, most memorably from 1-5:
      Edgeworth: What the hell was that wriggling piece of plywood!?
    • In Investigations:
      Lang: Quercus Alba, you BASTARD!
  • Protagonist Title: In the West only, though (Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney and Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney); in Japan, they are Numbered Sequels (Gyakuten Saiban 1, 2, 3...).
  • Proud to Be a Geek: Edgeworth may be a closet nerd, but Maya's quite upfront with her geekishness.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Most (with some big exceptions) prosecutors aren't necessarily despicable people, it's just their job to convict defendants and get them thrown in jail or the death penalty. To what degree the prosecutor cares about achieving true justice varies from game to game and case to case; the more sympathetic ones will do what they can (within their position as prosecutor) to help the protagonist while the truly terrible ones will do anything to get their guilty verdict.
  • Punny Name: Everybody. The few people whose names aren't some sort of pun or reference have usually just kept variations on their Japanese name (which are puns in their own right). Where the naming department is concerned, Spirit of Justice is a Hurricane of Puns. Taken to extremes with the Overly Long Name of Inga Karkhuul Haw'kohd Dis'nahm Bi'ahni Lawga Ormo Pohmpus Da'nit Ar'edi Iz Khura'in IIInote .
  • Put on a Prison Bus: Most episodes in the series end with the real killer being arrested, which is usually the last we hear of them.
  • Quickly Demoted Leader: Here's a word of advice—don't become the mentor of a rookie attorney. You'll most likely end up dead or the victim of otherwise horrible circumstances. Or in jail, as we see in Apollo Justice.
  • Rainbow Speak: Orange text indicates hints and important pieces of evidence, blue text is for the protagonist's inner thoughts, and green text is used for witness testimonies (or pieces of logic in the Investigations series).
  • Reaching Towards the Audience: A very common recurring pose, what with all the finger pointing. The franchise's icon itself is a giant hand pointing!
  • Real Men Take It Black: Mixed in with Must Have Caffeine, Godot always drinks his coffee pure black, which even provides one of many of his famous quotes "Blacker than a moonless night, darker and bitter than Hell itself... that is coffee."
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Very frequent.
    • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney has the first appearance of Edgeworth's iconic suit and Redd White's sparkly suit.
    • Justice for All has Max Galactica.
    • Trials and Tribulations has Phoenix's pink sweater and Laurice/Larry's pink overalls.
    • Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney has Kristoph's pink tie, Zak Gramarye's pink costume, and Wocky's jacket.
  • Recurring Element:
    • A common theme for cases is an otherwise innocuous and wholesome line of work being the scene and focus of a murder, usually revealing its dark underside.
      • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney and Justice for All has children's Sentai shows.
      • The main games (except Apollo Justice) and Investigations feature masked entities (which may or may not overlap with Sentai shows).
      • Justice for All, Trials and Tribulations and Spirit of Justice have spirit channelling.
      • Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney and Spirit of Justice have Stage Magicians.
      • Spirit of Justice features a case based around Rakugo performance..
      • Gyakuten Kenji 2 reveals that the case that started the entire series main plot, ending in the murder of Gregory Edgeworth and public disgracing of Misty Fey, was about the cutthroat world of Dessert Chefs.
    • The details and the styles may be different, but the courtrooms in every single game (sans the two Investigations games) feature similar looking waiting rooms that are always guarded by two guards, the Judge is always a big bearded old man with no name, and there's always Winston Payne, one of his relatives, or an expy of him waiting for you at the tutorial stage.
    • The main series games will always have a hapless and put-upon yet intelligent and quick-thinking attorney (Phoenix, Apollo, and Athena), assisted by a perky younger girl with a screwed-up family history (Maya, Ema in her first appearances, Trucy, even Kay), going up against a feared and renowned prosecutor (Edgeworth, the von Karmas, Godotnote , Klavier, Blackquill, Nahyuta) who is often assisted by a more amiable detective (Gumshoe, Fulbright, Ema in her later appearances).
      • Klavier and Ema invert the prosecutor/detective thing in Apollo Justice (where she's openly antagonistic towards him and Apollo, while Klavier plays nice with the defense) while Blackquill and Fulbright subvert it in Dual Destinies (where Blackquill, despite his ferocious exterior, has always been a good man, while Fulbright is the Big Bad and hides it under a veneer of crusading for justice). Ema's back to form in Spirit of Justice, though, and is obviously reluctant to help Nahyuta prosecute her friends.
    • In several games, the final case of the game has a noticeable influence from the death of a main character's parent:
      • Gregory Edgeworth in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (not taking "Rise from the Ashes" into account).
      • Implied dead by this game and influencing Franziska's ideals, Manfred von Karma in Justice for All.
      • Misty Fey in Trials and Tribulations.
      • Zak Gramarye in Apollo Justice. Thalassa's presumed death can be considered as well.
      • While his death is mostly explored in the penultimate case, Byrne Faraday in Investigations.
      • Gyakuten Kenji 2 has Dai-Long Lang, Dave Gustavia, and (to a lesser extent) Gregory Edgeworth.
      • Metis Cykes in Dual Destinies.
      • Spirit of Justice has three: Jove Justice, Justice Minister Inga, and Dhurke Sahdmadhi. Queen Amara's presumed assassination also counts.
  • Red Baron: Many characters throughout the series have earned nicknames for their legal prowess: Phoenix Wright is known as "The Turnabout Terror", Manfred von Karma is "The God of Prosecution", Nahyuta Sahdmadhi is "The Last Rites Prosecutor", Barok van Zieks is "The Reaper of the Old Bailey", etc.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Inverted with Phoenix and Miles. Loud, hot-blooded and impulsive Phoenix wears a blue suit, while calm, composed and calculated Edgeworth wears a burgundy suit. The same applies for the impulsive and hot-blooded Agent Lang to Edgeworth as well, but without the color scheme.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Every murderer in the series bases their plans on the assumption that no one can even hope to imagine the events that have happened. Luke Atmey from Trials and Tribulations is a great example of it, as they try to use a guilty verdict for a lesser crime as an alibi.
  • The Rival: Each game has a prosecutor who has personal affairs with the protagonist:
    • The first game has Miles Egdeworth, who's revealed to be Phoenix Wright's childhood friend and the reason Phoenix became a defense attorney in the first place. Edgeworth used to want to be a lawyer too, but ended up as an alleged amoral prosecutor and Phoenix tries to change his ways. And succeeds.
    • Justice for All has Franziska von Karma, who seeks revenge on Phoenix. She's the daughter of Manfred von Karma, a legendary prosecutor who killed Gregory Edgeworth and turned his son, Miles, into a prosecutor. Phoenix had exposed him as a murderer in the first game.
    • Trials and Tribulations features Godot, who is very spiteful towards Phoenix. Proof of this is his taunting sarcasm, he calls him "Trite" instead of Wright, and he throws coffee mugs at him. It turns out Godot is Mia Fey's former boyfriend. When he was told that Mia had been murdered and Phoenix could have prevented that, he started to hate him.
    • Apollo Justice has Klavier Gavin. He isn't really an Amoral Attorney, unlike the previous prosecutors; he just taunts him from time to time with the name "Herr Forehead".
    • Dual Destinies has Simon Blackquill, a man convicted for murder. He hadn't met Phoenix or Apollo beforehand, but he DID know Athena Cykes, the daughter of a friend of his (the victim of that one murder). Blackquill throws blades at the defense when they make particularly outlandish claims.
    • Spirit of Justice introduces Nahyuta Sahdmadhi, a foreign prosecutor monk. He's very antagonistic towards the defense, claiming that they have a putrid mind, and has a personal affair with Apollo, the adopted son of his father.
  • Rude Hero, Nice Sidekick: The usual dynamic of the prosecutor/detective pairs, with the prosecutor being standoffish and possibly hostile while the detective is more approachable. Inverted in Apollo Justice and subverted in Dual Destinies.
  • Rule of Fun: The justice system presented in the games would be a joke in real life, the lawyers and witnesses get away with attitudes and behaviour that would be punishable by contempt of court at least, and any witness revising their statement that much would have their credibility wrecked in about fifteen minutes. But is it fun? Heck yes.
  • Running Gag:
    • The longest running would be the eternal 'ladder vs step-ladder' debate.
    Maya: Look, a ladder!
    Phoenix: That's a step-ladder.
    Maya: So? What's the difference? You need to stop judging things based on narrow-minded cultural assumptions, Nick!
    Phoenix: R-right... sorry.
    • This running gag also continues in Apollo Justice only with the papers inverted.
    • And again in Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth, with Kay identifying one as a step-ladder. Miles comments that both of them are equally guilty of being dangerous during earthquakes.
    • Maya comments in Spirit of Justice that she's outgrown that debate. Phoenix is implied to be the tiniest bit upset about it.
    • Every time you visit the detention center and examine the guard (who's really just a part of the background image), Phoenix makes a new smartass comment about his stoicism and general motionlessness, because he's really just a part of the background image.
    • Phoenix's strange fixation with scrubbing the toilet, though this mostly appears in the third game. Both in the American AND Japanese versions.
      • This one returns in Dual Destinies: in case two, Apollo makes mention of hoping to get a case and not clean the toilet again while in the DLC, Apollo responds to Nick's instruction for Apollo and Athena to do some work with 'Work? But we've already cleaned the toilet. Twice. Each.'
    • There is also Charley the potted plant, who gets a special mention despite the fact that pretty much everything in Phoenix's office is a running gag because he even turns up after the law office is converted into a talent agency.
    • Speaking of office gags, starting in 1-4:
    Phoenix: Difficult-looking legal books stand in a formidable row. They mock me.
    • How this line finishes depends on the case, and whether there's anyone else present. Eventually they start collecting an impressive layer of dust. There's at least one amusing Call-Back to the first instance of this, from 1-5:
    Ema: Oh, I tried studying one of those just now. Remember what they were talking about in the trial today...?
    Phoenix: Oh, right, evidence law. So, did you learn anything?
    Ema: Well, when I tried reading it made my head hurt.
    Phoenix: Oh...
    Ema: Then, when I closed it, it slipped out of my hand and fell on my foot.
    Phoenix: (Oddly enough I find myself identifying with her on this one...)
    • Miles Edgeworth has poor luck with getting witnesses to introduce themselves on the stand.
    • "Anyone could wear that ____. Even me!"
    Phoenix: "So the particular feature you recognize about the waitress is....her outfit!? But anyone could wear just such an uniform! Even me!"
    Judge: "Mr. Wright! Please spare the court of any further mental anguish from that image."
    • The movie poster in Mia's office, said to be the first movie to make her cry. The gag being that nobody knows the title of the movie, including Mia. Eventually Maya tries to replace it with a Steel Samurai poster, but puts it back when she finally sees the movie (though the reader never hears the title either).
      • In 4-4, Phoenix said he finally found out the name and watched it, and he might show it to Trucy sometime. Then he realised he forgot the name...
    • The guy in the police station is always doing a different type of image training. It changes every time something new happens in the room.
      • In 1-5, he instead seems to be writing a crime novel instead and comes up with different twists (including time machines and him being the murderer because of a split personality). At the end he switches to romance.
      • Incidentally, both time machines and split personalities turn up much later as plot points in Spirit of Justice.
    • Likewise the lead detective in the back middle of the room. Phoenix always assumes the guy's hard at work on something, then gets irritated when he finds out the guy's just looking up gossip on the Internet.
    • invokedThe Gatewater Hotel from the first game's second case. Examining the window facing it in every case reveals that it goes from a no-name hotel to, with the help of that case, a famous five-star hotel and eventually, a theme park.
    • No one can seem to remember Wendy Oldbag's name, or at least know it well enough to not have a sense of doubt. This continues into the Court record. She's always listed as Security Guard or Ex-Security Guard. Her name is listed in her description but both Phoenix and Edgeworth note it with a sense of doubt.
    • There's also her undying love for Edgeworth, which, given her age, is pretty strongly unrequited.
    • Phoenix loves to present his Attorney's Badge to anyone he meets during investigations. Although necessary in a few cases (notably case 4 of the first game), mostly this is met with either confusion or ridicule.
      • Phoenix himself lampshades this if Apollo presents his own badge to him.
      • Gumshoe also lampshades it in 1-5, noting that "you show this to me every time we meet, pal," then adds with a grin, "Real men show their police badge! 'Nuff said!"
      • Continued in Investigations, where you never actually get to use Edgeworth's Prosecutor Badge, and the flavor text states that he tends to keep it in his pocket. It's also lampshaded by none other than MANFRED VON KARMA.
      • In The Great Ace Attorney 2: Resolve, Gina Lestrade, now a police detective, loves showing off her detective's badge. If Ryunosuke presents his badge to her, she'll do so right back.
    • In Apollo Justice and Investigations, Phoenix and Edgeworth respectively seem to have a fondness for "grape juice." In huge glass bottles, in bars and VIP lounges. One might think that this is censorship of wine, however, not only is the substitution of grape juice in both the English and Japanese versions, but why would they need to censor alcohol in a game about violent murders? This is lampshaded by Athena in Case 6-5 where she asks if Phoenix enjoyed the "fermented kind" but Apollo stated that it was the normal kind.
    • At least for the first three games, all end with Phoenix being put in a difficult position (the first game having this for both the last original case and the bonus case), and finally ending with one last "Objection!"
    • Throughout, whenever flowers are examined or brought up, Phoenix always mentions that the only ones he can identify are tulips and sunflowers. In the final case of Apollo Justice he has an epiphany and realizes that he can identify roses too. This is brought back again in "Turnabout Time Traveler," when Edgeworth hotly objects to Phoenix presenting flowers as evidence.
    • If you present the wrong piece of evidence to a magician in investigation parts, you can bet they will try to make evidence disappear. Max Galactica was the first to do this, followed by Trucy and Valant Gramarye - the only exception to this is Zak Gramarye in the past section of Case 4-4, as he was no longer in his magician persona.
  • Ruritania: The small nation of Borginia, home country of Machi Tobaye and Romein LeTouse from Apollo Justice and Zinc Lablanc and Akbey Hicks from Investigations. For added strangeness, the country also exists in Capcom's Dino Crisis.

    S - Z 
  • Say My Name: Several times.
    Roger: Gr-r-r-r-r... Gramaryeeeeeeeeee!
  • Scary Shiny Glasses:
    • Kristoph in Apollo Justice. You get to see through them at one point, and it isn't pretty.
    • Subverted by Machi in the third case of Apollo Justice — he wears tinted glasses, but he's actually a very kind and gentle boy. He's pretending to be blind.
  • Schizo Tech:
    • The original trilogy takes place between 2016 and 2019, but it's common to come across things such as VCRs and black and white photos.
    • The post Apollo Justice games take place in the late 2020s and early 2030s. It has more futuristic technology than the original trilogy, such as holograms and robots. However, they still use thing suchs as old looking cellphones and CDs are still popular.
  • Screen Shake: Used for everything from Franziska's whip to random lines of dialogue.
  • Seamless Spontaneous Lie: Very common; characters who are caught out on their lies often come up with entirely different, equally detailed stories within very little time. Of course, due to the nature of the game, these are always found out eventually.
  • Secret Room:
    • During the events of "The Rite of Turnabout" in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice, Phoenix Wright discovers a hideout for the La Résistance hidden behind a statue that was part of a ritual ground sacred to the Kingdom of Khura'in. The fact that the hideout is secretly accessed through a religious site implicates a local priest and his wife as part of the rebels against the Kingdom.
    • During the events of "The Forgotten Turnabout" in the sequel to Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth, Edgeworth discovers a secret floor between the 50th floor and the roof of the Grand Tower. The secret floor was used to store evidence which was stolen from police custody and set to be auctioned off to the highest bidder.
  • Serious Business:
    • The law is a serious thing in just about any setting, but this game still manages to push legal work to the level of spectator sport. This is taken to a whole new level of insanity in the film, where it's shown that more prominent court cases sell tickets for each day of the trial so people can watch, and the trial concludes with a holographic "Not Guilty!" accompanied by confetti being fired. And then, case 5-3 reveals that lawyer schools involve lessons on the proper way to shout OBJECTION!, and the correct speed and angle of pointing your finger, among other things.
    • The world of children television is oddly popular in the setting. It's also filled with tales of murder, organized crime, blackmail, suicide, kidnappings and all other sorts of intriguing conspiracies.
  • Shadow Archetype: There's really pretty much no difference in practice between what a prosecutor does and what a defense attorney does. Thanks to the gameplay-mandated absurdly biased legal system, defense attorneys have to prove the guilt of somebody, otherwise their client will be found guilty by default, even if they've already demonstrated it was completely impossible for them to do it. And when they're doing this, the prosecutor is going to be arguing to defend the person the defense is accusing, just like the defense was doing earlier in the trial before they could pinpoint an actual culprit. The only real distinction between defense attorneys and prosecutors in practice is that prosecutors always side with the results of the police investigation (and have a much, much easier job).
  • Shared Family Quirks: Family members will sometimes have similar animations. For example, Edgeworth and the von Karmas share the same Thinking Ticnote , and Pearl picks up some of Maya's mannerismsnote .
  • Sheathe Your Sword: There is at least one point in every game where the prosecution demands evidence supporting your theory and you don't have any. Rather than receive repeated penalties from trying everything in the inventory, the correct answer is to say that you don't have evidence. This is usually followed by a Deus ex Machina or The Cavalry sequence. This becomes a key in "Rise from the Ashes", as Damon Gant vaguely pressures Phoenix into presenting the scrap of cloth from his safe, but due to Evidence Law which Gant would use to discredit it, Phoenix simply states that he doesn't have any evidence to present at that time since it's technically worthless until Gant gives it significace after a lengthy amount of Evil Gloating.
  • Ship Tease:
    • Maya's brief stint as a waitress shocks Phoenix into realizing how cute she and her voice are. Guy actually flirts with her and suggests she quit the spirit medium business.
    • In Trials and Tribulations we get Phoenix x Iris big time, because they have already had a romantic time together in the past, with her posing as Dahlia.
    • Dual Destinies has some between Juniper Woods and Apollo. Junie blushes adorably and knits something with heart-shaped patterns while talking favorably about Apollo, and Apollo can be seen smiling at her when she goes to give her performance in the third case.
  • Shout-Out: Has its own page. Both the Japanese version AND the English translation use many throwaway pop culture references as gags. Justice for All had a serious spike in online memes inserted into the localization, presumably thanks to the Memetic Mutation of the first game.
  • Show Within a Show: The Steel Samurai, sort of. Also the Pink Princess, the Nickel Samurai, and the Jammin' Ninja.
  • Sidekick: It's series tradition for the main character to have a cute/attractive female sidekick in almost every case. Or Gumshoe for a different kind of fan.
  • Sliding Scale of Continuity: The games have a stronger (level 4, Arc-Based Episodic) continuity between cases within each game, but are level 3 (Subtle Continuity) with respect to one another, featuring the same characters (bar Apollo Justice) and explaining things like spirit mediums at the beginning of each game but otherwise having independent stories and not depending on the player knowing the previous games.
  • Smart People Play Chess:
    • Miles Edgeworth has a chess set in his office. Phoenix notes that the problems he sets up tend to have the red side utterly dominating the blue side, just like Edgeworth cornering Phoenix in court cases.
    • A lot of people play chess in Investigations 2. Not to mention the whole logic chess gameplay element.
  • Smoking Gun Control: Easy solutions are quickly denied in every. Freaking. Case.
    • In Case 1-5, everyone in the court watches a security camera video and then Phoenix and the prosecutor freak out when it turns out that the most important parts of what happened are not shown. This is also a justified instance, as the culprit was the one whose job it was to manage the cameras, so he knew how he could avoid being seen.
    • If the crime has any direct witnesses, they will almost always turn out to have completely misinterpreted what they saw. They are usually outright lying the other times.
    • Any seemingly-critical photograph taken of the crime will turn out to be entirely misleading.
    • Any drawn pictures will manage to combine bad witnesses with misleading or missing facts. So of course Larry Butz ends up drawing a critical piece of evidence for the trilogy finale.
  • Smug Snake: Many of the murderers turn out to be one of these if it's not immediately obvious, such as Redd White, Morgan Fey, Dahlia Hawthorne, and Matt Engarde. The last of those almost qualifies for Magnificent Bastard status, but made one little mistake. Richard Wellington is a particularly over-the-top example.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: The series definitely has its moments when a lawyer is forced to deal with a particularly difficult witness. Angel Starr's testimony in 1-5 is a good example. She and Edgeworth clearly don't like each other and aren't shy about admitting it:
    Edgeworth: The lunchlady's uninformed opinion is duly noted.
  • The Sociopath: See here.
  • Songs in the Key of Panic: Testimonies and cross examinations initially use the Confrontation: Moderato (normal pace) music. As the protagonists get closer to the truth and more lies are exposed, the music switches to Confrontation: Allegro (faster) to illustrate the mounting pressure on everyone involved. The Investigations spinoffs have taken this even further with Confrontation: Presto (fastest) when dealing with the last testimonies of the culprit or highly important people (making this a case of Musical Spoiler). The Allegro treatment also applies to investigation "minigames", like Logic Chess or the Mood Matrix, and the Investigations games even include an allegro version for the Logic theme, used when you are checking some very important piece of evidence or deducing how some key part of the murder happened.
  • Speech-Centric Work: As one might expect from a Visual Novel that's also a Courtroom Drama.
  • Spiritual Predecessor: To Ghost Trick, which by the way is said to be set in Ace Attorney's universe.
  • Spit Take: Godot pulls off a few of these in the third game: he spits his coffee as he's drinking it. Or even after swallowing it.
  • Stage Magician: Trucy's day job. There's also defendant Max Galactica in 2-3, Troupe Gramarye from game 4 onwards, witnesses Bonny and Betty de Famme in 6-2.
  • Stopped Clock: Used repeatedly (twice in the first game alone).
  • Stupidity Is the Only Option: You have to play dumb until it's the "right" time to solve the mysteries, even the ones that are blatantly obvious from the beginning. This becomes an emotionally painful part of game play in the fourth game when the player can't choose to not present the evidence that results in Phoenix's disbarment since by that point it's pretty damn obvious what will happen. Of course, that's also part of a flashback, so averting this would be somewhat of a time paradox.
  • Sudden Soundtrack Stop: When you present the right contradiction to a statement, the background music briefly goes silent to enhance the drama of the moment as the protagonist explains the objection, after which a triumphant tune plays. This functions as a Musical Spoiler, as a player who is Trying Everything only needs to wait to see if the music goes quiet to know if they've found the right answer. However, in one occasion that was subverted - after the correct contradiction is found, the music continues to play for a few lines until Phoenix confirms he's definitely sure of himself, a trap for players who weren't so confident.
  • Super Move Portrait Attack: Happens during trials when an attorney or prosecutor delivers a particularly energetic "Objection!" The special sprite is superimposed on light blue Speed Stripes.
  • Supernatural Is Purple: Purple is the predominant color of Maya's outfits and Fey acolytes, and is strongly associated with spirituality, mysticism, and spirit channeling. The Kingdom of Khura'in, a country based entirely around spirit channeling, has purple, along with green and pink, as its most predominant colors.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • Any witnesses revealed to have lied or tampered with evidence is usually shown locked up in the detention center for having done so.
    • Over the course of the series, numerous prominent Attorneys have been found guilty of murder and discovered presenting forged evidence. By the beginning of Dual Destinies, the public has lost trust in the justice system as a result.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: Several.
    • Ace Attorney has Yanni Yogi killing Robert Hammond. Granted, he immorally frames Edgeworth for it all, but the fact that Hammond ruined Yogi and drove Yogi's wife to suicide, it's hard to not sympathize with Yogi.
    • Justice for All has Acro. He wanted to kill Regina because she doesn't understand that she's responsible for putting his brother in a coma and himself in a wheelchair. Then he killed the wrong person, the ringmaster who's pretty much his surrogate father. You get the feeling that if his brother is dead instead of in a coma, he would have just turned himself in or killed himself.
    • Trials and Tribulations has Godot. His murder was self-defense and defense of another, not to mention payback for the poisoning that ruined his life by putting him in a coma for years, making him effectively blind, and making him unable to protect the woman he loved?
  • That One Case: Each game (save Justice for Fall) has one big unresolved case that informs the plot and character motivations:
    • In the entirety of the Phoenix arc, DL-6, which saw Manfred von Karma murder Gregory Edgeworth, and Misty Fey disappearing in disgrace during the fallout. Unsurprisingly, the resolution of this case provides motivation and closure to many of the major characters. Its aftermath reaches as far as Trials and Tribulations, which is highly Fey-centric.
    • In case 1-5, SL-9, which Lana is being blackmailed by Gant with.
    • In Trials and Tribulations, Mia Fey's first case (although it's actually solved and overcome by Mia in the first case, which takes place after it).
    • In Apollo Justice, the one that resulted in Wright's disbarment.
    • In Investigations, KG-8, and "the second KG-8" (Turnabout Reminiscence).
    • In Gyakuten Kenji 2, IS-7 and SS-5
    • In Dual Destinies, UR-1, the unresolved murder of Metis Cykes, supposedly by her own protégé Simon Blackquill. The Miscarriage of Justice sent the latter to prison, and Athena is working to exonerate him.
    • In The Great Ace Attorney: Adventures, Mortar Milverton's murder case, with 'The Hound of the Baskervilles' possibly becoming one for the subseries.
    • In The Great Ace Attorney 2: Resolve, The Professor Killings.
    • In Spirit of Justice, the current Khura'in status quo is due entirely to the case of Amara Sigatar Khura'in's assassination, which instilled Ga'ran as queen, sent Dhurke on the run, and also killed Apollo's father.
  • That Was Objectionable:
    • The Trope Namer is an infamous instance in case 1-2:
      Edgeworth: I object! That was... objectionable!
    • Your playable character will object for the heck of it when they have no evidence just to stall a guilty verdict. Then they will usually come up with a crucial clue that will let you continue the trial.
  • Theme Music Power-Up:
    • Whenever a lawyer gets the upper hand, their Objection theme music plays. And then the Pursuit song comes up to give the final blow to the current witness. Played to the hilt in 3-5 when Phoenix's theme music from the first game plays right when he finishes everything off.
    • The "Allegro" themes (which are quicker, more dramatic versions of the cross-examination themes) play instead of the normal theme after contradictions start showing up. Investigations even gets a "Presto" version of its theme, which is even faster and more dramatic than the "Allegro" theme, and is played solely during the final confrontation with a given villain.
  • Theme Naming: The given names of the three defense attorneys working for Wright Anything Agency all follow mythology: Phoenix refers to, well, a phoenix rising from the ashes while Apollo and Athena are a Greek god/goddesses commonly associated with truth and justice.
  • Think in Text: Shown as light-blue/teal text between parentheses. Expect lots of snark to come out of these.
  • Thinly-Veiled Dub Country Change: The English localization of Ace Attorney puts it in an alternative universe, in which Japanese culture flourished across America, as a result of anti-Japanese immigration and settlement laws that were passed in real life having never happened. Furthermore, the localization changes the setting of the series to Los Angeles, where Little Tokyo, containing such things as a variety of Japanese restaurants, stores, a Japanese Buddhist Temple, and the Japanese Village Plaza, is located in real life. Nevertheless, the franchise still noticeably includes many references to Japan's culture and legal system – even with all of the legal artistic license – to the point where it becomes fairly obvious the L.A. location and AU set up was a localization gimmick. The Great Ace Attorney games drop the idea; given that Japanese history, culture, and politics play a much larger role, localizers had no choice but to make the protagonists native to Japan.
    • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies, one case takes place in a traditional Japanese village where a Yokai spirit was supposedly sealed. In the localization, it's a village in America founded by Japanese immigrants. However, it works in the context of that case, since the "Yokai" is revealed to just be superstition, and is actually a huge chunk of gold that drove the villagers to fight each other over it. With California having a fairly famous gold rush, it becomes Fridge Brilliance on the part of the localization team.
  • Time Skip: Several; three minor time skips of several months between the first three games of the series, then a whooping seven-year time skip between Trials and Tribulations and Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney. From that point, there are six months until Dual Destinies and then five until Spirit of Justice.
  • Title Drop: Curiously enough, Phoenix Wright only gains his moniker of “Ace Attorney” in the third game (3-2), where in response to Luke Atmey’s egotistical title of “Ace Detective” he sardonically calls himself an “Ace Attorney” and Maya adds that she then is a “Ace Spirit Medium”. Luke just rolls with it, saying “well met”.
    • In Dual Destinies, Florent L'Belle refers to Apollo as "ace attorney" during a cross-examination.
  • Traveling at the Speed of Plot: Kurain Village is a two-hour train ride from the city, yet during the investigation phase of 2-2 you make at the bare minimum two-and-a-half round trips in the span of 3 hours. It's also somehow possible for an eight-year-old child to travel the distance on foot in a single morning.
  • Truth in Television: Unfortunately, all the prosecutors who obsess over perfect win records and with the odds so stacked against you is very true in Japan's criminal justice system, even false confessions are common to avoid dishonoring a family further with a long and drawn out trial. In a way, you could say the series is actually a brilliant and scathing satire.
  • Try Everything: The games sometimes require this when a witness's testimony is not something you can poke holes in at the moment, in which case you need to press them on every statement – even if it makes you look like a complete idiot – until you have tried everything that won't get you penalized and then the trial will progress. If you're not able to divine some the less obvious hints, you'll be doing this even during trials and rebuttals. Admittedly, this can require abuse of saves to avoid restarting the entire day or sequence.
  • Tsundere:
    • Franziska, particularly in the third game after she's mellowed a bit. Even lampshaded: both Phoenix and Edgeworth say "she's so openly hostile it's almost cute".
    • Princess Rayfa in Spirit of Justice usually speaks nothing but poison when Phoenix is around (because she's been told that lawyers are despicable), but will mellow down momentarily when something that Phoenix says gets her attention. It won't last long, especially if Phoenix calls out her ignorance on the subject he's brought up: she will turn red and angrily insult him. And start over again until Character Development kicks in, which takes quite a while.
  • Two Halves Make a Plot: Case 1-5 of Ace Attorney has this in the form of the Evidence List/Ema's picture. Phoenix finds one half, Edgeworth has the other.
  • Underdogs Never Lose: Played very straight with every defense attorney.
  • Updated Re-release: Applies considerably to the original three games of the series.
    • For Japanese players the DS releases of the original trilogy were such to their Game Boy Advance counterparts, featuring a slightly larger resolution by way of the DS screen and enhanced music (not the case outside of Japan as the DS releases mostly exist for the sake of globally releasing the games in the first place, although the original game has an extra case not present in the Game Boy Advance release).
    • The WiiWare versions add Wii Remote mechanics but otherwise do not tamper with the games in any way. The extra case of the original game is offered as Downloadable Content.
    • The trilogy was also globally released with new graphics on iOS as Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney HD Trilogy (Gyakuten Saiban 123 HD in Japan). In 2014, this was re-released again for the 3DS, entitled Gyakuten Saiban 123: Naruhodou Selection, which and also includes some mild 3D "flat-layered" effects as well; the pack was also released early December 2014 outside Japan, titled Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy.
  • Video Game 3D Leap: Though Phoenix and Maya already got the 3D treatment in the Layton crossover, the series' debut on the 3DS marks the jump for the series proper, allowing for more dynamic camera and angle work than in previous entries.
  • Villainous Breakdown: The closer you get the real murderer to confessing, the more out of control they get. Once the truth is revealed, they cry, scream, tear their hair and clothes, laugh hysterically, and sometimes faint dead away. Also, the more out of control they get, the more smug they get when the prosecuting attorney brings up something that could pull their ass out of the fire. However, the game's legal system is so heavily evidence-based that you can't just convict them on the basis that innocent people simply don't get this smug and be done with it.

    As the series goes on, the breakdowns get progressively more elaborate and over-the-top. For example, while the first breakdown in the first game consists of the witness throwing his toupee, foaming at the mouth, and fainting, the final breakdown of Prosecutor's Path (the last game to use 2D sprites) has Simon Keyes get pummeled by a series of animals he had trained, culminating in a gorilla punching him in the face so hard he spins and an elephant pulling him off-screen while the sounds of his beating continue. The transition to 3D models has only amplified this trend. In later games, the breakdowns are often thematically based on the culprit's occupation, past, and/or the murder they committed.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Phoenix, Edgeworth, and Larry are always helping each other out of tight spots. But no matter the situation, they'll always face it while insulting and frustrating each other to no end.
  • Voice Grunting: Ace Attorney uses the "beeping" variety of this trope, with females and children usually getting higher-pitched beeps than adult males.
  • The Von Trope Family: The von Karmas, who are very intimidating and very European.
  • Waistcoat of Style: Phoenix sports one in Dual Destinies onward, which makes him look more dignified than his design in the original trilogy. His protégé Apollo wears one as well in lieu of a full two piece suit, and Edgeworth wears one under his glorious cravat.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: Save for Investigations, players face pushover Winston Payne for Case 1note ; then, in Case 2, the player meets their formidable rival for the game.
  • Wanton Cruelty to the Common Comma: If a semicolon should be used somewhere, it'll be a comma,note  and "double quotes are never switched for "single quotes" within larger quotations." Gumshoe also says "their's" at one point during Investigations. "Its" versus "it's" also rears its ugly head fairly often.
    • The German translation is even worse. Whenever you spot a comma, there's what feels like at least a 50% chance it shouldn't be there. To make up for that, if a comma should be there, odds are it isn't. Another annoying typo in the German version is miscapitalization: sie 'she' and Sie 'you (formal)' sometimes show up in each other's place.
  • We Will Not Use Photoshop in the Future: Photographs are practically gospel, meaning players have to find a glaring inconsistency with other evidence or a testimony before it's questioned. Notoriously used in Case 2-2, when one of Franziska's arguments centers around proof that Maya physically shapeshifts into whoever she channels, before showing a picture of Maya channelling Mia in the Detention Center. Instead of assuming it's faked, everyone takes this at face value.
    • Subverted in case 5-2. Prosecutor Blackquill raises the possibility that a newspaper photo was doctored in some way, but later it still turns out to be real.
  • Western Samurai: Simon Blackquill, a samurai-themed prosecutor, becomes this as a result of the series' Thinly-Veiled Dub Country Change shifting the characters from Japan to America. As a result, in the localization he's an American/British man who dresses and acts like an old-fashioned samurai, complete with iajutsu, a loyal pet hawk, and Undying Loyalty to the woman he considered his master. note 
  • Wham Episode: If a case has a plot twist, expect at least one of these. Especially if it's near the end of the game.
    • In 2-4, for the first time in the series, your client actually IS the culprit.
    • 2-4 has so many whams that it's actually lampshaded by the Judge.
      Judge: This is a most unexpected turn of events. For the...fifth time now?
  • Wham Line: Whenever something seems to be going too well, expect someone to scream "OBJECTION!" or "HOLD IT!" to come and ruin everything. 3-5 probably does this the best - Big Bad Dahlia Hawthorne is banished back to the afterlife, complete with a Villainous Breakdown, and the Judge even manages to give wise advice, which he generally only does towards the end of games. Then Godot screams "OBJECTION!" and reminds you that you actually haven't solved the murder yet, and the trial continues as it's ultimately revealed that Godot was running a gambit to reveal himself as the true killer.
    • A much smaller one, but the second trial of Matt Engarde, when it shows the courtroom, but the prosecutor box is mysteriously empty. No one knows where Franziska von Karma is. And then the bailiff comes in, and hits the player with this line:
    Bailiff: Prosecutor...Prosecutor von Karma...This morning, Miss von Karma was shot by an unknown gunman.
  • Wham Shot: In Dual Destinies, near the end of Turnabout to Tomorrow, the black Psyche-locks first introduced in Apollo Justice reappear again. On Athena. These are the special Psyche-locks that won't break no matter what. However, when the truth behind the murder of Anthea's mother is brought to the fore, we get an even bigger Wham Shot: the supposedly unbreakable black Psyche-locks on Athena all shatter in unison.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • In "The Stolen Turnabout", the case initially appears to be about the theft of the Kurain Village's Sacred Urn. Maya and Pearl flip out at Phoenix when he decides to defend the guy accused of being the thief.
    • Edgeworth's threatening to reveal Andrian Andrews' psychiatric records and suicide attempt to get her to testify after his Heel–Face Turn is played as this.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Each game has ending credits that show how most characters that where involved in the cases lives are now.
  • Whip It Good: Franziska von Karma has a habit of whipping people who behave in a foolish way, are incompetent, or just make her waste time. She even whips Phoenix to unconsciousness after losing to him in court for the first time.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Due to childhood trauma, Edgeworth has debilitating panic attacks during earthquakes. In Investigations, the turbulence on an airplane produces a close enough effect that it triggers his phobia, and he passes out.
  • World of Ham: In any other world, the desk-slamming, "Objection!"-shouting Phoenix would be a Large Ham. Here he is the most normal person. However, the series draws considerable humor from the fact that it's self-aware that it's in a World of Ham. During Apollo Justice's debut trial, he tries to impress the court by unleashing his "Chords of Steel," only to be scolded and told to tone it down a bit. And in Dual Destinies, it's played for laughs as being essential skills as part of being lawyer. Right down to the mechanical theory of presenting evidence, such as the angle and speed of its delivery to the court. Likewise, Objection pointing and desk slamming are also treated with such precise minutiae, all taught in a law school by a professor of lawyering.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess:
    • As implied by the Japanese title, most of the courtroom showdowns wind up being this, with both sides playing a hasty game of catch-up whenever a new piece of evidence turns the tables.
    • Many of the murderers have a talent for being able to frequently adjust their story, such as Investigations' Quercus Alba, who manages to keep going the lion's share of an entire chapter after having his Diplomatic Immunity revoked.
  • Yakuza: In the fourth game, Apollo Justice has to defend the son of the head of a yakuza/mafia family. Yakuza/mafias are also present in the third case of the third game.
  • You Are Number 6: All attorneys are given an identification number. Edgeworth takes slight at this.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: And pink hair. And bright red hair. And orange hair. And a different shade of blue hair.
    • Franziska von Karma is actually a literalisation of this trope (as well as Curtains Match the Window), as she actually has pastel blue hair. (Vera Misham and Lisa Basil also possess literal blue hair.)
    • Florent L'Belle, a witness in the second case of Dual Destinies, changes hair color just about every time you see him (he has a line of beauty products, one of which includes a hair coloring agent that can wash out with water, allowing him to switch hair colors at whim).
  • You Killed My Father: Ace Attorney is really fond of this. The parent of a major character would be the victim in a major case, with the culprit being the Big Bad of each game.
  • You Shouldn't Know This Already: It doesn't matter if you've already figured out who killed the victim, with what, or where, you'll still have to play cat and mouse with the witnesses and prosecution till you reach the appropriate point in the case.
  • Zeerust: The first three games take place between the years 2016 through 2019. However, CRT-based computer monitors, CRT-based televisions that are not widescreen TVs, and VCRs are popular throughout the first three games when these technologies died out a long time ago in reality well before these years.

Phoenix: OBJECTION! Your Honor, what do you think about the trope page?
Judge: Uh... I'm not sure I follow you.
Phoenix: It clearly, er, contradicts the... um... I thought...
Judge: You don't sound very convinced, Mr. Wright. Objection overruled. (boom)
Phoenix: (I don't think that won me any points with the judge...)


Video Example(s):


Gina Lestrade's coin walk

A GIF of Gina Lestrade's coin walking animation.

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