Follow TV Tropes

Following

Franchise / Kingdom Hearts

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/kingdom_hearts_2_hd_remix.png
Keys to the Kingdom.note 

"There are many worlds,
but they share the same sky—
one sky, one destiny."
Kairi's Letter/Opening Credits
Advertisement:

For the game in the series titled Kingdom Hearts, see Kingdom Hearts.

So Square Enix and Disney walk into a bar... or in this case, an elevator.

Kingdom Hearts is a series of Action RPG games, co-produced by Squaresoft (now Square Enix) and Disney, directed by Final Fantasy character designer Tetsuya Nomura, and starring characters from both companies. It's basically Final Fantasy meets Disney (along with some other Square Enix properties later on). The series is well-known for its incredibly bizarre premise and increasingly complicated plot, not to mention its increasingly absurd sequel subtitles.

Sora is a young boy living a peaceful but boring life on an island with his best friends Riku and Kairi. This is until the day his world is engulfed by The Heartless, an eldritch species that feed on the hearts of innocent people and literally consume entire worlds. Sora is sucked through a portal and winds up in Traverse Town, a crossroads world that has become the refuge of those who have lost their worlds to the Heartless. As he begins to search for his missing friends, Sora is granted the mysterious Keyblade: the only thing capable of closing the gaps that the Heartless are using to invade the worlds.

Advertisement:

With the aid of Donald Duck and Goofy, two royal knights searching for their missing king, Sora must travel to all of the different worlds in The Multiverse and use the Keyblade to lock them safely away from the Heartless and those who plot to use the Heartless to further their own ends. Meanwhile Riku, having ended up in another world, becomes obsessed with rescuing Kairi at all costs and is tempted by the same power of darkness that Sora is trying to seal, setting up the two best friends for a fateful confrontation.

As Sora and Riku grapple with their newfound powers and responsibilities, an ever-expanding mythology begins to unfold around the legendary Kingdom Hearts: the source of all hearts and the goal of many an antagonist.

    open/close all folders 
Advertisement:

    The Dark Seeker Saga 
The first phase of games detail Sora and friends' struggle against a man known as Xehanort, who wishes to unlock the secrets of Kingdom Hearts and use it for his own nefarious purposes. Detailed below is the order the games are released in, and should be played in.

The first three games, released from 2002-2005, tell a trilogy in which Sora discovers his ability to wield the Keyblade and searches for his missing friends, battling the forces of darkness and exploring the Disney worlds along the way. It would not be until the third game, Kingdom Hearts II, that it was made clear the source of the evils plaguing the worlds was Xehanort, a former scientist turned harbinger of chaos who eventually was established as the Overarching Villain of this set of games.

The next three games, released between 2008 and 2010, would see the series branch out into handheld consoles as it primarily focused on other characters besides Sora who could wield the Keyblade, and eventually had Sora learn of his connection to these new characters. The origins of Xehanort would also be detailed in this handheld trilogy.

The final set of games in the Dark Seeker Saga, released between 2012 and 2019, gradually returned to consoles as it saw Sora, Riku, and their friends learn of the true scope of Xehanort's ambitions for Kingdom Hearts, and thus the heroes prepared for a climactic final battle foretold in ancient times as they mustered any hero of light they could against Xehanort and his army of darkness. This final set of games also gave players a deep dive into the ancient lore of the Kingdom Hearts universe as it planted seeds for the future of the series.
  • Kingdom Hearts (2002, PlayStation 2): The first game in the series, following Sora, Donald and Goofy as they search for their missing friends and fight off the darkness invading the worlds.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories (2004, Game Boy Advance): A direct sequel to Kingdom Hearts. Unbeknownst to each other, Sora and Riku separately arrive at the mysterious Castle Oblivion and come into conflict with an Organization of hostile, black-hooded figures.
  • Kingdom Hearts II (2005, PlayStation 2): The third game in the series, set roughly a year after Chain of Memories. Sora, Donald and Goofy once again travel the worlds in search of Riku and King Mickey, but find themselves waylaid by the remaining members of Organization XIII and the mysteries behind a boy named Roxas.
  • Kingdom Hearts coded (2008-2010, mobile phones): A mobile phone game taking place immediately after II, following King Mickey as he attempts to decode a mysterious message left in Jiminy Cricket's journal.
  • Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days (2009, Nintendo DS): An Interquel taking place roughly alongside Chain of Memories about Roxas, his friends Axel and Xion, and their bittersweet experiences as members of Organization XIII.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep (2010, PlayStation Portable): A prequel set ten years before the first game. Follows three Keyblade wielders, Terra, Ventus, and Aqua, as they contend with the first schemes of series antagonist Xehanort.
  • Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance (2012, Nintendo 3DS): A sequel to Kingdom Hearts II. Sora and Riku undergo a trial to become Keyblade Masters in time for the final battle as sinister forces attempt to undermine their efforts.
  • Kingdom Hearts χ (2013, PC): A Web Game set during the era of the Foretellers, the original Keyblade Masters, and the Keyblade War that ended it. The game follows a player-created Virtual Paper Doll Keyblade wielder—a series first—experiencing the consequences of the Foretellers' attempts to follow the cryptic instructions left by their vanished leader.
  • Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep - A Fragmentary Passage (2017, PlayStation 4 and 2020, Xbox One): A shorter installment included in the Kingdom Hearts II.8 Final Chapter Prologue compilation. This sequel to Birth By Sleep explores the decade Aqua spends in the realm of darkness leading up to I.
  • Kingdom Hearts III (2019, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One and 2021, PC): The Grand Finale of the Dark Seeker Saga. Sora, Donald, Goofy, Riku, and Mickey explore the worlds to assemble a team of Keyblade wielders and end Xehanort's schemes once and for all.

    Post-Dark Seeker Saga 
The untitled second phase of games of the series began in 2020. After the events of III, the heroes pick up the pieces and search for answers about the questions they've been left with.

    Remakes and re-releases 
Several games of the series have received updated releases including additional content, and as the series has gone on and across several different platforms, the 2010's saw cohesive efforts to bring all of the games together into organized collections.

  • Kingdom Hearts Final Mix (2002, PlayStation 2): The first game's Updated Re-release, featuring rebalanced gameplay and a host of new content on top of what had already been added to the initial international release. Only released in Japan.
  • Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories (2007, PlayStation 2): A 3D remake of the Gameboy Advance game Chain of Memories. Released as part of the Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix+ bundle in Japan and as a standalone title in North America in 2008. Features little new content other than the 3D overhaul, although the Japanese version can give/receive minor Old Save Bonuses to/from Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix.
  • Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix (2007, PlayStation 2): An Updated Re-release of II. Similarly to I Final Mix, rebalances gameplay and adds new content, along with a new difficulty level. Only released in Japan. This game and Re:Chain of Memories were also released as the Japan-only bundle Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix+.
  • Kingdom Hearts Re:coded (2010, Nintendo DS): A remake of coded, created for international audiences. Uses a new battle system based on the Deck Command system of Birth by Sleep.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep Final Mix (2011, PlayStation Portable): An Updated Re-release of Birth by Sleep, containing new content along with what had been added to the international release. Only released in Japan.
  • Kingdom Hearts HD I.5 ReMIX (2013, PlayStation 3): A bundle containing Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, Re:Chain of Memories, and a movie using cutscenes from 358/2 Days, all remastered in HD. Released in all territories.
  • Kingdom Hearts HD II.5 ReMIX (2014, PlayStation 3): A bundle containing HD remasters of Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix, Birth by Sleep Final Mix, and a movie using cutscenes from Re:coded. Released in all territories.
  • Kingdom Hearts Unchained χ [chi] (2015, mobile phones): A tweaked mobile port of χ [chi], retelling its story for international audiences.
    • Kingdom Hearts Union χ [cross] (2017, mobile phones): The "second season" of Unchained χ [chi], following a new generation of Keyblade Masters attempting to pick up the pieces after the Keyblade War.
  • Kingdom Hearts HD II.8 Final Chapter Prologue (2017, PlayStation 4; 2020, Xbox One; and 2021, PC): A bundle containing an Updated Re-release of 3D: Dream Drop Distance, the new 0.2 Birth By Sleep -A Fragmentary Passage-, and Kingdom Hearts χ [chi] Back Cover, an original movie following the plot of χ [chi] from the Foretellers' perspective.
  • Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 ReMIX (2017, PlayStation 4; 2020, Xbox One; and 2021, PC): A bundle containing all the remasters previously released on the PlayStation 3 with further technical improvements.
  • Kingdom Hearts - The Story So Far - (2018, PlayStation 4): A bundle containing all the compilations previously released on the PlayStation 4.
  • Kingdom Hearts: All In One (2020, PlayStation 4): A bundle containing all previous compilations as well as III. Does not include the Re:MIND DLC.

    Adaptations 
The franchise has had several manga and novels published.

The first four games have been adapted to manga by Shiro Amano, with Kingdom Hearts II being the final one. But not anymore he announced that Kingdom Hearts III will have a manga adaptation. Skipping the other games for some reason. While the manga itself does have some dramatic moments, it is mainly an abridged adaptation of the games with a lot of humor, typical of Japanese comedy in other manga.

The novel adaptations are written by Tomoco Kanemaki, with illustrations by Amano. They were translated and licensed for release and by Yen Press.

In 2019, Games Workshop released Kingdom Hearts themed version of their board game Talisman.

The series contains appearances by characters and locations from the following games, films and franchises.

    Disney 

Featured

  • 101 Dalmatiansnote 
  • Aladdinnote 
  • Alice in Wonderlandnote 
  • Bambinote 
  • Beauty and the Beastnote 
  • Big Hero 6note 
  • Chicken Littlenote 
  • Cinderellanote 
  • Classic Disney Shortsnote 
  • Disney Theme Parksnote 
  • DuckTalesnote 
  • Dumbonote 
  • Fantasianote 
  • Frozennote 
  • Herculesnote 
  • The Hunchback of Notre Damenote 
  • Lilo & Stitchnote 
  • The Lion King (1994)note 
  • The Little Mermaid (1989)note 
  • Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeersnote 
  • Monsters, Inc.note 
  • Mulannote 
  • The Nightmare Before Christmasnote 
  • Peter Pannote 
  • Pinocchionote 
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearlnote 
  • Ratatouillenote 
  • Runaway Brainnote 
  • Sleeping Beautynote 
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfsnote 
  • The Sword in the Stonenote 
  • Tanglednote 
  • Tarzannote 
  • Toy Storynote 
  • TRONnote 
    • TRON 2.0note 
    • TRON: Legacynote 
  • Winnie-the-Poohnote 
  • Wreck-It Ralph note 

Cameos only

  • The Aristocatsnote 
  • Beauty and the Beast (2017)note 
  • Coconote 
  • Disney Fairiesnote 
  • Disney Tsum Tsumnote 
  • DuckTales (2017) note 
  • Incredibles 2note 
  • The Jungle Book (1967)note 
  • Lady and the Trampnote 
  • Luxo Jr.note 
  • Moananote 
  • Onwardnote 
  • Soulnote 
  • Zootopianote 

    Square-Enix 
  • The Bouncernote 
  • Bravely Defaultnote 
  • Einhändernote 
  • Final Fantasynote 
  • Final Fantasy VInote 
  • Final Fantasy VIInote 
    • Crisis Corenote 
    • Final Fantasy VII Remakenote 
  • Final Fantasy VIIInote 
  • Final Fantasy IXnote 
  • Final Fantasy Xnote 
    • Final Fantasy X-2note 
  • Final Fantasy Record Keepernote 
  • Imaginary Rangenote 
  • The World Ends with Younote 
  • World of Final Fantasynote 

Due to lengthy periods between releases and the prevalence of Late Arrival Spoilers, spoilers from installments before 2010 are unmarked. Read at your own risk.


Kingdom Hearts as a whole provides examples of:

    open/close all folders 

    Tropes # 
  • 11th-Hour Superpower:
    • The Final Form transformation in Kingdom Hearts II. Granted, it's available for a while before the final boss, but it's hard to unlock quickly. It's really, really broken too, seeing as how it automatically attacks with every movement, including flying or drinking potions.
    • In Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, Aqua gets the game's best Keyblade in the Final Episode, the semi-hidden true conclusion to the game's storyline. It also forces you to use it in the secret episode added in the final mix version.
    • Plus, for the final battle of the prologue section of Kingdom Hearts II, Roxas gets to dual wield keyblades for the final showdown with Axel. It plays like Sora's drive version, except there isn't a gauge, so it's basically unlimited.
    • Upon entering the final world in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, Sora is given an ability called "Trinity Limit" which gives you the ability to decimate any enemies on the screen provided you obtain one Goofy and Donald card during the battle.
    • Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days: Roxas gains the ability to dual wield the Oathkeeper and Oblivion Keyblades during the first part of Day 358 (the last mission). His attacking speed and power increase dramatically, letting him quickly kill the Neoshadows that spawn with only one or two hits.
  • 13 Is Unlucky:
    • Organization XIII consists of thirteen members who like to walk around in Black Cloaks and do nasty things, which is ambiguously justifiable in that they lost their hearts and are trying to reclaim them. The means of trying to reclaim their hearts, however, involves the distortion of the heart of all worlds. Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance reveals that the Organization's true purpose is to serve as vessels to Xehanort, who seeks to reforge the χ-blade by pitting thirteen darknesses against seven lights (the Princesses of Heart). But with Sora foiling his goals, Xehanort is trying again with a second Organization.
    • Sora is described in the Grid as Combatant 13, Foreshadowing Xehanort's plan to use him as his thirteenth vessel.
    • Castle Oblivion, which is used as a base by members of the aforementioned Organization, has thirteen floors.

    Tropes I to O 
  • Ice Magic Is Water: Water-themed monster are considered Ice-type (at least, until Kingdom Hearts III made Water into a separate element). This trope creates a Guide Dang It! on why the player should use Fire magic against, say, Demyx.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: Much of the recurring cast debuted in the sequels (including pre-existing Disney characters who play major roles)
    • Chain of Memories - Axel, Namine, Marluxia, Larxene, Vexen, Lexaeus, Zexion, DiZ.
    • II - Roxas, Pete, Yen Sid, Xemnas note , Xigbar, Xaldin, Saix, Demyx, and Ansem the Wise.
    • Days - Xion.
    • Birth by Sleep - Terra, Aqua, Ventus, Eraqus, Vanitas, and Master Xehanort - notably, the Big Bad of the franchise is only introduced five games into the series!
    • Dream Drop Distance - Young Xehanort.
    • χ - Ephemer, Ira, Aced, Gula, Invi, Ava, Luxu, and the Master of Masters.
    • III - Yozora.
  • Identity Concealment Disposal: * The series does this a lot:
    • Ansem initially appears as a cloaked figure in the original game, but after The Reveal has always appeared since in full view.
    • The Disney Villains initially appear as Sinister Silhouettes hidden in the shadows in scenes where they're conversing (including Hades, who, given his flaming hairstyle, should be very difficult to hide in shadows), but as the plot stops requiring the viewer not to know who they are, the lighting on selective members improves and the darkness stops concealing them.
    • In Kingdom Hearts II, all the members of Organization XIII initially wear face-concealing hoods as part of their uniform and reveal themselves one by one throughout the game. None of them ever puts the hood back on after having taken it off once.
    • Similar to the Organization, the Unknown of Birth By Sleep wears a black robe with the hood up, since the developers didn't want to show his face. When he returned as the main antagonist of Dream Drop Distance, the hood is down and never goes up.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: Beginner, Standard, Hard, Proud, and Critical.
  • Immune to Fire:
    • Axel, Organization XIII's Number VIII, is a pyrokinetic Nobody. As such, Fire Spells typically do not deal any damage to him, and in fact heal him of any damage he would have taken.
    • Hades, Lord of the Underworld and main villain of the Olympus Coliseum, is a hot-tempered, flame-headed god who is immune to Fire-based spells and attacks, absorbing them without issue.
    • Chernabog is a gigantic dark demon who dwells within the volcano Bald Mountain. He bathes in fire from his domain and breathes it as an attack, and is typically unaffected by Fire attacks.
    • The Volcano Lord is a large boss Heartless with command over and immunity to Fire magic.
    • Red Nocturnes are small Fire-wielding Heartless that, in the majority of games in the series, take no damage from Fire attacks and instead heal. This is downplayed in some later games in the franchise, where they will take damage from Fire attacks, but it will be greatly decreased.
    • Crimson Jazz Heartless are essentially larger, more dangerous Red Nocturnes, using their massive size and pyrokenesis to attack. As such, they do not take damage from Fire attacks.
    • Played with with Wizard Heartless. They are immune to Fire-based magic, but that is also because they are immune to elemental magic attacks altogether.
  • Impossibly Cool Clothes:
    • Zippers galore, even on hats!
    • Dusks actually have zippers for mouths.
  • Impossibly Cool Weapon: Keyblades. While consistently referred to as swords and variably used in many varieties of fighting styles including as mediums for channeling magic, at the end of the day, Keyblades are still just giant keys. How most of them can actually cut anything is a mystery since only a small handful have any sort of cutting edge or even points on the striking side.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Sora's giant key, Goofy's shield, Demyx's sitar, Zexion's lexicon (a book)...
  • Inconsistent Dub:
    • Renames to Heartless are occasionally inconsistent. For example, a Heartless—Japanese name "Loudness"—is introduced in Chain of Memories as "Crescendo" but was renamed "Loudmouth" in Days.
    • While fourth-tier level spells consistently use the suffix "-gun" in Japanese, the English dub is inconsistent about it. KHI and KHII use "-gun"note , 3D and III use "-za", and 0.2 uses "-ja".
    • Three different characters show up in the black coat with the hood up, and are all called "nazo no otoko" by their respective games while wearing this guise. All three have different translations for the phrase in the English games—"Mysterious Man" (Xemnas), "Enigmatic Man" (Marluxia), and "Unknown" (Young Xehanort).
    • All games prior to KH2 were dubbed into various European languages, but all games released afterwards only had English voice tracks for their Europe-wide releases (although text was still translated). Oddly enough, Quebecnote  only received games up to KH2 in English, and only started having French options for the gamenote  at the very point where they stopped providing French audio, which just happened to coincide with a pseudo-law requiring games to be released in French in the province.
  • Infinity -1 Sword: The Oblivion keychain can be obtained in-game once you pass a certain event. While it's not Ultima, it's still pretty fantastic. Its attack power is outstripped only by Ultima and Fenrir, and doesn't have the latter's downgraded magic stats.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: The Ultima Weapon. Good luck hunting down all the synthesis items. Also, Final Form is an Infinity+1 Super Mode.
  • Informed Flaw: The "tyranny of Light" note . So far, all the major problems have come from the Darkness side of things, and any pure-Light examples (e.g.: the Princesses of Heart, Ventus, etc.) have been unambiguously good. Furthermore, the closest thing to a Light Is Not Good problem — Eraqus — only ends up going full-blown Knight Templar because of Xehanort's Manipulative Bastard-ry.
  • Instrument of Murder: Demyx wields a sitar that can manipulate water.
  • Invisible Parents: Sora's mom gets a single line in Kingdom Hearts and his dad gets mentioned by Riku in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, but they are otherwise completely absent. Riku and Kairi are also implied to have parents, but they never get any mentions. Interestingly, Sora mentions both of his parents in a flashback during Chain of Memories.
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: Sora's interactions with Beauty and the Beast characters, since Haley Joel Osment voiced Chip in one of the direct to video sequels. Also in the Japanese version of Birth by Sleep, Terra's seiyuu voiced Zero, and Master Xehanort's actor voiced Dr. Weil. And in Re: Chain of Memories, Kairi and Naminé, are respectively voiced by Alyson Stoner and Meghan Jette Martin who played archenemies in Camp Rock.
  • Jagged Mouth: Nearly all Heartless, as well as some Nobodies have these
    • Some Dream Eaters from 3D exhibit this, such as the Skelterwild and Fishbone, who go for this look instead of having exposed teeth.
  • Jekyll & Hyde:
    • Used as a gameplay system in KH II. The normally skillful Sword & Sorcery fighting style of Sora becomes an uncharacteristically wild, animalistic style where Sora literally rips his enemies apart with his bare hands when he slips into Anti-form. You similarly have no control over when a Super Mode activation will go to Anti-form rather than the one you actually selected.
    • Story-wise, in an interesting inversion, Riku and "Ansem" in Kingdom Hearts II. Riku took on the appearance of Ansem, Seeker of Darkness, in order to more freely travel between the worlds and keep himself beneath suspicion.
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: As Mickey says in Re:coded, "I should have known there were no coincidences—only links in a much larger chain of events." Looking at the series chronologically in-universe helps one make sense of it, but the mythos of the series is so deeply entwined that you need knowledge of the plot of every game to understand it; something not everyone can afford since the series is expanded through (so far) SIX different game platforms (but there are numerous remakes that mean you can disregard the mobile and Gameboy Advance titles). By this point it's pretty much impossible to follow the overarching story if you just pick a random game and dive in. And as of Dream Drop Distance, on top of the Mind Screw, Mind Rape, human cloning, death and resurrection, alternate dimensions and Gambit Roulette games, we're adding time travel to the equation now. Also qualifies as a Kudzu Plot.
  • Jungle Japes: Deep Jungle (Tarzan), The Pridelands (The Lion King), and Neverland (Peter Pan) all feature at least a few aspects of a jungle. Most commonly, monkey-like Heartless will appear in these worlds. In the Pridelands, Sora, Donald and Goofy even change in savannah animals to blend in.
  • King Mook: Darksides and Twilight Thorns, which are a giant Heartless and a giant Nobody, respectively. While each one is a mini-boss in its own right, they usually show up right at the end of a prologue or right before a Wham Episode.
  • Kudzu Plot: The series starts as a simple story of a boy trying to find his friends and stop a Mad Scientist from destroying worlds. Then it becomes multiple stories about various Enemy Civil Wars between 13 super-powered Empty Shells of the first game's enemies. Then it turns out everything that has happened so far has been an Evil Plan set in motion decades ago by an Evil Mentor who would become the previously mentioned Mad Scientist and his Empty Shell. Before long Recursive Realities appear, the main character becomes a Soul Jar for half a dozen characters, the Big Bad becomes a Hive Mind of over a dozen, Time Travel becomes involved, and centuries-old Prophecies show up. And then it's revealed that the Big Bad was actually being manipulated by his Dragon with an Agenda, which was the first phase of his plan, while Keyblade wielders from the ancient past reappear in the present and video game characters turn out to be Real After All. And that's just the first phase!
  • Land, Sea, Sky: The main characters' names follow this. Sora's the sky, Riku's the land, and Kairi's the sea.
  • Large Ham:
    • Even in a World of Ham like Kingdom Hearts, Ansem, Seeker of Darkness manages to out-ham everyone else. It's quite impressive. Just about every single one of his lines is said at No Indoor Voice volume, he makes a lot of exaggerated movements, and his constant philosophizing on the nature of hearts has made him a Fountain of Memes among fans.invoked
    • For someone who's supposed to be an emotionless vessel, Xemnas sure does like to ham it up. His boss battles are the main source of this, as he tends to be a Cold Ham otherwise. During battle, he's a Screaming Warrior.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler:
    • The opening of Chain of Memories (the original GBA version) spoils none other than the ending of the first game, although to be honest it isn't given too much context. The remake, on the other hand, places a recap of the first game's events within the opening movie.
    • The Prolonged Prologue of II assumes that you have played the first game and Chain of Memories, because all important plot points, right down to the endings of both games, are discussed with impunity.
    • Auron is Dead All Along.
  • Legacy Boss Battle:
    • Sephiroth appears as a Bonus Boss in Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II. The first one as one of the coliseum matches with no context except for one Final Mix exclusive cutscene, the latter game has him cameo during the 1000 Heartless War where he asks where Cloud is, vanishes and then taunts Cloud a little bit later.
    • The Absent Silhouettes in Kingdom Hearts II: Final Mix are Bonus Bosses against the members of Organization XII that had "died" in Kingdom Hearts Chain Of Memories.
    • Xehanort (or rather Xemnas and Young Xehanort) invert the trope, as they first appeared as Bonus Bosses in Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix and Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep, respectively, albeit with their identity hidden from the characters (and the audience).
  • Legacy Character: Many games have new characters that physically resemble established characters and often have similar personalities and abilities. This is actually almost universally significant, as it means those characters are likely connected to each other in some manner. The exception is Aqua and Kairi, whose connection (Aqua inadvertently named Kairi her successor as Master) is comparatively superficial, thus, Aqua looking like an older Kairi and happening to be friends with Legacy Characters of Sora and Riku, is just coincidence.
  • Leitmotif: A very frequent musical inclusion.
    • Kairi, Sora, Riku, Roxas, Naminé, Xion, Ventus, Aqua, and Terra all have their own theme tunes, although Xion's uses riffs from Kairi's, Ventus's is a combination of Roxas's and Sora's, and Aqua's and Terra's are lifted wholesale from "Fate of the Unknown" [Aqua's theme also has riffs from Castle Oblivion's world and battle themes].
    • Vanitas' battle themes, "Enter the Darkness" and "Unbreakable Chains," use an original riff for the first minute or so, before vaulting into Roxas' theme, then Ventus's theme, and finally ending with a minor-key version of Sora's theme before looping back to the beginning. All of this because Vanitas is Ventus' darkness, and Ventus' heart had already bonded with Sora when they first met.
    • Master Xehanort has a theme that appears first in Birth By Sleep, but was remixed and appears whenever he is present in 3D.
    • Battles against Riku and/or "Ansem" in the first two games open with identical organ chords, though all instances of fighting the latter used some portion of "Forze del Male" as his motif. Also, every battle with Xemnas uses the same bits from "Darkness of the Unknown." However, anything involving past!Xehanort uses "Dark Impetus." A bonus battle in Birth By Sleep Final Mix even mixed the first two of them together.
    • The vast majority of tunes related to Organization XIII use some part of "Another Side"'s melody (the exception being Xemnas, as he uses the themes noted above).
    • "Destati" is a very general mystical/arcane motif, and plays during such cosmologically significant moments as Sora's dream at the beginning of the first game as well as in the End of the World and final battle.
    • Several other themes also have riffs from "Dearly Beloved".
    • All of the Nobodies' themes seem to be the normal characters' themes (for those that have them) slightly altered.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: See, Demyx has all the work ethic of a bar of soap. He goes above and beyond the call of Dismotivation, running and hiding at the first sign of combat. Saïx tries and fails to get Roxas to motivate him. But put a traitor in front of him, and you better run for your life.
  • Letter Motif: X for Organization XIII. At first it seems to be just be more mysterious, but it's revealed later on that any "X" placed by Xehanort becomes the "Recusant's Sigil", a mark of domination that Xehanort can use to track and influence his subjects.
  • The Lifestream: The actual Kingdom Hearts, also known as "the Heart of all Worlds". All hearts go there when a person's body dies.
  • Light/Darkness Juxtaposition: The franchise treats Light and Darkness as opposing forces. Light is generally good and Darkness is generally evil, with the heroes often wielding light to vanquish the dark forces such as the Heartless.
  • Light 'em Up: Sora, Roxas, Xion, Ventus, Aqua and Mickey all have powerful light spells and/or abilities.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Several, both on heroes and villains alike.
    • Sora In Kingdom Hearts II. He is faster and stronger than any other playable protagonist in the series (barring King Mickey from the same game). Sora is basically the embodiment of this in III, much faster than Aqua was in 2.8.
    • Riku also counts. Fast, strong, and has great offensive and defensive options, both as a boss and a playable character.
    • Roxas is also a prime example. He can dash at the speed of light, has two keyblades of infinite sharpness and as the icing on the cake, has formidable vitality. Taken Up to Eleven in Kingdom Hearts III, where he is the most powerful companion in the game; unlike the other keyblade wielders in Keyblade Graveyard, his attack AI has virtually no downtime, and he spends much of the battle either hammering Saïx with combos close up, dashing around the battlefield avoiding attacks, firing projectiles from his Keyblades or surging in as an explosive particle of light. About the only things that stopping him from completely Stunlocking Saïx are the boss' immunity frames and his own lack of an aerial combo, and his constant dodging gives him some of the highest uptime among party members to boot.
    • From Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, Terra is the physical powerhouse of his trio, with the greatest Strength stat and, using their respective dash moves, the greatest speed.note  The Lingering Will is even more so, outspeeding even Sora in the boss battle against it while being infamous for killing unwary players in seconds.
    • Although Aqua starts as a Squishy Wizard, she can evolve into this later in the game. Her Barrier is far more effective than the Block that Terra and Ven have, her Cartwheel is just as good as Ven's Dodge Roll, she has a wide arsenal of unique and powerful spells for both bosses and groups of normal enemies, and she has Command Styles like Bladecharge and Rhythm Mixer to make up her physical deficiencies.
    • Master Xehanort's boss fights in III demonstrate that age hasn't completely dulled Xehanort's senses. He mainly levitates and teleports around the field and is extremely swift, and he has a plethora of powerful attacks at his disposal.
    • His younger self also applies. He moves and teleports rapidly and hits with combos powerful enough to drain you from full health to critical.
  • Literal Split Personality:
    • Sora's Nobody, Roxas and his replica, Xion. They're put back together in one being by the end, but it's clear that they are still there in Sora's heart somewhere. III reveals that their hearts are contained in separate boxes inside Sora. One of the game's subplots is Sora trying to find a way to free them (and Ventus, who merely took refuge in him) and give them proper bodies.
    • coded alludes to some of the issues involving clones/copies/replicas/etc. While Kingdom Hearts II put forth the idea that they should be re-absorbed with the original and don't have true identities of their own, coded seems to argue that copies who develop connections to others are deserving of their own identity. Dream Drop Distance outright confirms that any sentient being who can feel but don't have hearts will eventually grow hearts of their own.
    • Not counting the people Xehanort goes Grand Theft Me on, there's his Heartless Ansem, his Nobody Xemnas, and his younger self who all coexist with each other.
  • Like an Old Married Couple:
    • Kingdom Hearts:
      • Sora and Donald act like this in the Deep Jungle world when bickering over finding Riku or King Mickey, which causes Sora to crash the gummy ship into the world. When Sora regroups with Donald and Goofy in that world, Sora and Donald give each other the silent treatment but are distracted from further bickering through their decision to help Tarzan and Jane stop Clayton from hunting and killing gorillas
      • Sora and Riku start up this kind of bickering in Neverland and Hollow Bastion when Riku reveals that he has fallen into darkness. Sora behaves like a wife who was wronged by her husband when he finds out.
    • In Kingdom Hearts II, there’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment with Squall Leon and Aerith, in which the former asks the later if she’ll be okay by herself (the whole town was currently in a crisis) while he goes out to retrieve something, and her only reply is to coldly stare at him, who decides to shut up and leave.
  • Living Shadow: The Heartless, some varieties moreso than others. They typically appear through inky black shadows, or from dark places.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: There are more than half a dozen Original Generation main heroes, various supporting characters, numerous villains from Disney's history or made just for this franchise, and a huge number Disney characters from a large pool of their animated and some live action movies that are sprinkled throughout the games.
  • Lucky Seven: The Princesses of heart are seven human incarnations of Light. 3D introduces the idea of seven guardians of light.
  • MacGuffin Location:
    • The titular Kingdom Hearts. It is said to be the ultimate source of knowledge and power, letting whoever controls it have dominion over the entire universe if they choose. The primary goal of the main antagonists is to obtain it.
    • The Chamber of Waking, which houses a comatose Ventus, and is located in Castle Oblivion. Somewhere. Only Aqua (the person who created the Castle) is capable of finding it again.
  • Macro Zone: Wonderland (Alice in Wonderland) features its movie's iconic size-changing food and potions, while the Castle of Dreams (Cinderella) features segments where the player must shrink to the size of Cinderella's mouse companions.
  • Made of Evil: The Heartless are literal embodiments of the darkness that infuses the universe. Their predecessors, the Unversed, are manifestations of the negative emotions of Vanitas, a being of pure darkness.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: An underlying component, and one that may be surprising to newcomers or those merely scanning the plot, is that the series is internally consistent. Retcons exist, usually for the purpose of clarifying/simplifying the cosmology, and the first installment is often glossed over. Despite this, the myriad plot points all conform to what is an overarching storyline.
  • Magic Knight: All Keyblade wielders and most of Organization XIII use a combination of physical butt-kicking and spectacular magic.
  • Magitek: All over the place, most prominently the Gummi Ship and the Hollow Bastion/Radiant Garden laboratories. When you're talking about a physical machine that subjects someone's heart to darkness in order to shatter their heart and turn them into a Heartless, it's hard to draw the line between science and magic in this series.
  • Malevolent Architecture: The Land of Departure lies directly between the light and dark realms. Word of God clarifies that the castle houses a mechanism that transforms it to invoke this trope should it fall into the wrong hands, and that's how Aqua made Castle Oblivion.
  • Mana Meter: In some games you have a set number of magic points. Others avert this by having other limits on magic and abilities.
  • Mana Potion: Ethers, and some enemy item drops, will restore magic points or spell uses (depending on how the game limits magic).
  • Many Spirits Inside of One:
    • Sora, who, as of Dream Drop Distance, is confirmed to host three additional hearts in addition to his own. The oldest, Ventus, has been taking refuge within him since he was 4 years old. The second, Xion, goes to him after her defeat in Days. The last one to enter is Roxas during the prologue of II. Not to mention the major twist in I that Kairi's heart has been residing inside him since the destruction of Destiny Islands, forcing him to sacrifice himself so the final keyhole can be opened. By the end of III, everyone has gotten out.
    • Terra is no slouch in this department. Other than his own, he is forced to host Xehanort in Birth by Sleep. The game's secret ending also reveals that Eraqus secretly moved to him after he was struck down by Xehanort, acting as an extra line of defense for Terra against Xehanort's influence. As with the above, no longer the case as of III.
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover: Between Disney and Square Enix.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Sora means sky, the "kai" in Kairi means sea, and Riku means land. Also, the Keyblade Knights in Birth by Sleep happen to be called Ven(tus), Aqua, and Terra, Latin for wind, water, and earth, respectively.)
    • There's also Naminé. "Nami" is a word for "ocean wave". Remember whose Nobody she is?
    • Xion's name has a truckload of meanings. The first part of Xion's name- "shio"- is the word for "tide". "Shion" is also the name of a plant associated with memories in Japan. Furthermore, sans the "X", it is an anagram for "No i". For those who do not understand, "i" is a mathematical term for the square root of -1, an imaginary number. In addition, being a clone formed of memories whose appearance changes depending on who looks at her, she initially had no self. No "I".
    • Nomura really went all out with Vanitas. Not only does it mean "emptiness" in Latin and looks like Ventus, but the kanji for emptiness is the same one as the one for sky. His name is connected to a Biblical quote, as well — "all is vanity and a striving after wind". Now consider what he spent most of the game doing...
    • Most of the original cast from χ have meaningful names. The Foretellers are all named after the Latin words for the Seven Deadly Sins. Ephemer is short for "ephemeral" AKA something that lasts for a short time, which perfectly describes him, as he is chosen to become a Dandelion by Ava very early. Skuld, meanwhile, is named after one of the Norse goddesses of fate, again symbolizing her role as a Dandelion. Strelitzia is the name of a flower and alludes to her being the sister of Lauriam, Marluxia's original self. Finally, Brain, other than being a self-explanatory English word, may refer to a computer virus; in-game, he calls himself the "virus" that threatens the ordained fate as dictated by the Book of Prophecies.
  • Meanwhile Scene: Dream Drop Distance has scenes between every level that shows what the supporting cast is up to, usually Yen Sid, Mickey, Donald, and Goofy. III follows suit, with cutscenes after each of Sora's adventures showing either Riku and Mickey's journey or the machinations of Organization XIII.
  • Melodrama: The series puts its emotion on its sleeves, which also fits the style of both Final Fantasy and Disney's animated works.
  • Metafiction: The series has acquired a surprising amount of meta subtext.
    • Dream Drop Distance, without going into spoilers, makes reference to a group of 7 and a group of 13, and the arrival of the 13th member of the latter group completes the set. The series contains seven base games current — Kingdom Hearts, Chain of Memories, Kingdom Hearts II, coded, 358/2 Days, Birth By Sleep, and Dream Drop Distance. Add in the Updated Rereleases of all games except Dream Drop Distance and Days, and that's an additional 5, bringing the total to 12, and the promised Kingdom Hearts III makes thirteen. If Nomura really didn't have all this planned out from Day One, he is playing some mean Xanatos Speed Chess to make it all work together.
    • The 7 and 13 form the χ-blade, formerly attempted to be formed by Ventus and Vanitas, but they didn't form a complete union. There's been two PlayStation 3 HD re-release bundles for the series that bring the first six games into HD, but they're missing 3D and thus the series is not complete just with them. The PlayStation 4 has two re-release bundles that contain the games already released for the PlayStation 3 in one bundle and another bundle containing 3D, an original game, and a movie, allowing the whole series to be complete on the PlayStation 4 as long as one has a good enough Internet connection to allow the Downloadable Content to be downloaded because these bundles either ship incomplete on disc, or otherwise need patches to kill bugs.
  • Metal Slime: Many different kinds:
    • The first game has three separate varieties, all based on mushrooms. White Mushrooms and Rare Truffles will heal you and grant you rare items if you hit them with the correct attack based on their cues...unless you move too slowly, and they leave. Black Fungi are more akin to the traditional Metal Slime, being very tough Heartless that must be defeated with a critical hit to drop their rare items.
    • Kingdom Hearts II introduces the Bulky Vendor as the new Metal Slime, a walking capsule prize machine that gives better rewards the longer you wait to activate it, but begins jumping around increasingly quickly as its timer depletes and eventually vanishes.
    • Re:Coded provides the Gold Tricholoma, a new kind of mushroom that teleports around the System Sector in which it appears and provides large amounts of SP when hit.
    • Birth By Sleep has the Prize Pods, which show up in certain areas and must be hit as many times as possible to make them drop their flavor-themed prizes. These flavors are used to make ice cream at Disney Town, items which allow the user immediate access to their Command Styles when used.
  • Mighty Glacier: Goofy is the slowest attacker and the slowest mover in battle. He's also got way more HP than any other companion, and his Shield Bash techniques tend to help gather enemies together in one spot.
  • Mind Screw: Big time. Even if the player manages to figure out the Jigsaw Puzzle Plot of the series, the heavy emphasis on abstract concepts taking concrete forms and alternate worlds and realities based on said abstract concepts (plus, in-game explanations that are usually vague or incomplete) means the player will always be questioning or be confused about the mechanics and physics of which the series operates on, no matter how consistent they might be. Dream Drop Distance arguably augmented this by including Time Travel into the mix.
  • Monster Arena: Olympus Coliseum (Hercules) and Mirage Arena feature arenas where you can fight powerful foes.
  • Monster Mash: Sora, Donald and Goofy take on monster-like forms in Halloween Town, with Sora wearing a vampire attire with fangs, white skin and an eyepatch, Donald being wrapped like a mummy, and Goofy becoming a parody of Frankenstein's Monster.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Aqua. Tight black shorts and thigh-high black stockings for Zettai Ryouiki (also emphasizing her long legs), a corset-like top that doubles as a Sexy Backless Outfit, she's got a pair of crossing straps on her outfit to emphasize her breasts, blue hair, and to top it off she's a badass Action Girl that could easily take on any of the other protagonists of the series. The ratings for the English release of Birth By Sleep noted part of the reason for the rating was Jiggle Physics, and they're subtle but they're there, and when she visits Olympus Coliseum they engage in some Lampshade Hanging about it all, Hades visibly giving her a once-over and a leer.
  • Museum Game: To varying degrees. For example, the first and second main games in the series not only have you visiting different Disney movies and interacting with the characters, but there's even an information gallery with details about the characters (albeit their role in Kingdom Hearts rather than their own movies specifically), including details of when the character was first created, and occasionally trivia (e.g. "Doorknob was the only character in Alice in Wonderland who wasn't in the original book").
  • Mushroom Man: The Mushroom Heartless family, which includes White Mushrooms, Black Fungi, Rare Truffles, and Pink Agaricuses.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The victory poses the characters sometimes do is highly reminiscent of the victory poses Final Fantasy characters often do.
    • The way Genie is summoned within the first game is highly reminiscent of the scene in the original Aladdin when the Genie's first summoned out of the lamp, only instead of the lamp that's reacting, it's Sora's keyblade.
    • The theme song for Disney Castle/Disney Town, the home setting of the classic Disney characters like Mickey, Donald and Goofy, is an instrumental remix of the opening song to The Mickey Mouse Club. It's even credited within the credits as "Mickey Mouse March" whenever the song's featured in one form or another (practically any game that portrays events within Disney Castle or Disney Town), the same as any other songs that weren't specifically composed for the game.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast:
    • Ansem, Seeker of Darkness. The Final Boss of the first game, and one obsessed with the power of darkness.
    • Xehanort. Also a Significant Anagram; minus the X, his name spells out "another" or "no heart."
  • Nice Guy: Most of the heroic cast are friendly, easygoing and kind people. A few of them stand out though.
    • Sora nearly always has a smile on his face, gets along quite well with most people, and has Chronic Hero Syndrome.
    • While Roxas is more short-tempered and blunt then Sora, he is still a happy, cheerful, kind, and carefree individual in good company, and like Sora cares deeply for his friends and is extremely protective of them.
    • Ventus is sweet, cheerful, curious, and gets excited at anything new or interesting. He also makes new friends easily in different worlds and cares deeply about Terra and Aqua.
    • Xion is without a doubt one of the most kindest and selfless chacters in the Kingdom Hearts series. She always puts her friends before her self, and has a strong sense of justice and generosity, willingly sacrificing herself to join with Sora.
    • Kairi's a friendly and accepting person, and Birth by Sleep shows she's been a total sweetheart since she was a child. She doesn't hold Riku's actions in I against him and not only forgives and befriends Lea despite him kidnapping her as Axel, like Sora with Roxas she recognizes Naminé as her own person and is determined to give her her life back in III.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • The Organization's modus operandi in II is to release Heartless to attack innocents. Sora must kill the Heartless, but releasing those hearts will only grow the Organization's artificial Kingdom Hearts.
    • According to coded, thanks to killing off Xehanort's Heartless and Xemnas, Sora and Riku ended up reviving Master Xehanort. Much like the above, they had no other choice - Xehanort's Heartless and Xemnas both posed universe-level threats and had to be taken out.
    • The Foreteller's actions once they realize there's a traitor directly contribute to the first Keyblade War, and the ultimate result of that is Xehanort's start of darkness.
    • Terra, Aqua, and Ven do this over and over again due to Xehanort manipulating them throughout Birth by Sleep. The Bad Guy Wins is almost in full effect; the only thing a few last-minute efforts did on the part of the heroes was delay Xehanort's actions for a while. Even so, because the three of them don't effectively communicate, Terra's body is lost, Ven has to seal himself inside Sora's heart, Aqua is trapped in the Realm of Darkness, and Xehanort gets the X-blade.
    • After their duel, Aqua's choice to sacrifice herself and send Terranort back to the realm of light resulted in Xehanort's eventually return to power. Had she not been so heroic, Xehanort would have remained amnesiac and trapped in the realm of darkness indefinitely (although, so would Terra).
    • When Sora defeats Maleficent in the first game, she seems to disappear. Unbeknownst to Sora, the defeat actually caused her to be sent to the distant past. Though she fails to change history, she becomes privy to information that will make her a lot more dangerous when she returns to the present.
  • Nonindicative Name: The Heartless are actually hearts that have been consumed by darkness, and it's the Nobodies ("no body") who are actually the empty shell of the body left behind when a heart is thus consumed. Thus, the Heartless have no bodies, while the Nobodies are heartless.
  • Non-Lethal K.O.: Party members just get dazed when defeated. After a breather (or some healing) they'll be ready for action again. This doesn't apply to Sora unless it's a battle Mickey shows up in.
  • Non-Standard Character Design: Applies strongly to Shiro Amano's manga adaptation. While the originals and Square Enix carryovers use his native art style, Amano goes to great lengths to imitate the art style of every Disney character's individual movie.
  • Non-Standard Skill Learning: The series spreads learning abilities across various methods (level up, progress the plot, defeat a boss, or complete some other challenge), but that comes across as not having one "standard" method in the first place. Though stat boosts come primarily through level-ups, so that might create an expectation that most character growth is from experience points.
  • The Nothing After Death: In III, Sora nearly dies at the Keyblade Graveyard and is sent to the Final World, which resembles an infinite salt pan: a featureless void other than the sky and its reflection. Souls of the dead gather here, but lose form and simply repeat emotions and thoughts from their lives without noticing each other or their surroundings.
  • Now, Where Was I Going Again?: Jiminy's Journal gives you a quick summary of what you're doing in the current world, hopefully keeping you from getting too lost.
  • NPC Random Encounter Immunity: Justified. The Heartless are drawn to the keyblade, and most people don't have one. With that said, The Heartless can also be made to do evil peoples' bidding, so they do sometimes attack towns, in which case this trope gets averted.
  • Obviously Evil:
    • Take a wild guess who the villains are in the Work Picture. Subverted slightly with several other characters who are either more complicated than they appear, such as DiZ, Xion, and Riku Replica, or are being forced to act in a certain way, such as Saix, Xion, and Axel.
    • Master Xehanort's motif that plays in Birth By Sleep is dark, and he also was the one who gave Master Eraqus his scar, even if he was forgiven.
  • Official Couple: The subtext between Sora and Kairi was always paper thin, however it's also a series where No Hugging, No Kissing runs rampant. Come Kingdom Hearts III, however, it's heavily implied the two have a Relationship Upgrade when they share a paopu fruit in a way that recreates the cave drawing they did all the way back in the first game.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: In KH2, Kairi and Mickey get knocked outside the door to Kingdom Hearts as Sora, Donald, Goofy, and Riku go to fight Xemnas. But at the end of the battle, all six characters are shown facing Xemnas in fighting pose, as if they HAD been fighting.
  • Older Is Better: Played with throughout the franchise.
    • The further back in time the story goes, the stronger the Keyblade wielders were, with skills and abilities that the modern wielders don't even know exist. However, going further back also sees Sora's predecessors making less and less use of The Power of Friendship, which is constantly presented as a vital force in the setting, and their lack of it is a Fatal Flaw that brought about their ruin. Sora and his friends triumph over foes that stronger, better-trained Keyblade Masters fell against by standing united where their predecessors stood apart. At its most extreme, the ancient Keyblade wielders in Kingdom Hearts χ were each practically a One-Man Army, but their competition with one another eventually led to a war that destroyed the world.
    • Meanwhile, the Keyblade wielders of Sora's era are clearly advancing in their power faster than the protagonists of Kingdom Hearts χ, Riku and Mickey are obviously extraordinarily powerful and have mystical abilities that have nothing to do with combat... but also struggle against forces of Darkness that the ancient wielders could have overcome with ease. This franchise's interplay with this trope is quite ambiguous, with evidence for and against it.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: "Destati" and all its derivatives feature chanted lyrics in Italian about awakening to one's destiny. The chanting is featured in scenes that emphasize darkness or general mysticism, like fights with Xehanort or the Dive to the Heart sequences.
  • Ominous Pipe Organ: A recurring motif in music for the series, especially in Final Boss themes. "Forze Del Male" and "Beyond the Door" from Kingdom Hearts; "Struggle Away", "The Force in You", "Revenge of Chaos", "The 13th Struggle", "Castle Oblivion", "Forgotten Challenge", "Graceful Assassin", and "Scythe of Petals" from Chain of Memories; "Tension Rising", "The Corrupted", "The 13th Dilemma", and "Darkness of the Unknown" from Kingdom Hearts II; and another boss theme from 358/2 Days.
  • The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: In the first game, Chain of Memories, and II: Final Mix, Organization XIII fills this role. They're definitely the bad guys, but missing some crucial context. It gradually gets revealed over subsequent games.
  • One Steve Limit:
    • Riku and Rikku. Rikku was actually cut from the first game out of the fear that this would cause confusion, and her name is never actually spoken aloud when she appears in Kingdom Hearts II.
    • Jack Sparrow and Jack Skellington. In the Japanese version, game interface calls the pirate "Sparrow" and the skeleton "Jack" to avoid confusion. In the US version, the game interface calls both of them 'Jack' but when you use an item on them (or cast cure on them) Sora will say "Jack!" for Skellington and "Captain!" for Sparrow.
    • This trope is rather conspicuously averted when it comes to two particular names. The villain of the first game called himself "Ansem", only for Kingdom Hearts II to reveal that he was just impersonating the real, original Ansem. The character "Xehanort" is mentioned in II, but in later games players encounter various incarnations of this character, all of them named "Xehanort". The end result is that specific characters tend to have titles tacked on to their names (such as "Ansem: Seeker of Darkness" and "Ansem the Wise") by fans to keep track of who they are talking about.
  • One-Winged Angel: Most final bosses do this at least once. We're talking about Square Enix AND Disney, King and Queen of this trope.
    • Maleficent transforms into her Dragon form in Kingdom Hearts I. Also, the Bonus Boss of the game is Sephiroth, the Trope Namer. Also, Anssem, Seeker of Darkness goes through three different forms in his final battle.
    • Xemnas goes through three transformations in Kingdom Hearts II. The last one is in an Amazing Technicolor Battlefield, where he's unleashing his full power.
    • In Kingdom Hearts III, Master Xehanort does this multiple times during the same boss battle. He starts off normal, gains an armored form, raises up dark forms of himself, then goes back to normal for the final blow.
  • Only Friend: During Axel's death scene, he tells Sora that Roxas was the only one he liked, and basically his only friend. Other than being inherently sad, playing Days makes it even tragic in hindsight; Axel actually had one other person he liked, but he (and everyone else) forgot about her.
  • Overrated and Underleveled: Zig-zagged.
    • Sora restarts each game he stars in at level one when he was one-shotting enemies and soloing bosses in the previous game. However; it's explained in Chain of Memories as being forced to forget, and at the start of Kingdom Hearts II, he was spending the past year asleep, progress being hampered by Roxas and Xion. In Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, his and Riku's reversion back to Level 1 deals with them entering the Sleeping Worlds and losing all of their abilities to learn the proper techniques for Keyblade Masters. Sora then gets his heart temporarily shattered and goes comatose for a while at the end of that game, the damage and need to recover from which explains his drop back to level one for the next game.
    • However, played completely straight with Donald and Goofy. When the court mage and knight-captain join Sora, they're at the level he is and only have a fraction of their abilities.

    Tropes P to Z 
  • Palette Swap:
    • The Final Mix versions of the games change the coloration of most enemies, apparently just for the sake of being refreshing.
    • Rampant in Days and X (chi), which add several "new" enemies and weapons by way of this trope. Some of the new enemies in the Final Mix versions are not much better.
  • Palm Tree Panic: Destiny Islands, which serves as the opening level. One of the sidequests even involves getting the right amount of coconuts from the trees on the islands.
  • Paradox Person:
    • Nobodies are the remains of a person's body and soul after they become a Heartless, animated by their strong will. They lack the ability to truly feel emotion due to the loss of their heart, but their memories allow them to act out the appropriate emotions in the right situations. They are said to defy the laws of the universe to the point that neither the Realm of Darkness nor the Realm of Light accept them, and thus they don't truly exist. Compounding the issue further is the fact that a Nobody is meant to be a temporary state of a human who loses their heart, because every sentient being will instinctively try to form a heart of their own if they don't already have it. And yes, this means that if the Heartless part of the equation somehow manages to gain a body through other means, a person can potentially become two people. This is the case with Sora and Roxas: because Sora's body is restored by Kairi's light, Roxas is theoretically able to exist separately, at least until Xion's debacle makes that impossible.
    • Naminé's situation is even stranger than an average Nobody. She is called Kairi's Nobody because she was born from her heart, but she owes her existence as much to Sora, who gave her body and soul. She inherits none of the former's memories (as is usual of a Nobody with the exception of Roxas) and has the Lovecraftian power of accessing and modifying the memories of Sora and everyone connected to him. Ansem the Wise states in one of his reports that it's doubtful she can even be called a Nobody, and the circumstances of her birth can probably never be replicated again.
    • Xion is a essentially a toy who Grew Beyond Their Programming and Become a Real Boy. Unfortunately, her existence threatens Roxas and Sora, because she is literally living on borrowed time; as long as she exists, Sora can never wake up, while Roxas will eventually cease to exist. When she dies, she is Ret Goned.
  • Parental Abandonment: Kairi's grandma, Ariel's father and Simba's dad are the only parental characters given any screentime. Of those three, Mufasa is dead and Kairi's grandma hasn't been seen since Radiant Garden fell. Sora's mom gets one line from offscreen near the start of the first game. Anyone else's parents are either invisible, implied to be dead (Ienzo), or completely unmentioned.
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish": Played embarrassingly straight in II on several occasions. The passwords were (the first two of these were correctly guessed on the first try): "Belle, Snow White, Aurora, Alice, Jasmine, Cinderella, Kairi," "Sea-salt ice cream," and "Sora, Donald, and Goofy".
  • Pieces of God: In game mythology, "the light" was once whole; but was shattered; and the pieces survived in the hearts of children.
  • Pop-Star Composer: Utada Hikaru writes the theme music for the series.
  • Port Town: Pirates of the Caribbean features this with Port Royal. It's implied in II with pirate ships, but it becomes a full-fledged gameplay mechanic in III with pirate ships and pirate NPCs.
  • The Power of Friendship: This concept is key to the series, but it's usually done in such a well-executed manner as to still feel natural, despite being idealistic. Keyblades in particular appear to be drawn to individuals who have strong hearts, and thus, exemplify this trope.
  • Power Trio: Sora! Donald! Goofy! Trinity Attack!
  • Power-Up Magnet: The "Treasure Magnet" ability grants whoever equips it the ability to pull in HP, munny, Drive, and MP spheres from further away. Equipping the ability more than once will stack the effect.
  • Production Foreshadowing: A major element of the Final Mix rereleases is the introduction of optional Bonus Bosses that are usually someone from the next game in the series that’s in production when the Final Mix version of the game is made available to the public. These fights are always hellishly hard and require serious skill to defeat, and every boss has some outfit that obscures their appearance. For example, in the first game, the bonus fight is against the “Enigmatic Man”, aka Xemnas, the Big Bad of the second game. He drops numerous hints about plot elements of the second game, such as calling himself “a mere shell” and saying that Sora reminds him of someone, obliquely referring to his own status as a Nobody and Sora’s link to Roxas. In the second game, the fight is against a suit of armor named the “Lingering Will”, which is revealed to be a man named Terra in ‘‘Birth By Sleep‘‘, as well as being one of the protagonists of that game. The Lingering Will makes a number of vague allusions to the endgame of BBS, in partiucular wondering if Sora is “him”. Said person makes the Lingering Will suddenly swell with rage, and given context we see in BBS it’s likely that the Will thinks Sora is Xehanort body-jacking some kid.
  • Prolonged Prologue:
    • The second game is notorious for this. The term "Longest Prologue Ever" is frequently used among fans to discuss the opening tutorial segment with Roxas, which can take anywhere from three to five hours if you want to do everything. Even if you skip all of the cutscenes and optional parts, that only cuts it down to about two hours. The prologue of II was even a former trope namer.
    • The first game is no slouch in this department, either, though most of the stuff you can do on Destiny Islands is optional. However, the spin-off games are typically a lot better at this. Birth by Sleep's prologue is both very brief and can be skipped on subsequent playthroughs (which is helpful since there are three separate storylines to get through), and Chain of Memories barely has a prologue at all.
    • Ironically, the minute Ventus starts messing around for the tutorial, he stops and questions why he was doing all that when he was on his way to see the meteor shower.
      "Wait. What am I messing around here for?"
    • Technically, the entirety of 0.2 is one for Kingdom Hearts III, only as a stand-alone game rather than packed with the main bit.
  • A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil: The first six members of Organization XIII were pupils to Ansem the Wise, the king of Radiant Gardens who helped him in his research into the Heart. Eventually, they turned on him and turned themselves into Heartless. Only not really. Only Xehanort and Braig apply. The other Apprentices were forcibly turned into Heartless and were manipulated into joining Xemnas under false pretenses upon becoming Nobodies.
  • Rainbow Pimp Gear:
    • With space ships, no less. While the Gummi ship editor are clearly there with creativity in mind, more often than not you won't always have matching blocks to pull off a specific design. Similarly, a Gummi's HP is directly proportional to the amount of blocks it has. As a result, most Gummi ships will end up becoming literal Flying Bricks with miss-matching blocks with tons of guns attached to the front and the best engines in the back, with actual wings being considered a Dump Stat. Similarly, if you choose to go with the A.I. Breaker tactic, replace literal Flying Brick with a giant flying donut.
    • Some Keyblade designs themselves can verge on this at times, being the only thing that averts No Cutscene Inventory Inertia. Sure, Keyblades beyond the one you'll start out with will have vastly better stats, but it can occasionally make cutscenes look unintentionally narmish when Sora has something like Decisive Pumpkin equipped. note 
  • Really 700 Years Old:
    • Union χ reveals that several characters in the current era are this. Elrena and Lauriam (Larxene and Marluxia's human selves) and Ventus were all Dandelions, Keyblade wielders chosen by Master Ava to avoid the Keyblade War.. Keep in mind that Union χ, like its predecessor, is set hundreds of years before the other games.
    • One of the cutscenes in III shows that other than Larxene and Marluxia, Demyx and Luxord's human selves were also Keyblade wielders from the distant past.
    • Finally, the ending of III reveals that the Foretellers survived the Keyblade War and were hiding somewhere. After Master Xehanort's defeat, they (minus Ava) are summoned by Luxu, who lives in the current dimension as Braig/Xigbar. The secret ending adds that their teacher, the Master of Masters, who was presumed to have disappeared before the Keyblade War, is still around too.
  • Recovery Attack: Payback skills and Retaliating Slash, among others, allow the player to counterattack out of an attack that launches them into the air. Unlike most, though, these skills have to be initiated in the air; once you land, you lose your chance.
  • Recurring Element:
    • It takes some from Final Fantasy, such as Moogles, summon monsters, and the magic system.
    • Multiple games have central characters that form a Power Trio in the form of a shorter, younger guy, his taller, brasher best friend, and a girl. The tall one tends to have a personality darker than the short stack, and tends to suffer some sort of bad fate (either a Face–Heel Turn, mind control, separation, or death). The short one and the girl tend to be separated in some way.
  • Recurring Location:
  • Recurring Riff: No matter which series installment you're playing, the title screen will always have some variation of "Dearly Beloved". Another standout is "Destati", which has been left out of only two games.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni:
    • Sora's Valor Form and Wisdom Form. The former uses exclusively physical attacks, while the latter relies on magic.
    • Donald would probably like to be this to Sora, but fails due to his own Greed. However Donald and Goofy qualify well as Donald is in the red due to his bad temper and Goofy is in the blue due to his calmer way of thinking and aloof personality. Ironically, Donald's battle uniform in blue and Goofy's is green.
    • Sora is the Red to Riku's Blue. Whereas Sora is Hot-Blooded, thinks with his heart, and is generally drawn to light, Riku is aloof, anti-heroic, and uses the power of darkness.
  • Refused by the Call: Sora at first. He wouldn't have gotten to be The Hero if Riku hadn't gotten impatient and used the darkness to leave Destiny Islands.
  • Replay Mode: The series has a cutscene replay feature as an unlockable that can be viewed from the title screen (the feature's been there since the Updated Re-release of II).
  • Resource-Gathering Mission: One of the first important missions involves collecting provisions for Sora, Riku, and Kairi's voyage out to sea so they can explore the outside world.
  • Resurrection Gambit: Master Xehanort suffered bodily death when he possessed Terra, but in doing so, he continued to exist (though without any memory, courtesy of Aqua beating him senseless and Terra fighting from within). All of this is part of a grand scheme to bring himself back so he can open Kingdom Hearts.
  • Retcon: Arguably the main reason why so many people have problems following the overarching story. The Big Bad's origin story is by far the worst offender, which seems to change with every major installment (read, the three numbered entries, Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep and Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance).
  • Ret-Gone:
    • While Sora is sleeping and Naminé is reconstructing his memories between Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts II, everyone who knew him forgets that he existed until he awakens again.
    • Everyone had forgotten Xion when she died, which is devastating to watch after seeing the development in 358/2 Days. In 3D, however, Sora somehow manages to meet with Xion while traversing through a dream landscape, while Riku later meets with Xion while he is rescuing Sora's heart from the darkness. It's revealed in III that Xion's heart migrated to Sora after her death and memories of people who know about her are mostly, but not completely, erased. The magic word is her name, something that is indeed difficult to recall; during the climax, it takes Xion putting Sora on a difficult situation for Roxas (while still in Sora's body) to say her name, causing everyone else's memories of her to be instantly restored.
  • The Reveal:
    • II: The Big Bad of the first game, Ansem, is actually Xehanort's Heartless poising as the true Ansem the Wise, who uses the alias DiZ.
    • Birth by Sleep: Master Xehanort took Terra's body as his own vessel for his heart that eventually split into "Ansem" and Xemnas. Ventus' heart is in Sora's, and his body rests inside Castle Oblivion, formerly the Land of Departure.
    • Dream Drop Distance: The entire series has been one long plot by Master Xehanort to bring about another Keyblade War by pitting thirteen clones of himself against seven lights (our heroes). Organization XIII was the first trial to collect the thirteen Xehanorts, and it's also revealed that Nobodies (and anything with a mind) can grow a heart.
    • III: This game actually brings with it three major bombshells at the end: 1. Xigbar is Luxu, and has been manipulating Xehanort from the beginning on the Master's orders. 2. The Master of Masters himself is still alive. 3. Yozora is a real person instead of just a game character.
    • III Re Mind: Builds on III's big reveal by showing us that not only does Yozora know who Sora is, but he's even been asked by someone to "save" him. Moreover, Luxord's story becomes even more mysterious by revealing that he hails from Yozora's world, who he refers to as "commander."
    • Melody of Memory: The ending reveals some massive implications for where the future of the franchise is headed: the world Sora went to after abusing the Power of Waking is one of unreality, or fiction. Said world's name is Quadratum, and it's where Yozora and the Nameless Star originated from.
  • Rewatch Bonus: The revelation in Dream Drop Distance that Nobodies gradually grow hearts back and that Saix and Xigbar were possessed by Xehanort makes the personalities and actions of the Nobodies throughout the series come across very differently.
  • The Rival: Riku is this for Sora, at least until the end of the second game.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge:
    • For the player rather than anyone in the game. Seriously, name something from a Disney film that scared the bejeezus out of you as a kid. Maleficent, Chernabog, Ursula, Oogie Boogie... odds are good that whatever you named, you're gonna get to dish out some long overdue payback on.
    • Also played in-universe during a scene on Hollow Bastion. After defeating Demyx, a rock falls toward King Mickey. Goofy shoves the King out of the way only to catch the rock dead on his head himself. For all appearances, Goofy is now dead. After a brief mourning scene, Mickey declares that "they'll pay for this", throwing off his cloak, revealing his Keyblade and leaping into the battle, followed by one pissed-off Donald!
    • Roxas goes on one in 358 Days after Xion dies. His journal entry just before reads "I am DONE with this." However, Roxas is cut short by Riku, preventing Roxas from getting to any members of Organization XIII.
    • The entire ending portion of Birth By Sleep. Terra's hatred of Xehanort forms the Lingering Will to oppose him, and Aqua goes after Terranort as revenge for what's happened to her friends.
  • Rule of Symbolism:
    • The series' Arc Numbers of 3, 7, and 13, are all heavily rooted in religious symbolism. 3 in particular is heavily tied to the "Trinity" motif, with many trios of characters that tend to follow the motif of the Sword, the Wand, and the Shield. The number 7 is most strongly associated with a force for light (the seven Princesses of Heart), and the number 13 is most strongly associated with a force for darkness (Organization XIII).
    • There's a lot of Taoist symbolism in the theme of duality and how nothing can exist without its opposite to give it proper meaning, reflecting yin and yang, neither of which is innately evil. This is seen in the series with the balance of light and darkness, the belief that Dark Is Not Evil, it's just misused, and the existences of the Nobodies and Heartless. Furthermore, the three realms of Light, Darkness and Nothingness, tie into the "third" element of yin and yang, wuji, which symbolizes nothingness and limitlessness.
    • A lot of Christian symbolism ties together Sora, Xehanort, and Kingdom Hearts.
      • Sora acts as a Messianic Archetype analog to Jesus Christ, The Chosen One who travels worlds fighting darkness and helping those in need of serving the higher good, taking on their burdens to ease their suffering when he can. Xehanort meanwhile is a Satanic Archetype, a Fallen Hero who corrupts others to darkness and can possess them to act through them. His Keyblade bears the image of a goat, an animal associated with the demon Baphomet, and his Keyblade Armor brings to mind Fallen Angel imagery as a suit of silver winged armor, and Xehanort cast it off when he began using the powers of darkness. The Final Battle of III drives it home with Master Xehanort donning a red and black suit of armor with a goat-headed helmet, and Sora indirectly sacrifices himself to restore the fallen guardians of light to life at the cost of his own.
      • Kingdom Hearts serves as Heaven, the realm from which all hearts and life comes that Xehanort is trying to take control of and Sora fights to stop him. The χ-Blade that can open the door to Kingdom Hearts is depicted as two Kingdom Keys crossed over each other, and at the end of the first game, Mickey and Sora seal the Door to Darkness to Kingdom Hearts using two Kingdom Keys, Sora's being silver with a gold handle and Mickey's gold with a silver handle. In Papal heraldry, the Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven are often depicted as a silver key and a gold key crossed over each other. Note also that "χ" is the first letter of the Greek word christos. III dispenses with the pretenses by naming the world where Sora fights Xehanort within Kingdom Hearts "Scala ad Caelum" (Stairway to Heaven).
      • As a tie to the creation story of Genesis, Radiant Garden is the "capital city of light" and a major hub of the world's cosmos, until Xehanort infiltrated it and corrupted its leaders to darkness, causing the relm to be destroyed and its citizens fled to other worlds.
    • As a flip on the Christian symbolism being applied to Sora, Organization XIII consists of thirteen Nobodies led by Xemnas as a Dark Messiah, and Roxas, the thirteenth member, betrays them. This is really driven home in II when the other members repeatedly refer to Roxas as a traitor.
  • Rule of Three: Three, thanks to the Trinity motif, is an Arc Number for the series. There are several trios of characters; the realms of Light, Darkness, and Nothingness; three paths at the start of the two numbered games (Sword, Shield or Staff); three ways of levelling up in the first game (journey begins at dawn, midday or dusk); three party members at a time; three main incarnations of Xehanort; three captured Princesses in the first game; the Drive Gauge starts at 3 in the second game, and so on.
  • Sad Battle Music: A recurring trope.
    • In II, "Darkness Of The Unknown" is at first fairly epic, but when it hits its third stage, it takes a turn for the somber.
    • In II Final Mix, you have "The Other Promise," Roxas' theme turned into a boss music. It continues to play in the ensuing cutscenes.
    • In 358/2 Days', you have "Vector to the Heavens," full stop.
    • In Dream Drop Distance, you have "Rinzler Recompiled."
  • Saving the World: Worlds, plural. Master Xehanort's ultimate goal jeapordizes the existence of multiple worlds throughout the multiverse that Sora and company travel through.
  • Say My Name:
    • In the Secret End of Birth by Sleep regardless of their state of existence, Naminé, Roxas, Xion, Ven, Terra and Aqua pray to Sora's name across time and space.
    • Kingdom Hearts II have Sora, Donald and Goofy referred to or greeted in that exact order almost 100% of the time.
  • Science Fantasy: Due to being a crossover of various properties that are from different genres, the series contains many elements from fantasy and science fiction. Knights, sorcerers, spaceships, intergalactic travel, Cyberspace, Artificial Humans (and other artificial lifeforms like Artificial Intelligence), royalty, some Magitek, and Time Travel are just the tip of the iceberg.
  • Second Hour Superpower:
    • The Keyblade from the original. Sora starts out with a wooden sword.
    • Also, Roxas's keyblade. He starts with a struggle bat.
  • Self-Insert Fic: Literally done with the 100 Acre Wood, in which Sora inadvertently rewrites the story by finding the pages and interacting with the residents to include himself as a prominent character. It even includes him on the cover where Christopher Robin would've been when you clear the stage and find the keyhole.
  • Sentient Cosmic Force: The Light; among other possibilities, this is the stuff of which worlds and people are made. It's apparently also the source and distributor of the Keyblades and Sora's initial visions. Can also impart Mysterious Monologues with the best of them.
  • Sequel Hook: Most games have a secret ending movie that teases the next game.
  • Sequel Number Snarl: The only games with a regular numbering scheme in their names are the home console releases, even though just about every game is important to the overarching narrative. This naming convention has created a situation where, in release order, Kingdom Hearts is the first game, Kingdom Hearts II is the third game, and Kingdom Hearts III is the eleventh.
  • Sequential Boss: No self-respecting final boss in this series would be caught dead without at least three forms.
    • Ansem, Seeker of Darkness is fought three times at the end of I, interspersed with an unrelated battle against a Darkside.
    • Marluxia only has two forms in Chain of Memories but gains a third in the remake.
    • Xemnas has five forms as the final boss of II, including the Duel Boss with Sora that precedes the Point of No Return.
    • The Virus version of Data Roxas encountered in the 13-level Sector in Hollow Bastion has four forms.
    • While not the final boss, Xion in Days is fought four times in four different worlds.
    • The final boss of III is fought in four phases.
    • In Re:Coded, both Data Riku and Sora's Heartless qualify. Each one requires multiple forms to defeat.
  • Shadow Archetype: The series loves these, using all sorts throughout the games.
    • Ansem, Seeker of Darkness becomes one for Riku. After the first game, Ansem loves reminding Riku of his inner darkness, his Face–Heel Turn, and the fact that Riku betrayed his friends. Thus, he comes to represent Riku's self-loathing.
    • Riku also gets one of these in the form of the Riku Replica (or "Repliku," as a Fan Nickname), who acts like Riku if he'd fallen to darkness permanently. Riku hates being reminded of it.
  • Shifting Sand Land: Agrabah, being an Arabian locale based on the movie Aladdin, is largely comprised of desert.
  • Ship Sinking: Axel specifically states that he considers romantic love (the kind between Belle and Beast being the topic-starter) and love between best friends to be completely separate.
  • Ship Tease:
    Aqua: "I'm with you!"
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: In the original game, played straight with the Hollow Bastion Climax Boss, but subverted in the final battle (in which Donald and Goofy rejoin you gradually). Played straight at the end of Kingdom Hearts II, in which Sora and Riku are the only heroes at the final battle, but that's because Donald and Goofy had just left earlier after everyone thought that Xemnas was dead already. III subverts this once again, as Donald and Goofy miss out against the confrontation with 12 of the 13 Seekers of Darkness, but they join Sora for the final fight against Master Xehanort.
  • Shoot 'em Up: With the Gummi Ships. It's a gameplay change that requires flying through space and shooting down multiple enemy Heartless ships, including huge ships that serve as bosses.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The majority of Mook Nobodies are named after the various job classes in the Final Fantasy series, and often behave as such.
    • The Darkside Heartless is named after Tales from the Darkside, an anthology horror TV series. The Twilight Thorn is called Twilight Zone in Japanese, referencing another famous horror TV series.
    • The poses Sora does when he wins a tournament round in the first game are victory poses from Final Fantasy VII, VIII and X.
    • Most of the Gummi Ship names are names of various airships from the Final Fantasy games.
    • Xigbar's title, "Freeshooter", is taken from the title of the German opera Der Freischütz. The eponymous marksman makes a Deal with the Devil in exchange for seven magical bullets; the first six are controlled by the marksman while the seventh is controlled by the Devil.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Repeatedly. The development staff has access to the whole of Disney canon to look at for concepts, and they go the extra mile to represent them well. Character designs match their film counterparts right down to the littlest detail, numerous locations look just like they did in the films, and many voice actors return to reprise their roles.
    • It speaks of the quality of the localization team that Mickey, Donald and Goofy all talk exactly the way audiences expect them to.
  • Sigil Spam:
    • The Heartless emblem and the Nobody sigil both show up on pretty much anything connected to their groups. The Unversed sigil also get the same treatment, as well the Dreameaters. Weaponized by Xehanort in 3D.
  • Significant Anagram:
    • All of Organization XIII; each of their names is an anagram of the old selves' name with an added X.
    • Xehanort especially. Get rid of the X and we get both "No Heart" and "Another". Nomura says both were entirely intentional. As of Birth by Sleep, add "No Earth." Fitting, given what happens to Terra.
    • Eraqus can also be arranged as "Square." Almost a complete reversal of the name in fact, just with the "u" being placed after the "q" to follow English vocabulary rules. This is done to make him a counterpart to Yen Sid, which is "Disney" spelt backwards.
  • Significant Double Casting. Several pairs of characters use the same voice actor, due to being alternate versions of the same character or having some other kind of strong relation.
  • Slasher Smile:
    • Axel displays these in KH:ReCoM during Vexen's and Zexion's deaths, and before fighting Roxas for the last time in II. He gradually gets over it as he pulls a Heel–Face Turn.
    • Vanitas and Master Xehanort display them quite often in Birth By Sleep. It's even Master Xehanort's default expression throughout III, including during the Final Boss.
  • Sliding Scale of Continuity: Level 5 (Full Lockout). From the second game onward the games head straight into Kudzu Plot with any detail potentially Foreshadowing future games (Xigbar's cryptic lines in II being an example). Dream Drop Distance has "memoirs" thought that record the plots of the preceeding games and unlocks them when a Continuity Nod/Call-Back to the respective game first occurs. Making the games a Level 4 (Arc-Based Episodic) at least (though without that game it still remains at 5). Birth By Sleep tones it down to a Level 3, with the story being self-contained and easy to understand if you've not played the other games, but there's a lot of Call Forwards and Foreshadowing for future games that will be lost on a new player.
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. Seriousness: Shifts from silliness towards seriousness within each game, and over the series as whole.
  • The Soulless: The Nobodies are a person's body without a heart, who attack whole beings in an attempt to regain hearts. The more powerful Nobodies of Organization XIII mention feeling "empty" a lot, and how they can't properly feel emotions.
  • Sound of No Damage: The games feature a rubbery bounce sound when an attack has no effect, accompanied by a ripple where the enemy was struck. Countering an enemy's physical attack with one of your own or guarding causes a high "ching" sound.
  • Spam Attack: One technique, Ars Arcanum, is really just a flurry of blows from the Keyblade.
  • Spanner in the Works: Sora and Co. have an amazing ability to tear complicated schemes to pieces without ever fully understanding them. (Though they do have help.)
  • Speedy Techno Remake: The PlanitB remix of "Simple and Clean", used in the openings of the first game and Birth by Sleep.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Never Land or Neverland? Never Land is probably right, given that it was written as "the Never Never Land" in the original play (Peter Pan; or, the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up).
  • Spiritual Successor: The World of Mana series was succeeded by Kingdom Hearts, more or less. Disney Fantasy Online is a spiritual successor to Kingdom Hearts, as it's essentially Kingdom Hearts online with the Square Enix properties filed off but with the Nomura art style and core concepts retained.
  • Squishy Wizard:
    • Donald, in spades. While he's The Red Mage who is capable of healing, he tends to drain his magic rather fast. Even when he doesn't, Donald's Defense stat is still abysmal, especially compared to his partner Goofy, who is a Stone Wall.
    • Wizard Form in Kingdom Hearts II relies on dodging and maintaining distance over defense, since Wizard Form can't block. Also, all of its attacks are "long-range," so it behooves a player to keep Sora away from his opponents.
    • Aqua sort of fills this role in Birth by Sleep. She's the most focused on Magic of the three playable characters, as Terra's a Mighty Glacier and Ven's a Fragile Speedster. Aqua herself can't take as many hits as the other two, but her abilities and stats let her use her spells with impunity.
  • Standard Female Grab Area: Happens a few times to different characters, and is wonderfully subverted by Belle in KH2, who takes the opportunity to stomp on the foot of her captor and dash to safety.
  • Stars Are Souls: Kingdom Hearts is a bit iffy on this one. Usually, the stars in the KH universe represent worlds as a whole and they disappear from the night sky when that particular world is submerged in darkness. Then, in Kingdom Hearts II, we have the Pride Lands as a world, which reaffirms the plot point that the old rulers of Pride Rock become stars in the sky upon death. This is also shown in Birth by Sleep, when, after Master Xehanort strikes down Master Eraqus in front of a horrified Terra, Yen Sid notes, "Eraqus's star has blinked out." The contradictions can just be chalked up to the world running on the Theory of Narrative Causality.
  • The Stations of the Canon:
    • Take a drink every time Sora and company intervene to make sure that the Stations of the Disney Canon happen properly.
    • Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories turns visiting the Stations of Kingdom Hearts into a plot point—The Important Promise is changed by Namine so that Sora remembers her as the one he made that promise to.
  • Still Wearing the Old Colors: Neither Roxas nor Xion ditch their Organization XIII cloaks after they quit the organization. It's unlikely that Roxas had time to buy anything else to wear and Xion probably was wearing it to protect her heart from darkness, like Riku does. Later, Lea also continues to wear his Organization cloak following his resurrection.
  • Stone Wall: Goofy. He uses a shield for both defense and offense, and his Defense stat is naturally high in any game he appears in. To compensate, Goofy's damage output is rather low, he attacks and moves rather slowly, and his Magic stat is abysmal — in Kingdom Hearts II, Goofy's Magic stat starts at 0, and never naturally increases.
  • Story Difficulty Setting: A variant - Kingdom Hearts: 58/2 Days and Kingdom Hearts: Re:coded were both re-released in HD as the 1.5 Remix and 2.5 Remix, respectively. Each re-release featured cutscene-only versions of the game in question, removing all gameplay.
  • Summon Magic: A recurring element in the three console games and Chain of Memories, with differing mechanics for each game. Nearly all of the summons are Disney characters from worlds that don't appear in the same game as their summon; some of them change the gameplay temporarily when summoned, like Dumbo, and Mushu who both make KH's melee combat into a temporary Third-Person Shooter... or squirter in Dumbo's case.
    • In all three console games, the summons are generally accessed through special items (Summon Gems that have to then be unlocked by the Fairy Godmother in Kingdom Hearts, Summon Charms in Kingdom Hearts II, and Heartbinders in Kingdom Hearts III) that are acquired through clearing certain storyline events or are found in chests. The only exceptions are Genie and Tinker Bell in the first game, who are simply received through locking their world's Keyhole.
    • Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories has the summons from the first game return as Summon Cards. These work similarly to the Friend Cards that appear randomly during battles and represent party members, but are actually in your deck instead of just dropping in for a single use. In both cases, they appear, perform an attack and leave. A few of these require player input and for the ones that don't, you can move Sora to direct the attack to a varying degree. They can also be stacked into Sleights for different effects, only some of which involve summoning the respective characters.
    • Some types of Heartless can use this, too. The Crescendo Heartless can summon new Heartless to the battlefield. The Cresceno card in Chain of Memories even boosts the power of summon cards at the cost of disabling regular magic. The Darkside Heartless summons Shadows. The Dark Follower does the same except that the Shadow Heartless it summons have a purple tint rather than the standard blue. Bouncywild Heartless can summon Powerwilds. One of the fights against Ansem, Seeker of Darkness has him summon Bit Snipers if you stay far enough away.
  • Summon to Hand: Keyblades can be thrown, blasted or otherwise leave their weilder's hands, but since they are a part of the weilder and not a separate object they do this whenever the wielder wills it.
  • Super Empowering: The Keyblade Inheritance Ceremony can make anyone a weilder chooses into a weilder. Only masters are supposed to do it, but technically anyone who can summon their keyblade can if they know what they're doing.
  • Super Mode: Drive Forms:
  • Supporting Leader: Leon's role in the Hollow Bastion Restoration Committee in II. Despite the fact that he's ostensibly the leader of the committee, he hardly gets as much screen time as Sora does.
  • Surprise Creepy: Especially if all you saw before playing was the Disney element or hadn't actually watched some of the Disney films featured (did you think Pinnocchio portrayed being swallowed by a whale nicely?)
  • Surprisingly Good English: Even though the game series was made in Japan, a lot of the English that appears in the game is grammatically correct, including the phrases that appear in the opening. Justified, as Engrish would look out of place in a game filled with Disney characters.
  • Systematic Villain Takedown:
    • The Council of Villains serves this role in the first game, being a nefarious group consisting of Disney Villains, seeking control of the Heartless and access to the titular Kingdom Hearts. The protagonist Sora, along with Donald and Goofy systematically defeat each villain by traveling to their respective worlds and defeating them, either killing them, trapping them, or sending them running.
    • Organization XIII become this going forward from Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, being a group of Nobodies (beings that remained after their hearts was stolen) wanting to take Kingdom Hearts for themselves through various means. However in-fighting in the group, along with battling Sora, Donald and Goofy, start dropping their numbers. They were thought taken care of at the end of Kingdom Hearts II, until it's revealed that Master Xehanort is using them to become vessels for him and become the 13 Seekers of Darkness. Those that didn't turn back into humans are revived via time travel and have to be taken out again when Kingdom Hearts III comes around, this time by the Warriors of Light (Sora, Donald, Goofy, Mickey, Kairi, Riku, Axel/Lea, Roxas, Xion, Terra, Ventus and Aqua) which they do in the climax of the game.
  • Take My Hand:
    • Seen a lot with Riku, who makes it his pose in the opening cinematics of both Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II. Also, during I proper, Riku reaches his hand out for Sora, but Sora and Riku are both swallowed by darkness, and Sora can't reach Riku's hand before he vanishes.
    • Vanitas takes the same pose in the opening for Birth by Sleep, facing Ventus. However, it's presented with a more sinister tone, since Vanitas is the Enemy Without of Ventus.
  • Take Up My Sword: One way someone claims a Keyblade is by performing The Rite of Succession with a Keyblade Master. A Keyblade still has to choose them, though.
  • Teens Are Short:
    • Sora, Riku, Kairi, Roxas, Naminé, etc. are all shorter than almost all of the adults in the game. "Shorter than some" would be understandable, as would "slightly shorter than most", but there is a significant height gap most of the way through, at least for the males. Although Riku does hit a growth spurt after Chain of Memories and becomes "adult height" for Kingdom Hearts II.
    • Not really a teen, but seeing Goofy next to some of these other characters makes you realize that he's not so tall as much as all of his friends are just short.
    • Gets really weird in 3D when you see them interact with the cast of TRON: Legacy (which are portrayed are as real, detailed, and unsettling humans) and see them tower over Sora and Riku.
  • Terrible Artist: Naminé. Which may be forgivable as she is working in crayon then. In pencil, of course, she's completely amazing.
  • Theme Naming:
    • The three major protagonists are named after the Japanese words for sky (Sora), land (Riku), and sea (Kai[ri]).
    • Their counterparts from Birth by Sleep match, being named after the Latin words for wind (Ventus), earth (Terra), and water (Aqua).
    • Kairi and the two Nobodies born from her from her have a theme of a Japanese word related to the ocean with an extra mora at the end: Kairi (kai/ocean+ri), Naminé (nami/wave+), and Xion (shio/tide+n).
    • All the names of the Organization XIII members are anagrams of the names they had before they became Nobodies with an "x" added in.
    • The stronger Nobody mooks are all named after Job Classes from various Final Fantasy games.
    • Some of the spinoff games have something of an internet theme: CoM (Chain of Memories), coded, BBS (Birth by Sleep).
    • The gigantic bosses that appear in I and II's Dive into the Heart sequences, Darkside and Twilight Thorn, are both named after horror anthology series: Tales from the Darkside and The Twilight Zone.
  • Theme Song Reveal: The series runs this trope as far as it can take it. Many themes are remixed and incorporated into other themes, and analysis of such can provide a glimpse into connections between characters when one of their themes incorporates snippets from the other's.
  • There Are No Therapists: Especially for Ventus, Aqua and Terra in Birth By Sleep. Aqua winds up having to put down both Terra and Ventus, Terra loses his body and kills his master, and Ventus finds out he has to sacrifice himself. Though some of Organization XIII could also use them.
  • They're Called "Personal Issues" for a Reason: Played straight and deconstructed several times throughout the series. Cases in point:
    • In Birth By Sleep, if Ven had told Terra and Aqua about Vanitas' warning, if Terra had told them about Master Xehanort's side teachings, basically if all three had discussed their findings at length before things got out of hand Terra might not have lost his body, Ven might not have been in a coma after destroying his heart to defeat Vanitas, Aqua might not have been trapped in the Realm of Darkness, Eraqus might still be alive, and Xehanort's plans would have been either halted or siderailed. However, it should be taken into account that they were still relatively clueless about the true extent of the danger they were in by the time they met up in Radiant Garden, so it's understandable that they wouldn't have realised the gravity of the situation and the significance of the little information they had at the time, so it can be considered a Downplayed Trope.
    • Deconstructed and intended for the Nobodies of Organization XIII. By denying their emotions since they had no hearts, none of them progressed, and as revealed in Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance], none of them could regain their hearts due to keeping those feelings locked up. Best part? This was Xehanort's plan from the start, so he could have vessels to put his heart in and create his Thirteen Seekers of Darkness.
  • Thinking Up Portals: Corridors of Darkness are portals that a person can conjure up, and they effectively allow the conjurer to travel to from anywhere in the entire universe to anywhere else in an instant. However, doing so risks corruption by darkness. This explains why the villains can get anywhere in a flash, but the heroes always have to avoid these portals and take the slow way (with one exception.) Different kinds of portals are also conjured up by a person or in other ways with seemingly no risks but only when the plot calls for it.
  • Three-Strike Combo: The protagonists typically start with a basic three point combo attack just by tapping to attack button. This can be lengthened, shortened or powered up depending on your abilities and keyblade.
  • Title Drop: In every game so far, the Kingdom Hearts, of which the series is named after, is referred to by at least one character. It is put simply, the heart of all worlds.
  • Tomes of Prophecy and Fate: The Book of Prophesies, introduced within Kingdom Hearts χ, serves as this for the entire universe. It has information about the past, present, and future, and according to Maleficent via a retroactivelly added scene within Kingdom Hearts coded, one can, among other things, create new worlds simply by adding onto it.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Mickey is shown to have been clumsy at wielding a Keyblade when training under Yen Sid in Birth by Sleep. In the present day, he's the most skilled Keyblade wielder of all.
    • Roxas gains a level in badass after defeating Xion in Days, gaining his signature power to dual-wield two Keyblades.
    • Sora in Kingdom Hearts II not only gets Roxas's dual-wielding, but later on takes his own level in badass when he gets the power to use Drive Forms. Even not counting this, Sora's skill with the Keyblade drastically increases during the events of Kingdom Hearts I and Kingdom Hearts II.
    • Riku and Kairi both get their own Keyblades in Kingdom Hearts II. The latter also demonstrates the ability to make a several-story jump off a balcony with seeming ease, a considerable feat for someone who hasn't previously been depicted as athletic, and continues to level grind offscreen between games.
    • Over the course of the franchise chronologically, Lea goes from a seemingly normal kid with a frisbee to a fire-wielding chakram-slinging Nobody assassin, then back to a human who retains all of those same abilities, and then manifests a Keyblade on top of that.
    • By Kingdom Hearts III, Sora finally taps into the Keyblade's potential as a Morph Weapon, opening him up to new weapons such as guns, whips, and drills, even up to the level of summoning Disneyland rides in battle.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Quite a few characters like sea-salt ice cream, which serves as a minor plot point.
  • Translation Convention: There are several indications that the canon language being spoken, for the most part, is English—signage is generally in English, and KHII hammers the point home with the initialism "D.T.D." ("Door To Darkness") and a pun based on Cloud's namenote  being present in the original Japanese version. This is compounded by the fact that the otherwise Japanese Final Mix rereleases use the English dubs by default. It's never actually stated what's going on in, say, China or Agrabah, but Donald is able to use his magic to help the party blend in terms of their appearances, so the implication is that some magic-based Translator Microbes are involved.
  • Trilogy Creep: The first story arc, the Dark Seeker Saga, consists of the games from Kingdom Hearts I to Kingdom Hearts III. However, several (plot-vital) titles were released between the "numbered" titles, meaning the "trilogy" consists of something like nine games, plus an MMO and a movie.
  • Tropical Island Adventure: Sora, Riku and Kairi's home world is Destiny Islands, a set of tropical islands which acts as the tutorial area for the first game and a late-game world in Chain of Memories, and has several cutscenes set there in other games in the series. The 358/2 Days and Birth by Sleep incarnations of Neverland are also a series of tropical islands, as are Port Royal and The Caribbean from Kingdom Hearts II and Kingdom Hearts III respectively.
  • Two Roads Before You:
    • Sword, shield, wand. At the beginning of the numbered titles, the player is given a choice between these implements, representing Strength, Defense, and Magic respectively. They have to focus on one and give up another. For example, taking the wand but giving up the shield means that the player character will focus on Magic but have reduced Defense.
    • At the end of Chain of Memories, this is asked of Riku. He says that he'll Take a Third Option and walk the road to dawn.
    Ansem: Will you take the road to light, or the road to darkness?
    Riku: Neither. I'm taking the middle road.
    Ansem: You mean the twilight road to nightfall?
    Riku: No... The road to dawn.
  • The Unchosen One:
    • Sora was not the initial choice for the Keyblade. Pretty much spelled out when Sora meets Terra, one of the previous Keybearers. The latter flips out upon seeing the Keyblade in the hands of someone other than the one he chose. Cue Bonus Boss. This is subverted if you take into account that it was the keyblade that chose Sora. Not a keyblade wielder like Terra.
    • In contrast to Sora, both Riku and Kairi actually are The Chosen One, selected by Terra and Aqua, respectively (Although in Kairi's case, it was accidental, and in Riku's case, as mentioned above, he lost his chosen right and had to work hard to eventually transform his sword into a Keyblade instead.)
    • Mickey and Aqua are also unchosen ones, in a sense. The former is, well, Mickey Mouse, who became a Keyblade wielder just so he could help people with it, and Aqua is simply a highly-skilled Keyblade wielder with no great destiny set out for her like Terra or Ven. It doesn't stop either of them from derailing Xehanort's plans, serving vital roles on the side of the good guys, and generally being badass the whole time.
    • Lea has no real reason to be wielding a Keyblade, he just gets one because Yen Sid is hoping that he could be a Spanner in the Works (he is, but that's before he gets a Keyblade).
  • Uncommon Time: The Hollow Bastion theme is in 5/8.
  • Under the Sea: Atlantica.
  • Uniqueness Decay: Over the course of the series, a surprising amount of Keyblades and Wielders have popped up with each passing game. In the first game, it's implied there's only one Keyblade and Keyblade Wielder, which is a major plot point when Sora has to earn it back and prove himself after Riku reveals his status as the real Chosen One and promptly takes it from him. At the end of the game, there's also revealed to be a Keyblade for the Dark World as well, which isn't too unreasonable to believe because of it being the opposite of the realm of light. However, in the secret video unlocked in the very same game, there's shown to be a mysterious figure who can dual wield two Keyblades. Then in Kingdom Hearts II, we find out that there's more Keyblades and Keyblade Wielders out there, but the amount is still rather reasonable come end game. That being Sora, Riku, Mickey, and Kairi, with everyone else being either a Nobody version of an existing Keyblade Wielder, retired like Yen Sid, or (at that point) being a massive Mind Screw like the Lingering Will. Then the secret video in that game and Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep reveals an entire war of nothing but Keyblade Wielders took place in the past, over what can be considered the ultimate and true Legendary Weapon version of the Keyblade, and that there's an entire graveyard of the things now as a result. It's a fact that Braig in Birth By Sleep lampshades, ironically, given the games status as a prequel to the rest of the series.
    Braig: It seems like these days, everybody's got one of those....
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Between Sora and Kairi. There's all kinds of romantic hints between the two of them, but nothing concrete. The end of III finally makes them an Official Couple, but Sora's ambiguous fate means that they don't get to enjoy it.
  • Unscaled Merfolk: While in Atlantica, Sora is half dolphin, Donald is half octopus, and Goofy is mostly turtle (only his head is still clearly him).
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight:
    • You'd think someone like Jack Sparrow would say something when faced with an anthropomorphic duck. (Then again, considering this is Jack Sparrow's mind...) In fact, someone would probably comment on there being several people looking like they just stepped out of a cartoon in a place that clearly doesn't have that kind of stuff. Whenever they visit a world has a mostly or entirely non-human population, Sora, Donald, and Goofy will change their appearance to match, but otherwise Donald and Goofy are considered human for all intents and purposes and are treated as such by the locals.
    • Likewise, in the Mulan level, the Captain doesn't seem to notice that the three most powerful of the new recruits don't look Chinese, don't have Chinese names, and aren't wearing Chinese soldier armor.
  • Updated Re-release: The Re: and Final Mix editions of each game as they come. Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts II, and Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep all have Final Mix editions that include additional bosses, areas, weapons, minigames, cutscenes, powers, and items, but, until Kingdom Hearts 1.5: HD Remix was announced with the original game's Final Mix included, none of these were available outside of Japan, despite having some international voices. The Re: editions (of coded and Chain of Memories) have been available internationally, however, albeit in some changed format and minor changes to story elements in the process.
  • The Usual Adversaries: While they are also obviously The Heartless, the Heartless and Nobodies are also this. Birth by Sleep brings the Unversed, and Dream Drop Distance introduces the Dream Eaters.
  • Victory Pose:
  • Video Game Remake: The PS2's Re:Chain of Memories, a remake of the GBA's Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts Re:coded for the DS, a remake of the mobile game Kingdom Hearts coded.
  • Villain-Based Franchise: Master Xehanort (or one component of him) managed to cause every single problem in the series in some manner. Nomura recently has basically stated that Kingdom Hearts I through III and the associated spinoffs will comprise the "Xehanort saga" of Kingdom Hearts. Yeah, all these games are just part of one villain-based saga.
  • Villain Teleportation: A wide variety of villains will teleport around the battlefield. Notable examples include Ansem-Riku and his infamous Dark Aura attack, Maleficent, Master Xehanort, Vanitas, and Organization XIII.
  • Violation of Common Sense: Against most bosses that can eat through your HP in just a few hits (which encompasses most of the Bonus Bosses), it's actually a better idea to let yourself get juggled by the boss in the event you get launched as opposed to pressing the Aerial Recovery / Payback button as soon as it's available. This is because while you're in juggle state, the game still thinks you're in a combo, which means that Once More will continue protecting you until you leave juggle state. If you Aerial Recovery or Payback, you no longer have this safety net and the next hit will kill you.
  • Wackyland:
    • Wonderland (Alice in Wonderland) features talking plants, potions that cause the party to grow and shrink, and frustratingly obtuse locals.
    • Timeless River is based on old Disney shorts like Steamboat Willie and as such runs on Cartoon Physics and absurd slapstick.
    • Symphony of Sorcery (Fantasia) has strange, magical weather phenomena and, as an example of Band Land, seems to impose Mickey Mousing on its inhabitants.
  • Watching the Sunset: There are several cases of dear friends doing this.
    • In the first game, Sora, Riku, and Kairi watch the sunset after building their raft. Sora and Kairi later do another one after gathering supplies for their excursion. The first instance is referenced in a secret report in Days, where Xion, after unwittingly absorbing Sora's memories, recalls watching the sunset on a beach with two friends, but they are not Axel and Roxas.
    • Twilight Town is always lit by a perpetual late afternoon sun, guaranteeing this every time someone watches it. Roxas, Hayner, Pence, and Olette celebrate the former's win of the Struggle Trophy by watching the sun atop the clock tower in the prologue of II. Approaches an extreme degree in Days, where Roxas, Xion and Axel meet in Twilight Town's clock tower after every mission to do just that.
    • Sora and Kairi do this twice in III, the first before the confrontation at Keyblade Graveyard, and the second after that. Both cementing their Relationship Upgrade.
  • Water Is Womanly: The Two Guys and a Girl trios of protagonists have a Land, Sea, Sky motif through their names, and the sea character is always the girl.
  • Weapon Jr.: Sora's wooden sword, Tidus's wooden pole, Selphie's jumprope, Ven's wooden keyblade, and Lea's frisbees.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Xehanort believes himself to be this. Sure he's screwing over Eraqus and his pupils, but he's doing it to bring about cosmic balance. It's just that his idea of cosmic balance requires causing a war between Keyblade masters that will destroy the universe.
  • Wham Episode:
    • The Hollow Bastion visit of the first game caused lingering consequences for the rest of the series afterwards, especially the moment when Sora stabs himself with a keyblade that unlocks peoples hearts to free Kairi's heart.
    • Birth by Sleep was one for the entire universe as well, as it featured the beginning of Master Xehanort's efforts to put his long plan into motion.
    • Dream Drop Distance, being the penultimate game in the series before the Xehanort Saga's conclusion, ties story elements from practically the entire series and shows how it's all connected, as well as having some major reveals about the Heart, Xehanort, Nobodies, and Organization XIII.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?:
    • The Nobodies. Sora in particular sticks to his "You don't exist, you don't feel anything" mantra right until the end, even after one of them pulls a Heroic Sacrifice for his sake yet comes back to life as a human, because of it... One might think he was speaking directly to Disney's censors. Meanwhile other, non-Nobody villains succumb to The Heartless, a Karmic Death, get One-Winged Angel enough to get covered by this trope or survive for a while. To Sora's credit, once he actually gets some room to just process everything that went down in Kingdom Hearts II, he is the first to avert this trope and he isn't shy about calling himself and others out for their bullshit.
    • To a further extent, Nobodies unlucky enough to not have a human appearance are treated less than the ones that do. Just imagine a Dusk in place of Roxas or Namine or any member of Organization XIII.
  • White Hair, Black Heart: Riku, the famous Rival Turned Evil of the first game, although he averts this trope in later games.
  • White Void Room: Most of the rooms in Castle Oblivion. Most notably Naminé's. The justification in the game is that these rooms are altered by the memories of those inside the room, so they are blank white by default.
    • Also Naminé's room in the Old Mansion in Kingdom Hearts II, and also the Pod Room where Sora sleeps. Everything in both rooms is white, with just a table and chairs in the former and a sleeping pod in the latter.
  • Whole Plot Reference: Half of the time, the plot of a Disney world will be a truncated version of the film it's based on with Sora's party and the Heartless shoehorned in. The other half of the time, an original story is told in the world's setting that may or may not take place after the events of the world's film. For example, the Toy Story world in III tells an original story set between the second and third film, the Lilo and Stitch world in Birth by Sleep is a prequel to the original film, and the Nightmare Before Christmas stories have all been originals that vaguely reference the original film.
  • Wicked Heart Symbol:
    • Emblem Heartless are identified by a black-and-red heart with a thorny X across the center, with an arrow pointing straight down.
    • Riku's Dark Mode outfit has this emblem on his chest, except minus the X - it's just solid black with a red outline. Even after he completes his Heel–Face Turn, this symbol is the keychain for his own Keyblade.
    • Nobodies also have a similar symbol, except it's inverted and colored pure silver, with two notches cut out of the base of the heart.
  • A Wizard Did It: The reason casting fire spells works in Atlantica and The Caribbean, or how casting electricity-based spells doesn't completely fry the party. Kingdom Hearts III reveals that spells work differently when cast underwater.
  • Womb Level: Monstro of Pinocchio takes place entirely inside of the beast. The "safe zone" is in its mouth.
  • World of Ham: There are plenty of characters who are constantly Milking the Giant Cow. It's something of a meme among Kingdom Hearts fans that, if a sentence doesn't require at least one exclamation point, it feels out of place.
    • The villains, especially, ham it up. From the Disney villains to the original villains, there isn't one bad guy who plays the Cold Ham for very long.
  • Wrong Context Magic: The series establishes that "Disney magic" and "Kingdom Hearts magic" effectively run on two completely different rulesets, and are allowed to ignore how each other function depending on its use.
    • A major source of the Keyblades' power, their magic runs on its own rules completely divorced from the rules of the world they may be in. This runs the gamut from simply being able to use magic in non-magical worlds, to being able to kill literal immortals.
    • 3D reveals that the Kingdom Hearts version of Time Travel follows very strict guidelines, which include requiring a version of yourself at the destination, being unable to change the future, and losing your memories of traveling through time. Meanwhile, Timeless River in II follows standardized time travel rules, with Sora, Donald and Goofy needing to go back into the past to Set Right What Once Went Wrong at Pete and Maleficent's hands, with none of the drawbacks that their version of time travel has.
    • In Kingdom Hearts logic, a body cannot exist without a heart and remain as it were, as it would become a Nobody. However, Davy Jones in III is able to exist without his heart... that is, the organ, not a "heart" defined by Kingdom Hearts terms. Vexen discovers this first-hand when Jack Sparrow opens the box and realizes that he's been on a wild goose chase the entire time.
    • The Final World, being The Nothing After Death, normally requires someone to have died, after which they persist in the Final World by the sheer will of their heart alone. In Melody of Memory, the Fairy Godmother, whose magic involves dominion over dreams and teleportation, simply takes Riku and Kairi there alive with very little fanfare.
  • Wutai: Land of Dragons from Mulan has heavy Chinese themes. Though given that it's supposed to be set in China, it's justified.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Xemnas, DiZ, and even Mickey Mouse are masters of this. This is particularly due to Sora and company managing to foil the over-complicated plans of multiple characters, all without having even the slightest idea of what's happening.
    • At the end of Birth by Sleep, Xehanort has taken over Terra's body, but the Lingering Will and Aqua beat him up so badly that he has to expend energy just to get off world. Xehanort adapts around this by acting as Ansem's apprentice.
    • After 3D, Riku and Axel have stopped Master Xehanort from using Sora as a dark vessel. Zehanort works around this by just reviving older members of Organization XIII instead.
  • Xanatos Gambit: As of Dream Drop Distance we have this predicament: Either the Keyblade wielders face Xehanort and forge the χ-blade in the process starting a new Keyblade War, or he attacks and takes the Princesses of Heart by force and creates it anyway.
  • You Shall Not Pass!:
    • Donald and Goofy give this to Ansem to keep him away from Kairi in Kingdom Hearts I.
    • Riku attempts this in the Keyblade Graveyard in III. It doesn't work, and he dies. Lucky for Riku that Sora found a way to undo it.
  • Zipperiffic: Like you wouldn't friggin' believe. Pretty much the only things that don't have zippers in these games are the classic Disney designs (i.e. anyone who's not Donald, Goofy or even Mickey).

—But don't be afraid.
You hold the mightiest weapon of all.
So don't forget:
You are the one who will open the door.
 
Feedback

Video Example(s):

Top

I'm Not Afraid of the Darkness

In the original "Kingdom Hearts" (HD 1.5 Remix), when the Destiny Islands are consumed by darkness, Riku accepts the opportunity to leave his tiny island, telling Sora he's not afraid of the darkness and offering his hand. Sora hesitates and Riku is swallowed up by the darkness.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / TakeMyHand

Media sources:

Main / TakeMyHand

Report