Follow TV Tropes

Following

Franchise / Persona

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/persona_33.png

"I am thou... And thou art I."
Arc Words for the entire series.
Advertisement:

Persona, or Shin Megami Tensei: Persona as it was formerly known in the West, is a long-running Spin-Off series of Atlus's Shin Megami Tensei franchise, consisting of multiple video games, animated works, comic books, light novels, stage plays, and more.

Unlike the Post-Apocalyptic Cyberpunk worlds of the main SMT series, Persona takes place in a contemporary Urban Fantasy high school setting that utilizes Anthropomorphic Personifications of Carl Jung's persona and shadow concepts as its central motif: Characters in the series use the eponymous Persona, manifestations of their own personalities, to combat Shadows and various other representations of the collective darkness in the heart of humanity. The games also employ Tarot Motifs, with Personas, Shadows and most characters divided into the 22 Major Arcana of the standard deck. Despite these differences from mainline SMT, the series still employs numerous elements from its forebear: Personas take the form of various mythological figures from numerous cultures, the games use the main series's Fusion Dance and Elemental Power systems, and entries from Persona 3 onward have variations of the Press Turn battle system from Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne.

Advertisement:

Most of the games are Dungeon Crawlers where players obtain various Personas to fight on their behalf. Persona 3 also introduced numerous social/life simulator aspects to the franchise, mostly notably the "Social Links" system, which added Visual Novel-esque vignettes that enhance combat abilities as the protagonist gets to know other characters better.


Games in the Series:

Other Works bearing the Persona name

Crossovers


This series contains examples of:

  • Abstract Apotheosis:
    • In Persona 3, the Main Character sacrifices his/her life to become the Great Seal, the final barrier between Nyx, Death itself, and Erebus, the Anthropomorphic Personification of humanity's self-destructive unconscious desires, thus becoming the ultimate representation of hope in the Persona universe, and visualized as a massive golden gate with the protagonist's soul keeping it closed. Ryoji is the literal embodiment of death, and serves as the game's final boss and the first person you meet in game.
    • Persona 4 has a metaphorical example: Goddess Izanami wants to test mankind's potential, so she gives three people power and names them embodiments of a concept - Hope, Despair, and Emptiness - with the intention of acting based on which representative has the most success.
    • Persona 5 has the heroes attempting to invoke the trope, by making their Phantom Thieves group a symbol of hope and encouragement for anyone trampled upon by societal corruption, rather than a couple of high school kids. In the Final Battle, the heroes transform this belief into a massive Guardian Entity, that in turn destroys the Eldritch Abomination Big Bad attempting to "free" humanity of The Evils of Free Will.
  • Academy of Adventure: There's always something supernatural going on with high schools in this series.
    • St. Hermelin High in Persona 1 has a traditional play which involves an evil mask that eventually kills everyone who wears it, with an avatar of a deity trapped inside that can possess people. And then the school gets caught up in a zombie/demon apocalypse.
    • Seven Sisters High in Persona 2 hosts a magical stone that opens the door to a magic river that leads to the flying disk of the Ancient Astronauts. And from the same game, the Bomb Shelter underneath Kasugayama High is infested with demons. Subverted in that all this is the result of rumor curse and there's nothing truly special with the schools themselves.
    • Gekkougan High in Persona 3, when the clock strikes midnight, transforms into an Evil Tower of Ominousness and Eldritch Location rolled into one. There's even a school club dedicated to defeating any abomination that may crawl out of it.
    • Averted in Persona 4. The only special thing in Yasogami High are the quirky teachers.
    • Subverted in Persona 5; the school may be the site of a Palace - a plane in the Metaverse warped by cognition and distorted desires - but the building has nothing to do with it. Nothing metaphysical manifests in the real world, and the moment the person responsible leaves, the distortion goes with him.
  • Actually Four Mooks: From Persona 3 onwards, you have to collide with an on-map feature-less shadow to initiate battle with it. And yes, it's perfectly possible to end up fighting four mooks without warning.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • From Persona 3 onwards, on many occasions you are asked to answer questions at school to check your knowledge. The problem is, the games assume that you actually learned the answers at school and thus do not really provide hints or an explanation. Made even worse for international releases, as these questions remain unchanged, and there's no way for a western player to know the answers even if they are acing school. In those cases, a guide is very much needed.
    • All the personal information - such as character birthdays - of the party members are usually in manuals or side material. This is especially prominent for Persona 1 and 2.
  • Alternative Continuity: Of the main Shin Megami Tensei games. This continuity includes Shin Megami Tensei if..., and some version of the events of the Devil Summoner games.
  • Apocalypse Cult: Persona 2 (both games) and 3 have several groups either trying to bring the Apocalypse, or preach that the end is nigh.
  • Apocalypse How: Once per game, though the heroes manage to prevent it. Usually.
    • Persona 1 has planetary total extinction of the human race via mass brainwashing.
    • Persona 2 Innocent Sin has planetary physical annihilation and almost total extinction of human and animal life at least. And there is nothing you can do about it.
    • Persona 2 Eternal Punishment has universal metaphysical annihilation to worry about. Justified because the EP reality is whatever the heroes managed to salvage from IS.
    • Persona 3 has societal collapse at least in the surrounding area, and you narrowly avoid the total extinction of humanity.
    • Persona 4 also has societal collapse - or at least disruption - as an effect of the mist coming from the Midnight Channel.
    • Persona 5 starts with societal disruption due to the psychotic breakdowns, and it reaches nothing short of metaphysical annihilation of the human mind.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: In each game.
    • In Persona 1, you could only have 5 party members (including the protagonist) at the time even though there are 9 playable characters. In addition, certain party members are available only in specific routes; Mark, Maki and Reiji can only be used in the SEBEC route, while Yukino only joins as a permanent party member in the Snow Queen Quest. The only time you can have more than five party members is if you go with the SEBEC route but not recruit Reiji; in that case, he joins you for a boss fight, bringing the party up to six.
    • Persona 2 ensures that there are only five party members available at the time. When a sixth party member is introduced, a previous one leaves the party for the rest of the game.
    • From Persona 3 onwards, you can have up to four members including the protagonist in the party at the time, even though there are a lot more playable characters available. The games allow to switch around party members between fights.
  • Arc Words: "I am thou, thou art I" (I am you, you are me), which is the entire concept of what a Persona is in a nutshell. Many Personas say this upon awakening, and in P5, you'll be hearing it a lot.
  • As Long as There is Evil: Several deities in the franchise threaten that they'll make their return as long as humans have self-destructive tendencies or even powerful desires.
  • Axes at School: And each game has a different justification for it.
    • Persona 1: Masao Inaba literally brought an axe at school, and Yukino has razors. Justified in her case as she is a former delinquent, but the only conceivable reason why Masao would need an axe was to break into buildings for his graffiti art. The rest of the party members contend either with brooms or school club equipment. Afterwards, they have to rely on random encounter drops for the rest of the melee weapons. As for the guns, they're only sold in the Alternative Mikage-cho specifically for defeating demons.
    • In Persona 2 Innocent Sin, you have to spread rumours to even be able to get the weapons in the first place. They do go to school carrying them, but they go there to fight rather than to attend class.
    • Averted in Persona 3 where they only need their weapons during the Dark Hour, so there's no reason for them to carry them to school.
    • Played straight in Persona 4 where they all hide their weapons under their uniforms so they can go to the TV world after school.
    • Subverted in Persona 5 as the "weapons" are actually models.
  • Bag of Spilling: If any characters return in sequels or spinoffs, they can expect to have their power levels reset and their Ultimate Personas discarded in favor of their Initial Personas. That said...
    • Persona 2: Eternal Punishment justifies this with Maya, who is effectively a different individual than Innocent Sin's Maya due to the timeline reset at the end of that game, and outright averts this with Tatsuya, who joins you at a very high level with his Ultimate Persona Apollo equipped (he can even pick up right where he left off in Innocent Sin with an Old Save Bonus).
    • Persona 4 Arena and Persona 4 Arena Ultimax avert this with the former members of S.E.E.S., who have formed a government organization called the Shadow Operatives and retain their Ultimate Personas throughout the events of the games.
  • Beelzebub: The most powerful Persona of the Devil Arcana.
  • Befriending the Enemy: In the Updated Rereleases of P4 and P5, you can form Social Links / Confidants with the antagonists.
  • Big Bad: Nyarlathotep for Persona 1 and 2, as he orchestrated everything that happens in these games. After his defeat, he shifts to a Greater-Scope Villain and lets other Big Bads take his place.
  • Big Good: Philemon, the incarnation of humanity's strong will and potential. After he is Demoted to Extra (as in, only implied to be there), the position of the Big Good goes to Igor, while he shifts to Greater-Scope Paragon.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: Every single character in all the games are unique, with distinct designs and personality traits, and easily recognizable, not only within their own games but in the whole series. Even nameless NPCs are given unique quirks to make them easily recognizable.
  • Cats Are Magic:
    • The Lucky Cat statue in the Kuzunoha detective agency of Persona 2 is actually a means for the Nekomata who hides in the bathroom to take your money.
    • Katsuya's initial Persona Helios is an anthropomorphic cat.
    • Wang Long Chizuru's pet cat in Eternal Punishment turns out to be a Shikigami in disguise.
    • Lieutenant-General Zula in Tatsuya's Scenario is a talking cat, and it guides the heroes through Kadasu Mandala.
    • Morgana, one of your party members in Persona 5, looks like a regular cat out of the Metaverse, and like a cartoon cat while in it.
  • Celestial Paragons and Archangels: The Justice and Judgment Arcanas are full of such entities.
  • Changing of the Guard: Each game puts you in control of a new set of characters, though Persona 2 had the occasional Guest-Star Party Member from a previous game.
  • Character Portrait: In every single game. Each character has a few portraits to match their current mood.
  • Combination Attack:
    • Fusion spells in 2 require at least two party members.
    • From 3 onwards, when an enemy gets knocked down, your entire party can unleash an All Out Attack against it. The power of the attack depends on the number of party members.
  • Contrasting Sequel Antagonist:
    • Persona 1:
      • Takahisa Kandori is an incredibly rich, talented and intelligent scientist and businessman who believes that the existence of humanity is a blemish to the world and must be wiped out, and he tries to achieve godhood to achieve this. In fact, he does achieve it. However, he has no hard feelings towards his illegitimate relative (who is trying to kill him), shows a surprising ability to grow fond of other people, realizes that it's Lonely at the Top, and goes out via Suicide by Cop. When he returns in Persona 2 Eternal Punishment, he's some sort of Anti-Villain who gives cryptic hints to the heroes and encourages them to stop the chaos they are in, only to still stand in the way because "it's too late for him to change".
      • Pandora is the Enemy Without of party-member Maki, and she wishes to create a paradise made of nothingness to ease her own pain, even if it means Death of Personality.
    • Persona 2:
      • Tatsuya Sudou is an insane serial killer and arsonist who has personal beef with the protagonists, and his ultimate goal is to eliminate his father, and he makes no secret out of it. He also has the need to follow somebody's orders, as in Innocent Sin, he is a minion, and in Eternal Punishment he tries to get his old leader back. Both times he dies long before the end of the game, killed by the protagonists.
      • Unlike all other antagonists here, Joker was Brainwashed and Crazy by the Big Bad, who took advantage of his childhood trauma. He is also very elegant, unlike all other villains here, and is a Well-Intentioned Extremist who genuinely wants to help people.
      • Tatsuzou Sudou is a corrupt minister who's running for Prime Minister, and has several other groups like the Mafia, the police and the media under his thumb. His goal is to eliminate the world of the original sin, though he respects the heroes for trying to stop him. He also tries to get rid of his son by all means possible and keep him far away, is perfectly capable of holding his own in a fight, and eventually is transformed into a monster and killed.
      • The Big Bad Nyarlathotep is an Eldritch Abomination, the incarnation of humanity's tendency towards chaos and destruction, and he's a Magnificent Bastard of epic proportions, as he manipulated all the heroes and villains in both P1 and P2, and had a blast doing it. And in Innocent Sin, he wins, which is more than what other villains can claim.
    • Persona 3:
      • Ikutsuki is an Ax-Crazy maniac with a Devil Complex who wishes to destroy and rule over humanity - much like the other villains here - and has no issue using other people to advance his goals, but he's also the epitome of Affably Evil and a Non-Action Guy.
      • Nyx is the only deity in the series who doesn't draw her power from human belief, as she is older than our species. In fact, she doesn't really care about humanity at all.
    • Persona 4:
      • Adachi is a sociopath whose only motivation was that his life was boring, unlike the grand motivations of the other villains, and gets his hands quite dirty. In addition, he has no large group following his orders, unlike the rest. He is also able to form personal connections with people, and comes off as quite the awkward dork from day to day.
      • The other suspects are also quite different. One is an Attention Whore, and the other was a good man tricked into thinking that he's saving people.
      • Izanami seriously thinks that her experiment is for the benefit of humanity, but she operates more on a Blue-and-Orange Morality, and is a Horrible Judge of Character (she based her assessment of humans on the spoilered guy above), and is a Graceful Loser.
    • Persona 5:
      • Shido is a corrupt politician who's running for Prime Minister, and has several groups like the Yakuza, the police and the media under his thumb. He has an illegitimate son and he's using the Metaverse to advance his agenda, with no care for how many people die. Sounds familiar? Well, unlike Kandori and Tatsuzou above, this guy has zero respect for the heroes, and instead of remaking this world into a pure one, his goal is to remake it so that he is on top. He also works together with that relative, has no idea that there are people out for his blood, and he does not knowingly obey any higher power. Also, he has never put any real effort in his scheme as all the research he's using is stolen and he always acts by proxies.
      • The illegitimate relative in question is Goro Akechi, who is also a villain. Unlike Tatsuya Sudou, he is perfectly sane, and his revenge towards his father involves a rather complicated plan to ruin his father's reputation which even requires him cooperating with the protagonists; and it works.
      • Unlike the chaos and destruction-inclined deities before, Yaldabaoth is the Persona answer to YHVH; a deity born by people's desire for absolute order, who wishes to rule humanity instead of destroying it.
      • Royal has Maruki. While like P2 Joker he is a Well-Intentioned Extremist with the best interest of the people in mind and a Dark and Troubled Past, he is not manipulated by anyone and instead acts entirely by his own free will.
  • Contrasting Sequel Main Character: It'd be pretty boring if we played with the same person each time, right?
    • The Protagonist of Persona 1 is a blank slate without a name, personality, exhibited characteristics, preferences or a past. There are a few hints of his personality here and there - like how he's a good singer - but those come mostly from comments by the other characters. He's supposedly a surprisingly good leader who keeps his head cool, somewhat underperforming at school, and if you make the right choices to get the good ending, an All-Loving Hero. The manga, which is by far the most popular adaptation of P1, gives him the name Naoya Todou, portrays him as an easy-going guy who's hiding his pain over the death of his twin and a bit of The Gambling Addict.
    • Tatsuya Suou from Persona 2: Innocent Sin is a Deconstruction of the '90s Anti-Hero. He's given a Canon Name from the get-go (though you can change it), he's a third-year student instead of a second year, has noticeable Character Tics, has a well-established and complicated past that's affecting the plot, is playable post his first game, and he's the only canonically LGBTQ protagonist (bisexual). He's an aloof loner with deep childhood trauma who has no future prospects, has a very strained relationship with his family and school - to the point he's been branded a delinquent - and is emotionally dependent on his friends. In Eternal Punishment, where he's actually seen speaking, he's angsting even more, has Unstoppable Rage issues, and an I Work Alone attitude. There's also a lot of side material describing his life in deep detail, like what food he likes.
    • Maya Amano from Persona 2: Eternal Punishment is a standout in all of MegaTen. She is the only canon female protagonist, and the only adult at 23 years old. She's using Guns Akimbo, unlike the close-combat protagonists of the other games, and she's a party member in Innocent Sin before becoming the protagonist of her game. Like Tatsuya, she has a deeply rooted personal history and deep trauma that affects the plot, but unlike him, she is a Genki Girl and a team player who always wants to see the best in everyone and everything. She's also a bit of a Cloudcuckoolander, and there's a lot of side material covering her life as well.
    • The Persona 3 male protagonist more of a blank slate than his predecessors - nowhere close to P1 level though - but he's acting always cold and emotionally detached. This is especially prominent in the anime and manga adaptations. He's rather feminine in terms of appearance, likes music a lot if his ever-present headphones are any indication, and a Messianic Archetype. Different adaptations give him different names, but the most well-known ones are Makoto Yuki and Minato Arisato.
    • The female protagonist from the portable version of Persona 3 is the exact opposite of her male counterpart. She comes off as a Genki Girl - and Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth depicts her exactly as such - who gets along with everyone, and is more capable of forming relationships than her male counterpart. Not only she can form Social Links with people that he couldn't, SEES seems to get along better in her version of the game. Finally, her weapon of choice is a Naginata, setting her apart from any other playable character in the series. This whole contrast is lampshaded by the color themes of the two protagonists. The male one is blue-themed, while the female one is red-themed.
    • The protagonist of Persona 4 is noticeably manlier than the P3 one, has an excellent relationship with his family and friends, genuinely enjoys school and life in general, and in adaptations he's depicted as a Comically Serious Cloudcuckoolander (and you can play him exactly as this in the game itself). Unlike the protagonists of the previous two games, his personal history never affects the game in any way. He also has a few names from various adaptations, but the canon one is Yu Narukami.
    • "Joker", the protagonist of Persona 5, shows the most personality out of everyone save for Tatsuya and Maya. He's been branded a criminal by society and cuts deals with other outcasts to the point of becoming The Fixer. He only goes to school out of obligation, and tries to draw as little attention as possible. But when he's in the Metaverse, he's a Gentleman Thief and a very suave, cocky Large Ham, outright artistic with a knife, and generally a show-off. His dialogue options also indicate that he's a Troll.
  • Cosmic Chess Game: Philemon vs. Nyarlathotep in a nutshell. Their respective domains even have floors that resemble chess boards. And unfortunately for everyone, Nyarly is a cheater.
  • Cosmic Horror Reveal:
    • In every game, the heroes think that they're dealing with corrupt people only to suddenly face whichever deity is truly pulling the strings.
    • Downplayed in Persona 3 where it's obvious that you're dealing with something completely unnatural from the get-go, though not the sheer scale behind it.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: The deities in the series are entities incomprehensible by humanity who usually gain their power from humanity and cannot truly be eliminated no matter what the heroes do.
    • The Persona 2 duology - and by extension, Persona 1 - takes several enemies and villains directly from the Cthulhu Mythos, with Nyarlathotep himself as the Big Bad. Innocent Sin even ends with ends with the bad guy winning and the party having to push the Reset Button to get another shot at saving the world. Even worse, even that is not enough to take him down, and he promises that he'll return with a As Long as There is Evil speech. The human race itself guarantees his existence. Better yet, in the PSP remake of Eternal Punishment (the last of the three games), he throws an army of entities straight out of the Mythos at Tatsuya, and sure enough, it is acknowledged that their forms would drive anyone mad. Tatsuya tries his best to describe them but he makes no sense, and Ulala just gives up and calls them impossibly ugly. And that's before the Dreamlands and the Cult of Cthulhu are mentioned by Igor.
    • The events of Persona 3 ultimately lead to The End of the World as We Know It, complete with a doomsday cult and brain-dead people uttering prophetic warnings. This is all due to the subtle influence of the reawakened Nyx, a vast and an ancient entity being called down to the earth. Her presence causes people to explode into puddles of black ooze and random organs. In all likelihood, she doesn't care in the slightest. Oh and she's mainly summoned by the Anthropomorphic Personification of the malice and despair in the hearts of humanity. Despite your best efforts, the best action taken was a reverse seal; the protagonist makes a Heroic Sacrifice to keep said personification of malice and despair away from Nyx.
  • Dating Sim: From Persona 3 onwards, part of the game is to manage your potential romantic relationships with the female party members / Social Links / Confidants.
  • Demonic Possession: The fate of everyone who loses control of their Persona.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: The True Final Boss of every game can qualify as this, as they're definitely eldritch, and you most certainly give them a good beating. Tatsuya in particular gets to literally punch out Cthulhu during Tatsuya's Scenario, and at the end of Innocent Sin he actually has the option to punch Philemon.
  • Dirty Cop:
    • Persona 2 Eternal Punishment and Persona 5 have almost the entire upper echelon of the police being paid off by and working for a corrupt politician.
    • In Persona 4, the killer is a police officer.
  • Dueling Messiahs: This trope is a recurring motif, from the third game onwards. All of the true villains are gods manifested or affected by humanity's collective unconscious, and they almost always insist they are helping mankind by fulfilling the most primal wants that people are too afraid to voice (Desire for death, desire for ignorance, desire for safety and leadership, etc.) Even the human True Final Boss of Persona 5 Royal is an altruistic and compassionate man who only wants for everyone in the world to be their happiest even if it requires a planet-spanning Lotus-Eater Machine. Each of them are opposed by teenagers who believe in The Power of Friendship and that self-determination is more meaningful than unconscious yearnings.
  • Dungeon Crawler: All the games, though in P1 and P2 most "dungeons" are real life places (like a mall), and P3 only has one dungeon.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Given that Personas are "a mask to protect your real self while in daily situations", this trope is in full force with each and every playable character. Most of them come from a Dark and Troubled Past and/or are heavily pressured/disappointed by the society around them. The power of the Persona usually activates in a life-or-death situation, which results in several Traumatic Superpower Awakenings in all games. Persona 3 puts it the best.
    Junpei: I mean, you gotta be a little nutty to point a gun at your head and pull the trigger, ya know?
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The games before and after Persona 3 are nearly unrecognizable as part of the same series, apart from the Jungian and tarot themes.
    • The original games were fairly straightforward dungeon-crawling JRPGs. Persona 3 introduced the series' iconic social sim aspects, including a Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World plot structure and Social Links/Confidants.
    • In the original games, the Judgement and World arcanas were just regular old arcanas, while the Fool was near impossible to get (either Fusion accident or getting insanely lucky in negotiations). From Persona 3 onward, the Fool is invariably associated with The Hero, Judgement always represents a plot-critical ally whose advancement is required to reach the true ending, and the World is the Infinity +1 Sword.
    • In the original games, everyone could wield multiple Personas pretty much at will, though how effectively they could use them was restricted by affinities. From Persona 3 onward, the protagonists can use anything in the game with equal ease and are known as the Wild Card, while the party members are restricted to one Persona only.
    • The "One More!" and "All Out Attack" system was only introduced from Persona 3 onwards, though it should be noted that similar overhauls of the battle system happened in the main series around the same time.
    • Persona 1 and 2 boast far more elements and damage types than their successors.
    • In Persona 1 and 2, all users could summon their Personas in the real world without any help. In later games, they either need an Evoker to summon, or can only do it in mental realms.
    • In Persona 1 and 2, the characters had various shadow selves (with the most prominent being Maki, who had four versions of herself running around), and they could wield Personas on their own, often fought as late-game bosses. After being absent in Persona 3, Persona 4 and 5 made it so that the characters obtain their Persona by accepting their shadow, and that Persona users don't have Shadows at all.
    • In P1 and P2, all skills had a set SP cost depending on the Persona. From Persona 3 onwards, physical skills are paid in HP, and each magic skill has its own cost regardless of which Persona has it.
  • Eldritch Location: Each game has at least one; Maki's mental world, Xibalba / Ameno Torifune, Tartarus (which is the page image), the backside of the TV, Mementos... What they all have in common is that they're locations connected with the Collective Unconsciousness where even thoughts can become reality.
  • Elemental Powers: A staple of the franchise. Each playable character is associated with an element in their game, though in the early titles some characters have massive elemental shifts.
    • The ever-present ones are:
      • An Ice Person: Bufu.
      • Blow You Away: Garu. P1 also had Zan, which was referred as Blast magic.
      • Casting a Shadow: Mudo and Eiha, which are referred as Dark or Curse skills. Persona 1 breaks them down to Death and Curse skills.
      • Light 'em Up: The Hama and Kouga spells, called Light, Holy or Bless skills. Persona 1 breaks them down to Expel and Miracle skills.
      • Playing with Fire: Agi.
      • Shock and Awe: Zio, which is called either Lightning or Electricity.
      • Non-Elemental: Almighty, the unblockable type of magic. Typically, that's the Megido line, though in P1 they are Nuclear spells and treated like all other types, and in P2 "Almighty" and "Non-Elemental" are treated as two different types, with the former being a normal element, and includes Zan and Gry in them.
    • As for the rest of the elements...
  • Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors: Combat in the series is done by using your elemental skills to target the enemies' elemental weaknesses, though the exact strength-weakness chart varies by game and Persona.
  • Enemy Within:
    • The Shadow Selves, who want to kill the real ones.
    • STREGA has their own Personas to deal with. Ditto Shinjiro, who actually killed an innocent bystander when he lost control of it.
  • Extra Turn: The "One More" system allows a character who hits a weakness and/or knocks down an enemy to act again.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: The demons and Personas out there can be from just about any mythology possible. From most of the Ars Goetia to obscure African and Mayan deities, to Europian folk tales, there's no limit to what you can summon to fight alongside you.
  • Fighting Spirit: How the Personas function.
  • Fusion Dance: With the exception of Persona 2, you can fuse different personas to create new ones, usually with the extra benefit of passing down skills and gaining EXP for doing it.
  • Genre Mashup: The Persona series are Urban Fantasy Role Playing Games with a few Science Fiction elements and Big Bads of the Cosmic Horror Genre - as they are incomprehensible entities that obtain their power from humanity and cannot truly be defeated - and simultaneously they are high school simulators with an extra Dating Sim function.
  • God and Satan Are Both Jerks: Philemon and Nyarlathotep. Nyarlathotep is a classical villain who wants to see humanity destroy itself, but even Philemon, who gives humans their Personas to fight back, does little more than observe. He wouldn't want to lose a bet over something small like helping an entire species, after all. You can punch him for his attitude.
  • Gods Need Prayer Badly:
    • The various deities in the series all gain their power from the secret desires of the people as a whole. They only seek to destroy the world because humanity secretly wants them to. The only exception is Nyx from Persona 3.
    • A very interesting variant of this happens in Persona 5. The people's faith switched from Yaldabaoth to the Phantom Thieves, enabling Joker to unleash his Ultimate Persona and defeat the deity once and for all... And then Royal has the Phantom Thieves put their faith in Maruki, giving him god-like power. The Thieves are quite stunned to hear that the entire reason for Maruki being this powerful is that they trusted him.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: From Persona 3 onwards, your party members generate blue Battle Auras when summoning their Personas, while hostile Persona users such as Strega, the Killer, and Black Mask generate red ones.
  • Harder Than Hard: Persona 3 Portable was the game that introduced the "Maniac" difficulty to the franchise as a whole. Keep in mind, that's the subtitle of Nocturne's Updated Re-release, so prepare to be punished.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: With the exception of Maya Amano, who was introduced in an earlier game, you can choose the name of every protagonist.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: All the protagonists of this series with the exception of Maya Amano, P3’s Female Protagonist, and P5's Joker use swords. There are also some other party members who use them, like Nanjo, Junpei and Yusuke.
  • Heroic Mime: While this trope is a MegaTen staple, the Persona series plays it in interesting ways.
    • First, all the protagonists have as many voiced lines for combat and negotiation as the other party members.
    • Second, in the games where they appear but are not the protagonist, they'll talk like normal. A standout example are the Persona 2 games, where in Innocent Sin protagonist Tatsuya was silent and party member Maya was talkative, while in Eternal Punishment their roles are reversed, and now Tatsuya is the one who talks and Maya is the silent protagonist.
    • Third, the characters' Inner Monologue is perfectly visible to the player.
    • If the protagonist has a Shadow self, then that self can also talk just fine.
    • Subverted in Persona 5 where Joker talks during animated cut-scenes, though not very much.
  • Humanity on Trial: The real plot of P2 and P4. In fact, in P2 the resident deities made a bet out of the result.
  • Infinity +1 Sword:
    • The Fusion Spell Armageddon in P2 and P3 is essentially an "I win" button. It kills everything but Philemon.
    • Each playable character in the series has a more conventional ultimate weapon, but actually obtaining them requires a lot of time, money, investment in Fusion, sidequests, or a combination of all the above.
    • There are also a few uber-powerful Personas that are only available on New Game+, but by the point you get them they're more Bragging Rights Reward than anything.
  • It Is Beyond Saving: Like in the main series, most villains believe that humanity is irredeemable.
  • Justified Save Point: The one enabling you to save the game is Philemon. That's why he serves as the Game-Over Man in P1 and P2, and why the save points in later games are blue butterflies.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: All Out Attacks are the games' method to get in free damage while the enemies are knocked down.
  • Legacy Boss Battle:
    • Kandori, a boss in Persona 1 makes his return in Eternal Punishment.
    • Tatsuya Sudou, Ginji Sasaki, and Shadow Maya are fought both in Innocent Sin and Eternal Punishment.
    • The Big Bad Nyarlathotep is fought as a Final Boss in both Persona 2 games, but another form of his is also fought in Persona 1.
    • The Sleeping Table from Persona 3 makes its return in Persona 4 as a late-game boss.
  • Level-Up at Intimacy 5: How the Social Links / Confidants work. Interacting with each character allows you to unlock more Personas of their respective Arcana, as well as gain EXP and additional abilities (the party members may also gain extra abilities). Generally, the series downplayes the "intimacy" part of the trope as most of these relationships are platonic, but Persona 3 forces you to enter romantic relationships with the opposite sex and juggle them all together.
  • Lighter and Softer: In comparison to its parent series. Here, the heroes fight along with their loyal friends and succeed in defeating their enemies, and the world is restored to peaceful normality before the damage becomes too excessive. That said...
    • Innocent Sin is an infamous aversion, as it's considered dark even by MegaTen standards. The game's only ending essentially forces the heroes to reenact the plot of Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne. Even worse, it is revealed that all their efforts to prevent the disaster were All According to Plan, and that they were the pawns in a Cosmic Chess Game, and that they have been manipulated ever since they were little kids. In that ending, Maya, one of your party members, is murdered, The Bad Guy Wins, and there's no choice but to push the Reset Button.
    • Persona 3 is not at Innocent Sin level of dark, but with its theme being the inevitability of death and the hero dying to stop The End of the World as We Know It, it's a pretty good contestant.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Let's put it this way: there's a Social Link / Confidant for every major arcana in each game, and there are even more characters.
  • Long Runner:
    • The series started in 1996 (1995 if you include If...) with no signs of stopping.
    • An In-Universe example is the Show Within a Show Phoenix Ranger Featherman R, which is shown to have already been popular in 1989, and even in 2016 (Persona 5) it's still extremely famous.
  • The Man Behind the Man: The human villain(s) of each game almost always turn out to be manipulated one way or another by a higher force. Not that this excuses most of them. The only exception is the third semester antagonist of Persona 5 Royal, Takuto Maruki, who actually is acting of their own free will.
  • Merging Mistake: Fusion Accidents; when the result it NOT what you want or should reasonably expect.
  • Monster Compendium: The Persona Compendium.
  • Multiple Endings: With the exception of Persona 2, each game has many different endings, all depending on player choices.
    • Persona 1 has four endings total. Two for the main quest (the bad and the good ending), and two for the Snow Queen Quest. The endings depend on choices made throughout the whole game.
    • In Persona 3, at a specific moment a character basically tells you what is to come and gives you a choice. Depending on what you choose, you get either the bad ending right there and then, or the game progresses further to the Bittersweet Ending.
    • Persona 4 is complicated. During an extremely tense part of the game, the player must identify the correct murderer depending on what hints the game provides. Not getting the right guy can lead to three different bad (but very similar) endings, getting the guy leads to the regular ending, and sticking around long enough afterwards to learn the truth behind the Midnight Channel leads to the golden ending. Golden adds the "Accomplice" ending; you get the right guy, but choose to cooperate with them. It also adds an extension on the golden ending.
    • Persona 5 also has multiple endings. First, there are several "false" endings in case you fail to meet some deadlines (though since the game is told In Medias Res, those don't fool anyone). Then there's the bad ending you get if you sell out your friends to the person you're telling the story to. If you make it past this part, there's another "Accomplice" ending, and a true ending. Royal adds a few more endings post the true ending of the vanilla version: a third accomplice ending that's actually surprisingly happy and a new true ending.
  • Mythical Motifs: Present in every game.
    • Persona 1 is the most diverse game in terms of mythology motifs, as the main Personas of the cast come from every corner of the world. However, there's an ever-present Hindu theme in the environment, with several locations having Hindu mythology names like the Mana Castle, Deva Yuga or Avidia world.
    • Persona 2 has several.
      • The Personas of the cast are all taken from Greco-Roman mythology, with the IS cast focusing on the Olympian pantheon, and the EP cast focusing on the Titans.
      • Innocent Sin has a zodiac motif, with the Masked Circle taking their names from the Zodiac signs, as well as their elemental affinities, and even some dungeons.
      • In the same game, there's a Mayan mythology theme, as that's what they base their conspiracy theories on. Several late-game enemies are taken from that mythology, and then there are stuff like Ixquic, Xibalba and Nahui-Olin.
      • Eternal Punishment replaces the Mayan theme with Feng Sui. Concepts such as Kegare start playing a vital role.
    • Persona 3 goes back to the Greeks. The Personas are minor deities or demigods, and the whole game is one big recreation of the legend of Orpheus. However, it mixes this with some christian themes, like Messiah.
    • Persona 4 is purely Japanese. All the Personas, and the deities are Japanese.
    • Persona 5 is almost as varied as P1 in terms of origins, from Zoroastrian to Greek to Japanese, though all the Personas are rebels or outsiders in some fashion. The initial Personas are taken from stories, legends and folk tales from various corners of the world. The enemies on the other hand follow a Gnostic - Abrahamic theme, evoking demons like Asmodeus, Bael and Satanael.
  • New Transfer Student: The protagonists of 3, 4 and 5 are transfer students from other towns.
  • Nintendo Hard: Make no mistake; just because they're easier and Lighter and Softer than its parent series, that doesn't mean the games won't pummel you to submission if you make a mistake.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: The later games feature plenty of non-human party members.
    • Persona 3 has Koromaru (a dog) and Aigis (a robot). The Answer adds another robot named Metis.
    • Persona 4 has Teddie, who is a sentient shadow.
    • Persona 5 has Morgana, who looks like a housecat but is a Velvet Room attendant.
    • P5 Scramble, the sequel of the above, not only has Morgana, but it also adds Sophia, an AI.
  • Olympus Mons: All Personas are gods and demons from various mythologies. In fact, the actual Olympic pantheon is featured among them.
  • Power Glows: Summoning one's Persona is accompanied by blue light.
  • The Power of Friendship: Every single game emphasizes heavily the importance of friends in your life and their mutual contribution to help everyone in their group go through the hard times in their lives and develop as people. From Persona 3 onwards, it turns into a gameplay element through the Social Links / Confidants function.
  • Rainbow Speak: Important terms or information tend to be highlighted.
  • Real-Place Background: Despite often using fictional names, the majority of Persona games use real locations in Japan for the design of their settings. The man-made Tatsumi Port Island from P3 for instance is based heavily on the man-made Rokkou Island in Kobe. Inaba in P4 is based on the city of Fuefuki, with Yasoinaba station for instance being a copy of Isawa-Onsen Station there. P5 meanwhile recreates multiple locations around Tokyo, with even the "fictional" Yongenjaya taking its appearance directly from Sangenjaya Station and various back alleys in the area.
  • Recruit Teenagers with Attitude: Roughly 90% of the heroes Philemon/Igor/whoever recruits to save the world are high school students. The only real exception is in Persona 2: Eternal Punishment, where the party consists of working adults and the one teenager among them has a significant personal stake in the game's conflict and has far more Persona-related experience than his companions.
  • Recurring Character:
    • Igor is the Master of the Velvet Room in nearly every single game in the series. The only exceptions are Persona 5 where he appears only at the end of the game, and the Persona Q duology and Persona 5 Scramble: The Phantom Strikers, where he's completely absent. Igor is responsible for helping the protagonist - or the whole party, in earlier games - unlock new Personas and master their powers, as well as give cryptic hints.
    • Philemon, Igor's master, made semi-frequent appearances in Persona 1 and Persona 2, while in later titles he takes the form of a blue butterfly to watch over the protagonist (and help you save the game). He is also completely absent in Persona 5, but still appears in Persona Q2 as a mere butterfly.
  • Recurring Element: Since Persona 3, there is at least one character that can be ratted out as a traitor or even a Big Bad just by spotting several habits of that person. If said person fills at least two of these traits, it's a surefire giveaway that they aren't like what they seem, or have other motives in their mind:
    • At least one food-based conversation at one point during the game, usually right at the first encounter.
    • Character vanishes after several appearances doing absolutely nothing despite being (usually) featured as a main character with a portrait.
    • Seems to be overtly and overly friendly and innocent unlike other antagonists. Sometimes it's genuine, other times it isn't.
    • You can usually start a social link or at least hang out with them. If Social Links are not available, then there could be several friendly gameplay-based interactions with the traitor.
  • Recurring Riff: The Velvet Room theme "Aria of the Soul", also known as "the Poem of Everyone's Souls", has appeared in every single game in the series, and is often remixed into other themes like the Final Boss in Persona 3.
  • Refusing Paradise: Though it's usually paradise in name only and entails the enslavement/destruction of humanity, so the protagonists refuse it by default. That said, Royal has an ending that allow you to avert this trope and said Paradise was for real, although what happens next wouldn't be good.
  • Reset Button: The ending of Innocent Sin. All the following games take place after that.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: Aigis, Metis, Labrys and Sophia are all robots (or an AI, in Sophia's case) that develop human emotions.
  • Rule of Symbolism: If a character is associated with an Arcana and/or a Persona, a quick google search should tell you all you need to know about their character, or at least give you a pretty good idea.
  • Save Point: With the exception of Persona 2 where you can save anywhere, the rest of the games utilize this. Fortunately, they are frequent and easily approachable (except for Persona 1, that is).
  • School Uniforms Are the New Black:
    • Persona 1 and Innocent Sin justify it, as the characters were just leaving school when they got caught up in the events.
    • Averted in Eternal Punishment as the party is all adults, and the only school-aged party member has ditched school and is wearing casual clothes.
    • Played straight in Persona 3 even though the exploration of Tartarus happens well after school hours. The justification is that they are technically a school club doing school club activities, so they fight in uniform.
    • Justified in Persona 4 as the party explores the TV world right after school. On Sundays they wear casual clothes.
    • Averted in Persona 5 as the Phantom Thieves only wear uniforms during and right after school. On non-school days or the evenings, they wear casual clothes.
  • Science Fiction: While subtle compared to the other elements, there are several pieces of technology that are far too advanced for the year they're set in, or even decades after their release. AIs and robots of Aigis's caliber are hardly present in 2020 (the game was released in 2006), and we certainly don't have teleportation machines like Kandori's "Petit Deva".
  • Shadow Archetype: The Shadow Selves, which are the incarnation of every part of yourself that you want to keep hidden and refuse to admit exists.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The series is one huge shout-out to Carl Jung. The term "Persona" as it's used in the game comes from him.
    • Persona 1 and 2 borrow heavily from the Cthulhu Mythos. And so does the third semester in Royal.
    • The attendants of the Velvet Room are all named after Frankenstein characters.
  • Show Within a Show: From Persona 2 onwards, there's a Sentai tv show called Phoenix Ranger Featherman R. It even comes with Excited Title! Two-Part Episode Name!.
  • Soaperizing: From Persona 3 onwards, more than half the game is focused on the personalities and development on the characters in the games, as well as the potential romance the character has with them.
  • Superman Stays Out of Gotham:
    • Persona 3: The events of the game is centred around the Kirijo Group and their history of shady activities from the past catching up to them. It is mentioned by Takeharu Kirijo that the Kirijo Group is an offshoot of the Nanjo Group, with both groups still having a close working relationship by the time of the game's events. Yet in no case does the Nanjo Group have any involvement in the game, much less an appearance.
    • Persona 5: It was mentioned in Persona 4: Arena that the Shadow Operatives have become a government agency established to monitor and resolve Shadow activity and other similar supernatural elements. Yet despite the various cases of suspicious mental shutdowns and psychotic breakdowns in Japan's own capital, which would be an obvious red flag, the Shadow Operatives have absolutely no involvement in the plot. The closest thing to justify this is that the mental shutdowns and psychotic breakdowns were all part of a government conspiracy with a politician with enough power to run for Prime Minister as its leader, meaning that there could be some bureaucratic red-tape in play.
  • Supernatural Gold Eyes: The Shadow Selves have the glowing version, and so does Nyarlathotep. Averted with the Persona 2 Shadow Selves, who instead have Red Eyes, Take Warning.
  • Surprisingly Good English: A good chunk of the soundtrack from the later games is made up of songs with English lyrics, and they are perfectly understandable. The PSP soundtrack of Persona 1 averts it, as it's Gratuitous English instead.
  • Tarot Motifs: Predominant. Every single Persona and enemy in the game are associated with one of the twenty-two major arcana. This also holds true for the Social Links / Confidants. The arcana of each character is symbolic of their personality and character arcs. As Persona 3 puts it...
    Nyx Avatar: The Arcana is the means by which all is revealed.
  • Thematic Series: While every game takes place in the same universe and Igor and the Velvet Room appear in every game, starting from Persona 3, each mainline title features a new cast of characters, a new setting, and a different interpretation of the titular Persona (i.e. in Persona 4, they are the result of the user accepting themselves while in Persona 5, they represent the user's rebellious spirit).
  • Timed Mission:
    • The Snow Queen Quest in P1 (yes, the whole game turns into a timed mission), the Aerospace Museum in P2, the Priestess full moon shadow in P3, and the Shadow Okumura fight in P5.
    • Persona 4 and 5 force you to complete each dungeon before specific deadlines.
  • Traumatic Superpower Awakening: A much-forgotten lesson: you need to be broken to have a Persona in the first place. It's not a random superpower you can get, it's a shield to protect you. This is nearly literally what Carl Jung writes about. Essentially, a mask to protect oneself is a "persona", and it is used to hide one's true nature. The most common type of people who do these psychological actions and the ones that have the most visible Personas are also the ones who are the most messed-up or out-of-place in the world or the society around them.
    • It's more clearly seen in the Persona 2 duology, where two Personas are forcefully awoken by the Alaya Shrine incident, which involved the attempted murder of the characters.
    • It comes back with a vengeance in Persona 3 - as Junpei notes, you'd have to be a little messed up to fire a gun-like object at your own head. Repeatedly.
    • Even "bright and bubbly" Persona 4 has it as a major element; it's just less obvious than in some other titles (fitting with the game's theme). Everyone appears fine on the surface, but underneath the veneer they're all in an identity or self crisis by the time the protagonist gets involved.
    • In Persona 5, this is the most obvious, as almost everyone who awakened a Persona did it out of extremely messed up situations — usuallly involving being pushed around, crushed and destroyed by the scum of society. Characters may also awaken them out of sheer will for salvation or self-salvation, or even awaken them to distorted desires.
  • True Companions: Taken to its logical conclusion in the later games, as your party members will take death blows for you and give you actual power.
  • Updated Re-release: All the games have received this.
    • Persona 1 was remade for the PSP, with somewhat upgraded graphics (especially the menu), reworked game balance, remade 3D and a new soundtrack. The English port took it a step further by including the Snow Queen Quest (which was absent from the original release), retranslating the game from scratch, and adding new voice acting.
    • Persona 2 Innocent Sin also received a PSP port, with upgraded graphics (mostly the menus), remixed soundtrack (and the option to switch between the original and the new version), reworked negotiations, and the Climax Theatre, which includes new sidequests. This was also the first official version of the game outside Japan.
    • The Persona 2 Eternal Punishment PSP port, on top of the graphics and soundtrack work that was also done in IS, added Tatsuya's Scenario, which tells the events of the game from Tatsuya's POV, heavily expands on the lore and plot of the game, introduces new characters, and includes a Bonus Dungeon and several new bosses. That version was never released out of Japan.
    • Persona 3 received two updated versions.
      • FES, unlike most other examples here, is on the same console as the original. It adds an extended playable epilogue called The Answer, with new Tartarus blocks, additional plot, and new bosses.
      • Portable (the PSP port), receives a significant graphics downgrade due to the limitations of the hardware and removes The Answer, but enables you to control your party members (the most criticized aspect of the original), and adds a female protagonist option, with new Social Links and a new soundtrack to go with her.
    • Persona 4 received Golden for the Vita. It adds a new character, new Social Links, a Bonus Dungeon, and two new endings, along with an epilogue.
    • Persona 5 has Royal, for the same console. Once again, it introduces new characters, dungeons, new and reworked Confidants, a third semester to the story and two new endings.
  • Urban Fantasy: All the games feature normal people in normal places that have suddenly been laced with the supernatural. The Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World aspect only enforces this.
  • Urban Legend:
  • Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World: 3, 4 and 5 happen over the course of a year, and most of the playable characters are students. They balance school and daily life with their supernatural activities.
  • We Cannot Go On Without You: From Persona 3 onwards, if the protagonist dies, game over.
  • What If?: How the entire series started, combined with For Want of a Nail. Long story short, the events of the Raidou Kuzunoha games prevented the events of Shin Megami Tensei I from ever happening.
  • Wind Is Green: Wind spells usually are colored green. Best seen in Persona 2 Innocent Sin where the wind-themed Aquarius Shrine, the Crystal Skull of Wind, the wind-using Aquarius Mask enemies and Queen Aquarius are all green.
  • With This Herring: You start off your adventure to save the world with nothing but the clothes on your back and maybe a cheap weapon if you're lucky. It's justified in Persona 1 and Persona 2 by the fact that the party is suddenly thrust into their adventure with no time to prepare, and in Persona 4 and Persona 5 where you're just a bunch of high school students who have to fund their activities out of their own pockets.

Alternative Title(s): Shin Megami Tensei Persona

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report