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  • In Fate/Stay Night, the three main story paths are Fate, Unlimited Blade Works, and Heaven's Feel. In Fate/Zero, there is instead the framework for the three if you look at the Masters' storylines.
    • Kiritsugu's storyline is a reflection of the Fate path. The main conflict in Kiritsugu's story is his beliefs clashing with Saber's beliefs, much like how the Fate path has Shirou and Saber clash over the same thing. Kiritsugu and Saber's last opponent is Kotomine and Gilgamesh, just like in Fate as well, and Saber has a figure from her past tormenting her, Lancelot, much like how in Fate, Gilgamesh comes back to haunt her.
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    • Tokiomi's storyline reflects the Unlimited Blade Works path for obvious reasons. He sets Rin up to be a mage, and for her sense of duty. Tokiomi's Servant is the first Heroic Spirit, Gilgamesh, summoned as an Archer, but is more of an In Name Only Archer. Similarly, although Rin's Archer is unmatched with a bow, he does not fit the traditional Archer mold in that half the time he uses swords, instead. Also, both Servants betray their Master for their own reasons. Ironically, in Fate/Zero Kotomine kills Tokiomi by stabbing him the back, and in UBW Kotomine is killed by Lancer from behind too, both killed by someone who was supposed to be their ally/servant.
    • Kariya's storyline reflects the Heaven's Feel path due to his connection to Sakura. Though Shirou has romantic feelings for Sakura, Kariya's steadfast determination to save her from Zouken's torture is similar to Shirou's own desire to do so. Kariya also teams up with Kotomine to achieve his own goals, as does Shirou. Interestingly enough, Kariya's death is somewhat similar to Kotomine, mainly being that both die right before their goal is seemingly within their grasp. Also Kariya being a Master who is not technically a Mage is the same as Shinji, and both die in the Matou home, which serves to break Sakura further. They also both use Crest Worms for the Grail War.
  • Saber, not being connected with the Throne of Heroes, should be unable to recognize other heroes... Yet she easily recognizes Lancer as Diarmuid as soon as he uses his Noble Phantasm. Strange? Nope: Saber comes from Britain from a later period to Diarmuid (and may have even invaded and conquered Ireland, depending on which variant of the legend you believe) and the latter wielded legendary weapons with a rather peculiar ability her knights had more than a little experience with, heck her own stepbrother Kay had a similar ability: she had heard about him during her life, and remembered it when she got wounded by the spear with that effect in action.
    • On an related, Reality Subtext note: it was probaly not entirely weird that Saber would have the most positive relationship out of her fellow Servants with Diarmuid. Historians and literature scholars argue that Diarmuid's own tragedy (i.e. his romance with Grainne) was the likely inspiration/source for the later romantic tragedies suffered by her own knights (i.e. Tristan and Lancelot). She probably sees in him the kind of men her knights were—and how heavily honor-bound they may be.
  • Saber's solitary ideal of kingship seems strange, given that not only, as King Arthur, she had fellow kings to rule over, but was a Celtic king, and Celtic rulers were closer to Rider's ideal. Then we realize that the legend points to her being culturally a Romanized Briton whose primary realm was inhabitated by Romanized Britons: Western Romans had trouble accepting a king (to the point that, even during the Empire, the emperor was simply the commander-in-chief of the army appointed by the Senate, who just happened to also have been appointed by the Senate to various political jobs), and to get accepted by her primary subjects she had to be an inflexible incarnation of law and order. Before Mordred's rebellion she couldn't even conceive that the other Briton kings and their subjects would grow to hate her for this... And with the Romans having retreated from Britain years earlier, she could only choose which ones of her subjects would eventually rebel and try to overthrow her.
    • By the inclusion of Roman emperor Lucius Hiberius in the Nasuverse it seems Saber did have at least an intellectual understanding of what she was going to face, with her solution being to conquer Rome and claim the title of Emperor of the West (the fact a number of Roman emperors, including her grandfather, had also been Kings of the Britons provided a precedent, inspiration, and a claim), an exquisitely Roman solution that came with the added benefit of not having to be a perfect incarnation of law and order anymore. A solution that apparently came too late, and, given her grandfather Constantine II (III as co-Emperor of the West) bringing all his troops to the continent to fight Honorius (the main Emperor of the West) was the whole reason Roman rule in Britannia ended and the island remained defenseless against the Picts and Scots (thus leading to Vortigern inviting the Saxons to fight them-and causing their invasion) may have even provided Mordred with the support he needed for her rebellion.
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  • The Walnut Game Kiritsugu plays with Ilya is a representation of his fighting style. She mentions that Kiritsugu was "cheating the whole time", and he answers that "he wouldn't stand a chance otherwise". It's basically what other mages accuse him of doing and his personal answer to that.
  • Rider: "To accomplish something impressive with a simple method far outshines achieving the same result with a more complex technique!" Of course the guy who cut through the Gordian Knot with a sword thinks that...
  • Just after Saber reveals her Noble Phantasm in order to attack Caster's Eldritch Abomination, Berserker suddenly starts attacking her when before he was out of the picture chasing Gilgamesh. The group wonders, "Why now?" It's because he's Sir Lancelot, and he recognized Excalibur when Saber revealed it and knew she was King Arthur, his hated enemy.
  • In early episodes, Gilgamesh stands over his opponents repeatedly as part of mocking them, and was enraged when Berserker forces him to go to lower ground. In his fight with Rider, he chooses to fight on even ground since he acknowledges Rider as a Worthy Opponent.
  • When Rider asks "Does a king have to stand alone", there is a brief cut to a smirking Gilgamesh. It seems like Gil is holding Rider and his ideals of kingship in contempt when he's actually agreeing with Rider. After all, Gilgamesh didn't rule alone; he had Enkidu.
  • Fate/Zero is named Fate/Zero because it is essentially "Chapter 0" of Fate/Stay Night.
  • The story of Alimango island, in which a girl steals an offering to the gods and is cursed to become a crab, mirrors Shirley's own story. She steals the potion meant for the flowers, and becomes a vampire. Just as the villagers think the Emiya mansion is bad luck, spending time there proves to be her undoing. The best bit? Most Filipino legends/fairy tales almost always follow a Be Careful What You Wish For structure—and undoing the damage almost always never happens note .
  • Kariya takes Zouken's advice to summon Berserker, which turns out to be a terrible idea - as one of the weaker Masters in terms of pure Magecraft, he struggles to get the mana to sustain Berserker. However, there's no way this is a mistake - Zouken Matou literally invented the Servant summoning ritual and understands it better than anyone. Rather, it's another way for him to get revenge on Kariya!
  • Kirei kills Tokiomi with the Azoth Dagger that he had just received from Tokiomi as a gift. He then gifts the dagger to a mourning Rin after Tokiomi's funeral.
    • Shirou uses this dagger to defeat Kirei in the Fate route of Stay Night
  • The Grail Dialogue between Arturia, Iskander and Gilgamesh creates a beautiful triangle of beliefs regarding the true nature of kingship. The argument between the three hangs on two main axes: should the king consider himself above his people, and should the king live the life of a human being. Each of the three holds onto a different combination of these truths in a way that would make them agree with one of the others, but not the second. Arturia, the idealistic King of Chivalry, shares Gilgamesh's belief that a king is not human - but unlike him, that this not because he is superior to them but because he is a different form of existence, an archetype, an ideal to be held in the name of the kingdom even at the cost of a single person's humanity. But that very same belief puts her at odds with Iskander: to Arturia, being an ideal necessarily means not allowing oneself to enjoy life as a person. As the king of Britain, Arturia became an incarnation of her people's belief in such lofty concepts as courage and justice, but she never lived among them. Gilgamesh, as was mentioned above, agrees with Arturia about the king being above his people - but for the opposite reason. Gilgamesh would lead as a god-king. He believes himself to be above his people (or, indeed, any and every people) in the sense that he believed them all inferior to him. He would never deny himself pleasure in the service of a concept and thus shares Iskander's notion that the king should "laugh louder, drink more, and hold grudges longer" than any man. Of course, while Iskander believes this should be the case because the king is meant to inspire his people to dream, Gilgamesh is simply an arrogant sociopath. Finally, there is Iskander himself: he shares Arturia's ideal that the king is not superior to his people - he believes that he should be first among them but a brother nevertheless - but he cannot agree with her that he should give away his humanity for this because his whole philosophy depends on him being "more human than human". In that sense, he agrees with Gilgamesh's path of hedonism but cannot come to agree with his arrogant reasoning (that the king deserves everything, including to stomp and spit all over his kingdom if it amuses him), putting them at odds. The Grail Dialogue may have been doomed to failure - but it was guaranteed to earn its participants' respect for each other and teach them about themselves.
  • A recurring concept throughout the story is the contract between Master and Servant and how a certain bond of shared motive connects the two and allows the former to summon the latter. While not all of the pairs get along that smoothly, each still has a clear common desire that drives its two parts:
    • Saber: Kiritsugu Emiya and Arturia Pendragon both want to create (or re-create) a realm that can hold peace and prosperity for the people that they most care about, as well as make up for some of their mistakes and bad deeds in the process. The two have major ideological differences regarding the means of accomplishing this, but they do share an intense loyalty to their respective circles of trusted individuals. Kiritsigu's spent most of his life sacrificing whatever and whomever necessary For the Greater Good, and feels immense guilt due to the times both when he hesitated to do so ( like when he didn't kill Shirley and the Dead Apostle virus spread throughout Alimango Island as a result) and when he himself felt that he had crossed a line in protecting others ( like when he killed his father to keep him from continuing his immoral experimentation or when he blew up Natalia in order to stop her from landing a plane full of Dead Apostles and starting an outbreak). Because of this, his wish is to end all war and the suffering that it causes, and his main force of motivation towards this goal is his desire for his daughter to live a long and happy life instead of being just another pawn in senseless human conflict. Similarly, Arturia feels extremely burdened by her inability to protect her people, and considers the fall of her kingdom of Britain to be entirely her fault. As such, her wish is to resurrect her kingdom so that she may save the people she led to destruction and have a second chance to properly lead and protect them.
    • Lancer: Kayneth El-Melloi and Diarmuid O'Duibne both want to achieve a certain standard of honor and glory in the eyes of those around and close to them. While their exact wishes are never explicitly stated, their desires are made clear through their actions and reactions. Kayneth's character is largely predicated on the hierarchal value system of the magical world, his contempt towards Velvet and Kiritsugu particularly emphasizing this; however, he also appears to stake a great deal of personal ego on such things, as he shows a clear desire to impress Sola-Ui with his magical ingenuity and prowess by way of the traps he creates throughout their building. Diarmuid's motivation is slightly more apparent, as he greatly values his knight's honor and laments his curse of perpetual charm magic due to its elimination of genuine, independent affection; this not only led to him becoming part of a relationship with questionable emotional authenticity, but also led to his friendships with his fellow knights and his liege-lord becoming undone. This leads to him desiring the chance to fight honorably under a lord and gain some of the honest loyalty that he never found in his previous life.
    • Caster: Ryunnosuke Uryuu and Giles de Rais both want to play out their perceived roles in the respective plays that they believe their lives to be. Ryunnosuke doesn't really know or care what the Grail is; he just wants to have fun killing people in as many ways as possible and making twisted art out of their bloodied bodies (though he doesn't realize that the true masterpiece he's looking for is his own blood) as a colorful show for the God that is watching above. Giles also has little regard for the Grail, believing that it already granted his wish and brought Jeanne d'Arc (really Arturia) Back from the Dead; as Arturia denies his continued assertions that she is really Jeanne, he is determined to defy the God that supposedly took her away from him by committing as many blasphemies and cruelties as possible. Both see their lives as tales orchestrated by God; however, while Giles sees his as a tragedy where he is constantly demonized, Ryunnosuke sees his as a comedy where he can come up with all sorts of vivid entertainment for the author to observe. Ryunnosuke eventually brings Giles over to his way of thinking...which has horrifically disastrous results for the city of Fuyuki.
    • Archer: Tokiomi Tohsaka and Gilgamesh both desire the Grail out of a combined sense of duty and privilege. As the Tohsaka family head, Tokiomi sees his participation in the Grail War as the latest step in his dynasty's objective of discovering the Root, and he is willing to trade his daughter to the Matous in order to double the chances of his family successfully continuing that mission. The way he sees it, the obtaining of the Holy Grail is something that ought to be accomplished by the Tohsakas—-or one of the three Founding Families at the very least—-and individual desires amount to nothing when faced with that family honor and pride (as he himself declares in his rooftop confrontation with Kariya). Gilgamesh does not even really care about the Grail itself—-he just can't stand the thought of a group of "mongrels" laying their hands on a treasure that, by all rights, should belong to him as the ruler of all. Though each respectively sees the other as a barely controllable weapon and a boring sycophant, they share a certain distaste for the idea of 'outsiders' interfering with what they claim to be inherently theirs.
    • Rider: Velvet Waver and Alexander the Great both want the Grail to achieve personal glory and recognition. Due to being from a relatively young magical family and, therefore, getting little to no respect from his peers or superiors, Velvet spends much of the series with a Mount Fuji-sized chip on his shoulder regarding his abilities and strength as a Mage. He does not really pursue the Grail for any concrete wish at all, but simply to be recognized for his intellect and skill. Alexander/Iskandar similarly does not want to make any widely-spanning wish of the Grail, but instead desires to gain true incarnation so that he can conquer the world again and leave his mark as The King of Conquerors. The two of them butt heads a lot at first due to their different ideas of true skill and a worthwhile life, but they eventually bond over their shared lofty ambitions.
    • Berserker: Kariya Matou and Lancelot du Lac both enter the war out of atonement, resentment, and a sense of obligated sacrifice. Kariya feels somewhat responsible for Sakura's torture at the hands of Zouken due to abandoning his potential as a mage, and volunteers to take her place so that he can get her away from the Matous, with a full understanding that even if he wins the Grail War, he probably won't survive the measures he took to become powerful enough; at the same time, he feels a deep disgust for the selfish and calculating nature of the magical world, and hates Tokiomi both for winning Aoi's hand and for callously trading Sakura. Lancelot, meanwhile, feels intense enmity towards Arturia due to being the shadow to her bright, perfect image, but also great self-loathing for causing the fall of Arturia's kingdom through his relationship with Guinevere and going unpunished for it.
    • Assassin: Kirei Kotomine ( at first, anyway) and Hassan i-Sabah both fight for the sake of serving a separate authority. Upon being chosen, Kirei is emotionally and socially adrift, having spent his entire adult life serving only the Church with fanatical devotion, and having recently lost his wife; he cannot even think of a wish he would desire, and fights to further Tokiomi's interests on the orders of his father instead of seeking his own goals. Hassan is the least developed of the Servants, but his historical counterpart is best known for forming The Hashshashin for the sake of preserving a splinter branch of Shi'a Islam and instituted notoriously effective practices of instilling dedication. Thusly, we can reasonably assume that Master and Servant share a dedication to a higher power that supersedes their senses of self, a trait that is effectively illustrated through Hassan's unique Noble Phantasm of having many separate personalities that can act in unison.
    • The Eighth Contract: Kirei and Gilgamesh come together out of a common wish to pursue their own desires, regardless of cost to anyone else, in a contract that would make Nietzsche proud. While Kirei initially finds Gilgamesh's more extreme brand of hedonism to be abhorrent, it turns out that this reaction was not born from true moral indignation, but from fervent denial of his own true nature. As this journey of introspection (as well as its resulting disregard of any external will) causes Kirei to be the first person deemed 'interesting' by Gilgamesh, and reveals the King of Heroes to be the only one who can truly understand Kirei, the two are the perfect partners in crime to find all sorts of cruel entertainment and intrigue together, Holy Grail be damned (though they end up being the pair chosen by the Grail after Kiritsugu rejects and tries to destroy it, giving them their desired opportunity to spread a reign of sociopathic terror across the world).
  • Alexander the Great died in Babylon, most likely due to his drinking (it's still argued as to whether he died of poisoning or just alcohol poisoning). In Fate/Zero, he's killed by the King of Babylonia after having a final friendly drink with him.
  • Irisviel repeatedly cries out Illya's name when Kiritsugu "kills" her to prevent Angra Mainyu's birth from the Grail, not unlike Shirou repeatedly crying out Illya's name as she sacrifices herself to prevent Angra Mainyu from being born from the Grail in Heaven's Feel.
  • During their final showdown, Kirei is able to adjust the timing of his strikes to compensate for Kiritsugu moving at triple speed. While at first it seems like simple Awesomeness by Analysis to predict where Kiritsugu would strike, Executors are trained to uses adrenaline on command, and a known effect of adrenaline is Bullet Time. In other words, Kirei wasn't predicting Kiritsugu's attacks so much as adjusting the speed of his perception to follow his movements.
  • Iskander's death scene mirrors his life as explained in the flashback. Carrying on towards a goal he fails to reach, endlessly pushing forward, while everyone behind him lies dying.
  • The episode featuring his death aired on June 10th, the date of his historical death.
  • The passage from the Bible that Kotomine recites at the end of Episode 23? Psalms 23.
  • Angra Mainyu comparing itself to Kiritsugu isn't a Stealth Insult or just a case of Harsher in Hindsight (in light of Kiritsugu's below quote); it makes perfect sense when one is familiar with Fate/stay night, which reveals that Angra Mainyu is not in truth an ancient all-powerful evil deity, but a random, average man from a village in the middle of nowhere who was chosen as a scapegoat by the village to carry 'all the evil in the world' in hopes that someone taking all of it upon himself will save the rest of the village from sin. Its origins are as a normal man that turned into a monster to save people. Much like Kiritsugu, except that he made himself into the scapegoat intentionally.
  • Arturia's growing frustration with Gilles mistaking her for Jeanne D'Arc has a bit of added amusement to it when you consider he's mistaking a British heroic spirit for a French figure, regardless of whether Saber would be very familiar with the story or not, it being ahead of her time.
  • Kirei Kotomine in Fate/Zero shares the same short hairstyle as Shirou, which symbolizes him being a novice. By Fate/Stay Night, he sports his master's hairstyle, Tokiomi Tohsaka, signifying his his growth.