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    P 
  • 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, Kerchak and Kala, Ariel's father and Simba's dad are the only parental characters given any screentime. Of that group, Tarzan’s adoptive parents have no lines, 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.
  • Pushy Mooks: Large Bodies have this capability. They actually can deal damage on their own, but they are very easy to dodge for all but the least skilled players. Their real threat is that their stomach rebounds your keyblade, so even if you don't mean to be attacking them, if your attack so much as grazes them, Sora gets knocked back a few feet and stumbles for a couple seconds. On higher difficulties, this nearly assures you 2-3 hits from anything else in the area.

    R 
  • 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. Additionally, this can also be seen in Xehanort himself, as he too collects twelve followers, and furthermore, his goal is to end the world so a new, pure one can be created. In pursuit of said goal, he has also died and risen from the grave, and at the end of it all he ascends into the afterlife, leaving his work to be finished by the people who, for better or worse, his actions have irrevocably changed the lives of.
  • 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.
  • Rummage Sale Reject: Nomura growing out his more extreme Rummage Sale Reject style can be seen in the progression of the costume designs in the Kingdom Hearts series. Compare, for example, Riku in Kingdom Hearts and Riku in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance. Some iconic things like Sora's poofy pants and big shoes may stick around forever, though.

    S 
  • 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.
  • Sealed Good in a Can: The Dream Eaters are revealed to be this, being sleeping hearts of Keyblade Wielders from times past guarded by their Chirithies that use the form of Spirits to protect the hearts of the Wielders that they're bound to.
  • 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 welder's hands, but since they are a part of the wielder and not a separate object they do this whenever the wielder wills it.
  • Super Empowering: The Keyblade Inheritance Ceremony can make anyone a wielder chooses into a wielder. 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: Having the Disney Label on Kingdom Hearts and trailers featuring tons and tons of our beloved characters from Disney Animated Canon made it seem like this game was intended for children ages 6 and up. Then the Final Fantasy elements show up and the OTHER feeling Disney is famous for.
    • 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?)
    • The game added its own Nightmare Fuel in form of the Heartless, creatures who, contrary to what their names imply, don't lack hearts; they ARE hearts corrupted by the darkness. These little monsters have one goal in mind: To corrupt all hearts that there are, and the hearts of the worlds they haunt are especially sought after. You know that the cheerful game those trailers announced isn't that cheerful when you see an innocent NPC being turned into one of those monsters as his face freezes in a fearful expression, and that's toward the beginning of the game.
    • Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days starts as a melancholic but often heartwarming story of three friends who just happen to work for the bad guys. By the end, one of those friends has been revealed as a monstrous replica of Sora that is slowly eating the protagonist's essence just by existing. S/he attacks then you to force you to kill him/her. And the protagonist is Doomed by Canon to lose his identity.
    • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep follows a similar story to Days about a group of friends who have their friendship get destroyed by the Big Bad's machinations and ends with one in a coma, one trapped in the world of the Heartless and be forced to fight non stop for over a decade and eventually gets possessed by the Big Bad and the third gets possessed by the Big Bad who then proceeds to cause all the devastation in the other games.
    • Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance has the protagonists go through Mind Rape, question themselves and who they are, calls attention to the fates of the protagonists of Days and Birth By Sleep and just barely manages to avert a Downer Ending and even then it is quite bittersweet.
    • Kingdom Hearts χ focuses on the lead up to the Keyblade War. You can see where this is going.
  • 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.
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    T 
  • 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.

    U 
  • 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.

    V 
  • 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.

    W 
  • 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.

    X 
  • 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. Xehanort 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.
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    Y 
  • You Can't Fight Fate:
    • In Kingdom Hearts χ, the Master of Masters could see into the future and wrote what he saw down in the Book of Prophecies. The last page of the book foretells of a great battle in which darkness will prevail and the light will expire, the end of the world. When one of his students, Ira, asks if there's any way to prevent this future, the Master tells him it's not possible and they need to plan for what comes After the End. The Master is proven right, and the events he saw play out in what is known in the franchise as the Keyblade War.
    • There is the matter with Young Xehanort. He is one of the few things the Guardians of Light simply can't do jackshit about due to the rules of time travel that, while preventing someone from accessing their time travel memories, still allow them to have precognition about what is to come. Whether they defeat him or not, Young Xehanort will return back in time and gain an urge to leave the islands and become the Xehanort as we know today.
  • 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.

    Z 
  • Zero-Effort Boss:
    • Kingdom Hearts II: Past Pete's primary move is trying to punch you and only hurting his hand in the process. The only ways he can hurt you is if you attack him and he gets knocked into the air and causes a shockwave when he lands and you are close enough to be hit by it, or when he runs around after being hit by you and crashes into you causing Collision Damage. Even then, the damage both these actions cause is almost nonexistent. You cannot lose against him. This is done for story purposes to help the heroes realize he is far too weak to be the Pete they know.
    • Kingdom Hearts III has Saïx in the Keyblade Graveyard, who would normally be a challenge due to his high HP and attack power… except you have a completely invincible and extremely damaging Roxas on your side, who will annihilate him without any input from the player.
  • 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).
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