Unlike most fighting games that generally have simplistic Good vs. Evil conflicts at the centre of their storylines, Tekken is far more morally complex and often paints a bleak portrait of human society; a single Japanese Mega-Corp has enough financial influence and N.G.O. Superpower levels of firepower at its disposal to effectively wage war on the rest of civilisation, as demonstrated by both Kazuya and Jin when they take over the family business. Most of the main characters are unsympathetic or outright villainous, and more often than not, the darkest arcade mode endings where evil triumphs turn out to be the canonical paths.
The utterly sociopathic mindset Heihachi has throughout the series, which trumps any kind of monster and devil the series has to offer. Word of God even confirms that Heihachi's douchebaggery represents the evil that lurks in men's hearts. At first, you can chalk it up to his being a stereotypically fundamentalist father figure (Harada speculates that this is the core appeal of the character for Japanese audiences, for whom harsh parenting is the norm), but then the series progresses and you find out that his problems extend deeper, deeper, and deeper. To sum it up on just how serious it is: had Heihachi not exist, the series would not too.
He offed his wife, Kazumi, possibly because she possessed the Devil Gene, despite the fact that she's a Martial Pacifist. The Story Mode of T7 does show that he's very reluctant to do it, and he did it mostly because of self-defense.
He imprisoned Jinpachi just to make sure that he wouldn't be a hindrance to his quest to Take Over the World. Kazuya lost another good person in his life, and this time, there's no one to stop Heihachi from corrupting him.
He threw his 5-year-old son down the ravine. And the reason for it? He wanted to prove that Kazuya possesses the Devil Gene, which would save him if it exists. Which means that if he doesn't possess it, he wouldn't survive, not that that would bother Heihachi. His original excuse was even pettier, as he simply wanted to test if Kazuya was tough enough to take over the Zaibatsu. Before the event, Kazuya Used to Be a Sweet Kid, but afterwards, he Jumped Off The Slippery Slope and became the series' second recurring antagonist. Had it not happen, the history of the Devil Gene might turn out very differently indeed. Later, he makes sure that he stays dead by throwing him into a volcano.
He has his grandson gunned down and then caps him off in the head without a shred of remorse because Jin had outlived his usefulness. Worse, Heihachi had successfully tricked Jin into trusting him with the believable façade of a supportive, eccentric grandfather. This event is what triggers Jin's hatred of his family and the Devil Gene which eventually leads him to pull a FaceHeel Turn and plunge the world into chaos in order to destroy the progenitor of his curse.
Finally, he lures Kazuya and Jin into a trap so he can kill two birds with one stone and take both Devil Genes for himself. Canonically, thankfully, it bites him in the ass hard as karma swiftly catches up to him, eventually ending up with the loss of his company for a while. But should the player beat the game as Heihachi himself, he will succeed and take over the world.
Heihachi's Implacable Man status grows increasingly extreme in each instalment. Akuma confirms that Heihachi doesn't weaken with age; he only gets stronger. While undeniably badass, it is somewhat unsettling as it has long been confirmed that he does not have the Devil Gene, so by all accounts, Heihachi is a normal human who can somehow survive several bomb blasts to the face and deflect missiles with his bare fists. Considering that both Jinpachi and Lars, Heihachi's father and bastard son respectively, also have electrical auras and superhuman strength, the Mishimas may have some genetic gift of their own, but this is unconfirmed. By 7, Heihachi is able to raid the Mishima Zaibatsu HQ and take down the entire Tekken Force singlehanded, without any weapons or back-up of his own, not unlike Tai Lung's prison escape scene in Kung Fu Panda.
Special mention also has to go to Kazuya, whose remorseless acts of villainy reach increasingly fucked-up levels as the series progresses. Basically, whenever you see that evil grin and that killer glare in his glowing red eye, something very bad is about to happen (or already has happened). Examples of his many disturbing arcade mode endings can be seen throughout this page.
If he wasn't such a loveable goof, Yoshimitsu would probably be walking Nightmare Fuel. Yoshi has never once shown his face and he disguises himself in an assortment of freakishly bizarre costumes that defy descriptionnote For the most recent example, his Tekken 7 outfit can only be described as an octopus fused to an exposed horse skull and barely even look feasible for a human to wear, let alone fight in. While he did show some skin in earlier games, later instalments keep his whole body covered at all times, even when you try to customise him — he just wears a thinner suit of armour underneath. He exclusively speaks in antiquated Japanese with a reverb-heavy voice modifier, making him almost impossible to understand without subtitles. In-game, many of his attacks, movements and mannerisms are stilted and unnatural, lending to his Confusion Fu fighting style. Both fans and Namco officials have regularly fielded the possibility that he isn't entirely of this world.
As if his name didn't tip you off, Bryan Fury is a frothing, unhinged maniac and by far the most indiscriminately violent fighter in the entire series. As said above, one of his win-poses sees him mount his already unconscious opponent and use them as a punching bag, with audible bone-crunching on every hit. He does it to everyone; man, woman, young, old, human, other — if you have a face, he's punching it. Worse, in the game it originated from, Tekken 4, Bryan flat out yells "Die!" in sadistic and smug tone while beating the living tar out of his fallen opponent. The only characters that get spared his wrath are some of the guest fighters in 7, presumably because Noctis getting his pretty face beaten to a bloody pulp by this white-haired psychopath isn't good PR for the licence holders. Worse, Bryan is a nigh-invulnerable undead cyborg who regularly shrugs off bullets, bombs, missiles and tanks. He laughs in the face of whole armies that come to kill him, so unless Yoshimitsu exacts his revenge, Bryan's rampage isn't ending any time soon.
Alisa. Sure, she's cute, but when you realize that parts of her moveset involve detaching (and sometimes exploding) her own head and limbs, and she's taking it like nothing happened. As such, many fans get a severe Uncanny Valley reaction from her. Worse, she keeps a polite and docile demeanour even when she goes Terminator mode and threatens to kill you. She might've been a robotic female dullahan (an unseelie faerie who carries his detached head around and acts as Death's messenger). In the CGI movie Blood Vengeance, she gets torn in half, but remains functional.
Kazuya's infamous evil smirk after throwing his father off a cliff in his first arcade mode ending. While the Uncanny Valley factor at play thanks to the game's primitive 3D models, it foreshadows Kazuya's descent into unhinged super-villainy that we see in every subsequent game.
Work your way through Tekken 2 to Kazuya and you get the usual battle intro screen of his face before the fight. Beat him to meet Devil and you get a dark version of his face with glowing eyes, elongated ears and a blood red background. And because of how fast the game loads, at best this is on the screen for a second, and shorter than that on arcades, creating something of a surreal Jump Scare since this was the first truly supernatural fight in the series.
The final fight against Kazuya and his Devil form is surreal and disorientating. The arena, which is implied to be the Mishima Zaibatsu head office, is a pitch-black void with a checkerboard floor and a large monitor in the background that reflects the battle going on in real time, creating a looping Droste effect.
The arcade version's cinematic attract mode famously shows Ogre holding up a round object in a victorious pose. The object is cloaked in shadow, so it's hard to tell what it is, but it looks weirdly... hairy. Considering that backstory of the game explicitly states that Jun was (seemingly) murdered by Ogre, combined with the montage of Jin being tormented by visions of his mother and father in the same intro, some fans drew a disturbing conclusion that Ogre was holding Jun's severed head. Thankfully, Word of God has repeatedly denied that this is the case, but nobody has answered the question of what the hell he is holding if not. Perhaps the head of another defeated fighter, like the original King (who, thanks to retcons in later instalments, is the only confirmed fatality of Ogre's rampage)?
The Reveal of Devil Jin at the end of Jin's own ending in Tekken 3. Beating down Ogre was one thing, but then Jin is effortlessly gunned down by Tekken Force troops and a bullet put through his head personally by Heihachi. What follows is an awakening off-screen as every Tekken Force member is downed in seconds, one gets tossed into a wall like a ragdoll, and Heihachi has a massive Oh, Crap! moment as glowing red eyes come into view just past his shoulder. For how fast this goes by due to being the arcade game that it is, it still plays it for every ounce of Surprise Creepy it can muster, and almost makes it seem like Jin's glaring at you.
Tekken Tag Tournament
Bryan Fury's ending in Tekken Tag Tournament. Even the most hardened policeman would shake in their boots after seeing a man shrug off three gunshots, one of which was aimed at his face.
The entirety of Unknown's ending in Tekken Tag 1 consists of this, reaching its peak at the end when she stares into the camera. It doesn't help that her ending is the only CG ending in the game.
The cinematic intro has a disturbing edge, reflecting this game's overall darker, cyberpunk-inspired tone. It begins with Heihachi taking a beaten, scarred Kazuya (seemingly still in Devil form) to the mouth of an active volcano and watching his lifeless body tumble into the abyss, a recreation of Heihachi's Tekken 2 ending, though with much creepier music. Years later, he sends his troops to raid the G Corporation headquarters, but they are stopped in their tracks by a shadowy, red-eyed figure. Against all logic, Kazuya is alive and he is pissed. Speaking directly to his father through a defeated Tekken Force soldier's helmet cam, Kazuya threatens in no uncertain terms that he is coming to take everything back, before smashing the soldier's skull. Good thing Heihachi isn't intimidated, because we certainly are!
Kazuya's arcade ending in 4 is one of the most unnerving scenes in the entire series. Heihachi takes Kazuya to an unconscious, chained-up Jin. With Kazuya's glowing red eyes and his voice distorted by a Voice of the Legion effect, it's revealed that Devil fully consumed Kazuya's personality, and that his goal is to re-absorb Jin's Devil power which had split in half when Heihachi killed Kazuya in Tekken 2. After defeating Jin and fulfilling his mission of reclaiming everything that was taken, Devil lets out a maniacal Evil Laugh and transforms into his true demonic form. After the screen cuts to black, the last caption all but states that Devil destroyed the entire Mishima compound with his father and son inside before disappearing into the night.
The evil spirit that possesses Jinpachi not only makes his skin decay, it grows him a Belly Mouth too. Dark Resurrection is even worse, as it transforms him into a literal Man on Fire.
On another note, the evil spirit itself. Thanks to Retcon, there's now an additional unnamed spirit to add into the supernatural gallery, accompanying the Devil Gene, a lupine spirit, and whatever creature Ogre is supposed to be. The world of Tekken really is screwed up.
If you choose not to continue after losing to Jinpachi in the final battle of Tekken 5, what follows is a short, but effective CGI ending where he laments that no one was able to put him out of his misery, thus making his efforts in vain. Jinpachi sheds a single tear of blood and the evil spirit finally consumes his consciousness as he transforms further into a Humanoid Abomination, screaming as he grows more spikes out of his body, then flies away to obliterate all of existence. The brief note at the end does not make it easier:
Kazuya's Tekken 5 ending has him seemingly reconcile with the defeated Jinpachi, complete with nostalgic flashbacks of Kazuya's childhood training with his beloved grandpa. Keep in mind that Kazuya still holds respect for his grandfather, so that makes sense. But then the Devil Gene takes hold of Kazuya, his left eye flashes red, and he proceeds to drive his palm into Jinpachi's chest, killing him and causing him to crumble in dust. The cutscene ends with Kazuya giving an aside glance to the player with his glowing red eye as the screen moves forward and fades to black.
Devil Jin's T5 ending (as pictured on the right). He absorbs Jinpachi's power, changing him into a beastly Humanoid Abomination with Hades Shaded skin and Glowing Eyes of Doom. The dark transformation is terrifying enough, but Devil Jin's bellows of bestial rage are nothing short of blood-curdling.
The setting completely goes to hell in this game after Jin declares the Mishima Zaibatsu an independent state and instigates World War III. Miguel represents the victims of the Zaibatsu's indiscriminate rampage, as he sets off on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge after his sister is murdered by Tekken Force bomber planes. Place yourself in his shoes: you're relaxing in a nearby café while your beloved sister and future brother-in-law are enjoying their wedding day when, without any warning, fighter jets zoom overhead and bomb the church they're in, killing everyone in the vicinity. A terrifying but very real possibility for anyone who has lived in a war-torn country, but scarier still when the entire planet is on the enemy state's hit-list and you have no way of knowing when or where they will strike next.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2
The console version's opening cinematic has a Surprise Creepy moment with Angel, of all characters. As Ogre bursts from beneath the tournament arena and begins a fire-breathing rampage, Angel swiftly descends in a column of heavenly light. As the two supernatural creatures begin charging their special attacks, Angel's face briefly contorts into a wrathful grimace just as she unleashes a full-powered Inferno laser, screeching hellishly as she fires it. Good Is Not Soft, indeed.
The continue screens of bosses in TTT2 offer you a first-person view of your character being left at the mercy of the bosses. Jun's screen is harmless, as she simply ponders at you before leaving, but that's not the case with Ogre and Unknown:
Losing to True Ogre is... disturbing to say the least. Probably the most disturbing Continue screen in fighting game history. The camera may not show it but it is still pretty obvious what he's doing, not to mention what you can imagine is actually going on if you listen closely.
Ancient Ogre's ending in Tekken Tag 2. It includes creepy music, surreal art style dissonance, and Ogre calling his buddies and ending the world as we know it not unlike Evangelion's Angels. As a demonstration of power, a single stride from one of the gigantic Ogres decimates an entire city. As they walk the Earth and chant in their alien language, they leave lifeless wastelands in their wake. Praise the heavens that Jin managed to kill this dude back in Tekken 3, otherwise the planet would've been screwed.
True Ogre's TTT2 ending, a homage of Godzilla and Cloverfield. An anonymous civilian runs through a city block that's been converted into a burning hellscape, recording in a Shaky Cam fashion. He trips over and his camera gets a good view of the rampaging monster, True Ogre. The beast then torches the screaming cameraman alive.
Almost identical to Devil Jin's Tekken 5 ending, Kazuya's Tag 2 ending sees him absorb the power of Unknown to gain a further evolution to his Devil form. While it's much tamer than Devil Jin's, something has to be said about how he callously tosses aside Jun, the mother of his child and the only woman he ever felt any attraction to, without a hint of familiarity or remorse. Whatever she may have meant to the younger Kazuya, Jun means absolutely nothing to the Devil he has since become.
For anyone who suffers from panic attacks or nervous breaks, Baek's ending can be difficult to sit through as he has a sudden flashback to a traumatic event from his childhood — his accidental manslaughter of his own father — without any clear trigger. He painfully convulses on the floor of his dojo for a few minutes until Hwoarang steps in. Also counts as a huge Tear Jerker moment.
Steve's ending verges on Medical Horror as we see his backstory as a Mishima Zaibatsu lab rat in grisly detail. With the exception of Dr. Emma Kliesen, the Zaibatsu scientists all wear creepy gas masks and regularly inject Steve with mysterious substances to his extreme discomfort, leaving him permanently scarred.
Take a look at True Devil Kazuya, who appears as the final boss of Tekken 7's story mode. He's gone from a purple, winged recolour of himself from Tekken 2 to a truly abominable creature at the end point of his feud with Heihachi. He gets more nightmarish the more you look at him. For one, there's a massive scar spanning his entire torso, under which muscle and tendon can be seen, he has a giant, spiked tail like a scorpion, his hands have grown into claws, there's a third eye on his forehead, and he no longer resembles anything that could have at any point been a human being, let alone one like Kazuya.
Regardless of whether he's canon or not, Negan carries over every bit of menace he had from his home series and arguably makes it even worse. Even in a series with very little blood, you can feel the brutality of every single one of his attacks. He always intends to kill, and in his reveal trailer he performs his signature "Last Day on Earth" execution that he did to Abraham on Paul.
Zafina's return in Tekken 7 is certainly a sigh of relief for fans who thought that she performed Heroic Sacrifice in 6 to seal Azazel away. However, as seen in the Season 3 trailer, she seems to suffer a cursed state where her left hand is taken over by the very demon she swore to defeat. All the wars that Jin instigated, all the people he killed to incite hate from people, and all the sacrifices he had to endure, it's All for Nothing. Azazel survived. The only good news to come out of this is that Zafina still has some control over her body, though she is struggling hard. Better hope Jin takes notice of it while he's busy taking care of Kazuya, or else.
If he wasn't for his sympathetic backstory and status as a reluctant warrior, Fahkumram would be the living definition of a guy you wouldn't want to meet in a dark alleyway at night. The dude is over seven-feet tall, built like a brick shithouse, covered head to toe in scars and tattoos, and he certainly has the Face of a Thug. One of his win-poses even has him sadistically knee his already downed opponent with his full weight, probably crippling them. Add that on top of his brutal Rage Art and you have quite an intimidating enemy to deal with.