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  • Actor Allusion:
    • In XI, Yuri tells Gai to try pulling off a Hurricane Upper, as a nod to Nobuyuki Hiyama voicing both Gai and Joe.
    • Benimaru's English VA in XII and XIII is Eric Kelso, who also voices Paul Phoenix and Jacky Bryant, both of whom, like Benimaru, are blond fighters with Anime Hair pointing upwards.
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    • Kusanagi from 2002 has special battle intros with any weapon wielder (e.g. Whip, Billy, Chang and Choi), calling them out to fight with their fists instead of weapons; basically the same scene in AKIRA with Kaneda (who, like Kusanagi, was voiced by Mitsuo Iwata) calling out on Tetsuo to take on him with his own fists instead of using his powers.
      Kusanagi: "Temee! Sude de shoubu shiagare!" ("You [bastard]! Fight me with your bare hands!")
      • Doubled during his intro against K9999 (who was even voiced by Nozomu Sasaki, hammering home how much he was a Tetsuo-lite):
      K9999: "KUSANAGIIII!!!"
    • Athena being voiced by Haruna Ikezawa is one, Ikezawa being born in Athens, Greece no less.
    • In XIV, Eiji Miyashita's role as Bandeiras Hattori comes like this as it's not the first time he voiced a ninja, except he was a mutant turtle.
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    • Ami Koshimizu's casting as Mai Shiranui from Sky Stage onward is appropriate, as it's not the first time she's voiced a traditional Japanese lady clad in red and wielding folding fans and fire powers in battle.
  • All-Star Cast: The franchise features the following voice actors: Tomoaki Maeno (Kyo, since XIV), Takashi Kondo (Terry, since XIV), Takanori Hoshino (Iori, since XIV), Hiroki Takahashi (Kukri), Ai Kakuma (Yuri, since XIV), Go Shinomiya (Robert, since XIV), Ayumi Fujimura (Zarina), Mai Nakahara (Nakoruru, since XIV), Toa Yukinari (Love Heart), Ami Koshimizu (Mai, since KOF Sky Stage), Yoshihisa Kawahara (K', since XIV), Katsuyuki Konishi (Maxima), Yumi Kakazu (Kula), Haruna Ikezawa (Athena, since '98), Seiko Yoshida (Leona, since XIV), Yūma Uchida (Rock since XIV), Shiho Kikuchi (Whip), Sarah Emi Bridcutt (Mary, since XIV), Takehito Koyasu (Shingo), Nobuyuki Hiyama (Joe, from '95 to XIII, and Gai), Nozomu Sasaki (K9999), Mitsuo Iwata (KUSANAGI), Yu Shimamura (Mature, KOF Destiny, KOF All-Star), Daisuke Ono (Nameless), Ayako Kawasumi (Hinako), Sayaka Ohara (Chizuru, since KOF All-Star), Taiten Kusunoki (Original Zero, KOF All-Star), Satoshi Tsuruoka (Mukai since KOF All-Star), Megumi Han (Female Yashiro), Lynn (Isla), Yuko Kaida (Dolores), KENN (Krohnen), Shizuka Itō (Elisabeth and Female Billy, since KOF All-Star) and Yuu Kobayashi (Darli) .
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  • Ascended Fan Nickname: Mr. Karate and Nightmare Geese were actually fan nicknames before SNK officially named them as such in later games.
  • Ascended Fanon:
    • Yamazaki became a member of the Hakkesshu because he conveniently shared several snake-like aspects with Orochi.
    • SNK says that most of Oswald's background (which has not yet been revealed) has already been surmised by the fans.
    • Athena's one-sided romantic interest in Kyo was purely fanon, until KOF:KYO and the '98 and 2000 dramas strongly hinted that she did harbor some feelings for him, but she seems to have gotten over them.
  • Ascended Glitch: A weird bug in 98 may have resulted in Leona's special intros for Chang and Ralf being switched around, with her uncharacteristically taunting the latter while saluting the former. In XIV, this comes around full circle when Leona and Chang salute each other in Story Mode. Seen here.
  • Billing Displacement: XIV had Shun'ei as a new protagonist of the series. Or at least, he was supposed to. However, Kyo and Iori are featured very heavily in the promotion of the game, Kyo is also on the front cover of the PS4 box art along with Iori, Mai and Nakoruru, while Shun'ei was put on the background. The opening movie of XIV doesn't help either, it focused too much on Kyo and Iori, while Shun'ei and his team only appeared as side characters. This would eventually get corrected in XV where SNK became confident enough to let Shun'ei lead the actual Hero Team of the game, especially since they would also release his rival, Isla.
  • Author's Saving Throw: After Kyo's redesign in XIV proved to be massively controversial for making him unrecognizable, XV plays it safe by being a mix of several features from older tried-and-true designs, such as his old XIII jacket and bringing back his headband, which he hasn't worn in canon for over 20 years' worth of games, with the official SNK Twitter highlighting the return of classic elements to emphasize the return to form.
  • Bury Your Art: SNK practically went into overdrive getting rid of K9999 the first chance they got: getting replaced by Nameless in KOF 2002 UM, being declared as "gone for good", being edited out of archived artwork in KOF XIV, and post-2016 reports suggesting that it was an unofficial rule at SNK's offices that so much as alluding to the character was forbidden. It wouldn't be until XV where this particular exile would be reborn and reimagined as Krohnen.
  • "Common Knowledge": It's often been said that Goenitz's full name is Leopold Goenitz. However, this has never been used in any official source, only appearing in non-canon manhwa and fan projects.
  • Content Leak: Both the final three characters (and their renders) for KOF XV as well as the DLC characters have been leaked a few months prior to the game's release; Elisabeth, Kula, and Maxima being the last three characters to round out the Ash, Krohnen, and K' Teams respectively, while the DLC Teams are the Samurai Shodown team (consisting of Haohmaru, Nakoruru, and Darli Dagger), the Garou team (Rock, B. Jenet, and Gato), the South Town team (Geese, Billy, and Yamazaki), and the Awakened Orochi team (CYS' Orochi forms). Omega Rugal was also revealed to return either as a Superboss, being a single entry like Nameless and Ash were in '02 UM and XIII, respectively. See the leak here.
  • Creator Backlash: Yasuyuki Oda, the Deputy General Manager of SNK's Game Division, made his displeasure known when Rock Howard was initially leaked. This helped give more credibility towards the leak's viability made clearer with Rock's actual reveal a week later.
  • Creator's Favorite:
    • SNK flat-out admits they love Rugal. They designed him from the ground up to be the most badass boss character there ever was (and that's not paraphrasing by much), and they made him the final boss in the Dream Match games because he's their favorite. This would be annoying, if Rugal didn't viciously beat his way into players' hearts the world over, cementing himself as an icon to the fanbase as much as he is to the folks at SNK. The SNK fandom likely idolizes him more than Capcom fans have idolized the likes of Akuma or M. Bison.
    • Eisuke Ogura's is, curiously enough. K9999. XV's Creative director admitted in an interview that he always wanted to bring him back and that if he ever were to make a KOF he would find a way to do it. Since he got complete control over the roster in XV, he was finally able to make his wish true by redesigning him as Krohnen.
  • Creator's Pest: SNK seemingly hated K9999, probably because he's a carbon copy of Tetsuo, enough to be declared as non-existent and replaced by Nameless in KOF 2002 UM. Ogura's aforementioned liking of K9999 was the likely reason why he created Krohnen who, for all intents and purposes, is just a significantly more legally distinct version of K9999.
  • Development Gag: Prior to creating Kyo Kusanagi, SNK originally drafted him as "Syo Kirishima", a more archetypal fighting game protagonist. While this was eventually dropped in favor of Kyo, Syo showed up a couple of times in the NESTS arc as a special Striker character. During those appearances, he was voiced by the aforementioned Mitsuo Iwata. Come KOF 2002, Iwata would be voicing Kusanagi, who is a throwback Kyo clone complete with his '95 moveset.
  • Doing It for the Art: SNK Playmore's decision to stick to the traditional means of sprite creation (dot art, or "pixel-by-pixel") for The King of Fighters XII and XIII over doing cel-based 2D animation (like BlazBlue does) or fully 3D graphics (as Street Fighter IV did). Since XII and XIII are HD games, they needed sprites that would be reasonably sized at 720p, which required a lot of work (they estimated about a year's worth of work for every character's animation set). However come XIV they adopted the 2½D approach Street Fighter IV uses. Still, commendable effort to stick to such a traditional means of sprite creation at a time where it was becoming increasingly infeasible (both due to the advancement in display resolution requiring larger and more detail-heavy sprites and the diminishing number of talented artists who could still do that kind of work).
  • Executive Meddling:
    • When Eolith sponsored Playmore so they could pick up the scraps from SNK's fallout, they requested a "Korean Athena". The end result was May Lee.
    • Rock's main series debut was held off in large part due to SNK's desire to keep him for the sequel to Garou, and thanks to Comic-Book Time had his age frozen as a young boy. it wouldn't be until XIV where Rock would finally become a playable DLC character. On a related note, that Garou sequel would also eventually get greenlit, albeit after Rock got into the game.
  • Exiled from Continuity:
    • K9999, mainly due to him being too blatant an Expy of Tetsuo Shima. So much so, he was the only character present in the NESTS arc not to appear in 2002 Unlimited Match; SNK Playmore created Nameless with the specific purpose of replacing K9999 and retconning him away. And then they came out with Krohnen in XV, who also manages to relegate Nameless to Dream Match/Spin-off limbo, due to Krohnen being K9999, but now redesigned to be significantly less legally risky.
    • Love Heart is currently stuck in legal limbo due to SNK selling the rights of her and her home series to a company called Highlights Entertainment shortly after KOF XIV release. Worse, Highlights would close in 2019, leaving her in limbo, where they had previously licensed her. For this reason, Team Another World is not amongst the roster of XV, and Nakoruru has to wait for the Season 1 DLC to return as a member of Team Samurai, which also brings Haohmaru and Darli Dagger to the fray.
  • Fandom Nod: Cosplayer Kyoko is a reference to the considerable popularity of School Uniform Kyo among female cosplayers.
  • Flip-Flop of God:
    • Is Kula Diamond a clone or just an altered human?
    • Luise's profile and storyline in the Maximum Impact series were written to be deliberately different from one another, most likely to prevent spoilers.
  • I Knew It!:
    • In both the Japan and Yagami Teams endings back in XIV, Chizuru Kagura made cameo appearances, with the Yagami Team Ending having her team up with Kyo and Iori to once again seal Orochi after Verse's death brought him along with other characters back to life. Because of this, many fans speculated that she would return in The King of Fighters XV, maybe even to team-up with Kyo and Iori once more. Sure enough, both her return and the return of the Sacred Treasures Team for XV were confirmed during the second Japan Fighting Game Publishers Roundtable.
    • Shermie's ending in SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy showed that she, Yashiro, and Chris one of the many souls who came back to life after Verse's death. Due to this and their popularity with fans, many assumed that the New Faces Team would make a return for XV. Sure enough, all three of them were confirmed to return, this time as Team Orochi.
    • To some extent, fans that have been speculating on K9999's or Nameless' return were very satisfied when their predictions came half-true with the revelation of Krohnen in XV, who is a composite of and direct successor to both characters. Later speculation raged on whether or not Krohnen was actually K9999 with a design and name change. This was more or less confirmed via his team story, which doesn't outright namedrop K9999 but leaves zero room for doubt through context that they are the same person.
  • Lying Creator:
    • The devs for XIV says that King of Dinosaurs was based on a sketch that one of them drew about a dinosaur-themed wrestler and they grow attached to it, and they deny that he is Tizoc. Yet in the game it's made quite obvious that he IS Tizoc. Though it's most likely to avoid spoiling his identity, but as early as the game previews many fans had guessed it. Fans have come to regard this as the creators engaging in Kayfabe.
    • For a good 20 years, SNK made it no secret that they were not satisfied with the character K9999, to the point where in the 10th anniversary of the series and onward, they deleted all references to the character and began surgically editing him out of all previous artwork moving forward, and starting from their official relaunch as just SNK in 2016, they made it explicitly clear that any allusions to the character's existence, even just saying his name, was banned at the company. Then sometime after Krohnen was unveiled and fans put two and two together that he was actually K9999 brought back from existential limbo, SNK revealed that this narrative had been a very long, very elaborate con they rolled with while they were redesigning and renaming him.
  • Marth Debuted in "Smash Bros.": Maxima was originally in an old SNK beat 'em up called Robo Army. The other main character, Rocky, serves as his alternate Striker in 2000.
    • Also in XIV, the characters from SNK's pachislot games like Muimui, Love Heart and Alice.
    • The secret bosses in XI, notably Gai Tendo and Silber from Buriki One, which was extremely rare outside of Japan.
  • Model Dissonance: Because of the nature of XIV being a 2D Fighitng Game with 3D graphics, some character animations still look off since they still are performed at certain angles akin to 2D sprites, which makes them "quarter-face" at their opponent instead of looking straightforward.
  • Name's the Same:
    • Despite being named Heavy D!, the leader of the US Sports Team is not the rapper.
    • Maxima from KOF' 99 shares a name with the hero of Robo Army. In fact, Maxima is modeled after the earlier game's hero, both of them being cyborg soldiers.
  • Newbie Boom:
    • The King of Fighters XIII was ultimately the benefactor of this, bringing in many newfound fans, particularly in the West, into the series. Prior to it's release, Street Fighter IV created a massive new revival in the competitive fighting game scene, the KOF XIII being one of the first fighting games released in its wake led to a large influx in new players in the series.
    • Happened again with The King of Fighters XV, only this time it's in a time where fighting games are seeing a resurgence, especially after the successes of Tekken 7, Dragon Ball Fighter Z, and Guilty Gear -STRIVE- putting fighting games and the Fighting Game Community back on the map.
  • Playing Against Type:
  • Promoted Fanboy: Najd is the creation of Saudi Arabian artist Mashael Al-Barrak, who was the winner of a contest to design a new character for the series held by SNK in conjunction with Manga Productions.
  • Real-Life Relative: As of XV, Chizuru Kagura is voiced by Sayaka Ohara, the older sister of Shun'ei's voice actor Takashi Ohara and B.Jenet is voiced by Mikako Komatsu, wife of Kyo's voice actor Tomoaki Maeno.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Love Heart from Another World Team faces this issue, as after KOF XIV, SNK ended up selling the rights to her home series and so she had to be removed from the franchise, leaving Nakoruru and Mui Mui without a team mate, forcing them to sit out KOF XV
  • Refitted for Sequel:
    • Chang and Choi were originally meant to team up with another fugitive character back in their debut in the first game. Kim was added in instead, starting the rehabilitation plot. Come XIV, this idea would be realized by pairing the two with newcomer and fellow convict, Xanadu.
    • Chris' Orochi form was originally going to have black flames instead of the purple that he has as of his last playable outing in '02 UM. Cut to KOF XIII where Dark Ash has, well, black flames and is also the Final Boss of that game, to boot.
    • In KOF '96, a Samurai Shodown team was initially planned (see What Could Have Been below), but didn't make the final cut. Come XV, and this is now fully realized, with said team consisting of Haohmaru, Nakoruru, and SamSho (2019) newcomer Darli Dagger.
  • One of the concepts for KOF XIV would serve as the basis for Kim's KOF XV redesign, as revealed in EVO 2022.
  • Release Date Change: King of Fighters XV was set for a 2021 release. But complications involving the COVID-19 Pandemic forced SNK to push it back to February 17th, 2022.
  • Remaster: A Japanese iOS/Android app game, Crash Fever, got the license and remastered the voice library for all actors casted in KoF 98' ; yes, Nonaka, Hiyama and all, to hold their June-July 2017 collaboration event with 98' . Which is a grand oasis for people who can't stand the mass replacement of XIV.
  • Role Reprise: In the mass replacing in XIV, some old voice actors still return:
    • Atsushi Maezuka is back for Benimaru and Choi (but not for Ralf).
    • Hiroyuki Arita is back for Chang.
    • Kong Kuwata is back for Geese.note 
    • Katsuyuki Konishi is back for Maxima.
    • Harumi Ikoma is back for King (but not for Nakoruru and Blue Mary).
    • Haruna Ikezawa is back for Athena.
    • Hikaru Hanada is back for King of Dinosaurs/Tizoc.
    • Yumi Kakazu is back for Kula Diamond.
    • Shiho Kikuchi returns as Whip for her DLC release and for XV.
    • Toshihiro Shigetsuka returns as Oswald for his DLC release.
    • Sōnosuke Nagashiro returns as Ash in KOF XV after a 12-year hiatus for the character.
    • Takehito Koyasu returns as Shingo, Ayako Kawasumi returns as Hinako, and Daisuke Ono returns as Nameless in KOF All-Star.
    • Nearly every cast member of KOF XIV and KOF All-Star reprises their roles in KOF XV minus Shiki Aoki Chris voice actor is replaced by Rui Yamasaki.
  • Throw It In: Hyena's lines were devised in a collaborative effort between the seiyuu of Hyena, Alba, and Soiree (who consequently became good friends through the experience).
    • Krauser's Gigantic Cyclone (AKA Gigatech Cyclone) was actually taken from the spinning supers (i.e. the Senpuuken/Hadou Senpuukyaku) utilized by he and Terry in the Fatal Fury 2 OVA. His youthful beauty and lack of a mustache and scars, were not retained, despite being well recieved by some fans.
  • Urban Legend of Zelda: As social media began to rise, eventually it's later revealed by an SNK official that there was never copyright disputes in regards of K9999 (and his overt reference to Tetsuo Shima) and they didn't really hate him per se, but eventually decided to pretend like the rumors were real on why K9999 became absent after they reclaimed the series from Eolith, with none being the wiser and only reveals the truth when Krohnen is revealed.
  • The Wiki Rule: The SNK Wiki, The King of Fighters Wiki, and another King of Fighters Wiki.

Misc. tidbits

  • The introduction for '98, "Cipher", as well as the ending theme, "Zero", had a sound clip in it with rather vulgar language in it: "Pay dat shit like he just got yo motherfuckin' check and he's gonna come pick it up at the bank." In the foreign releases of the game, this clip has been edited out and replaced with static. The game's OST uses the uncensored version of the track, and the only known way of listening to the edited version is through the 15th Anniversary promotional CD. The arranged versions, on the other hand, do not use the clip at all in any of their formats, even the edited versions used for console releases.
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