Adaptation Displacement: Terry's Cartwright Curse in the anime trilogy, bordering highly on Never Live It Down; when people think of his love life they often think of his dead love interests in the anime a lot more than Blue Mary, his perfectly alive one in the games. (Though the fact that SNK has been doing little Ship Tease between them, if any, in the The King of Fighters doesn't help.) While Fatal Fury: The Motion Picture was not a bad movie, things like this are one of the reasons why it's a shame that Fatal Fury 3 didn't get an animated adaptation. Of course, if Blue Mary was ever in a 90s Fatal Fury anime, it would get folks to wonder if that would've averted this once and for all or made thingsa whole lot worse.
Duck King, emphasis on both "crazy" and "awesome." Between the fact that he turned breakdancing into a physics-defying martial arts and the family of ducks—able to mimic his breakdancing moves perfectly—living in his hair, Duck King was this trope from the start. Also of note... I AM DUCK KING! QWACK! QWACK! QWACK! QWACK! QWACK! QWACK!
Fountain of Memes: Terry. In fact, you'll be hard-pressed to find a meme that isn't about him saying something.
Good Bad Bugs: Aerial Canceling, where you could cancel a jump into a special move, was already known to the developers but left in the game because an SNK higher-up thought it made the fighting look more frantic. This technique would be tweaked a bit and appear as part of the mechanics in The King of Fighters.
He's Just Hiding!: Kim has apparently gone missing. He shows up to berate his son Dong Hwan in one of his winposes.
Love to Hate: Geese has done terrible things over the course of the series but is beloved by the fandom (not unlike Rugal), cementing him as one of the premier SNK villains (and a more notable fighting game villain from the 90s in general). Geese can do no wrong because the fandom worships the ground he walks on. It doesn't hurt that he's charismatic, has a sense of style, and despite his wicked deeds, never quite crosses theMoral Event Horizon. Oh, and he's an uncontested badass.
Magnificent Bastard: Geese Howard is the infamous crime boss of Southtown and the most prolific villain in the SNK library. Desiring power at a young age, Geese trained at the Hakkyokuseiken school of martial arts, while steadily developing connections to Southtown's mafia through bribery and intimidation tactics, culminating in him overthrowing reigning kingpin Mr. Big and becoming the police chief of the city, with every cop and politician in his pocket. He then began hosting the King of Fighters tournament series to find worthy henchmen, strong-armed renowned martial artist Takuma Sakazaki into working for him, and vengefully murdered his rival Jeff Bogard. Despite suffering setbacks due to defeats at the hands of Ryo Sakazaki and Terry Bogard, Geese always recovers, and when Terry finally beats him for good and tries to save him from plummeting to his death, Geese chooses to fall as a final act of spite, laughing all the way down. For all his misdeeds, Geese never loses his trademark swagger, and so great is his popularity that in an alternate timeline, he survives and continues to plot behind the scenes.
Memetic Molester: Hotaru Futaba, thanks to one of her supers, Flying Queen of Chaos, wherein she kicks you upward, rides you to the ground and.... uh... seems to press your chest, draining your health and chi as she lets out a yell. Of course the animation makes it more look like she's RAPING you. Now it's hard to look at that move as anything OTHER than full-bore molestation. Not to mention Hotaru's animations after the chi burst resemble something akin to post-orgasm bliss.
Moe: Hotaru. Dear God, Hotaru. It doesn't hurt that she's also theWoobie of the series.
Mis-blamed: Many seem to think Mai's attire has always been skimpy since her debut, but her original design was actually modest. All that could be seen were her legs and a bit of cleavage. And from Fatal Fury 3 to the Real Bout series, she wore a red shirt under her top; making it her most conservative design. It was the anime adaptations and the latter parts of King of Fighters series that flanderized her, by steadily increasing her breast size, while making her attire more revealing.
Mai's standard win quote is "Nippon ichi!"note roughly translated as "[I'm] Japan's number one!", but it sounds like she's saying "Me boun~CY!!" instead. Which calls attention to her sizable endowments and jiggle factor.
Terry's "burn knuckle" quote sounds a lot like "Barnacle!"
The "OOOOOOOUUUUUUAAAAAAAAGH" sound Andy makes when you hit him. Not so prevalent here but it cropped up quite a bit in early KOF titles. It got ridiculous in '99 onward where for no apparent reason they made it his KO cry. You will hear this especially in 2002 and Unlimited Match, where he groans this practically every time you hit him.
Narm: Come on, the anime movies are full of this. From Terry's ridiculously exaggerated Heroic BSoD and resulting alcoholism because Krauser nearly kills him during their first encounter in OVA 2, to the indescribably cheesy ending music in the third one.
The fact that Geese is a Japanophile. Combined with his poor English, this should make him impossible to take seriously, yet it's such a unique concept for a villain and he's such a difficult boss that it loops around to making him surprisingly cool.
Unexpected Character: Nobody expected Richard Meyer to return in Maximum Impact 2 as a playable fighter.
Viewer Gender Confusion: Jin Chonshu. He looks like a little girl, but is actually male. To make it worse, in some of the games, he seems to be wearing lipstick and guyliner... Not to mention, Kappei Yamaguchi went nasal/high-pitched in voicing him to make it sound like a girl voicing him. (And by that, we don't mean mascot-style nasal. We mean a level of nasal that makes Chonshu sound like he's being voiced by a female doing a Crossdressing Voice)
Woolseyism: Krauser's line "Blood is thick, but syrup is thicker. Think about it."
The Martial Emperor, born three millennia ago in China, desired to advance his skills beyond mortal comprehension and threw himself into battle to kill countless people. At one point, he even annihilated an entire nation's army on his own. Making a pact with demons, the Martial Emperor entered a deep sleep with instructions on sacrificing martial artists to him to restore him. Upon his awakening, he begins absorbing the life from fighters all over the world and consumes his own loyal followers before announcing his intentions of ravaging the world and making it into a new hell where countless die so that he can feed his hunger for battle
Geese Howard, in stark contrast to his game counterpart, is a cruel demonic overlord who uses his army of demons to conquer villages and enslave their people. Desiring to bring the Martial Emperor back to life in order to rule the world with him, Geese orchestrates a fake fighting tournament where the winner is chosen as a fuel source to increase the Emperor's power. Kidnapping Andy Bogard—whose master Geese killed years prior—Geese hooks him up to a machine and promises him the death of his friends. When he finds Terry and the others getting closer to the Golden Temple, he sends Jirai to stop them, letting him mind control Andy to fight his brother and friends. Once the gang makes it to the Golden Temple, Geese tries to kill them, hoping to stall long enough for the Emperor's incomplete reawakening.
Liuo Himmler is the sadistic, cyborg leader of the Devil Street's Fourth Dragon Factory District. Appointed by the Martial Emperor, Liuo has his goons kidnap men and children to be used as slave labor for manufacturing weapons. Executing workers who attempt to escape, he threatens those who try to run away with the promise of killing three returned child slaves. Getting into a fight with Joe and Bear after promising to make them his slaves, Liuo tries to kill the returned children with a spike chandelier.