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  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Are the members of Organization XIII (the original Organization, not the XIII Seekers of Darkness) evil, or misunderstood? Can they feel emotions, or are they just really good actors?
    • Dream Drop Distance confirms that all Nobodies (or at the very least the human ones) really are capable of developing genuine emotions over time, and even slowly growing new Hearts; the original Organization XIII just didn't know that, being duped by Xemnas into thinking they were totally emotionless.
      • Which leads to more interpretations. Who were suppressing their emotions and reveling in sociopathy, and who were merely ignorant?
      • What of the circumstances of the individual members? As 358/2 Days showed, Xemnas has little tolerance for failure or insubordination, and while he never makes good on that threat, being turned into a Dusk is a punishment constantly hanging over his subordinates' heads. Did some of the other, nicer members care if they were hurting innocent people, yet didn't see the point in resisting, as they'd be turned into Dusks and serve Xemnas anyway, losing what little they had left? Or did they ultimately care about nothing but getting their own hearts back??
      • And what about the lesser, non-human nobodies (Dusks, Creepers, Twilight Thorns, etc.)? Saix mentioned in Kingdom Hearts 2 that one of the major differences between the human nobodies and the lesser nobodies is that the human nobodies usually retained their memories from when they were still human and remembered what it felt like to have a heart, while the lesser nobodies don't have that luxury. Since the lesser nobodies don't have any memory of their former selves or don't remember what it's like to have a heart and don't have any memories that would allow them to properly simulate emotion like their higher-ranked masters, would it be more difficult, if not downright impossible for the lesser nobodies to slowly grow back hearts like the human nobodies would be capable of doing? And if the answer is no, then what about the lesser Nobodies who show genuine signs of loyalty to their masters like Roxas's Samurai nobodies or the nobodies that Vexen uses in Kingdom Hearts 3 to help him rescue Ansem The Wise? If it turns out that growing hearts is possible for them too, then that may explain how they're able to feel things like "loyalty" or commitment towards a master, but if it turns out that growing hearts is impossible for them, then where why were they still loyal to Vexen and Roxas? Did they help them because they felt some kind of instinctual obligation to do so (kind of like how the lesser non-human heartless or the unversed will obey people like Xehanort and Vanitas despite having no mind of their own and having no concept of things like "loyalty")? Or did those specific nobodies decide to side with their former masters and Sora instead of Xehanort because they know that if Xehanort succeeds in his plan, he'll end up destroying all of them too?
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    • The game did this to Goofy, having him go from a Good Is Dumb guy to the one of the main trio with the most common sense.
    • Let's talk The Master of Masters. Is he a goofy, friendly cheerful Large Ham who simply did what he had to to prevent the light from completely expiring? Is he a calculated, cult-leading psychopath who led children to their deaths in a genocidal, world-destroying war? Or is he a Well-Intentioned Extremist who manipulated virtually everyone for thousands of years to stop an even worse evil from arising? Why is his theme song so unbelievably sinister-sounding despite his giddy nature? The man's actions are so clouded and hazy at this point that Alternative Character Interpretation is just about the only thing the fandom has to go on right now.
    • Does Xehanort truly have a Xanatos Gambit throughout the Dark Seeker Saga or is he just a Sore Loser that resorts to Moving the Goalposts logic because of his inability to admit defeat?
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  • Alternate Self Shipping: There's innumerable stories and drawings which pair the Squaresoft Expies from Kingdom Hearts with their original inspirations.
  • Americans Hate Tingle: Roxas is a Base-Breaking Character in the West, but the second most popular character after Sora in Japan. Likewise, 358/2 Days is the second most popular KH game after KH2 in Japan, above even the original game and Birth by Sleep, whereas it is far more divisive in the West.
  • Angst? What Angst?:
    • Talking to Sora will reveal him to a be a cheerful, optimistic, happy teenager. Who happens to have been put into a coma for a year, watched his home get destroyed, had to deal with Fighting Your Friend several times, routinely fights the forces of darkness, and has been Mind Raped a couple times over.
      • Subverted in Kingdom Hearts II, as Sora is more quick to anger and irritable in general, shows his disappointment and hopelessness multiple times over the course of the game over failing to find Riku and the Organization's manipulations, and when he FINALLY finds Riku near the end he breaks down crying in relief showing just how much of a brave front he was putting up.
      • Double subverted in Dream Drop Distance. Sora finds out the full extent of his connection to the rest of the cast. The revelation that he's essentially a total weakling made strong because he happens to be surrounded by heroes is something that really tears Sora up when he first figures it out. But when staring down Xigbar, Sora decides if that's what it takes to help the rest of the heroes fight... so be it.
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    • Bambi prances around pretty happily for someone whose world was destroyed...
  • Anvilicious: About all of its moral messages.
    • The Power of Friendship. The game beats the message of the positive influence of friends over a player's head like a hammer to an anvil.
    • No man is an island. Sora exemplifies this by being The Unchosen One; a nobody surrounded by people way more influential and powerful than him. And yet, it's through these connections that Sora manages to overcome every obstacle thrown in front of him. Beyond just The Power of Friendship, the message of "you can't do everything alone" is beaten into the story's message just as hard.
  • Arc Fatigue: The "Dark Seeker Saga", which was intended to be the first of several storylines in the franchise, had taken the better part of two decades to fully develop. And a major part of this is that, despite the obvious tease of a third game at the end of II (released in 2005), the next seven years would be devoted to prequel titles before 3D finally continued the story in 2012, and ended up being a prolonged set-up/tease for III (released in 2019). At that point, quite a few fans just wanted the Xehanort story to end already.
  • Archive Panic: There's a double-digit number of games in the series (not counting the various remakes and re-releases) telling one continuous story, and each of them is a full-length RPG that can take dozens of hours to complete without even going for the optional content. Playing through the entire series can take months. It's gotten to the point that several "compilation" titles that are released include an "Archive Mode" of sorts just to catch everyone up to speed.
  • Awesome Music: Yoko Shimomura, folks.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
  • Kairi, who is basically the Princess Peach of the franchise. Her character arc has become extremely contentious with fans because of her perpetual case of Can't Catch Up and her very frequent stints as a Damsel Scrappy, with some fans complaining about how poorly her character has been used throughout the series (culminating in her Chickification in III to a character who was already clearly The Chick). However, other fans are kinder to her, claiming that she serves her role well in the overarching story and that her lack of potency compared to Sora or Riku is actually shaping up to be a defining character trait for her, especially as it conflicts with her tendency to run into things head-first, and her playable Action Girl role in Re:Mind is universally seen as a highlight of her arc.
  • Xion. She is either loved and regarded as one of the best written female character in the series, with a compelling arc and sympathetic death, or is hated for being her Spotlight-Stealing Squad tendencies that constantly take attention from other members of Organization XIII.
  • Terra from Birth by Sleep is either a tragic character who's struggle with his darkness and his failure to become a Keyblade Master due to not living up to his master's Black-and-White Morality teachings makes him a very sympathetic character. Or a complete moron that got everyone in the mess they were in because he always seems to trust subtlety challenged villains, and his struggles with the darkness are just a rehash of Riku's struggle with his darkness.
  • Master Xehanort is either an effective Arc Villain and chessmaster who successfully raised the stakes of the ongoing storyline, complete with an outstanding vocal performance by Leonard Nimoy prior to his passing... or an annoying Invincible Villain responsible for the plot-ruining Ass Pulls and Retcons that this series has become infamous for.
  • Aqua. Even though she has enough fans to be considered a popular character due to being seen as the best-written female character in the entire franchise, especially with 0.2 revamping her personality to someone who struggles with her newfound inner doubts and darkness after spending all of the original BBS in possession of a Black-and-White Morality mindset, she still has a lot of detractors who find her a boring character with not a lot of personality to her outside of being the Team Mom of the cast whose inner doubts and struggles with her inner darkness aren't really explored for very long. Ever since the release of 0.2, fans are also torn on whether Aqua deserves all the attention she's received in recent games (having her own game, being playable in both III and Re Mind, and being the leader of "Team BBS" in Melody of Memory) for being a well-received Breakout Character or if the excessive attention has made her become a Spotlight-Stealing Squad towards the cast, including her own trio.
  • Ventus. Like Aqua he has a lot of fans, but also has plenty of detractors. Fans see him as one of the series' biggest woobies due to his past with Master Xehanort and his eventual recovery from Xehanort nearly killing him and being able move on to become a strong Keyblade wielder makes him one of the most relatable characters in the series. Detractors however see his personality as a complete retread of Sora's and think he was only written into the series just to explain why Roxas doesn't look like Sora despite being his nobody.
  • Master Eraqus is either seen as a goodhearted Parental Substitute towards his students who's Black-and-White Morality status is seen as understandable due to the series' Broken Aesop portrayal of darkness and is also liked due to the excellent performance from Mark Hamill, or he's seen as a complete idiot who's responsible for everything that has happened since he was way too forgiving of Xehanort and did not warn his students (especially Terra) to be cautious around him since he already knew Xehanort has been taken by the darkness and knew of his plans to trigger another Keyblade War.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • In Kingdom Hearts II, any cutscene with the Gullwings (Yuna, Rikku, and Paine) is this. Even though they work for Maleficent, they never actually cause any trouble, unlike Pete. Their cutscenes have no relevance to the story, at all.
    • In the same game, this happens nearly any time Cloud, Tifa and Sephiroth appear in cutscenes. They show up in a couple of cutscenes that play during the main story, even though none of them have any relevance to said story. It all leads up to a Bonus Boss fight with Sephiroth.
  • Broken Base: From Kingdom Hearts II onward (if not even before that), it's become increasingly harder and harder to satisfy the entire fanbase.
    • The biggest is one is probably the overarching plot of the series. Supporters say that it's an awesome and exciting Jigsaw Puzzle Plot, and that if you play all the games in the series and just pay attention to what it's explained, you can follow it just fine for a great ride, filled with awe and mystery. The fact that you need to think about it to understand it completely makes it more satisfying. According to them, the only real reason why it may be hard to explain, specially to newcomers, is that the series is now a Video Game Long Runner, so there's a lot of information to take in. Detractors, on the other hand, claim it's nothing but a confusing and nonsensical Kudzu Plot, for which it doesn't matter how much information you are given, it makes less and less sense as it progresses. And even if it does make sense, it shouldn't be necessary to play other games launched in a different console family that you are likely not to have just to understand what's going on in a later entry. The HD releases make a valiant effort to alleviate this last part, but the mobile games that followed add extra confusion for people who had dismissed them as mobile phone spinoffs.
    • Another one is the Disney worlds, and how they fit into the individual games and the story as a whole. There is a perception among some people that the Disney elements of the franchise have become less and less important over time in favor of the original elements of the series, leading the events in a number of Disney worlds feeling like filler. Some really enjoy the original characters and plot and don't mind this shift, others either don't like it as much and/or simply wish the Disney characters besides Donald, Goofy, Mickey and Yen Sid were integrated better into the series' narrative. Some people say the series as a whole has had this problem since the first game and it's only gotten worse.
    • The command deck systems of Birth by Sleep and Dream Drop Distance. Half of the fanbase likes that the command deck offers a variety of different attacks to choose from and allows for more customization than the magic system, while the other half does not like how some attacks were really slow and that the command deck system greatly reduced the amount of combos possible in previous games.
    • Bringing III to the Xbox One, and possibly the Switch, as well as 1.5, 2.5, and 2.8. Great way to bring new people into the fandom that aren't fans of Sony, and/or giving Xbox players that are already fans of the franchise a great way to experience the series, or Square making their "Playstation exclusive" series available on platforms whose players "don't deserve it" (most of the time mainly speaking about Xbox players there) and making it less special? You'll get serious flamewars between both camps, despite the series never being Playstation exclusive, as it's had games on Nintendo handhelds and mobile devices for years now (which means it's not exclusive no matter how you slice it). This became even more pronounced when Sora grew into one of the most requested character choices for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, with many Switch players feeling left out as the only major console without the compilations and III. However, with the announcement of Sora coming to Smash Ultimate, there was also the announcement of 1.5, 2.5, 2.8, and III coming to Switch via cloud streaming. Time will tell how the performance holds on the console however.
    • Speaking of bringing Kingdom Hearts to other platforms, the entire series was released for PC on the Epic Games Store. However, each game is between $50 and $60 — including Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory and Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue, the latter of which having only one fully-fledged game to begin with, and both of the mentioned examples also being entirely spinoffs. A lot of fans say that this is way' too expensive, and that being exclusive to the Epic Games Store is also a major letdown. The counter to this by fans will note that these are about the base price you'd pay for these games on consoles anyway (III being bundled with Re:Mind is oft seen as a bonus), and it's unlikely that it'll stay Epic Games Store-exclusive, and like with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions going on sale pretty often, the same thing happened on the Epic Games Store not even a month after release during its Mega Sale in May 2021; all the games were 33% off ($33 — $40 per game), and was made even cheaper if you used Epic's $10 off coupons (further lowering it to $23 — $30 per game), somewhat alleviating the expensive nature of the games.
    • The inclusion (or lack thereof) of Disney's acquired properties of Marvel, Star Wars, and, to a lesser extent, 20th Century Fox and The Muppets in the series. Those wanting to include said properties will argue that there's a lot of great crossover potential with having Sora team up with The Avengers or fighting Darth Vader, along with seeing iconic locations or living out the experiences of these worlds from his perspective. Others have argued that none of these properties fit within the series due to drastically different tones and scopes, a desire to include more obscure Disney properties that haven't been tackled yet, or (especially in the case of Star Wars) a distaste of Disney's treatment of the franchise, and not wanting them to tackle it further. Square Enix themselves has commented as wanting to include both, but having logistical troubles doing so due to numerous legalities involves.
  • Can't Un-Hear It:
    • Many people who listen to Jesse Mc Cartney's songs after playing these games will immediately think of Roxas or Ventus singing the songs instead of him.
    • Billy Zane as "Ansem" is considered the definitive voice of the character due to Zane's iconic, charismatic performance and being in the first game. His successor, Richard Epcar, had a rough start since he was directed to try and out-ham Zane with less than desirable results, but has improved vastly ever since he was given breathing room while recording. Nonetheless, Zane remains the voice of the character for many fans who still appreciate Epcar.
    • Wayne Allwine voiced Mickey until his death in 2009, and many fans prefer him over his successor Bret Iwan simply because Allwine was the voice of Mickey from 1977 to 2009, meaning for the generation of kids playing the series when it began, he simply was Mickey at the time.
    • Downplayed with Christopher Lee as DiZ, since his replacement is Corey Burton, whose imitation of Lee is so good that Lee himself was a big fan of it. While fans don't mind Burton taking over the role, it does create some disconnect since Burton was already more or less using his Lee imitation for Yen Sid and now uses it for two characters.
    • Leonard Nimoy as Master Xehanort had this when compared to his successor, Rutger Hauer, since Hauer's take was considered divisive due to taking Xehanort from a Large Ham to a Cold Ham. Averted with Hauer's replacement after his passing, Christopher Lloyd, who was well received as a worthy successor to Nimoy who made the character his own.
    • The series has enjoyed a regular recurring cast of actors who reprise their roles from the Disney Renaissance, solidifying them as the definitive voices for the characters. For replacement actors, Susan Blakeslee in particular received a good bump in notoriety as the series more or less cemented her as the definitive modern voice actress for Maleficent.
  • Cargo Ship:
  • Casual-Competitive Conflict: Replace "Competitive" with "Speedrunner" and you have a pretty good idea of the division in the KH community. Speedrunners have something of an infamous reputation in the community as a bunch of elitist snobs who don't care about the franchise outside of Kingdom Hearts II (and Kingdom Hearts to a lesser extent), who will turn their noses up at the other games in the series for not having gameplay that isn't an exact carbon copy of Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix, and spend all their time either grinding out runs of Kingdom Hearts II, or making videos where they nitpick the other games in the series for not being Kingdom Hearts II.note  They also are known for being dismissive of the story and characters, something considered one of the series main appeals. The Speedrunning community, on the other hand, considers these accusations unfair and point out that they wouldn't speed run the games or even play them if they didn't like the series, and that they criticize the games because they want them to be as good as they can be, and that as far as they are concerned, Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix represents the gold standard in gameplay for the series.
  • Catharsis Factor: Chernabog, Lucifer, Jafar, Maleficent. Was there a Disney villain in your childhood you found exceptionally wicked or terrifying? Odds are there's a game in the series to give you your chance to claim violent retribution.
  • The Chris Carter Effect: A common criticism of the series is that its Myth Arc becomes increasingly complex with every release; games are told in Anachronic Order and are released on multiple consoles, the Final Mix re-releases of games (which, until the 1.5 and 2.5 versions, weren't released outside of Japan) often add new story content that is critical to following future games, and Retcons, Ass Pull, and Writing by the Seat of Your Pants are often in effect to keep the plot evolving. This dates all the way back to the first game — the original "Deep Dive" and "Another Side, Another Story" secret endings featured scenes and phrases Tetsuya Nomura had in his mind when envisioning a sequel, but the hooded figures in the endings didn't have identities and the phrases had no specific meaning. It was during the writing of Kingdom Hearts II that the team decided who the hooded figures were and wrote to explain how and why the ending scenes with them happened, and they found places to insert the phrases from the endings into the script later.
  • "Common Knowledge":
    • It's common to hear or read fans of the series claim that the series is a PlayStation exclusive series despite Square not being a console-exclusive company and there being more games that originally came out on Nintendo handhelds and mobile devices than PlayStation platforms prior to 2013, when they were all ported in I.5, II.5, and II.8. Then III got announced for the Xbox One alongside the PS4. Some fans will also claim that there's an exclusivity contract which is the reason that the collections haven't made it off the PlayStation consoles yet, which is contradicted by Nomura's own statements in a few interviews where he said it's entirely possible to port them over to Xbox One and the Switch, but they're waiting until after III is done being developed to start doing so, as well as still needing to discuss the prospect with Microsoft, but haven't had time to yet.
    • There's also a number of players who seem to think that Sony had a hand in producing the first 2 main games, arguing that since the European box arts have always said "only on PlayStation" (which is more than likely only a marketing tactic, since the Final Fantasy X/X-2 remaster set also says that, but Square have announced that they're porting it off the PlayStation to other consoles for a 2019 release several years after the PlayStation release) and that Square hasn't released the other games, or HD collections, on other consoles (despite the HD collections themselves receiving a port, a remake, and remade HD cinematics of several of the games from Nintendo's handhelds and Union X) despite this not being indicative of Sony funding the games' developments or an exclusivity contract, and the fact that the series' IP being owned by Disney, Sony's direct competitor in media, with Square developing the series in game form.
    • The PC ports have been subject to this as well as one common argument fans defending the games' exclusivity to the Epic Games Store use is that the ports were developed in collaboration with Epic directly meaning a No Port For You for Steam users. However this loses weight as Epic's involvement in the ports would of been confirmed outright by both studios, and the increasing popularity of the Steam Deck leading most fans to theorize Square Enix wanting to ensure the ports being fully verified for the device before a proper release in a similar case to what happened with the PC port for Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade.
    • Sephiroth's appearance in the series is famous outside of the fandom, but usually through mentions of scenes that never actually happened, such as "Mickey Mouse fighting Sephiroth", or suggesting that Sephiroth was responsible for Goofy's fakeout "death" in Kingdom Hearts II. In reality, Sephiroth isn't a prominent character, appearing only as a Bonus Boss and as part of Cloud's arc; he is unrelated to the main story.
  • Complete Monster: The manga series gives Adaptational Villainy to Ansem, Seeker of Darkness & Xemnas. See those pages for details.
  • Continuity Lockout: If you start the series from a later game, you'll likely be lost when it comes to the plot, and that's before you take the entire thing into consideration.
    • 358/2 Days might be the worst offender of this for the series. It takes place between I and II, as well as during Chain of Memories, and is mostly about character development, depending on the player to have a considerable knowledge of the series. It doesn't help that it also has a few scenes that only truly make sense if the player has also played Birth by Sleep, which came out a year after Days. You have to feel sorry for the unlucky few who picked this up without prior knowledge of the series.
    • Birth by Sleep may be the only game released after KHII that someone can play without prior knowledge. It having its own story separate from the rest of the series (partly due to it being a prequel) helps accomplish this. It has a Call-Forward here and there, but it's not as alienating as, say, 358/2 Days was.
    • Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance] makes an admirable attempt to resolve this with the Memoir feature that summarizes relevant plot points from previous games, which does help. However, the emotional impact of those scenes is still lost when you haven't actually played the games and gotten attached to the characters. Also, due to the nature of the plot, some reviewers have mentioned that you can read the summaries and it still won't make a lot of sense.
    • Square Enix did an attempt to catch players up to speed (prior to 3D) with the HD remix compilations, which include the Final Mix elements available in the west for the first time, as well as most of the games (sans Union X outside of a cinematic telling the story of some of the characters from that game) in only a few packages and have been working hard to make them the definitive versions of said games to be able to keep up with the series.
    • Still present at the moment for Xbox players who've never played the series, or looked into it, who are getting III on the system, but Square is for some reason not devoting any time, resources, or anything towards porting the HD collections to the system at the moment. You'd think it would be on the top of their priorities list to do, seeing as they have a department dedicated to optimizing older Final Fantasy and other games to newer systems, including the Xbox One, but apparently not. Luckily, this is getting rectified in 2020 with a release of the other games on the console.
    • Nintendo players have had it even worse as their introduction to the series would have been Chain of Memories, while the plot of characters losing their memories make things a little easier for newcomers, the game still makes several references to the I as if the player was already expected to know these things and the story ends on a cliffhanger that gets resolved in a PlayStation 2 title. The worst offender would be 3D: Dream Drop Distance which is difficult to understand without the context of Birth by Sleep, a game that was released on PlayStation Portable.
  • Die for Our Ship:
    • The extreme levels of vitriol towards Kairi and Naminé by Yaoi Fangirls, particularly fans of Sora/Riku and Axel/Roxas, were legendary, to the point the Kingdom Hearts fanbase has become a cautionary tale for many newcomers to shipping fandom. A lot of the hate has died down over time, but longtime fans still remember.
    • However, following the release of Re:Mind and Melody of Memory, hate towards Riku from Sora/Kairi shippers has increased to the point where many Sora/Kairi shippers have openly demanded that Riku be Killed Off for Real in the next game so that his quest to find Sora in Quadratum can be given to Kairi instead.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Organization XIII is one of the more infamous video game examples of the trope. They cast Ansem into darkness, go around worlds ruining lives to create more Heartless and Nobodies, manipulate Roxas, Xion, Naminé, Riku and Sora for their own ends, Mind Rape Sora forcing him to be put into a coma for a year, kidnap Kairi to emotionally blackmail Sora, and most of them show little concern or regard for the other members if they are killed. And yet, fans insist Sora is a horrible person for being as mean to them as he is, and argue they aren't all that bad. Word of God even seems to have gotten on this bandwagon; if 3D is an indication: several Organization members now revived as humans are implied to be performing a Heel–Face Turn, and it's explicitly spelled out they really were beginning to grow hearts and were just pawns of Xemnas for Master Xehanort's scheme.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Among the bosses, Chernabog (of Fantasia fame) also falls into this. While coming out nowhere and never being referenced again, he's still one of the franchise's most loved bosses due to being Disney's king of Nightmare Fuel and bringing along "Night on Bald Mountain" as his boss theme.
  • Epileptic Trees:
    • Special mention to the famous Another Side, Another Story special ending from the Final Mix version of the first game. This single video alone inspired so many fan theories back in 2003 that you needed to go to a debate about the timeline of The Legend of Zelda series in order to find something remotely as insane. Fans literally went through the video frame by frame like it was the frigging Zapruder Film (specially the second half, which was prone to this kind of viewing), looking for clues about what the next installment was to offer. Let us stress the fact that this was back when the series had only one game... Yeah...
    • A quite popular theory is that Cloud and Sephiroth are a Nobody and Heartless, respectively, or visa-versa, given the dynamic between the two, and would explain why Cloud is more emotionless in this game series than his home game, since Nobodies don't have actual emotions unless they actively start developing their own heart again. When Birth By Sleep was in development, it was a common theory that Zack was who Cloud and Sephiroth were before he fell into darkness and split into two, but the ending implying Sephiroth was already still around at that point, and possibly killed Zack threw a monkey wrench into that theory. What this would make Tifa, Cloud's supposed 'light', is a further mystery.
  • Escapist Character: Sora. A badass swordmaster who befriends everyone he meets, is The Unchosen One who gets to Screw Destiny, and is The Hero.
  • Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: What with the intentional Christian symbolism on the part of the series' creators, various fan theories about the nature of light and darkness have sprung up among fan debates.
  • Evil Is Cool:
    • Hades. Although anyone with magical powers and the voice of James Woods would be cool.
    • Maleficent, the MISTRESS OF ALL EVIL!
    • Organization XIII in general gets a lot of this. Axel, in particular, proved to be so popular that his role was significantly increased in II from his initial appearance.
    • Xehanort in general. "Ansem", Xemnas, Master Xehanort... you name it, he's a guaranteed badass.
    • Again, Chernabog.
  • Fan-Disliked Explanation:
    • Worlds running on their own time axis, as revealed by Riku in KH3D, has received negative attention by some fans. How could Jack and Santa carry out their respective holidays if mere seconds in one world is years in another? note 
      • This one died down significantly after the prequel game Dark Road, released for free with Unchained, made it clear that some worlds also started at later times, as evidenced by Agrabah coming into existence with no people in it, and other worlds having exactly the same cast of characters 76 years before the 'present' of the series.
    • For detractors/those who can't make sense of the overall plot, Master Xehanort's secret behind his Crazy-Prepared streak throughout the series being Time Travel.
    • Another for Xehanort: Him being the reincarnation of the χ Player Character. Given his divisive reputation, a number of fans didn't appreciate learning that he's the future of their literal in-game self.
      • Though it's subverted later since it turns out he is not the reincarnation of the χ Player Character but was raised by a reincarnation of the χ Player Character. Whether this makes it better, worse or no difference at all is up your personal preference.
  • Fan Myopia:
    • The above stated conflict between casual players and more hardcore players in Casual-Competitive Conflict.
    • The sect of "hardcore/true" fans of the series that will argue that the series is a "PlayStation exclusive" that doesn't belong on any other consoles for whatever petty reasons they may have versus the fans that are more accepting of the series being on multiple consoles at once (since the series has a history on Nintendo's handhelds and mobile devices already) and welcome the opportunity to welcome new players and fans that prefer other consoles than Sony's and/or on their preferred console as well, since some of them switched to the Xbox since the PS2 days and have been wanting ports of the older games to the system ever since they came out on the PS4.
    • The people who think the story is utter nonsense and don't like the way it's told or the unnecessary amount of complicated storylines and the like and those who love the utter insanity of the story, like the mythology, like the characters, and like the story, but can admit when it's even a bit much for their liking.
  • Fan Nickname:
    • Mysterious Figure, which is from the Brady Games Birth by Sleep guide. The name is unofficial, but persists in the fan community for the sake of distinction from the original Unknown.
      • A handful of fans also refer to him as Soranort. Because at this point, he's bound to be related to one of them somehow. Ironically his entire plan in 3D is to create/become a literal "Soranort."
      • As of the release of 3D, he's been referred to as Trollanort, thanks to his affinity for playing literal mindgames and his bordering-on-unfair use of time control in his boss battle. Other variants include Clockanort and "TOKI WO TOMARE-nort".
    • Apparently Luxord's is George Michael for the (unintentional?) resemblance.
    • Kingdom Hearts 2.8 has recently acquired the nickname "Kingdom Hearts 3 Ground Zeroes" due to the recent compilation serving as a prologue to Kingdom Hearts III, much like MGSV Ground Zeroes serves as a prologue to the main game.
    • The Riku Replica has often been called "Repliku" to give him some semblance of an original name. This is actually the name he is addressed by in the German release of Chain of Memories.
    • Anyone who gets Grand Theft Me'd by Xehanort gets "Nort" in their name. For example, "Terranort." The process itself is called "Norting".
    • "Darqua" for a darkness-corrupted Aqua.
    • Also for Aqua, we have "Blueberry Mom," courtesy of NicoB.
    • The original form of a Nobody or Heartless is called a Somebody by the fandom, especially among Organization XIII (e.g. Sora is Roxas's Somebody). The games don't have a specific terminology for what they otherwise just call "people" or "humans", though the fan term may come from a quote from Axel in Chain of Memories ("We Nobodies can never hope to be somebodies.") Alternatively one are sometimes referred to as an Other, as Roxas refers to Sora as his Other at one point, but it is never mentioned again. One of the wikis uses "Entelechies" to categorize complete beings, but acknowledges that the term has never been officially used.
    • The Master of Masters is referred to as Mom since it's an acronym.
    • With the rise of an item/boss randomizer for several games in the series, a whole new slew of nicknames to describe items or game situations has arisen.
      • AP Boosts are called Apples, Magic Boosts as Mangoes, Power Boosts as Pears, and Defense Boosts as Dates, due to being easier and faster to say than just "XXX Boost".
      • Baby Seed is the name given to randomizer seeds which gift the runner completion items early (any of the three Proofs) or powerful spells or abilities early (Thunder elements, the Explosion ability).
      • Go Mode, as in other randomizer runs, is when the conditions to beat the game have been met, and now the runner can just go straight to the game's ending.
      • A Zeus Run is when the runner happens upon Thunder Elements and thunder-boosting accessories/abilities early enough for the Thunder/Thundara/Thundaga spell to be the primary damage method.
  • Fandom-Enraging Misconception:
    • A lot of fans don't take well when people call the handheld entries "Spin-Offs", despite the games counting as such, since the majority of them are smaller projects that revolve around other characters than the main cast of the numbered entries, due to the stories mattering just as much to the overall scope of the series as much as the numbered titles.
    • Calling the Princesses of Heart the Princesses of Light is one way to really annoy the fanbase. This is not helped by the fact that the mistake tends to crop up often, especially with news articles.
    • Hardcore PlayStation fans often mistake the series for a PlayStation exclusive franchise (it's not the only one, but it is one of the last few remaining ones since no game prior to III was released for multiple platforms at once Day 1 and the last mainline game came out in 2005) for no other reason than the first and second numbered games originally came out on PS2 despite the series' longstanding reputation of having games on a lot of different platforms over the years prior to the HD collections. This often makes them unable to get over the fact that III was ported to Xbox One at the same time as PS4 and Square is seeming to get ready to have the manpower with the ability to port games to both console families for the foreseeable future and unable to divorce the fact that Square is not owned by Sony (no matter how many Sony fans want them to be) and the series IP is owned by Disney, not Sony, mostly because of the irrational hatred they have for Xbox.
    • Claiming that the Original Generation characters are Square Enix characters is a good way to come across as ignorant. The whole franchise is owned by Disney, except for the appearances of the Final Fantasy and The World Ends with You characters. Sora, Riku, Ansem, etc. are all Disney characters as much as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy are.
  • Fandom Heresy:
    • Claiming that Dark Riku (and by extension, Vanitas) wears a skirt will get you brutally murdered by the fandom.
    • Calling the games released between Kingdom Hearts II and Kingdom Hearts III "spin-offs".
  • Fanfic Fuel:
    • With the exception of Xemnas, Roxas, and Xion, the Heartless counterpart of Organization XIII members are left open to our imagination.
    • Hell, just the sheer Massive Multiplayer Crossover element of the franchise means a lot of fanfics have characters from all over the Disney library, from the more obscure movies, to the various animated TV shows, and lots of other stuff besides. And that's not getting into the crossover fanfics with non-Disney/Square stuff. With the addition of Sora to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, even more fuel has been added to this fire with regards to Nintendo properties. And there's the idea that Mario could be a potential Keyblade Master (Given that the Keyblade did not immediately return to Sora's hand after Mario summoned it in Sora's reveal trailer)?
  • Fanon: One of the earliest examples in the series, dating back to the first game, is that most people cannot defeat Heartless normally, but when around a Keyblade, gain the power to do so as a result of the Keyblade's presence. This is because when Donald and Goofy first meet and fight a Heartless, their attacks don't seem to work until they join with Sora, and we see that Sora's wooden stick is unable to damage them (which is odd, because later on, when Sora temporarily loses his keyblade in Hollow Bastion, he uses a wooden sword instead and is able to damage and defeat heartless with said wooden sword). Admittedly this would justify why Disney characters can fight with Sora, but it does leave a question about how other characters like the Final Fantasy characters seemingly can defeat Heartless. 358/2 Days would explain that's it possible for anyone to destroy a Heartless, but they'll remain a corrupted Heart and reform unless destroyed by a Keyblade, which releases the trapped heart. But this still invites Fridge Logic into things, which the mentioned Fanon can still work as an explanation for.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Sora and Riku are more popular, thanks in no small part to how much more time is dedicated to fleshing out their relationship while Kairi's romance with Sora is treated as a given.
  • Fan Wank: Lots, and lots, and lots, and lots, and lots of it due the often confusing nature of the plot, no Word of God explanations being offered, and sometimes inadequate explanations offered by the games. Some of the most common ones include fan-made assumptions for how Nobodies actually work and why characters like Maleficent just won't stay dead. Head over to the "Headscratchers" pages to get a good look at some of the wank.
  • Franchise Original Sin: See here.
  • Game-Breaker:
    • The difficulty in KH and KHII is considerably lowered once you get the Second Chance and Once More abilities. And by considerably, maybe two or three bosses can now kill you if you play well. Even less if you've got MP Rage, Concentrate, and Petal Guard/Leaf Bracer, allowing more or less constant Curagas.
    • And Oblivion Keychain from the first game. Oathkeeper too, to an extent.
    • Sora's Final Form in Kingdom Hearts II.
    • The Tinkerbell summon in the first game basically makes you invincible by acting as a Regen and Auto-Life spells, periodically healing you and reviving you once upon death, and the best part is that she doesn't cause your companions to disappear like all other summons do.
    • Someone who is also a summon in the first game is Bambi. He gives you HP or Magic orbs when summoned and will give you whichever one you need most. He also sometimes drops rare items which is good if you want to use synthesis.
    • Balloonga in 3D. Taking out large chunks of the endgame boss' health with Mylar balloons is hilariously satisfying.
    • In Chain of Memories, building decks around sleights could really break the game, such as Ars Arcanum: using a deck focused on this sleight will make difficult bosses like Riku Replica a cake walk.
  • Gateway Series: The series serves as this for both the Disney films and Final Fantasy characters featured throughout. Many people who play through a Kingdom Hearts game discover (or rediscover) the iconic Disney characters and worlds, and end up (re)watching the original movies to see what they're all about. Likewise, the games can serve as a Disney fan's introduction to Final Fantasy, or vice-versa.
  • Genius Bonus: One of the arc phrases of the franchise is some variation of "Many Worlds All Share the Same Sky". In English, this just sounds like some Meaningless Meaningful Words, but if you know some Japanese, you'll know that Sora, Riku and Kairi, the names of the three protagonists of the franchise mean sky, land and water in Japanese. The phrase isn't referring to a literal sky- it's referring to Sora.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Riku is nowhere near as popular in Japan as he used to be note , even though he remains popular in the west.
  • Goddamned Bats:
    • Air Pirates and Fat Bandits, especially in the first game.
    • The Hot Rods and Undead Pirates in the second.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • In Transformers, Shockwave (voiced by Corey Burton) seemed to be impersonating David Warner's portrayal of Sark in TRON. Guess who winds up voicing Sark in Kingdom Hearts II... note 
    • The version of Tron in the game being coded by Ansem the Wise, the series Chessmaster and all around badass. Over in the film's Expanded Universe for TRON: Legacy, Alan Bradley (Tron's creator in the film universe) is a Chessmaster and Memetic Badass. Queue TRON fandom joking that "Ansem" is one of Alan's aliases.
    • Christopher Robin Milne always hated the fact that his father wrote him into the Winnie the Pooh books. Six years after he died, he was replaced by Sora.
    • Mandy Moore voiced Aerith in the first game and was replaced by Mena Suvari for the next one. In the meantime she was chosen to voice Rapunzel in the Disney film Tangled. Fast forward to when the third game is announced, and Rapunzel is the first Disney character slated to appear.
    • Marluxia, whose design is heavily influenced by the Grim Reaper, is voiced by Keith Ferguson. He would later go on to voice another character in Overwatch who goes by the alias Reaper and is also centered around Grim Reaper motifs.
    • The main franchise article starts with "So Disney and Square Enix walk into a bar…" That's not too far from the truth. Shinji Hashimoto (who was the series co-creator along with Nomura) and a Disney employee walked into an elevator, and the rest, as they say, is history. In addition, history would repeat itself years later, as after Sora was included as the final character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Smash director Masahiro Sakurai revealed in a Famitsu column that Sora's inclusion was made possible through... a chance encounter with a Disney representative at an awards show sometime in 2019.
    • At the end of the Sephiroth subplot, Cloud and Sephiroth both face off before disappearing in a vein of light from the eyes of Sora, Donald, Goofy, and Tifa. Goofy wonders where the two went. And for a time fans joked that they had vanished into the world of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Now, Sora has a chance to see that world for himself, as he was announced as the final character in the Fighters Pass Vol. 2 DLC (which also brought Sephiroth into the roster).
  • Hype Backlash: Probably as many variations as there are spinoffs. While the series may be one of the most popular RPG franchises on the planet, some people may not see what all the fuss is about even in comparison to other action RPGs on a gameplay basis, or care for the unabashedly garish aesthetics (zippers and belts ahoy!), the original universe Square created characters, or saccharine themes offset against incredibly and increasingly convoluted plotlines across many games approaching fanfic levels. Even ardent fans will somewhat agree on the latter (some do infact relish it).
  • It Was His Sled:
    • That Ansem guy you're looking for in order to find a way to stop the Heartless? He's actually the Big Bad. And then the second game revealed that he wasn't actually Ansem, but the Heartless of Xehanort, a man who studied under (and pretended to be) the real Ansem the Wise. Both of these were shocking twists at the time of their respective releases, but are more or less Late Arrival Spoilers now.
    • Kairi is a Princess of Heart.
    • Roxas is Sora's Nobody.
    • Diz is actually Ansem the Wise in disguise.
  • It's the Same, Now It Sucks!: The series has the habit of retreading Disney worlds from either I and II, a lot of the time with the exact same storyline as either of those games with recycled locations and bosses, the most noticeable offenders being Wonderland, Olympus Coliseum, and Agrabah which have reappeared in half of the games in the series (COM, Days, coded, X, and Melody of Memory) and while the worlds occasionally manage to escape hate with Agrabah adapting the plot of Aladdin: The Return of Jafar and Olympus Coliseum adapting the prologue of Hercules in BBS, the Underworld in II, and Mount Olympus in III, most fans are tired of revisiting the same areas despite the library of other Disney films the series still has not yet touched.
  • Jerkass Woobie: All the Organization may qualify, with the possible exceptions of Xemnas and Xigbar since they were manipulating all the other members into being pawns of Master Xehanort's plan the whole time.
  • Just Here for Godzilla: Cuts both ways. Some people are here just to explore the Disney worlds and see the reimagined Final Fantasy characters and don't care at all about the Original Generation and their story. That was more common in the franchises' earlier days; after a few games, it's more common to see people who don't care at all about the Disney parts and want to get to the real story.
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships:
    • Axel, Demyx and Roxas are the fandom's boyfriends.
    • Aqua is shipped with many characters including Terra, Ventus, Vanitas, Xemnas and Zack Fair.
    • Sora has such a reputation himself, being shipped with Kairi, Riku, Ventus, Roxas, Hiro, Neku, Ariel, Jasmine, Rapunzel, Vanitas, Namine, Xion, and Yozora as of Kingdom Hearts III.
  • LGBT Fanbase: The series has quite the LGBT fanbase, with tons of hints of homosexual attractions between its hunky and Bishōnen male characters — unsurprisingly, many older queer fans grew up as part of the franchise's prominent Yaoi Fangirl faction. The female characters also have a lot of LGBT fans.
  • Love to Hate: Xehanort really cements this status during the events of Birth By Sleep (particularly at the end of Terra's story).
  • Magnificent Bastard:
    • Xemnas, the Nobody of Xehanort, founded Organization XIII to find worthy vessels for his own Heart. In doing so, he lied to its members into believing that they had lost their Hearts forever, in the hopes of keeping them empty and under his control. To fill them with his essence, Xemnas sought to create Kingdom Hearts by stealing the Hearts Sora released with his Keyblade. When Sora created a Nobody called Roxas, Xemnas recruited him and cloned him to create Xion so he could exploit Sora's power as much as possible. Even when Roxas and Xion defected, Xemnas simply went back to relying on a revived Sora to collect Hearts for him. Ultimately foiled only because of Ansem the Wise's intervention, Xemnas later returns thanks to Time Travel, becoming a key member of the Real Organization XIII. Staving off usurpers at every turn with a ruthless lack of emotion, Xemnas is finally defeated for good, lamenting that his first emotion in years was loneliness. In his final words, he expresses admiration for Sora for having the strength to bear the "pain" of having a Heart. A brilliant mind with a stoic yet affable demeanour, Xemnas proves himself a deadly and devious adversary.
    • Axel, the Nobody of Lea and number VIII of Organization XIII, is a quick-witted and smooth-spoken "fixer" for the Organization responsible for silencing those who try to betray Xemnas. Axel acts as a mole for Larxene and Marluxia's scheme, killing loose ends like Vexen and Zexion with an impenetrable smile on his face, while manipulating Sora's group, Namine, and the Riku Replica, eventually dismantling Marluxia's scheme in preparation for his and Saïx's own attempt to seize power from Xemnas. Axel shows humanity and depth unique for a Nobody far earlier than most of his comrades, bonding fiercely with Xion and Roxas, and once his love for them overrides his loyalty to the Organization, Axel goes turncoat. When his attempt to take Roxas from Sora back fails, Axel decides to help him instead, sacrificing his own life to save Sora and paving the way for Lea to ally with the heroes against Xehanort's overlapping scheme. Always ready with a quip and a smile for any occasion, Axel leaves little room for wonder as to how the fandom memorized his name so universally.
  • Memetic Badass:
    • Sora himself can be this as he has battled very strong Final Fantasy heroes and villains such as Cloud and Sephiroth and has won against both of them. This status is also fuelled by players that turn off his leveling up so that they can beat the game while he's only at Level 1, making him look even more of a badass when he defeats enemies that are at an insanely higher level than him.
    • Goofy has become a series-wide Badass, standing out among even the likes of the Lingering Will, Xehanort, and other powerful characters. This is likely because, unlike Donald, he shows a surprising amount of competence both in-game and in-universe. There are multiple times where he's shown to move at lightning speed and use his Made of Indestructium shield to block a powerful attack effortlessly, leading to comparisons to Ultra Instinct. In-game, not only is he helpful as a party member thanks to his support abilities and immense survivability, but his D-Link in Birth by Sleep and his playable appearance in Days both have Game-Breaker Limit Breaks that can destroy boss battles in record time when used properly. This combined with his, well, "goofy" appearance and completely averting Dumb Muscle in spite of these feats has helped his popularity within the fandom.
  • Memetic Loser: On the other hand, due to his awful AI, tendency to go down in two hits, and horrible judgment in healing the player (often right after they heal themselves), Donald gets quite a few jokes thrown his way about his general uselessness. It's especially bad in Chain of Memories, where his only ability is to cast two random spells on random enemies, without taking elemental immunities or absorption into account. Thus, not only does he not help Sora that often, but he also has a tendency to heal the enemy instead of Sora. However, after what he did to Terra-Xehanort in Kingdom Hearts 3, this is changing and a lot of people instead consider Donald a Memetic Badass.
  • Memetic Molester:
    • Ansem/Xehanort's Heartless. He just won't stop talking to Sora and Riku about how they should open their hearts and accept him, and when they refuse he shouts for them to SUBMIT. His appearance does not help this at all.
    • Master Xehanort, too. The way he looks at Terra and Ventus at times feels downright predatory, and a lot of his plans revolve around corrupting young men and boys and/or possessing their bodies.
  • Memetic Mutation: Now has its own page
  • Misaimed Fandom:
    • A portion of the fandom considers Roxas "emo", but the entire reason he was sullen and quiet in 358/2 Days was because he was un-emotional, he had no memories of how to emote and had to develop his own personality over time, and as he did so he became much friendlier and cheerful. His 3D personality is closer, but the fandom existed before that game was even released.
    • If any of Xehanort's victims (such as DiZ/Ansem and Eraqus) go Knight Templar in their retaliation against him, expect some fans to vilify them over him. And no, their eventual Heel Realizations (in contrast to his sheer Lack of Empathy, no less) haven't been enough to quell this.
  • Mis-blamed:
    • Tetsuya Nomura, due to him being the main creator of the series, receives quite a lot of ire from frustrated fans for a number of reasons. Stand outs would be the quality of his writing, which is very divisive, and how long does it take for him to complete projects. Although this last point is usually muddled by his involvement in other Square Enix games, particularly due him still being subjected to decisions from higher-ups in which he has little to no say on. The fact that he has gotten a bit of a bad reputation among a significant portion of the Square Enix fandom in general over the years also accentuates this issue.
    • Some fans hate Sora because of how Roxas and Xion "died" in 358/2 Days. Thing is, it really isn't Sora's fault: the entire reason he needed to absorb Roxas was because Roxas has absorbed some of Sora's memories from Xion, preventing Sora from waking up. So if Organization XIII and Naminé hadn't screwed around with his memories in order to create Xion from said memories, Sora wouldn't have needed Roxas to join with him and the two could have co-existed. Sora had absolutely no hand in Roxas's fate, not the least of which is because he was, ya know, asleep during the whole incident. It goes even further in that, as of recent games, Sora is one of the few characters who agrees with the fandom's position, and is rather indignant about it. Also, it should be pointed out that at the time, Sora wasn't even aware of Xion and Roxas's existence (or "non-existence", since they're both nobodies) until the end of Kingdom Hearts 2 and Kingdom Hearts 3D respectively. As far as Sora knew, until that point, nothing much had happened while he was asleep during that one year and nobody had died or sacrificed themselves for his sake.
  • Moe: Sora, for being a lovable goofball of a Pretty Boy even during the worst of times. Same goes for Ventus, for mostly the same reasons. The original female characters are also this to some degree, such as Kairi, Naminé, Xion and even Aqua.
  • My Real Daddy: There are fans who believe that Shinji Hashimoto, the Squaresoft executive who conceived of the idea of making a game alongside Disney, deserves credit as the Real Daddy of Kingdom Hearts rather than series' Director Tetsuya Nomura. It also helps that Hashimoto was the series' Producer up until Kingdom Hearts II, after which he was promoted to the more distant role of Executive Producer, and all the Producers who have come after him have done nothing to curb Nomura's more controversial creative qualities, to many fans' dismay.
    • On the gameplay side of things, the original Tokyo team over the Osaka team. Reasons being that the gameplay is far more expansive, less gimicky/experimental, better balanced, better-paced, tighter, more responsive, faster, and what have you than Osaka's games after II. Even with the release of III, which hearkens back to II and is seen as Osaka's best attempt, by far, at developing one of these games, in which they went out of their way to copy the Tokyo team's homework, II is still seen as the golden standard of gameplay by the majority of fans of the series. That said, several of the updates made to III in terms of speeding up its already fairly quick combat and balancing it better have done much to sway the opinions of the fanbase to an extent.
  • Narm: Enough for its own page.
  • Never Live It Down:
    • Kairi only gets properly kidnapped twice (both in II, and in the first instance she actually escapes on her own; the first game had her lifeless body held captive by Riku but her heart/essence safe with Sora, and Riku, insistent on being her savior instead of Sora, wasn't exactly putting her body in distress), yet part of the fandom apparently will forever deem her a Damsel Scrappy regardless. And sadly, since Nomura likes to write characters how the fans see them, Kairi becomes a more legitimate Damsel Scrappy in III, with far worse consequences.
    • In Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, Terra has the unfortunate tendency to meet villains before meeting heroes whenever he travels, and those villains take advantage of the fact that he doesn't know they're evil to manipulate him. Usually, he figures it out partway through and foils their schemes, and in the one case he did majorly help a villain, he was mind-controlled into doing it. However, he has garnered a reputation among the fans for being easily duped and believing anything a villain says, cheerfully helping them out to the detriment of everyone else. His trust in Xehanort is also held against him, despite the fact that at that point in the timeline, nobody knew Xehanort was evil, and he was still a highly respected Keyblade master.
  • Nightmare Fuel: As long as Disney is involved, there's bound to be some. That's not even including the bizarre Nobodies.
  • One True Threesome: One of the game's main themes is that most of the heroes are Two Guys and a Girl Power Trios, lending itself to plenty of Ship Tease for Sora/Kairi/Riku, Ven/Aqua/Terra, Roxas/Xion/Axel, etc. The Birth by Sleep trio in particular emphasize that the three of them are True Companions who will never give up on each other.
    Terra: "The three of us can never be torn apart, all right? I'll always find a way."
    Aqua: "The three of us will always be one."
    • And let's not forget the Accidental Innuendo of Roxas and his excitement over "having ice cream" with Axel and Xion at the same time.
  • Only the Creator Does It Right: The Osaka Team (who developed Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep and Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance]) are often compared negatively to the Tokyo team who developed Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II, with many people considering the former two games to be much weaker gameplay wise than the main installments. Commonly cited complaints are poor balancing and an emphasis on Level Grinding and grinding for powerful commands/items over actual skill, plus the lack of the Revenge Number system introduced in KHII that was so beloved by a portion of the KH community
  • Pandering to the Base: 358/2 Days and 3D have cast Organization XIII in a more obviously sympathetic light, the latter even going so far to imply some of them did have hearts after all, or were beginning to grow them, they just didn't know any better because Xemnas was manipulating them.
  • Periphery Demographic: Although the series is aimed to teenagers and young adults, the series has tons of fans in practically every single demographic imaginable.
  • Player Punch:
    • Birth by Sleep is practically made of this. You remember Aqua, Terra and Ventus, the three characters you spent at least 45 hours playing as? Respectively, she ends up stuck in the Realm of Darkness for the next twelve years, he ends up hijacked by Xehanort and does all those atrocities for the next eleven years, and he ends up in a coma after his heart gets literally broken and is presumably still in that coma twelve years later. It's softened a bit by the secret ending, which suggests that Sora might be able to save them all, but it's still pretty harsh.
      • 3D reveals that their efforts were all in vain. Heck, they actually HELPED Xehanort more than they hindered.
    • Poor Xion. After spending all of 358/2 Days having to deal with being the Butt-Monkey, it comes to a head after the Final Boss. She dies rather tragically because she can't end her own life, forces her best friend to fight her, and ends up Ret-Gone as a result.
  • Play the Game, Skip the Story: With how insane the plot points are and how many consoles the games have been released for, many people suggest just playing the games for what they are and not to pay attention to the games over arching plot, mostly because it's hard to keep track of without a flowchart.
  • Polished Port: Despite issues outlined below, the PC ports avoid many common PC porting pitfalls, keyboard/mouse/controller input can be freely mixed with only controller icon issues (which allow players with the right control setup to get around the lack of camera speed options in some of the games, which can be painfully slow on controller for those who prefer a faster camera), the games are surprisingly playable on keyboard and mouse if you adjust the bindings a bit here and there, and whoever decided to use the mouse wheel for switching between command menu options is a genius.
  • Porting Disaster: Every port of the games from before Dream Drop Distance to systems past the PS2 seem to have some kind of problem...
    • On PS3, 1.5 and 2.5's load times were atrocious for loading sections of the games and going into Drive Forms or other things in-game in a reasonable time compared to PS2, sound effects and voice clips don't play, or don't play properly or consistently, and other gameplay glitches that could ruin the experience.
    • While the load times were cut down significantly due to the forced data installation of the games, initially on PS4 the Day 1 60FPS patch broke the games even further with save point crashes, game logic and physics being broken that were tied to frame rate due to the devs not properly coding the games to run at 60 instead of 30 before sending the patch out, and exacerbating most of the previously-known glitches from the PS3 ports as well. This got so big that a lot of big gaming news outlets reported on it. In comes Square sending out several patches over the next several months to fix the issues. Most of these were fixed, thankfully, but a few FPS problems in KH2FM and the sound glitches across the games weren't, or were initially fixed, but became broken again by a later patch.
    • The Xbox One port of 1.5+2.5 then suffered from a choppy frame rate in KH1FM's pre-rendered cutscenes, KH2FM had the loading times of items from chests slowed by a few milliseconds or so (which can ruin speedruns a bit), and the face buttons for the hot bar for Riku during the fight with Data Xemnas weren't changed from the PS4 ones to the Xbox One's for some reason, and [BBSFM had fruitball glitched to where Aqua more often than not spikes the fruit downwards towards the ground rather than in front of her for some reason. Square has yet to patch any of these.
    • On PC, there are sound level issues, random crashes, and some other small issues and 2.8 has some other problems separate from that one in Dream Drop. Time will tell if Square bothers to patch these problems in these ports or not, though there have been a few patches here and there, and there are fan-patches that fix other issues and make the cutscenes run at the same framerate as gameplay.
    • On top of those, the cutscenes for Re:Chain of Memories and the cutscene movies for 358/2 Days and Re:Coded in 1.5+2.5 are pre-rendered FMV files and Square didn't go back to properly re-render them at 1080p instead of having them at 720p and give them anti-aliasing, so they don't look too great on an HD TV, sadly, outside of the scenes from 358 that were ripped straight out of KH2FM and the DLC one for it.
    • The Nintendo Switch "ports" are infamous for being Cloud Gaming ports rather than natively developed for the Switch. While this isn't much of a problem in Japan due to its solid Internet infrastructure, it has caused a ton of problems for Western players, who have experienced all manner of buffering, desync, freezing and disconnecting issues. Even with all the porting issues with the games being ported to other consoles, the Nintendo Switch versions are considered the worst way to experience the series. Furthermore, while many could at least understand 3 being cloud based and maybe leave some room for 2.8, the 1.5 + 2.5 pack being cloud based is downright insulting considering they were originally released for the PS3, a console that is orders of magnitude weaker than the Switch.
  • Portmanteau Couple Name: AkuRoku for Axel/Roxas. SoKai(i) for Sora/Kairi. SoRiku for Sora/Riku. Namixas has been used too. Come to that, even the crack pairings tend to get names made for them.
  • Ron the Death Eater:
    • Sora and Kairi used to get this a lot from rabid Organization XIII fans and rabid yaoi fans respectively. It's less common nowadays, though.
    • King Mickey has become this ever since the release of 0.2, where fans constantly criticize him for not saving Aqua from the Realm of Darkness and withholding any information about her from Sora and Riku. Disregarding the genuine remorse that Mickey feels for being unable to save her and the valid justification that attempting to rescue her would have been too dangerous.
    • Diz. Granted, DiZ was a real piece of work, but he had reasons for it (he was in the darkness for so long) and he genuinely atoned for it in the end with a Heroic Sacrifice, yet part of the fandom still see him as an irredeemable racist monster who is more evil than the guy who stole his name! It got worse now that it's been revealed that DiZ managed to survive his redemption death. It doesn't help that he personally orchestrated one of the greatest tragedies in the series by effectively killing Roxas in addition to ordering Naminé's execution.
    • Yen Sid is occasionally seen as an emotionally abusive Jerkass who forces the responsibility of saving the world onto children, ignoring the fact that he is never abusive towards Sora or Riku in any way, nor does he force burdens onto them, as they usually always agree with what he says without hesitation.
    • Eraqus. Yes, he suffered from Poor Communication Kills and tried to Shoot the Dog on Ventus and Terra... but he genuinely believed that doing so would prevent Master Xehanort's Apocalypse How, he was remorseful afterwards, and then he resides in Terra's heart. Some fans still see him as a Jerkass fanatic who was too biased toward light, despite the fact that Xehanort is obviously far worse and clearly biased toward darkness despite all of his talk about "balance."
    • The Organization gets almost as much as this, as they do the DILP treatment. Despite it being made clear with recent games that they were lied to from the start about there being one way to get their hearts back (a Nobody can grow one back over time), don't have the option to leave and will be killed for trying, will be turned into Dusks if they're not doing a good enough job, and aren't told exactly what they'll be doing until they're already in, many still choose to see each and every one of them as irredeemable psychopathic monsters who gleefully slaughter countless innocents for their goal. The truth is, they don't seem to have a whole lot of choice in the matter, with the exceptions of Xemnas and Xigbar.
  • Salvaged Story: The Disney elements have been The Artifact since Days, but there has been some effort to avoid this starting from coded. Donald and Goofy return to being party members for Kingdom Hearts III and a scene added to the storyline of coded during 2.5 Remix has Maleficent making a connection between the Datascape and the Book of Prophecies from chi, adding context to her appearance in 3D and reversing the Villain Decay she has gone through. Additionally, the Disney worlds are back to having a story reason for getting visited, with Disney characters having more interactions with the KH-original characters.
  • Scrappy Mechanic: Enough to merit its own section.
  • Signature Song:
    • The title screen theme "Dearly Beloved" and Utada Hikaru's "Simple and Clean/Hikari" are the most well-known songs from the series.
    • From other games:
      • "Lord of the Castle" from Chain of Memories by virtue of its' remake.
      • "Darkness of the Unknown" and "Roxas" from II.
      • "Musique pour la trisetesse de Xion" from Days.
      • The three main characters' themes from Birth by Sleep.
      • "L'Impeto Oscuro" from 3D: Dream Drop Distance.
      • "Wave of Darkness" from 0.2: A Fragmentary Passage.
      • The Master of Masters's theme from Back Cover.
      • "Forza Finale", "Hearts as One", "Edge of Existence", and "Nachtflugel" from III.
  • Silent Majority: Despite having one of the biggest (and most infamous) Yaoi Fangirl bases in fandom for a good part of the series' history, such fangirls made up a much smaller portion of the overall Kingdom Hearts fanbase than one might think. Sadly, the Vocal Minority was so loud and obnoxious that it turned off many potential fans, who dismissed the whole thing as Yaoi Fangirl fodder. Thankfully this died out over time, not so much for a decline of same-sex shipping but moreso as that sort of thing became more normalized and expressed less abrasively in fandom, particularly with regards to the real-life LGBT Fanbase.
  • Ship-to-Ship Combat: Particularly in regards to the Ho Yay. The most violent shipping wars tend to be between Sora/Riku shippers and Sora/Kairi shippers.
  • So Bad, It's Good:
    • There are those who agree that the franchise's storyline is very unnecessarily complicated but still end up enjoying it due to how insanely ludicrous it gets the further they dive into the series that they just can't help but laugh at how convoluted it is.
    • The manga adaptations by Shiro Amano (especially the one for Chain of Memories), which turns the whole story into a farce, and is filled to the brim with Pandering to the Base/Running the Asylum in regards to Fanon elements. That being said, the art is a factor that makes it worth looking into.
      • Of course, the manga is starting to develop its own fandom thanks to the Yen Press translations, and the manga adaptation for Days is not as much of a farce so much as it is its own thing altogether.
      • The second half of the KH2 manga is also praised by many as being much better than the first half, and it says something that this half was made after Shiro Anamo was done with the Days manga. So with both the Days manga and second half of the KH2 manga, Amano seems to have started taking his work more seriously and greatly improving it.
  • "Stop Having Fun" Guys: Though the games are primarily single-player (they didn't gain a multiplayer component until very late), the series has been known to attract hardcore fans who like to bash casual fans who play at lower difficulties. YouTube play-throughs for Kingdom Hearts II, in particular, often feature at least one jab at "X-mashers" who play the game on "Easy" and "Normal", where it's a bit easier to plow through levels by repeatedly mashing the "Attack" button; beating a level without any Limits or Drives is also often a source of bragging rights, with some hardcore fans taking potshots at players who can't beat the game without them.
  • Superlative Dubbing: The English dubs are very well-liked, both for their casting choices for the Original Generation characters and for having the many American-created Disney characters voiced by their original actors or soundalikes — to the point that the Japanese Final Mix versions of the main games use the English voice track. The European dubs of the PS2 entries are also well-liked by their respective audiences.
  • Tainted by the Preview:
    • There was, unsurprisingly, a lot of excitement from the fandom when Square Enix announced that the entire series would be making it's way to PC. However, the announcement that it would be exclusive to the Epic Games Store, combined with the asking price for each title ($50 — $60, making the complete package a whopping $230 in total), was met with disappointment from several fans.
    • In a near repeat history of the above, the reveal that the entire series was heading to Nintendo Switch was initially met with excitement from fans... until it was revealed that they're cloud versions instead of native ports, which immediately disappointed and angered many, especially those who are against cloud gaming. While having 2.8 (especially 0.2: A Fragmentary Passage) and 3 be cloud-only is considered to be an understandable move given they're released on more powerful hardware and are more visually demanding as a result of being Unreal Engine 4 titlesnote , what truly baffled fans was the fact that HD 1.5 + 2.5 ReMIX is also a cloud version, despite the games included being HD remasters of older titles, several of which the Switch would have no issues running natively if ported well. Unsurprisingly, many have accused the practice as being a low-effort and lazy move from Square Enix. Things got worse when the demos of the series released on Switch and immediately revealed even more problems with the cloud versions, including that fact that they're locked at 30FPS (which is even more baffling given that Melody of Memory, the only Kingdom Hearts game with a native Switch port, also runs on the first six games' original engine at 60FPS), have slightly worse graphical quality, and have audio desync issues.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Kairi, who in spite being the franchise's female lead only has a major role in half of its games, and constantly teeters between between a Satellite Love Interest and Faux Action Girl. A lot of her screen time involves her being the unconsciousnote , kidnapped note , or waiting on the sidelinesnote , all of which are oftened used as reasons to remove her from the plot, or she is Out of Focus, with some games only having her appear in a select few cutscenes, name drops, or outright not even mentioned at all. Even in Kingdom Hearts III, a game that centered around her training to become a legitimate Keyblade wielder mostly occurs off-screen, save for two cutscenes, and the game ultimately ends with Kairi being kidnapped a third time before getting Stuffed In A Fridge by Xehanort.
    • Naminé seemed to have more character in Chain of Memories than she did in subsequent ones, in post-Kingdom Hearts II games she mainly exists to be a Ms. Exposition that offers the characters explanations about things they do not understand and has gone through Aesop Amnesia, in which she has reverted back to being a shy girl who blames herself for all the tragic events that happened despite her confidence in KHII.
    • DiZ / Ansem the Wise. For such an important character for the series, we barely ever see him, and his entire Character Development in Kingdom Hearts II takes place completely off-screen, meaning that he's a radically different character at the start of the game than he is when he reappears at the end, and we are only told why this has happened rather than actually shown it.
    • The seven Princesses of Heart note  played a critical role in the plot of the first installment, with the majority of the story centering around Ansem and Maleficent attempting to gather all seven of them in order to open Kingdom Hearts, and they even later make an effort to combine their powers to stop the flow of darkness from Hollow Bastion's keyhole and provide Sora with Firaga. In every proceeding game, this aspect about them is never brought up, with Belle and Jasmine never acknowledging their role as Princesses of Heart and by Kingdom Hearts III, all of them (barring Kairi) have been Put on a Bus in exchange for a new group of princesses.
    • Jiminy. He is more involved in the plots of Chain of Memories and coded, but not so much in the mainline games. He only comes out for a handful of scenes, mostly when Pinocchio is involved. Despite his original role as Pinocchio's conscience, nobody ever consults him and he never participates in any conversations.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • Due to the restrictions that Disney puts in place with the series, the concept of Kingdom Hearts being a Massive Multiplayer Crossover is often considered underutilized in comparison to other games like Disney Infinity or Disney Universe since executives mandate that Disney characters are only allowed to appear in the worlds of their respective films, and only characters of the Mickey Mouse franchise and a small handful of others seem to be an exception to these rules. Conversely, Kingdom Hearts itself has been underutilized in Disney crossovers aside from a number of minor references and cameos,note  with Sora's only external crossover appearances being in video game-focused crossovers such as World of Final Fantasy and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
    • The series has the tendency to shy away from adapting Disney films released during the Bronze Age (The Aristocats, Robin Hood, The Rescuers, The Fox and the Hound, The Black Cauldron, The Great Mouse Detective, and Oliver & Company), the only references these films appear to receive are in the form of costumes in X, and Winnie the Pooh appears to be the only movie released during this era that is an exception due to its popularity. This can be easily chalked up to the Bronze Era being the Old Shame of Disney and releasing movies that either underperformed or did not meet their expectations, most of them only becoming a Cult Classic in the years following their release.
    • Ever since Chain of Memories, the series as a whole has become increasingly criticized for focusing too heavily on the Organization XIII members, rather than on the Disney and Final Fantasy properties from which the franchise gets its inheritance.
    • Nothingness (the third major element, alongside Light and Darkness) — hinted-at in Chain of Memories, and outright established in II. It could've really mixed things up regarding the usual "Light vs. Darkness" shtick. Instead, only one character (Xemnas) actually wields it... and, as Dream Drop Distance revealed, he's one of the Thirteen Seekers of Darkness (in a plot point that just seems to reinforce Light Is Good and Dark Is Evil more than ever) anyway.
    • Sora, Riku, and Kairi are seemingly a Power Trio like Mickey, Donald, and Goofy, but we've only ever seen genuine friendship between Sora and Riku. Meanwhile, Kairi gradually became Sora's Love Interest. However, Riku and Kairi rarely ever interact and their friendship is never fleshed out. Because the narrative of the series mostly focuses on Sora and how other characters revolve around him, Riku and Kairi sadly might as well be The Friends Who Never Hang.
    • The periods of absence Riku has in Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II are barely touched and the series never explains how he received either Soul Eater and Way to the Dawn or what caused the darkness in his heart outside of some small mentions.
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: A lot of the plot tends to fall into this territory, 3D in particular.
  • Ugly Cute:
    • Several kinds of Heartless fall under this.
    • Jack Skellington's supposed to be the scariest looking monster in his world. The "common people" of his world probably have never seen a Heartless or a Nobody.
  • Unexpected Character:
    • Chernabog shows up in Kingdom Hearts I as a surprise boss fight.
    • One of the summons in Kingdom Hearts II is Chicken Little, a Disney character whose movie wasn't even out in Japan at the time.
    • The whole main cast of The World Ends with You—Neku, Joshua, Rhyme, Beat, and Shiki—appears in quite the reunion party as part of the series's first non-Final Fantasy, non-Disney cameo.
    • A world based on Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers. Not even Master Xehanort could have seen that coming.
    • For the first time since Ice Titan and Monstro, we have a Bonus Boss from a Disney property: Julius from Runaway Brain. Also unexpected in how he, despite being a Disney character, is just as aggressive as the ones designed by Tetsuya Nomura.
    • Gaston, who has been absent in the corresponding Beauty and the Beast worlds before now.
    • Players guessed that Enchanted Dominion would end up being one of the worlds in the game, and by extension that Maleficent would appear, but no one expected that it would be the Maleficent from the present time of the series.
    • VENTUS is one of the Dandelions in Union χ?!
      • Marluxia's Somebody too?!?
    • Unchained contains medals representing nearly every Disney movie that appeared in previous Kingdom Hearts games, along with Zootopia and Moana (both of which were released during Unchained's lifetime), and...The Jungle Book?note 
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: In terms of forces of nature, the Darkness itself — as a consequence of the Balance Between Good and Evil Clueless Aesop. We're supposed to see it as Not Evil, Just Misunderstood... But so far — every major problem has had the Darkness at its source, with a number of solutions being made possible by the Light (which really isn't helped by the Realms of Light and Darkness being a (former) idyllic paradise and a Hellish shadow realm, respectively). Meanwhile — any Dark Is Not Evil examples were rare until the introduction of the Realm of Sleep and the Dream Eaters, and they still seem to favor the Light anyway (thus arguably coming across as merely "Dark Is Evil that just so happens to be kept in check by equal, if not greater, Light Is Good" instead). Quite frankly, some fans prefer the so-called "tyranny of Light" as a result; at least that system doesn't seem to carry the same risk of such large-scale misery. In fact — this is one of the main factors behind the widespread desire for a Light Is Not Good major threat, believed to be the only way to finally subvert this. This problem seems rooted in the series biblical motifs and inability to make a proper distinction about The Sacred Darkness (Which gave birth to Kingdom Hearts and Light) and the malevolent darkness that was born of people's hearts.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: The main offender of this trope is Marluxia; he's got a feminine name, has pink hair, a pink scythe, and flower petals around him. According to Nomura in a Japanese-only publication, the staff actually originally intended for him to be a woman, but when the Organization traitor plotline was thought up, they changed him to male to avoid possible sexism from having both traitors be women.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: A Square Enix staple. Thanks to its colorful and detailed art style, all the games look incredibly beautiful. So much that they only needed an HD upgrade to even surpass a lot of modern Triple A games! And even without said upgrade, the graphics still hold up. Even the original Chain of Memories has a beautiful pixel art engine and the NDS entries show some of the best graphics in the console.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: Nomura maintains this position on the series, as seen here. It's not hard to agree — behind the Disney characters, colorful anime character designs and fun gameplay, are existential dilemmas, human cloning, lots of Mind Screw and Mind Rape, Demonic Possession, Child Soldiers, child abuse, outright murder, genocide (with the destruction of worlds and all), human experimentation, and somewhere along the way the series has begun to turn into a Deconstructor Fleet of its own tropes. And that's not getting into the fact that the plot is so complex you need a flowchart now just to keep track of how many different incarnations each character has and how they exist and interact.
  • The Woobie: Naminé in Chain of Memories and Roxas in Kingdom Hearts II. Both of them are the only Nobodies to not be total emotionless sociopaths (save for Axel after spending a lot of time with Roxas, and even then he's not a good person) and they both wind up being put through hell by the Organization and DiZ. At least they find happiness in the end. Sort of.
    • Kairi definitely falls under this. She is first separated from the people she cares for most, she actually sees her closest friend sacrifice his heart to save her, then she is separated from her friends further and gets kidnapped twice, and later when she finally receives a Keyblade she is still cut off from Sora and Riku by Xemnas and killed by Xehanort, culminating in said closest friend sacrificing himself for her again.
    • There's also Xion from 358/2 Days, who ends up as a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds.
  • Woolseyism: COM's "stock techniques" were changed to "sleights" (as in sleight of hand).
    • Lots of weapons were renamed, especially in the first game. Some make sense. ("Wonder of Abyss" to "Mysterious Abyss".) Others don't. ("Holy Pumpkin" to "Decisive Pumpkin.")
      • Days also renamed many weapons, most notably Xaldin's and Lexaeus's, which had a Chinese/Japanese respectively name theme going in the Japanese version.
    • Xemnas's weapon type got changed from "Aerial Blade" to "Ethereal Blades", which helps get the point across to those who actually speak English.
    • Xigbar's title is the Japanese title of the opera Der Freischütz, so his English title is the English translation of the opera's title ("the Freeshooter").
    • In a Continuity Nod, Seifer still calls you a "chicken-wuss."

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