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This page covers the first three games (Phoenix Wright, Justice for All, and Trials and Tribulations) and their adaptations.

For other such moments in the series, see the appropriate subpages:


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    Multiple games 

Multiple games

  • Accidental Aesop:
    • Don't judge people by who their relatives are. There can be black sheep and white sheep in every family.
    • Don't Bowdlerise the world to children, hiding the harsh truths from them: they need to know how the world works to make good decisions and understand the consequences of their choices. In the case of Regina Berry, this led to her causing an accident that left a guy in coma and another permanently crippled, and being completely unapologetic, not out of malice but because she wasn't able to understand the harm she had done. In the case of Pearl Fey, this led her to go along her mother's plan to murder Maya, who Pearl clearly adores, because (having never been told of Morgan's previous attempt to frame Maya) she believed her mother to be a good person and thought said plan to be in Maya's benefit.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: So many to count that each game has its own section. See below for more.
  • Author's Saving Throw: The 3DS version of the trilogy had many typos corrected, and some small contradictions and inaccuracies within the text fixed. Examples 
  • Adorkable: Adrian Andrews, due to being extremely intelligent and very clumsy, especially in Trials and Tribulations. Her dependency can also put her here.
  • "Common Knowledge":
    • A very common misconception, built off a number of throwaway lines and the fact that generally culprits are never heard of again after their defeat, is that all the killers in the franchise receive the death penalty for their crimes. This is despite the fact that as early as the second case of the series is this proven false, as Redd White is pushed into pleading guilty for Mia's murder, explicitly because confessing to murder would be less fatal than whatever will happen to him should his extensive blackmail network be outed, and numerous instances since then have continued to show such an idea as untrue. Additionally, the death penalty in Japan, while existent, is very much a Godzilla Threshold reserved for especially dangerous criminals without chance of rehabilitation, a fact reflected in the only specified cases in the trilogy of the penalty applied being Serial Killers and a man accused of kidnapping a child for ransom and then murdering her in cold blood. Even the line most commonly cited as being evidence of the idea, where the Judge claims murder is a "capital crime with capital punishment" is actually a minor mistranslation, as in the Japanese script he merely states that murder is a crime which carries the possibility of capital punishment, which is both entirely true and meant to act as Foreshadowing for events later in the game.
    • Despite it being near universally believed to be the case by English speaking fans, Edgeworth and Franziska are not adopted siblings in the game canon. Throughout all his appearances, Edgeworth only ever refers to the von Karma's as his mentor and mentor's daughter, and the word Franziska uses to describe him in the original Japanese script is actually more accurately "younger disciple" than "little brother", reffering to them both being students of her father.
  • Continuity Lock-Out: Averted. The dialogue goes out of its way to avoid referencing events in previous games, even when it would make more sense to do so. And when referencing past events is absolutely necessary (such as Mia's death, and the cause of Edgeworth's disappearance), the game will give the player as few details as possible, even if it's ultimately not necessary to do so. To wit, Gant in 1-5 says that at the Gourd Lake trial, Phoenix got Manfred von Karma caught for forging evidence, not for being the culprit of the DL-6 Incident. For the initial Japanese DS release, 1-5 is immediately unlockable if a copy of the GBA version of the game is in the GBA slot, making it theoretically possible to play that case before any of the others. In other versions of the game, there's no way for the player to access "Rise from the Ashes" without clearing "Turnabout Goodbyes."
  • First Installment Wins: The original trilogy is still widely regarded as the golden age of the series, with even its weakest entry, Justice For All considered to be better than most post-trilogy games, most Updated Rereleases being of the first three games, and the Ace Attorney animated series being an adaptation of this trilogy (albeit with a few original stories thrown in).
  • Foe Yay Shipping:
    • Edgeworth and Phoenix
    • Edgeworth and Franziska to an extent, though AAI clarifies this into being a competitive sibling relationship.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: After the Big Bad of "Rise From the Ashes" is finally taken down, he congratulates Phoenix, Edgeworth and the Judge for their efforts but warns Edgeworth that at one point when chasing down a seemingly-invincible culprit, he'll have to use the same methods as Gant did (forging evidence and fixing crime scenes) to bring true justice. Edgeworth ended up having to present illegal evidence to catch a near-invincible culprit, and Phoenix took this even further this to heart, getting rid of the man who orchestrated his disbarment by Framing the Guilty Party.
  • Iron Woobie:
    • Maya Fey: Smiling through even the most hardcore misfortunes.
    • Maggey Byrde, who fell from the ninth story of a building when 6 months old, has been hit by multiple vehicles, gets caught up in three murder trials over the course of the series (and that's not even covering half the things that have happened to her) but does not give up, and remains plucky and optimistic throughout.
    • Phoenix Wright had his beloved mentor die, was framed for murder twice, nearly killed by the woman he loved, abused by nearly every single prosecutor and witness, is never in the Judge's favor, almost never gets a thank you from his clients, was bullied in school, and let's not get started on what he goes through in Apollo Justice. This cutie has been broken by then — even to the point of arguably overlapping with Jerkass Woobie via his consequent Unscrupulous Hero actions in retaliation against the one responsible.
    • Pearl Fey during Case 3-5. Despite her doubts about her powers and fear over Maya's safety, she still manages to Shut Up, Hannibal! at Franziska and makes Phoenix present solid evidence before her last psyche-lock breaks. Pearly is tough as nails.
  • Polished Port: The PC version of the Compilation Rerelease is considered really good, running at widescreen resolutions beyond the handheld originals, able to run at 60 FPS (and higher if you take the steps to disable the framerate locking VSYNC), and is basically three games for half the price of one.
  • Porting Disaster: The original trilogy was initially ported for a Compilation Re Release over to the iOS, which released with many game breaking bugs and problems from a lack of beta testing and/or laziness: Slowdown was all over the place. Character animations, while better looking, were also choppy, missing several frames (half the characters didn't blink), or flat-out missing. Music would not loop properly, Pearl's theme was missing, and the second and third games used the lower quality GBA soundtrack. Ema Skye's fingerprinting tutorial in the first game was completely omitted, and several typos were ADDED. And when iOS 7 came out, it broke the HD version to the point that the app simply would not launch, and it took Capcom nearly two months to fix the problem. Thankfully, the 3DS version of the trilogy is miles better: correcting many typos, fixing every issue, and re-adding many animation frames, and the subsequent release for the PS4, Switch, and Xbox One would feature the best of both worlds, featuring the improved artwork in full HD resolution, and including the fixes from the 3DS port.
  • That One Puzzle:
    • The first day of the trial in 1-5 is generally regarded as one of the hardest parts in the first game, especially since much of it consists of finding subtle flaws in Angel Starr's testimony, mainly concerning the point from which she supposedly saw Lana stab Goodman, making some players downright resent Angel Starr's presence in progress. And after you're done with Angel's four testimonies, you have to deal with Gant's complicated single testimony.
    • Towards the end of 1-5, you're expected to position a vase in 3D so its outline matches the silhouette of the Blue Badger. It's easy to think you got the right angle but come up short, plus the game is very finicky on what counts and the exact position even if you're close.
    • Mia's Psyche-Lock segment in 2-2. The dialogue gives you zero hints about exactly what items you're supposed to present, at least one of the items is found in circumstances that throw suspicion on Ini Miney more than Morgan, and the segment can only be attempted right before you go into the second trial day, making it very easy to do poorly and go into the trial with an already-depleted health bar.
    • The first half of the first day of "Farewell, My Turnabout" has two instances where if you screw up, you get a 100% penalty. The first one gives you no hints about what you have to present, and the second of one asks you to point out that the Nickel Samurai's ankles should be visible in Lotta's photo; something that's particularly difficult to figure out on a first run.
    • Luke Atmey's final testimony is 11 statements long, with nothing in the Court Record proving a contradiction, and pressing any statement but the right one will instantly net you a game over. It also features a nasty Interface Screw – usually in these games, the music will stop once you've done something right in a testimony, while making a mistake does not stop the music. Not so with this one. What's more, right or wrong, the first few lines of dialogue after the press are always the same, throwing off players and outright PUNISHING Save Scumming. Note, however, the clue that if you see Phoenix shaking his head no and stopping Godot after he scolds Phoenix, you know you've pressed the correct statement.
      • The exact same thing happens at the very end of "Bridge to the Turnabout", only here, you have to figure out that presenting Godot's profile is how you're meant to pinpoint behind his mask as the place where he was wounded.
    • The final case of Trials and Tribulations has a critical omission in the Spanish version. In one part of Dahlia's testimony, you have to point out the contradiction that the victim was not stabbed from the front, by using the autopsy report... except, in the Spanish translation, the report does not mention that the victim was stabbed in the back, leaving the player with no way except guides or pure chance to realize how to object that statement. And to confirm it is indeed a typo, when Phoenix explains the contradiction, he says the autopsy report states that the victim was stabbed in the back, when it actually doesn't.
  • The Woobie: Pearl. Oh, you poor kid. Her role as The Woobie is most significant in Justice for All, where in case 2-4, she lays out all the bad stuff that's happened to her when you talk to her in your office after Maya's kidnapping, particularly when she says Maya is the only family she has left. And then there's her role in case 3-5, where she's used once again by her mother to try to kill the girl who is her remaining closest family. Adding to that, she couldn't even channel Dahlia when she had the chance, so she feared her powers were weakening. While her time with Larry in the "Loser's Shack" is mostly played for laughs (Larry's involved after all), it's hard to see her so down. Heck, even Dahlia Hawthorne, the psychotic killer she was supposed to channel, feels sorry for her.

    Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney 

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • There's no question that Manfred von Karma is a terrible person, but is he an abusive parent to his daughter Franziska (there's no question he's using Edgeworth as part of his scheme) or merely strict and demanding? For that matter, was getting Miles Edgeworth framed for the murder of Hammond and/or his own father always a part of his plan, or did he come up with it only after realizing that his "son" wasn't going to become the perfect, ruthless prosecutor that the family name demanded?
      • Taking the events of Investigations 1 and 2 into account this essay argues that Manfred Von Karma framing Miles wasn't the result of him wanting to gain Revenge by Proxy on Gregory but as a result of Manfred running from his guilt. The Investigations series demonstrates Manfred will turn his back on an investigation the moment he no longer has control. After 15 years of molding Miles as the "perfect" prosecutor only for Miles to still suffer from PTSD caused by DL-6, is it possible he wanted to get Miles out of his care so he would be free of having to console a boy that he caused the trauma of?
    • Was the death of Manuel really an accident? Also, why exactly did Dee Vasquez blackmail Hammer? Take into account these facts:
      • Oldbag mentions that Hammer never intended to kill Manuel, and in the paparazzi photo, he looked genuinely shocked at Manuel's death, so it's quite possible that it really was an accident.
      • Vasquez is The Stoic for most of the case, but she seems to take personal offense when Maya yells at her for controlling Hammer over "just an accident", and she seems extremely emotional in a brief flashback to Manuel's death. This opens the possibility that Manuel was her lover, and she blackmailed Hammer as revenge for killing him.
      • If these are both true, then it is no surprise the combination of being forced to work for pennies, and the rise of Will Powers's acting career while his fell because of an accident, drove him to eventually plot on the framing of Powers and attempting to kill Vasquez. If anything, Hammer's personality is hard to pin down, he might be just a normal man broken too much with pressure, or he could have been a mean guy in the same vein of the next game's Matt Engarde or Juan Corrida. But the game is really vague on this thanks to the POVs available are from someone who possibly had a grudge against Hammer (Vasquez) or a Loony Fan (Oldbag).
    • Did Gregory Edgeworth really believe Yanni Yogi had killed him, or was he trying to protect his son Miles from being accused of the murder? While Grossberg considers the latter a possibility, Yogi's behavior before he and the Edgeworths lost consciousness means that Gregory would have reason to believe that Yogi was the murderer.
  • Anti-Climax Boss: Redd White. He's established over the course of "Turnabout Sisters" as an extremely powerful and dangerous CEO capable of blackmailing anyone, even punching Phoenix while openly proclaiming the police can't touch him, as well as the guy who killed Phoenix's mentor Mia. Despite all this tension, however, when he comes onto the stand, he buckles near instantly, making comically obvious blunders to where he at one point admits to the murder he committed by accident, and spends almost the entire trial a pathetic wreck. To add insult to injury, the player doesn't even get the satisfaction of proving White's guilt, as Mia successfully pressures him into giving up.
  • Arc Fatigue: "Turnabout Samurai" is sometimes accused of this. Phoenix definitively proves his client's innocence on the second day of the case, but the trial stretches on for a third day as Phoenix is tasked with uncovering the real culprit, something that isn't supposed to be a defence attorney's job. This is compounded further by the fact that the second investigation has very little story development, and a large chunk of it is taken up by the player having to navigate between two points at the ends of a map multiple times in what amounts to a Fetch Quest. Lots of fans suspect this case was a major reason later games stick almost entirely with two-day cases.
    • “Rise From the Ashes” also gets this reaction, due to it not only having three days but also being the only case in the game to have trial and investigation segments that last multiple hours.
  • Ass Pull: The ending of Turnabout Sisters. Phoenix firmly seizes hold of the Idiot Ball, clearing the way for Mia Fey to swoop in and pull things out of the fire at the last second. Turns out the piece of paper Redd White used to frame Maya was actually the receipt for the glass light stand, proving it was only bought the day before the murder. Had he simply thought to turn the piece of paper over, Edgeworth's last-minute objection to Phoenix's otherwise-airtight disassembly of Redd White wouldn't have happened, and the case would have been much shorter.
  • Awesome Music: Has its own page.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Angel Starr. She's either an interesting witness with a unique gimmick who poses a formidable challenge, or an obnoxious and unlikable person who wears out her welcome early on.
  • Best Level Ever: "Turnabout Goodbyes" is considered the best case in the first game, and one of the better cases in the series. The mystery is more complicated than ever, featuring two separate but related murders, a challenging prosecutorial opponent and one of the best villains in the series. It also serves as an effective climax to the game by revealing Phoenix and Edgeworth's backstories and enabling the latter to undergo Character Development.
  • Broken Base:
    • "Turnabout Sisters" is the most divisive case in the original game, since while many people consider it the weakest in the first game, it has many fans, and isn't considered quite as bad as "Turnabout Big Top" and "Recipe for Turnabout." Fans consider it an emotional Wham Episode that heightens the stakes, while detractors believe it has an underwhelming villain and ends anticlimactically.
    • "Turnabout Samurai" also gets this reaction quite a bit. Most fans agree that it suffers from Arc Fatigue owing to its three-day structure and repetitive investigation sections, but there are also plenty of fans who forgive this case for marking the start of Edgeworth's Character Development and several Running Gags, and argue that it is one of the better "filler cases" in the series.
    • “Rise From the Ashes” is either a extraordinarily drawn-out case or an amazing standalone case with one of the best villains of the franchise. It doesn’t help that it wasn’t part of the game originally, and as a result causing continuity issues with the sequel. Speaking of which, Edgeworth’s role in the case is in contention as well, as further described under Fanon Discontinuity.
      • A related issue: Is Rise From the Ashes best played as the finale to the original trilogy (the Japanese release order) or as the finale to the first game (the Western release order, as well as its positioning in-game)? Proponents of the former cite Damon Gant as a fitting Final Boss for the trilogy, as well as how the new gameplay mechanics and several story elements (the introduction of Ema Skye, Phoenix Wright being at the top of his game) make the case a solid bridge between the trilogy and Apollo Justice. Proponents of the latter cite its canonical placement in the timeline, and specifically the fact that it does a lot of fleshing out of Edgeworth's reasons for disappearing prior to Justice For All.
  • "Common Knowledge": It's often claimed by fans that Yanni Yogi was found by the court to have been the culprit of DL-6, with him avoiding punishment due to an insanity plea from his attorney. In actuality, it is stated many times that DL-6 was never officially resolved, and Yogi was declared innocent on a lack of evidence, not an insanity plea. Yogi's faked insanity is actually implied to have been a tactic used by Hammond to discredit evidence, as the only other witness was suffering from Trauma-Induced Amnesia.
  • Complete Monster: Manfred von Karma is an amoral prosecutor who uses underhanded tactics to maintain his perfect win streak. When defense attorney Gregory Edgeworth beats him by exposing his illegal tactics, Manfred becomes enraged, taking the chance given by an earthquake striking the courtroom to catch up with Gregory and his son in an elevator and murdering Gregory. Taking Gregory's son, Miles, under his wing, Manfred raises him to become a cold, ruthless prosecutor who cares for nothing but always winning a guilty verdict. Setting up a second murder, Manfred plans to frame Miles for both it and his own father's death, intending to see his adoptive son convicted for murder as the final act of his revenge against Gregory.
  • Cry for the Devil: Damon Gant is definitely Jumping Off the Slippery Slope, but his confession in the end is a borderline Alas, Poor Villain moment.
  • Draco in Leather Pants:
    • Fans like to portray Dee Vasquez as a Broken Bird who simply made a few mistakes in her life and believe she didn't deserve a harsh sentence because the death she caused was both accidental and in self defense. However, this ignores the fact that she was a cold, abusive blackmailer who drove her victim to try and murder her due years of her constantly threatening and harassing him. She's also a member of the mob and she ordered her goons to kill Phoenix and Maya so casually that it couldn't be the first time she has done such a thing.
    • Fans also like to portray Damon Gant as a genuinely good guy who didn't mean to kill Goodman. And while that was spur of the moment, his other crimes were not.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Penny is one of the most popular one-shots in the series due to her Adorkable nature. She was brought back for Investigations because of this.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: A minority of fans ignore "Rise from the Ashes" (which was not part of the original Japanese GBA game but instead added for the DS remake) because, despite establishing Ema Skye and providing us with Memetic Badass Damon Gant, it makes it clear that the rumors about Edgeworth (intentionally) using fake evidence are false. This, to said people, effectively reduces the impact of some parts of a good portion of the first game.note  Interestingly enough, when Phoenix sees Edgeworth again in 2-4, he assumes Edgeworth quit because his perfect win record was tarnished, when actually, in 1-5, particularly on the third day of investigations and the last trial segment, Edgeworth is already questioning himself and admits shame over his Amoral Attorney past and fear that he might become like Manfred von Karma and Damon Gant in the future.
  • Foe Yay: Even with Edgeworth and Phoenix as rivals, it doesn't stop certain fans from shipping them like FedEx.
  • Franchise Original Sin: The tendency for the third case(or fourth case in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice) to be largely irrelevant to the main storyline began with this game, but Turnabout Samurai isn't nearly as unpopular as cases like Turnabout Big Top, Recipe for Turnabout and Turnabout Serenade. Not only was it a Breather Episode between the two cases directly tied to DL-6, but it also helped Edgeworth undergo Character Development after his first loss in court and established the Phoenix-Maya dynamic. Subsequent third cases didn't add nearly as much to the story or characters, leading many to see them as filler episodes.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: In the tutorial case, when asked who the victim is, one of the options is Mia. If you choose her, she's somewhat taken aback, then reminds you to look at the Court Record. Come the very next case, and she is indeed the victim.
  • Growing the Beard: "Turnabout Samurai" was a step forward for the quality of the cases in several regards. The murderer is not immediately obvious, the case has an elaborate backstory that is revealed while investigating the murder, and there are multiple revelations that force Phoenix and the player to rethink everything they thought they knew about the crime.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • In the very first case of the game, the judge tests Phoenix's knowledge of the case and provides a tutorial for using the Court Record, with one question asking him "Who is the victim?", with Mia Fey as an answer option. Come the following case, where Mia ends up the murder victim herself.
    • When you show Lana Skye the Attorney's Badge, she comments that the gold plating will flake off in a few years (specifically, three), then we'll see the real Phoenix. This could be foreshadowing Phoenix solving his biggest case all by himself in "Bridge to the Turnabout", but it could also foreshadow Phoenix being disbarred for unwittingly using falsified evidence.
    • In case 4, Gumshoe explains that his Undying Loyalty to Edgeworth is because he always got a conviction for the person the police brought in, which Gumshoe took as proof of his trust. It's funny/sad at the moment since Edgeworth clearly doesn't hold Gumshoe in such esteem — and then comes 1-5, where we learn about Lana Skye and Damon Gant, and realize that if Edgeworth did trust the police that much, his trust was misplaced.
    • "Accidental Murder is still Murder." This line alone is huge Fridge Horror when it comes to the Japanese Legal System. How can this be used to a horrifying degree? Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair explores (Chapter 5) how an actual suicide can turn into an accidental murder and unlike Edgeworth Chiaki gets executed for it.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Redd White murdered Mia Fey in the first game. In the third game, an important fact is Godot being unable to see red on white. Since the first game was localized after the third game was written, it's likely this was intentional.
    • Case 3 is the first case that makes it clear that the American version takes place somewhere similar to Los Angeles. Three of the characters are William, Hammer, and Penny.
    • Phoenix finds a contradiction in Cody Hackins's testimony and says it's because he has a magical power that lets him know when people are lying. He's just teasing a kid at that point, but one game later and he's got the magatama...
    • There's this exchange when Redd White tries to get out of testifying:
      White: My stomach, you see, it is hurting...
      Phoenix: Deal with it.
    • Lana Skye, the defendant of case 5, is a young and attractive female chief prosecutor who wears a military-style uniform. Natalia Poklonskaya, anyone? Even better, Poklonskaya called the Ukrainian authorities "devils from the ashes" and the case Lana appears in is called "Rise from the Ashes".
    • One of the most hilarious moments was the moment where Phoenix made a parrot testify in court. Sounds absurd, right? But then this comes into play. For bonus points, it happened in the same month and year that this case takes place in.
    • Speaking of said parrot, its name is Polly. The eponymous protagonist of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney is also nicknamed Polly.
    • In case 5, one of the crucial pieces of evidence is a monochrome surveillance video, allegedly of Bruce Goodman knocking out Mike Meekins. However, the whole court's attention is on the animatronic mascot in the room—its jerky motions leave them all deeply perturbed. Nine years later (and a few months before the eShop ports), players may find themselves capable of sympathizing...
    • After Powers is acquitted in Case 3, Edgeworth makes a surprise appearance at the defendant lobby and introduces himself as a great fan of him. Phoenix thinks he's just pretending, and players are inclined to think the same at this point... but once you play the following games you realize he was completely serious about it.
    • In Case 2, Phoenix scolds Gumshoe for thinking of the possibility of victims writing their killer's name with their blood, and stick to reality instead. All across the series, this possibility is raised way too often in order to indict a defendant of murder, and in one time, it was actually the case (to an extent, as while the victim did not write the killer's name, they did write something to incriminate them; another victim, instead of writing anything to incriminate the killer, instead writes a message that explains why they were killed).
    • At one point in Case 3, Phoenix refers to himself as "Sherlock Holmes II", a line not out of place in a series full of pop culture references. Almost fifteen years later, it would be revealed that not only is Sherlock Holmes (or rather, Herlock Sholmes) a real person in the world of Ace Attorney, but he was a good friend of one of Phoenix's ancestors.
    • Phoenix's backstory involves what is referred to as a "class trial".
  • Hollywood Homely: Judging by character reactions, Will Powers is supposed to look downright frightening. He can only get roles wearing a mask. Opinions differ.
  • Idiot Plot: "Turnabout Sisters" sees both Phoenix and the culprit make rather boneheaded decisions. The former confronts the culprit, a powerful blackmailer, about his own guilt, resulting in the culprit pulling strings and getting him arrested, and doesn't notice the significance of a decisive piece of evidence(the receipt) until Mia herself points it out to him. The culprit isn't any better. Despite supposedly being cunning enough to get blackmail information on powerful people, he barely even tries to hide how suspicious he is and can't convincingly lie, resulting in his story unraveling due in large part to his accomplice's testimony (if he'd checked with her, he might not have run into this problem).
  • It Was His Sled: Due to its memetic status, it's rare to find someone who doesn't know that at one point Phoenix cross-examines a parrot.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: When Dee Vasquez admits that Phoenix's theory about the true cause of Hammer's death "made for good writing".
  • Love to Hate:
    • Manfred von Karma. Despite being present in only three cases in the entire series, two of which being flashback cases in later games, he still manages to remain one of the most memorable Complete Monsters in the series to this day. It helps that no other prosecutor after him has managed to put as much of a fight as he did during "Turnabout Goodbyes".
    • The Big Bad of "Rise from the Ashes" Damon Gant even moreso. Despite being only in a single case, they remain one of the most popular villains in the franchise due to being one of the most ruthless and intelligent killers in the franchise, and being exceptionally likable atop of that. Their surprisingly humanizing final moments help exceptionally.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Damon Gant, once a legendary police officer seeking to use any means necessary to bring down criminals, murders a prosecutor to pin the crime on a criminal and ensure his rise to chief of police. Gant also has his old partner installed as the head of the prosecutor's office, having clandestinely framed her sister as the murderer years ago, so he can control both the police and the prosecution, using blackmail on his old partner Lana. When a detective reopens the old case, Gant murders him and has Lana stab the corpse, resulting in her being framed(although it's implied that this was a backup plan, and he was originally planning to pin the crime on Edgeworth), and Gant knowing she'll plead guilty to protect her sister. Despite his crimes, Gant operates with nothing short of whimsical good nature and accepts his defeat with good humor, claiming that at the end, he can leave the defense of the law to his rivals and one day they will understand the need to rise higher by any means to protect the law as a whole.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Due to the murder in "Turnabout Goodbyes" taking place during December 24th (Christmas Eve), it's very common among the fandom to refer to Christmas Day as the "DL-6mas" and similar nicknames.
    • Edgeworth pulling out an updated autopsy report mid-trial and being smug about it derailing Phoenix's claim that Mia died instantly and couldn't have left her Dying Clue has been the subject of various comics, fandubs, etcetera.
  • Mexicans Love Speedy Gonzales: Discounting any confusion he may cause in regards to the location of the games, Detective Jake Marshall is thoroughly beloved in the United States, even with (or possibly because of) him being a blatant stereotype of the American southwest.
  • Mis-blamed:
    • The western releases of the game changing the setting from Japan to California is often held up as an example of Capcom USA's executives believing that gamers are too stupid and/or prejudicial to want to play a game set entirely in Japan. In actual fact, the decision to change the setting was taken by the first game's translator, Alexander O. Smith — and his main reason for doing so was related to the puzzle from the game's first case where you have to work out that the Thinker clock was nine hours fast/fourteen hours slow instead of three/two hours slow, as he felt that the time difference between Los Angeles and Paris was more likely to be known than the corresponding time difference between Japan and New York, as was the case in the original game. Back then, the change was mostly harmless, as the only really Japanese theme in the game was the Steel Samurai (and even then, it could be chalked up as a show inspired by anime), but in each following game it became increasingly harder to believe the game's set in the United States.
    • Relatedly, some fans have accused Smith's changing the game's setting for the sake of a single puzzle of being a short-sighted decision which forced future games to jump through hoops to explain away the copious amounts of Japanese iconography. While debates can be had about the wisdom of the decision, Smith actually made it having been told that the next game in the series to be localized would be Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, which dialled back on the Japanese influence in the artwork partly because of Depending on the Artist, and partly to appeal more to western gamers. The second and third games (where the Japanese iconography really became prevalent) originally weren't planned to be localized, but the stronger than expected sales of the first resulted in them getting western releases to fill the gap until Apollo Justice was ready.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Von Karma crossed it when he murdered Gregory Edgeworth. He then proceeded to kick Gregory while he was down/dead by raising his son to become his complete antithesis, then framing said son for killing him, all just to get back at the entire Edgeworth bloodline because Gregory caused von Karma to get his first and only ever court penalty, ruining his otherwise perfect record.
    • Damon Gant crossed when he killed Neil Marshall, and made it look like Ema Skye did it to force Lana Skye into becoming Gant's puppet for the next two years, culminating in forcing her to take the fall for Gant's murder of Bruce Goodman.
  • Narm:
    • Lana Skye's dramatic-looking pose facing her back to the player loses a lot of impact when done in the Detention Center, as the chair she's sitting on constantly faces towards the glass, giving the image of her doing Edgy Backwards Chair-Sitting.
    • Angel Starr's gratuitous lunch-based Busman's Vocabulary fits the light-hearted, silly parts of case 5, but just gets cringeworthy when she keeps it up during the intense, emotional parts. The worst offender is this line, which completely derails an otherwise intense, heart-pounding scene:
      "I swear it on my finest plastic spork!"
  • Never Live It Down: Edgeworth will forever be known for destroying defense attorneys' arguments with updated autopsy reports and being smug about it, and little else, despite the fact that he only ever did it once across all seven games he appears in. Probably because it's one of the first things he does the first time the player faces him in court, and first impressions are usually the strongest, so the fanbase naturally latched onto that as Edgeworth's "prosecutor gimmick" instead of something more suitable, like his inability to get witnesses to state their name and occupation, which happens far more often.
  • Nightmare Fuel: In case 4, running into von Karma in the police station and getting tased by him promptly thereafter.
  • Player Punch:
    • The opening cinematic of 1-2, due to springing Mia's death onto the player very early on in the game. To an extent, the opening of 1-4 could also qualify, as it's definitely a shocker.
    • Having to prove towards the end of 1-5 that Ema, who's been your sidekick for the whole case, accidentally killed Neil Marshall two years ago.
    • Redd White punches Phoenix in case 2. What, didn't think physical harm was possible for a visual novel character?
  • The Scrappy: You'd be hard-pressed to find any fans of Redd White. Despite having an incredibly important role in the trilogy due to killing Mia, he is largely disliked by fans due to having a very generic Corrupt Corporate Executive personality and, despite being built up as incredibly powerful and dangerous, coming off as a complete idiot with no common sense who is taken out with an anticlimactic Ass Pull confession. While he's clearly meant to be hated, many fans have noted how much they dislike that such a generic villain would have the all-important role of being Mia's killer.
  • Too Cool to Live: Mia Fey had to be killed since Phoenix Wright is the main character. Otherwise, the game will be "Mia Fey: Ace Attorney".
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: Edgeworth in this installment, as Shu Takumi noted that he was supposed to be tragic, yet unlikable. The "unintentionally" part fades over time.
  • Tough Act to Follow: The role of the prosecutorial rival has proven difficult to get just right over the course of the franchise and, unfortunately, the first game really nailed it with Edgeworth. Edgeworth had both sympathetic and unsympathetic qualities, had a dense and complicated personal past with Phoenix, and his character arc was arguably the main plot of the game. He also had great animations and lines, whether he was being very smug or Not So Above It All. It worked so well that every subsequent prosecutor struggled to get out of his shadow, whether leaning too far in one direction or the other when it came to balancing sympathetic and unsympathetic qualities, having to squeeze their character arc in around a more-interesting main plot in which they are just a side player, going a bit too over-the-top with their animations and Courtroom Antics, or just feeling like they're retreading the same ground Edgeworth once did. None of them are helped by Edgeworth's incredible popularity seeing him join the story for at least part of most final cases, further making them seem less interesting than he.
  • What an Idiot!:
    • Yes, April, leave a wire tap, a damning piece of evidence, in an open drawer, and don't get rid of it or hide it somewhere else after the first time you caught Phoenix trying to look at it.
    • Sure, Phoenix, show The Perfectionist prosecutor the evidence that will link him to the crime and set the defendant free. I'm sure he won't do anything in retaliatio— *zap*
    • Why, yes, Lana, keep trying to claim you killed Detective Goodman even though the evidence says you're not and you're actually able to be proven innocent and have everything wrapped up. Though, in that case, it's more of a clue as to what's really going on.
    • Phoenix openly confronts Corrupt Corporate Executive Redd White and Mafia Princess Dee Vasquez, two people well-known for their ruthlessness and Screw the Rules, I Have Connections! advantages. And in their own private quarters, no less.

    Justice for All 

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney — Justice for All

  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • There's no question that Juan Corrida is an Asshole Victim, but just how bad is he really? According to Adrian Andrews, he's a monster, but that's hardly an unbiased source. We do know that he was petty, a braggart, and bitterly Always Second Best to Matt Engarde. He caused Celeste's suicide when he broke off their engagement due to jealous and wounded pride. He then forged and hid her suicide note, which he planned to use at the most devastating moment for his rival. However, in the flashback to Celeste's suicide, he looks genuinely shocked and horrified, and his plans for revenge could easily be fueled as much by regret for the consequences of angry words he never got the chance to take back. Were his subsequent actions just part of their "game," or was it really personal for him? When he forged the suicide note, was he simply making another petty move in his game with Engarde, or Framing the Guilty Party? Since he is a Posthumous Character, his actions and reactions are up to a great deal of audience interpretation.
    • Is Matt Engarde just a standard Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, or does he have a Split Personality? His dialogue right before he reveals his "real self" ("I think it's time for you to meet him now, Mr. Lawyer dude") is sometimes brought up as evidence for the latter.
    • There's also the issue of whether "Ini Miney", aka Mimi Miney, or Turner Grey was the one at fault of malpractice incident. If Mimi was to be the one telling the truth, then Turner Grey is a monster who overworked Mimi into a nervous breakdown that caused the accident and possibly drugged her with sleeping pills, resulting in a car crash. However, Grey had a point in that he had no real motivation for doing so and was in fact trying to bring her ghost back to clear his name, which would probably be a bad idea if she'd just accuse him of her murder instead. Also, she seemed to kill him because he was about to reveal that she was still alive, not out of any apparent desire for revenge. But Grey is an Unreliable Narrator about himself. Why did he have a (very illegal in Japan) gun with him? Why did he expect to get Mimi's ghost to sign a confession that utterly blackens her name and exonerates her former Bad Boss? It seems likely he intended to force her to sign it at gunpoint (with the medium's life on the line), and if that's the case, then just how far would he go in anger?
      • He may as well have been just Crazy-Prepared for if the ghost is angry and tries to get him to go down, since they obviously weren't on buddy-buddy terms and especially regarding that accident. And exactly that happened in the end. Sort of...
    • Adrian's response to Phoenix Wright's "I'm a lawyer" upon knowing that he will still choose to continue defending the incredibly guilty Matt Engarde, is to utter "what a foul profession". Is she saying that out of spite due to seeing a lawyer still defending the guilty party and thus indirectly getting Adrian convinced of a crime she didn't commit, or is she saying it out of pity due to having some vague ideas that Phoenix Wright has no choice in the matter due to blackmail and cannot let his personal feelings get in the way of doing his job as a lawyer?
  • Anti-Climax Boss: Breaking Wendy Oldbag's Psyche-Locks in 2-4. It's the first time you have to deal with 4 locks at once, but if you show her Juan's autograph, all four of them break at the same time. Given how it's Wendy Oldbag we're talking about here, who is very dramatic, they probably did that on purpose.
  • Americans Hate Tingle: While many American fans consider "Turnabout Big Top" one of the worst cases in the series due to the wacky circus members being annoying and unlikable and the supposed Sympathetic Murderer being Unintentionally Unsympathetic, it was fifth in a Japanese survey of cases that "left the greatest impression" on fans (Which might have had a role in the circus returning for Investigations 2).
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Franziska von Karma, Manfred von Karma's daughter, or specifically her behavior in 2-4, and her epilogue scene with Edgeworth. While she's (intentionally) unlikeable during the first two cases, her behavior later changes and matures. Fans are still divided upon her when it comes to these games (but not so much with the Investigation spin-offs).
    • Regina Berry. One one hand, between her appearance, personality, and role as the heart of the third case, many fans will concede that it's nearly impossible not to like her. However, many other fans find her naivety unbearable and hold her responsible for putting Bat into a coma and causing Acro's paralysis, and not showing any sympathy over them. Defenders, however, will say that her lack of remorse for the accident is because she did not understand the concept of death, rather than being a heartless monster. Though there is an argument that her naivety at age sixteen can't really be excused by an overprotective father, and that it could still be considered her fault because someone her age is expected to know better. And others just hate her just because they hate the case she came from. When the Berry Big Circus returned in the second Investigations game, Regina was the only character from 2-3 (unless you count Money) to return.
    • Acro as well, which is further detailed under Unintentionally Unsympathetic below. Fans see him as a tragic character who lost a great deal, being paralyzed from the waist down and seeing his brother go into a coma, and believe that while that doesn't excuse what he did (which Acro himself has the decency to admit), it does make him one of the more sympathetic killers. Detractors, however, don't like how he intended to murder a young girl who'd accidentally been responsible for those tragedies, who was also the daughter of his benefactor, and point out that the case wouldn't have happened if Acro had decided to confront the person responsible in a more sensible manner.
  • Best Level Ever: "Farewell, My Turnabout" is widely considered one of the best cases in the franchise, in large part because of the twist. Matt Engarde turning out to be guilty forces Phoenix to decide what being a lawyer means to him, and pull off a clever gambit to both save Maya and see to it that Engarde gets what he deserves.
  • "Common Knowledge": A good number of people believe that the final verdict of "Farewell, My Turnabout" is decided by the player. This misconception stems from the fact that the player is prompted twice to decide whether to plead "guilty" or "not guilty". The first time is rendered moot, due to Franziska showing up with some last-minute evidence. The second time, regardless of what you pick, Engarde demands to be found guilty, and Franziska later asks how Phoenix can be so happy after losing, firmly establishing the only canonical verdict as "guilty". It is possible to get a “not guilty” verdict, but doing so requires getting one of the final questions wrong, and leads to a Downer Ending.
  • Contested Sequel: While not universally disliked, most fans consider it to be uneven at best. While the second case is considered to be good, and the finale is considered one of the best cases in the entire franchise, the tutorial case is at best forgettable and hoo boy does "Turnabout Big Top" have a very notorious reputation among fans.
  • Critical Backlash: Case 2-3, Turnabout Big Top, by far the most hated case of the whole trilogy and definitely one of the most hated cases of the franchise. And while that’s still mostly the case for many fans, some people have been defending it as not quite as bad as people make it out to be. While basically no one defends the love triangle (in the western fandom anyway) or the fact that get a penalty if you press too hard on the Moe’s testimony, more and more people have been defending the other aspects of the case, particularly people who defend the Base-Breaking Characters mentioned above.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: The Judge's double penalty (45% + 50%) in Case 2-3 if you accuse him of carrying the murder weapon. Yes, you lose if you're at anything lower than full health, but many players have accused him (or even just thought of it) just to see what would happen, and are not let down by the result.
    • Even better, since it's only a 95% penalty, if you have no penalties by the time you do this then you can accuse the Judge of carrying the murder weapon and then keep going with the trial as if nothing happened.
  • Ending Fatigue: The last trial eventually boils down to just stalling for time until a Big Damn Heroes moment happens. Canonically!
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Ini Miney or, in actuality, Mimi Miney, despite being a single case character, is quite the fan-favourite for being rather lovable and a very complex and tragic killer.
    • Adrian Andrews has a lot of love due to her sympathetic and relatable backstory, her determination to find justice for her deceased mentor while protecting her secret from being exposed by the media for her sake, all while formulating a plan to bring down Juan Corrida and Matt Engarde for their crimes, and how the game sets up a successful Player Punch in testing to see how far they're willing to go to save Maya, even if it means an innocent party takes the fall for a crime the player knows they're not guilty of. It's probably because she was so beloved that led to her (semi-)triumphant return in Trials and Tribulations.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Phoenix's nightmare of being disbarred by a giant, demonic judge becomes much less funny in Apollo Justice after he really does get disbarred. It even comes across Harsher in Hindsight in this game, simply from knowing that while it's just a bizarrely out-of-place dream in the first case, his having the dream again during the game's final case shows just how far he's crossed the Despair Event Horizon.
    • Maya, despite being cleared of all charges, laments at the end of Case 2-2 that every time something like this happens, she loses someone close to her, since her aunt got locked up for her role in the murder plot. In the next game, she loses her long-lost mother.
    • Gumshoe's testimony in case 2-1, once you realize that he's had a secret crush on Maggey Byrde for a long time. The real punch is when he's asked to describe Maggey and Dustin's relationship — how they were close to getting married and how Maggey even came to Gumshoe for advice on what to get her boyfriend for his birthday. That hangdog expression of his isn't just because he's testifying against a subordinate.
    • In case 2-2, the court is convinced for a while that Mimi Miney's spirit, channeled through Maya Fey, is guilty of murder. Phoenix says in court that he finds the idea of a vengeful, murderous spirit hard to believe. In this case, he's right, but in the next game, a vengeful, murderous spirit does try to kill someone, and said vengeful spirit is Phoenix's ex-girlfriend. Sort of.
    • Case 2-4 is harsh enough on its own, especially with Phoenix realizing midway through the trial that his client actually is guilty, but The Great Ace Attorney makes things come off as even harsher in retrospect. In Case 3 of the first game, Ryunosuke unwittingly defends a guilty client, and actually gets said client acquitted. To make matters worse, Ryunosuke only realizes the clients guilt after the trial ends, and is punished by being banned from British courts for six months until he persuades Stronghart to reinstate him.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Ini mistaking Pearl for Phoenix's daughter and him expressing incredulity that she thinks he's old enough to have a daughter becomes much funnier when he actually adopts a daughter almost exactly Pearl's age in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney.
    • Examining the notice board in the cafeteria early in Case 2-3 has Maya making an off-handed remark about how they should put up a note addressed "To the Murderer". As it turns out, this actually happened, and it's what indirectly led to the murder in that case.
    • In case 2-1 Phoenix points out that you can't possibly not know the name of someone you're dating. In Trials and Tribulations we learn that Phoenix himself didn't know the name of his first girlfriend for years.
    • In case 2-4, on the subject of the Love Triangle in Nickel Samurai, Phoenix says, "Sounds like an unusual situation. Like Romeo and Juliet... times three." Ten years later,note  a game would be released featuring a Show Within a Show that's... er... something like that.
    • Case 2-3 features the defendant Maximillion Galactica, a purple-themed flamboyant performer who's actually a country bumpkin. Years later, we get Mettaton EX, a flamboyant purple-themed performer who is also a country bumpkin (even if he doesn't act the part), as he was originally from the Blook family snail farm in Waterfall with his cousin, Napstablook, so he's from at least the underground's version of the countryside.
  • It Was His Sled:
    • Thanks to becoming the series' Breakout Character it's common knowledge that Edgeworth is still alive and well despite the majority of the game implying he committed suicide.
    • That Matt Engarde, the defendant of 2-4, is actually the true villain and an utter sociopath is easily one of the most iconic twists in the series.
  • Idiot Plot: Many have pointed out how patently absurd it was that Dustin Prince's alleged dying message was ever taken seriously when it would have meant he wrote it with a snapped neck. Equally absurd is that there's no way to point out that contradiction. (Look he had amnesia okay!?)
  • Most Wonderful Sound: Franziska's whip becomes this in case 4, due to it signaling her perfectly timed Big Damn Heroes moment.
  • Narm:
    • Mia gives a brief speech about The Power of Friendship in "Farewell, My Turnabout" - which feels bizarrely childish and out of place in an extremely dark and tense case.
    • "The miracle never happen." That one simple typo in the American DS release turned the bad ending of "Farewell, My Turnabout" into a mockery.
    • Acro's Manly Tears moment at the end of 2-3 is supposed to be taken seriously. It ended looking like cartoony Ocular Gushers instead, with the animation and everything.
    • In case 4, after The Reveal of Matt Engarde's true colors, he reveals his previously-unseen massive facial scar, pulls out A Glass of Chianti in the middle of the Detention Room, gains an ominous new Leitmotif, and his personality does a complete 180, turning him into an Obviously Evil figure that makes the silliest of Bond Villain parodies seem toned down. How jarring the change is from his previous Brainless Beauty Nice Guy persona can easily come across as absolutely ridiculous. For some, however, this is Narm Charm and/or Nightmare Fuel.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Matt Engarde clawing at his own face in "Farewell, My Turnabout".
  • Player Punch:
    • The first act of "Reunion, and Turnabout". Particuarly Maya's Angst at the detention center.
    • Pretty much all of the last case is intense, starting right at the beginning when Maya gets kidnapped to blackmail Nick, and just getting worse when you find out your client is guilty as sin, and you're forced to pin the blame on an innocent person just to stall for time.
  • Replacement Scrappy: In this game, Franziska has very little character beyond being a cartoonish Jerkass with thinly-sketched motives, and the only time she gets any real character development isn't until after the end credits. The next game and the two Investigations entries would flesh her out much more, although her portrayal here is still a big factor in this being seen as one of the weakest entries in the series.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Some players might find Moe really irritating because at one point of his cross-examination, if he goes off-tangent then Phoenix gets penalized. Note that Oldbag's constant rambling in-and-on the court did not get this extreme reaction from the judge. Others either find his jokes unfunny or simply hate his design. Him bringing Regina to the last day of trial may or may not rescue him from the heap (or just move him to Base-Breaking Character status) due to fans being divided on if it was a cruel Jerkass move or he was trying to have her see the truth about Acro and Bat.
    • While the characters introduced in "Turnabout Big Top" are all divisive to varying extents, Ben Woodman (and by extension, his puppet Trilo) is almost universally disliked. This is due to his one-note and irritating gimmick, his attraction to Regina that's even creepier than Max's (due to Ben being nearly twice her age), and him being almost completely superfluous to both the murder and the cases' overall story.
    • "Director Hotti", the creepy "doctor" at Hotti Clinic. He's creepily obsessed with his female patients, even going so far as to steal Ini's photo and hit on a wounded Franziska. He doesn't even serve much of a purpose beyond giving you the photo in 2-2; in 2-4 he's just there to piss off Franziska and be creepy. No one seemed to mind when he was Adapted Out of the anime.
  • Scrappy Mechanic: Assigning penalties for pressing the wrong statement. Even when pressing isn't necessary to advance the case, it can be a useful way to get a hint as to which part of a witness's testimony contains a contradiction, so it's rather frustrating to lose part of your life gauge just for asking questions.
  • Sophomore Slump: While Justice For All is certainly not considered a bad game, a lot of fans regard it as the weakest game in the trilogy, for reasons including: having only four cases versus the other two games' five (although Rise From The Ashes was only added in the DS re-release of the original, meaning the GBA version only had four cases), the lack of a strong narrative throughline to thread the cases together and leaving the game feeling disjointednote , the hugely divisive third case, and the developers going overboard with the new health system and frequently hitting you with gigantic penalties with no warning whatsoever. In particular, this game has more "instant game over" scenarios than every other game in the series combined. Other, minor annoyances for some are Pearl getting all the focus over Maya, who barely features in the game and has no real character development, the substandard English localization in the initial DS release, and Franziska being a much less interesting adversary than Edgeworth or Godot. However, the villains in this game are in very high regard among the fanbase, who generally consider Morgan Fey, Shelley de Killer, and Matt Engarde to be some of the best in the series. And the last case is extremely popular due to its twist on the traditional formula by having Phoenix try to escape being blackmailed into defending a client he eventually figures out is completely guilty and a total sociopath.
  • Squick:
    • Pearl gives us this gem when encouraging Phoenix to go talk to Franziska:
      "Let's go let her whip us, Mr. Nick!"
    • "Director Hotti" implies that he'd like to "research" the crime scene photos if you show them to him in 2-2. Even worse when you remember that it's Ini/Mimi in the pictures, and he'd been going on about how she was a favorite patient... To make this worse, in the Japanese version when you present Pearl's profile to him, he shows great interest into her while doing his creepy grabby animation, on top of his dialogue (the original script is highlighted in red, the rest are rewrites when translating the scene to English). Keep in mind that Pearl at this point in the series is eight years old!
  • Take That, Scrappy!: For the portion of fans who dislike Franziska for her seemingly constant and unpunished Jerkass moments, Shelly de Killer shooting her in the shoulder, preventing her from prosecuting for the remainder of the game, and causing her to be replaced by the more levelheaded Edgeworth can come across as refreshing.
  • That One Level:
    • "Turnabout Big Top" is full of cross-examinations that dole out hefty punishments, and very little connection to the Fey plotline and Edgeworth's return. Many consider Moe's cross-examination in 2-3 to be a real pain in the ass, since one wrong press will get you penalized, and culminates with his last testimony, in which any pressing will cause you to instantly lose. While the game at least has the Judge try to warn you, he does so in such a vague manner that you might not even notice it at all, or think he's just talking a standard 20% penalty (which you could get for needlessly pressing back in 1-4) instead of a 100% penalty. Furthermore, on the second trial of that case, you have to do a big leap of logic and figure out that Russell Berry's cape got attached to the Max bust, seemingly ignoring physics.
    • While "Farewell, My Turnabout" is considered one of the best cases — possibly even the best — in the whole Ace Attorney franchise, the penalties for messing up can be absolutely brutal. In most of the game's other cases penalties are usually the same 20% that you get for presenting incorrect evidence while cross-examining. Here they're more on the order of 30-50%, including two outright instances of a 100% penalty, and one indirect example at the very end of the case where you have to not only pick the correct evidence but also the correct person to present to. Add to that the trial days being very long, the game doing away with health refills during recesses, and the possibility of screwing up the Psyche-Lock segments and going into the trial days with less than 100% health, and you'll feel each and every mistake much harder.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Part of the reason Wambu cited "Turnabout Big Top" as his least favorite Ace Attorney case was because its self-centered and unlikable characters undermined a potentially good plot element- the effect the beloved ringmaster's death had on those close to him, and how it caused the members of his circus "family" to stop trusting one another. Considering that the series rarely touches on the impact someone's death has on those grieving for that person, this is a rather significant wasted opportunity.
  • Unfortunate Implications: "Farewell, My Turnabout" has been criticized for doing a sloppy job at representing the ethical dilemmas faced by defense attorneys. For one thing, Phoenix only takes the case because Maya's kidnapping forces his hand, and after his client, Matt Engarde, is revealed to have been Evil All Along, he feels thoroughly crushed at the possibility of getting a killer acquitted. The ending of the case conveniently allows him to sabotage his client's prospects to the point that Matt turns himself in, but in reality defense attorneys routinely defend clients they either suspect or know are guilty of their crimes. Additionally, outside of breaking the law or forging evidence (neither of which were part of Engarde's request), doing so is not only perfectly compatible with a lawyer's ethics, but an important part of them too. In reality, Matt wouldn't even need to orchestrate an elaborate kidnapping plot just to get legal representation (though this part does have in-universe justification of Engarde wanting to make sure that Phoenix specifically was his defense attorney as opposed to just any old legal representation), and Phoenix himself would have nothing to be ashamed of for defending his client to the best of his ability. The following game might've given an Author's Saving Throw for this in "The Stolen Turnabout" where Phoenix determines he should still do his job and defend Ron De Lite despite knowing that he most likely is (and truthfully is) Mask Demasque and thus actually guilty of having stolen the Fey family urn, and though Pearl (and Maya in the anime) protests him doing this, she later admits that she was wrong to do so and apologizes.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: While he's very popular with others, some fans didn't like how much Acro was being played as a Sympathetic Murderer, espcially in light of the admission by Word of God that the intention with the cases story was for no one, not even the killer, to have been a bad person. For example, Video Games Awesome! and their commenters noted that while he didn't mean to kill the ringmaster, he did intend to kill the ringmaster's daughter. The sympathy is supposed to come from regretting he killed the ringmaster, who he saw as a father, and yet he was still willing to murder that man's only child. To be fair, she was still directly responsible for accidentally putting Bat into a coma and then not understanding how serious it was, but Acro apparently never considered just yelling at her and making her see reality the way Moe later did, and instead jumped right to an elaborate murder attempt... which didn't even work because she was too clueless to understand she was being threatened. For that matter, he didn't consider what might happen if his brother awoke from his coma, forgave Regina and still cared about her, only to find that she was dead. It's quite telling that the 3DS re-release changed some of the dialogue to tone down the forced sympathy, one of the most obvious changes being Edgeworth's line "Do me a favor and try not to be too harsh on Acro" being changed to "As for Mr. Acro's case, you need not worry," which is actually closer to the Japanese script anyway.
  • Values Dissonance:
    • Americans tended to have a certain reaction during "Turnabout Big Top" when they learned that both Maximilian Galactica (21) and Ben Woodman (30) planned on marrying Regina Berry (16), since she's below the American age of consent (18) and the age difference would make the principle squicky. In Japan, however, women are allowed to get married as young as 16 years old with parental approval, and Age Gap Romances are not seen as negatively as they are in the west. Detractors from the case point out in response that they still seem to be taking advantage of a young, naive Cloud Cuckoo Lander, regardless of cultural boundaries.
    • While Morgan Fey comes off as an Abusive Parent due to using her own children as pawns, the fact that she'd spank Pearl for playing in the trash is not meant to come off as physically abusive from a Japanese perspective. Spanking has mostly fallen out of favor as a disciplinary measure for children in the West, so many Western players would likely have an even lower view of Morgan in light of her using spanking on Pearl.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Admit it, you smiled VERY evilly after taking down Matt Engarde once and for all. Doubly so if it's chosen to pronounce him Not Guilty afterwards, knowing that he'd be hunted down by a professional assassin the minute he were to step out of the courthouse. Vengeance against a Defense Attorney's client never felt so satisfying.
  • Vindicated by History: For a long time this was (aside from the final case and even that has its share of detractors) seen as the worst game in the whole Ace Attorney franchise, for lacking the tight storyline of the first or third games, or the novelty factor of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney or the first Ace Attorney Investigations game. Since then, opinions toward it have warmed considerably, to the point where it's actually now considered one of the better games in the series — the other two entries in the original trilogy are probably the only ones universally regarded as being superior — only really let down by a poor third case and Franziska being a rather one-note adversary. The lack of an overarching storyline is also considered much less of a problem than it once was, allowing for the game to focus on developing the main characters, and standing in contrast to the 3DS-era games, which are commonly accused of falling victim to Arc Fatigue. Even the game's Sequel Difficulty Spike is looked on more favorably when compared to some of the newer entries, which have been criticized for being too easy.

    Trials and Tribulations 

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney — Trials and Tribulations

  • Accidental Aesop: Case 3-5 can come off as an argument against the death penalty. While Dahlia Hawthorne is guilty of killing two people and driving a third to suicide, and arguably deserves to be hanged for her crimes, if Dahlia hadn't been executed, it wouldn't have been possible to channel her spirit, and Misty Fey wouldn't have been killed.
  • Accidental Innuendo:
    • Due to a typo in case 3-2, Mia says "Your Honor. When you were in a child, this is what was on your report card every year."
    • In 3-5, you can get Gumshoe to admit he wants to stick his pen in Phoenix's face.
    • Assuming it's not an intentional innuendo (unlikely due to it coming up during serious moments), everything about the "weenies" (as in sausages) in case 3-3. Made worse by the fact that they're supposedly a symbol of Gumshoe's love for Maggey. The anime adaptation doubles the innuendo by calling them "Dick's weenies."
      Gumshoe: So? How did my weenies taste when they went down the hatch?
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • In an odd example, a couple gets this. The DeLites are either a Happily Married couple of a man who isn't above stealing for the happiness of his wife and a woman who likes strong emotions and authentically loves her husband for many factors besides money, or a Happily Married couple of a crook and a gold digger. Or bit of both. At least they are Happily Married in either interpretation.
    • Godot: a mysterious, badass prosecutor with a cool design and sympathetic, tragic past, or an overhyped sexist scumbag who's never brought to account for all his bad choices? Yes, he does end up arrested, but he also made Misty Fey die for them, got Iris charged for the murder and imprisoned for tampering with the crime scene(although Iris says she understood the risks) and nearly got Maya killed.
      • Did he know that Iris was once Phoenix's girlfriend? If so did it impact his decision to make her take the fall for Misty's murder? Did he do it because he knew Phoenix would defend her no matter what? Or because he wanted Phoenix to lose someone he loves just like he lost Mia?
    • Dahlia and Iris's father could be this. We're told that he coldly left his wife and badmouthed Kurain Village, but the person who says most of this is Dahlia, who is hardly one to speak well of anybody. His marriage and divorce of Morgan can also count. On one hand, he only married her to get the prestige that came with being a member of the Fey family. On the other hand, we see that a desire to gain power causes Morgan to try to commit murder twice, the second time using her own daughter as an Unwitting Pawn. With that second part in mind, one has to wonder if him taking his daughters with him when he divorced Morgan was as cruel as it's portrayed...
    • Same could be argued for Morgan. Was she so ambitious and protective for Pearl purely because of her strong spiritual powers or was it from the heartbreak of being separated from her two other daughters via a divorce, discovering one grew into a sociopath, and not knowing what happened to the other?
    • Due to the very ambiguous nature of the games story, Iris gets a lot of this. Is she an All-Loving Heroine who continued wanting to support the sister she loved even after she turned into a psychopath? An Extreme Doormat who passively allowed multiple people to die simply because she couldn't have brought herself to go against Dahlia? What does her intention to fully go against Dahlia after falling in love with Phoenix should she have put him danger exactly say about her? Was her not telling him the truth about their relationship in the aftermath of Dahlia's conviction understandable or an act of cowardice?
  • Americans Hate Tingle: Despite being a massive Base-Breaking Character in the Western fandom, Iris actually reached 5th place in the trilogy's official popularity poll, beating series mainstays like Pearl, Franziska, Gumshoe and even Mia.
  • Anticlimax Boss:
    • Sister Bikini's five Psyche-Locks all comes off at the same time with merely two presentations of evidence. Most other unlocking sequences require, on average, one or two pieces of evidence per lock. Justified as unlike many other witnesses who are all to eager to keep their secrets hidden until at breaking point, Sister Bikini is arguably one of the most cooperative witness of the series, and knows when to co-operate for the benefit of everyone involved, no matter how big the secret she tries to hide.
    • Luke Atmey in 3-2 initially appears to be one of these, since he gives up with surprising ease on the first trial day and admits to being the true thief. Actually, a subversion, however, since he wanted to be found guilty of theft, so that he would have an alibi for the murder of Kane Bullard, which was in fact his doing.
      • While Luke isn't especially easy to pin down after being brought into court, the HD version of the game makes it trivial to identify him as the true culprit. This is because the cutscene illustrating Ron's testimony of what happened to him at the crime scene flashes a silhouette of the culprit. While the DS version of the game made use of a filter to obscure the culprit the game's remasters fail to apply the effect making it blatantly obvious who the culprit is.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Godot. Some fans enjoy him for his quirky personality, surprisingly tragic backstory, and motivations that don't quite fall into "win at all costs," like pre-Heel–Face Turn Edgeworth and Franziska did. Others despise him for his actions in 3-5, in which he kills Misty Fey as part of a complicated plan to save Maya's life, which could potentially have resulted in Pearl and/or Maya herself dying, as well as Iris or Maya being wrongly convicted for murder, simply because he didn't trust Phoenix.
    • Furio Tigre, in no small part due to how divisive Case 3-3 itself is. His detractors typically view him as the worst villain in the original trilogy (with the possible exception of Redd White), due to him falling way short of the standards of the other villains seen in the game, how ridiculously implausible his plan is, and how he's constantly talked up as being some incredibly devious criminal mastermind despite the fact that he offers up some of the most rickety, hole-ridden testimonies in the entire franchise, with the only difficulty coming from the fact that you get penalized for pressing on the wrong statement (itself considered a Scrappy Mechanic by some). That being said, he does have some fans, due to being such an absurdly cartoonish and over-the-top villain, his plan falling under Refuge in Audacity for some, and is at least popular enough that his outfit appeared as a DLC outfit for Phoenix in Spirit of Justice.
    • Despite only appearing in the final case, Iris is easily one of the most polarizing characters in the franchise. Her fans view her as a sweet, well-meaning young woman who genuinely loves Phoenix. They like her because of the contrast she provides with her sister and believe she is only hurt due to a lack of proper screentime. Her detractors by contrast see her as a boring, underwritten Plot Device in human form at best, or as a willing enabler of Dahlia at worst. She also earns the ire of Phoenix/Maya and Phoenix/Miles shippers. They both see Iris as a Designated Love Interest who lacks the chemistry and history that Phoenix has with either Maya or Miles, yet is somehow pushed by the narrative in spite of the unhealthy nature of their dynamic. But where Phoenix/Miles shippers differ, is that they also allege that Iris' presence was solely due to Executive Meddling and a desire to appease censorship boards by affirming heterosexuality. Needless to say, so much as mentioning her in their presence is a sure-fire way to start an argument.
  • Best Level Ever:
    • "The Stolen Turnabout", the second case, is generally considered the best "filler" case in the trilogy, and one of the best cases in the franchise that isn't a first or final case. Not only does it have a unique structure, starting on a simple theft case and only revealing it to be involved in a murder later, but it's new characters are very well-developed and likable, and its villain is incredibly entertaining as well as surprisingly intelligent and dangerous putting together a plot to get himself caught red-handed as a Phantom Thief just so he could get away with the murder he committed. Furthermore, despite being technically plot-irrelevant, it both introduces Godot as a character and provides further Character Development for Maya and Pearl as well as additional insight into the Fey Clan, providing a rare example in the franchise of a self-contained story which is still able to develop the story and characters.
    • "Bridge to the Turnabout," the final case in the main series, is considered the best in the game and one of the best (and in many circles the best) in the series, having a complex mystery that ties together most of the plot threads of the original trilogy and ends with Phoenix truly coming into his own as a lawyer.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: Optional one. Presenting Bikini's profile to Larry at the beginning of 3-5 will result in him apparently revealing that Bikini is his mother. This has no impact on the plot whatsoever and the only other point in the case that addresses this is an equally optional piece of dialogue the next day implying he was being hyperbolic.
  • Breather Boss: In Case 3-3, Gumshoe's Psyche-Lock regarding the lottery. Most likely Played for Laughs, given that Gumshoe ends up telling Phoenix crucial information about his cases without meaning to do so.
  • Captain Obvious Reveal: Maya is the one channeling Dahlia in the final trial. While intended clearly as a shocking turnaround after the game tries to heavily lead players to believe Maya was either killed by Dahlia or committed suicide, the actual answer is incredibly obvious with basic rule of elimination. Of the four still living Fey Clan members in the case, Pearl was seen in the lobby just before the trial started, Bikini is stated to be at the Inner Temple helping Franziska undo the locks, and Iris is stated multiple times to be lacking in spiritual power despite her lineage, leaving Maya as the only logical candidate to be channeling Dahlia's spirit. This is if anything even more obvious in the original Japanese, as "Iris'" speaking style noticably changes after the earthquake (most obviously in her using a completely different honnorific for Phoenix), making it much more clear a Twin Switch occurred. Once Edgeworth reveals Dahlia is dead, a player can easily deduce one of the case's major twists hours in advance.
  • "Common Knowledge":
    • A good number of fans, primarily those applying Ron the Death Eater interpretations, tend to argue that Godot's plan was going to involve him or Misty outright killing Pearl, or that at the very least that was something the two were considering. In actuality, the game makes it very clear that the actual plan was for Misty to keep Pearl away from the training grounds entirely while Godot watched Maya. Misty channeling Dahlia was the back-up plan specifically done to ensure that, no matter what, Pearl would never get involved in the murder, and it is strongly implied that Misty did it knowing Godot would most likely have to kill her.
    • Many fans have the belief that Iris is charged as an accomplice for Misty Fey's murder, explaining her absence in subsequent games. This is actually a misinterpretation of a line in the English script, where the Judge says Iris will have another trial for her role as accomplice in the case, with it in the original Japanese being just "other charges", and it is even outright said she had no role in the murder itself. Iris is actually only punished for tampering with evidence(not unlike Adrian Andrews in the previous game) in covering up the murder to protect Maya, and it is implied her prison sentence is relatively short, as Bikini in he credits talks about happily waiting for her to return. Others likewise believe that she is charged for her involvement in Dahlia's crimes, something never implied in the game itself, never mind it's never suggested she had a role in anything besides the diamond theft (which she never actually participated in) and the attempted retrival of Dahlia's necklace (which she did in an attempt to stop her sister from committing more crimes).
  • Complete Monster: Dahlia Hawthorne is a petty sociopath who hides her devilish personality underneath an elegant façade. Having previously manipulated her boyfriend Terry Fawles into assisting her in a robbery meant to spite her family, before killing her stepsister Valerie and framing him for the murder, Dahlia ensured Fawles's suicide to warrant her freedom. Poisoning defense attorney Diego Armando as revenge against Mia Fey for almost getting her convicted, Dahlia seduced Phoenix Wright to cover her tracks, killing his friend Doug Swallow for trying to warn him and framing Phoenix for it after her attempts to poison him failed. Despite being executed, Dahlia returns as a vengeful ghost, aiding her mother Morgan Fey in her plan to kill Maya Fey solely to spite Mia's spirit.
  • Designated Love Interest: Diego Armando can also be seen as this due to being a victim of Remember the New Guy?note . The only time we meet him is before they get together and his relationship with Mia (while plot-important) is implied through dialogue but not explicitly stated.
  • Draco in Leather Pants:
    • Godot. There's a pretty big difference between sympathetic murderer and absolving him of all his crimes and bad decisions. Then again, the writers could have arguably been doing the same thing, given that Maya, who lost her mother as a result of his actions, still defends him, even though he suggests he was not primarily motivated by wanting to protect her, and she might have ended up dead when he killed the person channeling Dahlia.
    • Luke Atmey is this to a certain portion of the Japanese fandom, to the point where there are entire fansites dedicated to him. In all fairness, though, his Japanese name means something along the lines of "only wants to be loved," and in the Japanese version, it's suggested he killed Kane Bullard out of self defense, not just desperation.
    • Even Dahlia Hawthorne qualifies. Many of her fans will comment that, although her actions were inexcusable, her life was miserable, and will state that she is treated as an "unpopular" and "unloved" character.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Luke Atmey is an extremely popular character despite being a single case comic relief and ultimately culprit. Many fans love him for his extremely hammy, theatrical antics, his moments of genuine Hidden Depths, and being a surprisingly dangerous and brilliant villain, concocting an impressively elaborate and logical plan involving purposely framing himself for a lesser crime just to grant himself an alibi, and only losing by a very minor and understandable slip-up. Many consider him the best minor antagonist in the franchise.
    • Viola is also a surprisingly popular character despite only appearing in a single investigation, ranking 16th on the official popularity poll ahead of several more prominent characters, owing to her Creepy Cute design and personality, and her genuinely interesting relationship with Tigre.
  • Even Better Sequel: At the very least it's considered a big improvement over Justice For All (even though many agree none of the cases quite match up to "Farewell, My Turnabout", with the exception of "Bridge to the Turnabout", which is also considered one of the best cases in the series), with many fans regarding it as the best game in the entire Ace Attorney franchise.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Dahlia Hawthorne and Diego Armando both have fans who think this about them. Diego being the boyfriend of the series' most prominent Dude Magnet and Dahlia charming most of the men she meets makes them this In-Universe as well.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • Phoenix's behavior in case 3-1 gains a whole new dimension when it turns out that the woman he dated for six months and the one that tried to kill him are not the same, and that his insistence on her innocence wasn't a result of him grabbing the Idiot Ball. Perhaps it also counts as a bit of foreshadowing...
    • Mia's random comedic assaults on Grossberg in case 3-1 every time Phoenix says something adoring about Dahlia become much less funny when you realize that it's not just low tolerance for sappy, saccharine gushing — it's because she's bottling up a lot of hate for Dahlia and with very good reason. There's also the possibility that it's related to the fact that she knows Grossberg is responsible for leaking the information on her mother, and her mother's resulting disappearance.
    • Not to mention the fact that Phoenix's gushing sounds disturbingly like Terry talking about his "Teen Angel". Small wonder she gets so angry, seeing another guy being played like a fiddle by Dahlia!
    • Minor one, but in 3-3, Phoenix makes a comment on how Maya should quit her job as a spirit medium for a job as a waitress, and she considers the idea. Come 3-5, while she doesn't take up a waitress job, she is thinking more seriously about quitting her job as a spirit medium when she takes the witness stand.
    • In 3-5, Edgeworth hears about the phony Phoenix from Case 3-3 and wonders if the judicial system has gone to hell lately. By Dual Destinies, the justice system goes through a corruption-ridden "Dark Age of the Law".
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Phoenix's comment in 3-3 that the only way to win a phony case is with phony evidence becomes a lot harsher after the events of Apollo Justice, where he loses his badge due to evidence forgery.
      • Even more so when he actually does forge evidence afterward to catch the one responsible (and implicitly for Revenge as well, given his new Knight in Sour Armor attitude after losing said badge).
    • If you present your badge to Maya during the investigation during day 2 of 3-2, you get this little exchange:
    Maya: So you've still got that badge, I see.
    Phoenix: Huh? I'm a lawyer, aren't I?
    Maya: Yeah, but I guess I just didn't think you'd keep on being one for this long.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
  • Idiot Plot: "Recipe for Turnabout" starts with an obvious impostor filling in for Phoenix during the initial trial in an attempt by the killer to frame the defendant for the murder, intentionally sabotaging the defendant's defense, and fooling everyone from the Judge to the defendant herself (whom the real Phoenix had successfully defended once before in the previous game) for not only the initial trial, but until near the end of the case. In addition, the case ends with the killer, a particularly Bad Liar, not only walking into an incredibly obvious I Never Said It Was Poison trap involving the shape and color of the bottle containing the cyanide, but proudly confessing it, only realizing his mistake nearly a full minute after the fact, and only after Godot explicitly calls him out for how monumentally stupid he was and that he just confessed to the murder— and somehow the audience is supposed to believe that he not only successfully impersonated Phoenix, but also that he was enough of a criminal mastermind that he was able to impersonate the victim and reenact the murder to fool a potential witness in no time flat. Almost the entirety of the case could have been avoided if one of nearly half of the characters involved didn't have a deathgrip on the Idiot Ball.
  • It Was His Sled:
    • Godot is actually Mia's boyfriend Diego Armando, a character who is explicitly stated in the first case to be dead. Despite this fact not even being explicitly confirmed until near the very end of the game, most official art shows him together with Mia in some fashion, including some of him before he was poisoned at all, making this fact largely common knowledge among people who get into the franchise.
    • It's now something largely forgotten, but Iris' entire existence qualifies as such, as she wasn't shown in any of the games promotional material prior to release, and her role in the story makes her a massive Walking Spoiler. The game also is delberately vague for about half the case as to her exact relationship with Dahlia, but pretty much everyone in the fandom is aware of them being Always Identical Twins, and the 15th anniversary art-piece shows the two directly as seperate characters.
    • 3-4, the Whole Episode Flashback to Mia's first case, ends in Mia's client committing suicide in the middle of the courtroom right before he can be acquitted.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Godot could be considered as one, but only to Phoenix, whom he refused to acknowledge for the greater part of the game. He seems to be significantly less of a jerk to everyone else.
  • Love to Hate: Dahlia Hawthorne is an absolute bitch of a human being even in death, and she'll definitely make the fans remember that. Watching her spirit get exorcised from Maya's body somehow manages to be both satisfying and horrifying at the same time.
  • Narm:
    • The revelation of Iris and Dahlia's Twin Switch at the end of "Bridge to the Turnabout" is one of the worst cases of the games suffering from Going Through the Motions, because Phoenix's usual trial penalty reaction just can't do justice to "Wait, the sweet girl I was dating and the psychopath who tried to kill me really weren't the same person?"
    • Somewhat similarly, the close-up of Mia when she does a Say My Name after Terry Fawles commits suicide at the end of 3-4. The close-up works much better when delivering a rebuttal to the prosecution than it does for Mia's anguish over her client's tragic death.
  • Never Live It Down:
    • Iris helping Dahlia with recovering the necklace from Phoenix. According to some of her haters this one incident makes her an Extreme Doormat who could never stand up to her sister, never mind that she did it primarily to make sure she won't kill him, never mind that she spends the majority of her time trying to stop her from committing other crimes.
    • Godot's rather degrading comment to Franziska as "putting a filly in her place" has lead many fans to label him an unabashed misogynist who never once gives women respect. This is despite his entire motivation being built around being in love with Mia, who in the Whole Episode Flashback he's shown treating with a strong amount of respect in spite of her rookie status, and the comment in context not being an insult about her gender at all, but her age and short temper. He's also hardly the only character to do this either, as Phoenix, Maya and Pearl all make degrading comments about her at various points throughout the four cases she appears in in the trilogy, including 3-5 itself.
  • Player Punch:
    • The end of 3-4.
    • Pretty much the entirety on the Grand Finale, from Phoenix falling into a freezing river to figuring out the victim's true identity.
  • Rewatch Bonus: Playing case one again after the game is extremely noteworthy given The Reveals at Cases 4 and 5.
  • Ron the Death Eater:
    • Godot. A large number of fans hold him up purely as the guy who murdered Maya's mother, completely ignoring the fact that Misty was under essentially Demonic Possession at the time, and had he not acted, Maya would've been murdered, as well as the fact that both Maya and Phoenix forgive him for what he did, with Maya even trying to protect him after he calls her with the intention to have himself outed as the killer.
    • Iris gets a similar amount from those dislike her, with many framing her as an active accomplice in Dahlia's crime spree, or to the murder of Maya's mother. In reality, neither of these things are true. She fairly explicitly never played a part in Dahlia's crimes outside of the diamond theft, which she ultimately backed out of participating in, and the game only suggests she was aware of what Dahlia had done. She likewise played zero part in the actual death of Misty Fey, having been in her room at the time well away from the scene of the murder, and only agreed to help move the body afterwards to ensure Maya wouldn't become a suspect.
  • Sequel Difficulty Spike: The first case's culprit is the first in the series that is hard to crack down, unlike the likes of Frank Sahwit and Richard Wellington. She's also the first culprit of the first case to not be seen doing anything even remotely villainous during the case introduction - in fact, she does not appear and is not even mentioned by name.
  • Squick:
    • STOP TALKING ABOUT HEMORRHOIDS! Even worse in this case because 3-1's culprit is the first one in the series that poses a challenge to the player right in the first case so there's a huge chance of hearing Grossberg talking about it again and again after said culprit's cross-examination.
    • There's only one reason! One as obvious as Jean Armstrong in a thong on the Riviera!
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Iris from the last case is introduced as Phoenix's Love Interest as well as Pearl's half-sister and Maya's cousin. Instead of becoming a more regular character she's completely forgotten after the original trilogy.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: "Recipe for Turnabout" technically involves an appeal rather than an actual trial, so you might expect this would make for an interesting switch-up to the normal courtroom proceedings, especially when the judge warns that he won't accept just another presentation of the evidence that came up in the first trial. And yet everything after that is handled exactly the same as in a normal Ace Attorney trial, with everyone (the judge included) discussing the case as though they were hearing the details for the first time, and the previous trial only being relevant in that it was where Furio Tigre impersonated Phoenix.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic:
    • Maggey's entire plotline in 3-3 frequently gets this reaction. While her situation - being convicted of a murder she didn't commit in a sham trial, and subsequently thrown in prison - is undeniably terrible, many players struggle to take her sympathy for taking a grudge against Gumshoe for supposedly testifying against her, despite the fact that Gumshoe was doing his job by relaying the facts of the case, and was visibly uncomfortable over testifying facts which pointed to her guilt. This is compounded by the fact that Gumshoe is the entire reason her case is getting an appeal to begin with, and yet Maggey never once seems to acknowledge this fact, let alone how much he does in the case to try helping her. This can make Gumshoe's devotion to her, and the implication that the two Hooked Up Afterwards, rather hard to swallow.
    • Elise Deauxnim, after The Reveal of her identity as Maya and Mia's Missing Mom Misty Fey. While the game portrays her as a loving mother who heroically worked to save her daughter from her older sister's plot, even if it ultimately cost her her life, many people don't feel the same way. She abandoned her entire family and vanished after the events of DL-6, causing her daughters immense amounts of grief (especially Maya, who was only two when she disappeared, and displays visible grief over not even remembering her face), and never made an attempt to contact them even after Mia was murdered and DL-6 was resolved. She then proceeded to only return on Godot's request to take part in an extremely dangerous and risky plan to save Maya's life, and was more specifically the only one to have brought a weapon, suggesting she may have been willing to kill her nine-year-old niece should Dahlia have been channeled, and unlike Godot and Iris is never held accountable for her actions due to her death. The result is that she comes off to many as little more than a lazy deadbeat unable to get over her personal pride.
    • For some people, the culprit of the final case, Prosecutor Godot. The person in question does end up with a murder conviction in the end, and is implied to be dead by the game's conclusion, but his good intentions end up largely being negated by how the entire case could have been prevented if Godot had been willing to trust Phoenix (who, Godot's bitterness aside, had never given Godot any reason not to trust him). It doesn't help that Maya is willing to lie and potentially incriminate herself to cover up for the man who killed her mother and nearly got her killed.
  • Values Dissonance:
    • 3-4's backstory gives us a 20-year-old man in a relationship with a 14-year-old girl (quite a heated one too). However, while the reactions of Mia and Diego are played for laughs, the relationship itself is portrayed as unhealthy, although less because of the age than because Dahlia was very obviously using the likely mentally disabled Terry in order to set him up for the only fall while she could get off scot-free for her own part in their crimes.
    • Misty Fey abandoning her daughters after the fallout from DL-6 resulted in her bringing shame to the family comes off as more understandable to Japanese players, since, at least in the past, it wasn't unheard of for a father to leave a family in shame after a significant failure.
    • Ron's motive for turning to theft is more understandable in Japan. Being fired from your job is considered immensely shameful in a country built on social structure and order. This makes his fear that Desirée would leave him should she have found out much more believable, especially given that he was fired on a genuine charge of selling company secrets.
    • Dahlia Hawthorne being executed by hanging five years after her criminal conviction. In Japan, all executions must be done by hanging and death row inmates typically only have five to seven years to appeal their sentences, although many death row inmates can be held for even longer without knowing when their sentence will be carried out until the day of their execution. In America, a person on death row can appeal for decades and hanging has been widely replaced by lethal injection since the 1980s.
    • Jean Armstrong occassionally refers to himself as a woman, making Phoenix correcting Maya when she calls Armstrong a woman come across as unintentionally transphobic. His Camp Gay mannerisms coupled with his role in the murder feels kind of iffy in The New '20s as well.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: Ron DeLite. Some people mistake him for a woman thanks to his feminine appearance and passive personality.

     2012 Film 

Film adaptation

  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: The Blue Badger stops the Judge from delivering a verdict by shoving his hand under the gavel. Then he falls to the floor and the head rolls off the suit, revealing...no one. No one seems to notice or care, and the mystery of the haunted mascot suit is never touched upon for the rest of the movie.
  • Complete Monster: Manfred von Karma, while hiding under a polite exterior, proves to be just as vile as his game counterpart. To maintain a perfect win streak, Manfred has falsified and concealed evidence for years, murdering Gregory Edgeworth when he attempts to find proof of this. When Mia Fey is on the verge of solving said murder, known as the DL-6 Incident, Manfred hires the reporter, Redd White, to murder her. Later on, he sends a letter to Yanni Yogi, the suspect of the DL-6 Incident, detailing a plan to murder Robert Hammond and how to frame Manfred's adoptive son, Miles Edgeworth for it. When Phoenix finds out there's a connection between the DL-6 incident and the Robert Hammond murder, Manfred has Redd White poisoned to death to ensure Phoenix can't get information from him. He then intends to have Miles be declared guilty for the murder of Gregory. While he claims that his actions are for the sake of ensuring criminals are punished, von Karma proves himself to simply be an arrogant hypocrite willing to commit any atrocity for the sake of his reputation.
  • Memetic Mutation: PHOENIX SCREAMS OFF CAMERA
  • Narm: A good amount of the movie qualifies due to the fact that most of the characters look like cosplayers (albeit, fairly good ones), not to mention how they overact, oftentimes making hilarious faces and noises at the most inappropriate times. On a few occasions, Phoenix literally throws holographic images containing evidence at his opponents, and one particularly memorable scene involves him making the rather innocuous observation that "a little after midnight on Christmas Eve" is the start of Christmas day, which inexplicably causes everyone in the court (including Edgeworth) to fall to the ground in a collective dead faint. Naturally, all of this leads to a lot of Narm Charm.
  • The Scrappy: The In Name Only version of Redd White here, courtesy of Up to Eleven Adaptation Distillation.
  • Video Game Movies Suck: Averted. The movie has been called one of the best game-to-film adaptations ever produced on both hemispheres. It retains the game's quirky sense of humor yet injects more serious drama into some of the character interactions in order to attract non-players. It helps that the source material is far more plot-driven than the average game.
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