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  • Alas, Poor Scrappy: In XIII, Ash gives one last smile before he disappears from existence entirely. Suffice to say, Elizabeth wasn't the only one heartbroken that day.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • One that extends to the entire New Faces Team: were they generally nice and decent, unassuming citizens whose personalities were permanently overridden by their true selves, or were they always that evil, their current persona being a ruse with the trio letting pieces of their malicious nature slip through the cracks every now and then note  until there was no longer a need to keep up the charade? Or, to take another route, when their status as Heavenly Kings was revealed, did they go along with the plan to resurrect Orochi, not because of their loyalty or the pleasure that evildoing brought, but because they couldn't turn back and go against their fate? Or maybe did they start as nice and decent people note , but once they set in their places as Heavenly Kings, they decided it was more fun/convenient to side with Orochi and willingly threw themselves in their roles?
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    • In XIII, Mature and Vice warn Iori that if he takes back the Yasakani-no-Magatama, he'll be subjected to his clan's curse once more. Seeing as they're agents of Orochi, it's possible that they were hoping that if Yagami didn't take the Yasakani-no-Magatama, the Three Sacred Treasures would no longer be complete and Orochi would finally be freed from its seal once the time came. However, it could also qualify as a Pet the Dog moment; maybe they did care about Iori enough to place his well being over their mission to resurrect Orochi. This is heavily implied to be the case in Team Iori's ending on XIV: Mature and Vice let Iori go fight Orochi and just sit aside to watch, with Mature commenting how fun it is to be around Iori.
    • Athena's crush on Kyo and its treatment in current canon. Did her feelings for him really exist outside KOF: KYO note , the '98 CD drama note  and the 2000 CD drama note ? Or did they just slowly idle out as she became more focused in her Idol Singer/Action Girl careers, thus cooling off and shifting to friendship without any Love Hurts process? Keep in mind that in XIII their pre-fight talks come off as quite non-romantic (and if she speaks to NESTS!Kyo, she pretty much tells him "Yuki supports your quests alongside everyone else"), and both normal!Kyo and NESTS!Kyo's talks with Kensou do not make any allusions to Athena's feelings for Kyo - noticeable since Kensou gets PISSED if it even seems someone might take Athena's romantic interest away from him.
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    • In XIII, more than half the cast points out the indecency of what little Mai's wearing, with some telling her to Please Put Some Clothes On. But is it an amusing subversion of her usual status, or are they all Slut-Shaming her?
      Daimon: (angrily, at Mai) "Filth! How DARE you dress like that in front of other people!? You give Japanese women a bad name!"
      Shen: "Not only do you lack modesty, but you've got a big mouth too! Your mom must be proud of you."
  • Americans Hate Tingle: Ash Crimson, along with Choi and Chang. The Japanese fanbase pretty much loves Ash. The West hates him with a passion for coming across as an Invincible Villain, if not an outright sue (his end fate notwithstanding).
  • Anti-Climax Boss:
    • Orochi. Not of his game (KOF '97 was rather easy anyway), but of the Orochi Saga as a whole. He remains one of the easiest end bosses to beat. Possibly justified in that Orochi is the last of a group of Sequential Bosses (unless you defeat him with Kyo, prompting a final battle with Iori) including Orochi Iori/Orochi Leona and the Orochi Team.
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    • Clone Zero. Despite the fact that he's got a fast-loading super meter and abuses his supers on a regular basis, he's surprisingly easy to defeat, much easier than Krizalid. He's pretty much the easiest Final Boss in the entire NESTS saga.
  • Author's Saving Throw: The developers were clearly aware of the poor response to XIV's graphics, and although few would call it a particularly pretty game, it's clear they put a lot of work into polishing them to a more presentable state, even after the game's release.
  • Awesome Animation: One thing that really got it noticed back in 94 and made it a contender against Street Fighter. The sprite animation in the earlier games is utterly gorgeous and still holds up well to this day. By 2003 they were really getting it down pat, just look how smoothly Ash throws his fireball at the screen in the intro. That's all sprite animated!
  • Awesome Music: Many.
  • Badass Decay: Terry, Andy, Ryo, and Robert were originally the heroes of their respective games (from Fatal Fury and Art of Fighting respectively). But ever since joining the KOF roster, they've steadily been pushed further into the background. Few of their team endings ever have anything to do with what's going on at the tournament, as they've mainly become comic relief.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • A number of characters have a fair share of fans and haters, but Sylvie takes the cake; an adorable modern idol with a hidden sadistic streak, or a God-forsaken kawaii POS that was an out-of-place abomination from as early as the leaked concept art?
    • Many South American fans (excluding Brazilians) do not like the South American Team, or at least say they should have called Team Brazil. Why? Because despite the name of the team, its member are all Brazilians. Even Zarina, despite being Colombian, lives in Brazil and has more Brazilian elements than Colombians in her design.
    • Nakoruru's teammates from the Another World Team (Mui Mui and Love Heart). One part think they're pretty cool additions and showing that SNK is pretty fair to even their Pachinko titles even as they are leaving the venture behind. The other camp is the camp that assumes that they're instantly bad characters solely because of how reviled Pachislot games are to just them at least after the bad taste to Pachinko left by Konami. Or just people who were pretty salty that SNK did not use actual old arcade series that they'd know already, like those featured in NeoGeo Battle Coliseum (majorly World Heroes and The Last Blade). Even sometimes Nakoruru took small heat on it because they thought her team is 'Team Pachinko', only to be reminded that Samurai Shodown existed long before Pachinko (though the series did get several Pachislot series after getting a Franchise Killer game)
    • Rock Howard: Some fans, especially those who remember him from Garou: Mark of the Wolves and Capcom vs. SNK 2 are generally happy at his inclusion in the KoF cast. However, other longtime series fans find him to be a boring, generic, animé pretty boy who copies some of Terry and Geese's moves but doesn't have what makes them interesting to play. The fact that he was low tier in most of his appearances (especially in Garou) doesn't help, although SNK has promised that he would be buffed quite a bit, no doubt pleasing those who wanted him in action again.
  • Broken Base:
    • The series going 3D again in the KOF XIV announcement trailer. Some welcome it, believing that 3D models will be much more efficient and allow them to put more characters into the game and shorten development time, while others believe the initial graphics presented in the trailer look like a PS2 game, drudging up memories of the already-divisive Maximum Impact series, and others still believe that the new entry should have either kept the high-quality sprites of XIII or went with a graphics style more like that of Guilty Gear Xrd or Dragon Ball Fighterz (3D models with shading to make them look like sprites). Due to this, the graphics update in 1.10 is warmly accepted by the fanbase.
    • The whole debate over K9999 vs. Nameless. The first camp believes that K9999 really is that badly designed of a carbon copy of Tetsuo and a sign of a Dork Age better left forgotten (and it doesn't help that he's a complete Jerkass), while Nameless is really a more compelling original Tragic Hero or Tragic Villain character. The other camp believes that Nameless came off as really dull due to his monotone delivery, and that K9999, while being a complete jerk and a shameless ripoff, at least still has a personality, even if a nasty one, to entertain them; some of them even like the overt Tetsuo reference. Proving that, yes, as much as SNK themselves hated the guy, K9999 still has fans.
  • Complacent Gaming Syndrome: A majority of characters in the series were overused by players quite a lot:
    • Iori Yagami was a very reliable character in the hands of a good player, having very solid offense and damage output once you get back some of his possibly clunky moves and slow walking speed. This is mainly due to the fact that his moveset is simple and very effective, but he lacks in solid pressure due to some unsafe attacks on block or on whiff.
    • The Orochi versions of the New Faces Team were used much more than their original versions; Orochi Shermie was the least used, and meanwhile, Orochi Yashiro was considered a high tier character.
    • Goro Daimon, due to his high damage potential as a grappler and some very reliable gimmicks compared to other grapplers of his kind.
    • Takuma Sakazaki, due to his powerful offensive game when he corners his opponent.
    • In '98, and more so in the Ultimate Match version, the EX versions of the characters were overused in several tournaments. EX Yamazaki, EX Billy, EX Mary, EX Ryo and EX Yuri being very frequent in the scene. Due to that case, EX Geese (who was a rebalanced version of Nightmare and Real Bout Fatal Fury 2 Geese in one) was used a lot more than normal Geese, possibly due to his better zoning with actual projectile-based Reppuuken attacks.
    • Kim Kaphwan was as a staple for several offensive Tae Kwon Do characters; due to the nature of the KOF series overall, he was a very perfect character for space control and offensive pressure alike.
    • K' wasn't often as frequent in the past, but a lot of current installments make him very frequent due to his nasty and simple combo potential and his very solid space control game.
    • Krauser, as mentioned in the Game-Breaker section below, ESPECIALLY his Ultimate Match incarnation. He was thankfully nerfed quite a bit in the Final Edition version.
    • Happens in XIII with EX Iori and Takuma. Expect to see these two in most tournament matches.
  • Complete Monster:
    • Rugal Bernstein, the Big Bad of the very first game, does evil for the sake of being evil, and considers himself a God. He is a wealthy and powerful Arms Dealer who killed many martial artists just to bathe their bodies in liquid bronze and make them into decorative statues for his yacht. In Heidern's backstory, we find out that Rugal slaughtered all 50 soldiers in the guy's squad before killing his wife and daughter, who he had previously kidnapped, just for the fun of it, and topping it off with gouging out Heidern's left eye and leaving him to live in despair. He also beat Saisyu Kusanagi to near-death and tried to blow up his own ship upon defeat so that the Japan Team would die with him. Rugal survives and hosts the 1995 tournament, where he seeks revenge for his plans being foiled. He has Saisyu brainwashed and forced to fight his son. Rugal openly treasures his evil heart and hates justice. He lacks ambitions of world domination, but his atrocities make him stand out among other KOF villains.
    • The King of Fighters 2000: Clone Zero may not be the leader of NESTS, but stands as its most wicked member. At the conclusion of the 2000 tournament, he reveals his ultimate plan: using the fighters' energy to fuel his Kill Sat, the Zero Cannon. This would be the key step in Zero's desire to create a new world order where he would rule supreme, not NESTS. Before the fight, he demonstrates the cannon's power by destroying the city of Southtown. After being defeated and his device shut down for good, he reveals to Whip in his dying breath that she is a clone of K's sister, angering her enough to shoot him dead. The game's story reveals more of Zero's deeds: he murdered Heidern's close friend Ling and impersonated him, creating a clone of the murdered man to act as his spy in the Ikari Warriors. He also killed Krizalid in '99 for failing him. Unlike the other NESTS villains, Clone Zero has no sympathetic traits. He is an utter hypocrite who hates traitors while being one himself, and his desire to Take Over the World led to the destruction of an entire city. He stands out in the saga for his sheer and absolute malevolence.
  • Contested Sequel: XIII is one of the more divisive entries. Americans, especially those who came into the series through it, love the game. However, many veterans from Asia and Latin America (and even a few North Americans) are quick to point out how its many systems and combo heavy nature make it play very differently from other KOF games.
  • Crack Pairing:
    • Iori and Kasumi. It is perhaps the most popular non-Ho Yay pairing despite the fact that they've probably never even met. And the one time they did in SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos?
      Iori : ...Pathetic.
    • Shingo/Kasumi. Less cracky by nature, but the fact remains that it's a fan pairing between two characters with minimal (if any) interaction in canon stemming solely from the fact that she criticizes Shingo for relying too heavily on his notebook (thus holding up their fight) in their 2002UM intro pose.
    • Kyo/Yuri. It has a surprising fan following that's quite impressive for two characters who are on decent terms, but barely know each other. Two official KOF pictures of them being together only adds more fuel to the fire.
  • Crazy Awesome: Duck King. The dude is almost always cheerful, overly eccentric, and can pull off some of the craziest stunts... using breakdancing moves that are humanly impossible (in Real Life, employing breakdancing as a martial art would leave you with several broken bones at best). Oh, and did we mention the family of ducks living inside his hair that copy his every move? This was before Sazh, mind you.
  • Creator's Pet:
    • Not many people like Ash, yet SNK let him get away with pretty controversial stuff, such as stealing Iori's powers. For very good reasons, in the end. And he gets an Alas, Poor Scrappy send-off that made him gain some people's partial forgiveness.
    • K' serves as this to the Japanese fandom; he's substantially better-received outside of Japan, though.
  • Designated Hero: Compare the actions of Ash and his "Hero Team" to that of previous heroes Kyo and K'. This gets subverted in XIII, where it's revealed that he indeed had an agenda (a good one to boot!), but had to go out of his way to make it work.
  • Die for Our Ship:
    • Kyo's girlfriend, Yuki, is loathed by Kyo x (insert: Iori, Shingo, Athena, etc.) shippers.
    • Athena, who's otherwise popular, is also hated by rabid Kensou fans of both genders who accuse her of ungratefully playing with his feelings due to refusing or ignoring his advances, and sometimes is given the Ron the Death Eater treatment into a self-centered skank who plays with both Kensou and Kyo's feelings solely for her own pleasure. Never mind that the worst she has done is either ignoring or turning Kensou's affections down, while also caring for him when he needs it. Although she does start dating Kensou in the Maximum Impact continuity, but has to keep it a secret given her idol status (which, in-universe, would ironically put Kensou himself as the one to die for the ship).
    • Some Mai fans don't think too highly of Andy's seeming lack of interest in her considering the fact that she's one of the most popular and attractive characters in the franchise, which leads to them bashing him for it. Finally averted in XIV where Mai and Andy are now finally in a relationship.
  • Dork Age:
    • Some fans perceive the period of time Eolith produced the games, especially 2001 as this. The way 2001 plays is in general more glitchy and gimmicky (letting you choose how many teammates and strikers you want, for starters - meaning you can even fight 1-vs-4 battles, something that should only be reserved for bosses) than any other incarnation of the series, and is in general a mess. The music for these games has been compared to the sounds of robots farting, and Eolith introduced a few of their own character designs (although a scant few, like May Lee, were more favorably received). When SNK reclaimed the wheel as SNK Playmore, among the first things they did was to wipe several elements from 2001 right out of the canon, including the whole character of K9999 (also a blatant Captain Ersatz of Tetsuo) and Foxy's death.
    • 2002, however, averts this to some extent even though it's made by Eolith. It's still one of the most played versions in the series competitively, and even after the release of 2002: Unlimited Match you'll still see some original '02 tournies being played. Now, 2001 on the other hand? Nope.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Shermie. A one-shot villain who never officially appears in future non-dream match installments, but remains very popular and ends up being included in both SNK Gals Fighters and NeoGeo Battle Coliseum. It helps that she's got a killer rack and nice legs. As of XIV, she's one of the many dead characters brought back to life by Verse, just in time to appear in SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy. Her teammates Yashiro Nanakase and Chris get similar treatment as well.
    • Eiji Kisaragi, the no-nonsense Ninja from Art of Fighting 2. Very popular among the fandom. Discounting his appearance in the KOF: KYO manga, SNK finally brought him back in XI to please the crowd after an eight game absence. (Note: his last in-game appearance was in '95, the second game in the series.)
    • Ron, the badass NPC who shows up in KOF 2000, is a notable example.
    • Even the American Sports Team has a surprisingly large following despite the fact that they only appeared canonically in the very first installment.
    • Oswald. A combination of being one of the best characters in the game and just having a pretty damn cool character design made him one of the most popular characters on the XI roster. Fans were excited when he was teased, then later announced, for XIV's second round of DLC characters. Pretty impressive for someone who was essentially meant as a one-off character.
    • May Lee went from being a Replacement Scrappy for Kim to becoming one of the more well-received characters from the Eolith era due to her quirky tokusatsu mannerisms and general cuteness.
    • Angel, even though she only appears in 2001 canonically, gets a lot of popularity due to being very powerful gameplay-wise and being quite the bombshell. Enough that she even reappears in XIV when people would least suspect her (with Ramon to boot).
    • In the new XIV, King of Dinosaurs' introduction was met with very favorable reception, mostly because he's basically a dinosaur-themed Tizoc.note 
    • While all four of the characters for XIV's DLC Pack 1 have had fans, a lot were excited to see Rock Howard finally make his main series debut.
  • Epileptic Trees: While many fans hope that this doesn't come to pass (or at least not in the terms described), a prevalent theory is that, should SNKP ever go bankrupt again (as in, for good), their last action will be to create one final "dream match" title, but Up to Eleven: a The King of Fighters Universal Match which would bring back every character that was ever in a KOF game back for the last hurrah.
  • Estrogen Brigade: This series is notable for its overall popularity with female fans, to the point that at least two official Otome games were made to take advantage of this:
  • Evil Is Cool: A majority of villains tend to gain this, despite some of them being considered so vile. Most exemplified by Rugal, because he also embodies the brutal challenge of SNK Boss extraordinary AND the original Big Bad of KOF saga that some of his successors fell short in replicating his success, this is the reason SNK kept bringing him back for dream matches. He's just that cool in being an unabashed evil bastard and he also generated some sort of Love to Hate relationship with the fans.
  • Evil Is Sexy: About 80% of the villains. No, really. See that trope's main page for more details.
  • Fanon: Orochi Leona's habit of popping up at the wrong time, as well as her pleasured-sounding screams. Three guesses what.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Iori and Kyo are the most popular ship in the fandom, despite the fact that Kyo has a canonical girlfriend named Yuki who features in the plot. It's gotten to the point that the games themselves take cracks at it sometimes.
  • Fandom Rivalry: Relatively one-sided one from fans of Terry (particularly from his Fatal Fury days) towards Kyo fans. Terry was for many years the SNK poster boy, but Fatal Fury hasn't had a new game in decades, while King of Fighters still gets regular sequels and spinoffs, so many of them are unhappy with how Out of Focus Terry has become, accusing Kyo of becoming a Spotlight-Stealing Squad as company mascot and his fans of being shallow fangirls. Accentuating the ire of these Terry fans is the way that Kyo is in many ways Terry's antithesisnote . Most Kyo fans on the other hand like Terry's character just fine, but accuse his more zealous fans of being overly sensitive, arguing that Kyo's Anti-Hero traits make him appealing in his own right and that he hasn't been pushed nearly as hard as they think, with Kyo himself having fallen Out of Focus relative to K' and Ash but those two not getting the same kind of flak for it.
    • Likewise, a lot of longstanding Eiji and Billy fans don't look too fondly on Iori, accusing his beatdown of them at the end of '95 as a misuse of classic characters for the sake of Character Shilling, and a glaring example of the KOF franchise treating FF and AOF characters poorly in favor of the Original Generation.
  • Fans Prefer the New Her: While Kyo's original school uniform is the most well-known of his various designs on the whole, Japan especially loves Kyo's NESTS-era reinvention outfit of a white jacket, black turtleneck, and jeans, to the point that it shows up as much or more than his gakuran in promotions, crossovers, and fanart.
  • Faux Symbolism:
    • This is the entire theme of Goenitz as a character. To get the ball rolling, he's pretty much the head priest of a Religion of Evil which heralds the advent of a quasi-deity comparable to the Demiurge.
    • Iori skirts the line. There are lots of references to the number eight in his moves and other areas. His signature super/Desperation Move, the Ya Otome, is frequently translated in English as "Eight Maidens". The move also hits exactly 8 times in its base form. Iori's other super, the Ya Sakazuki ("Eight Wine Cups"), launches a fire spark that can explode into eight advancing columns of fire at its maximum; the DM that replaces that is the Yashiori (Eight Ferments), a reference to the Yashiori/Yashio'ori no Sake (Sake of Eight Salt Snappers), the type of wine used by Susano'o to intoxicate the Orochi. All of this is related to Orochi being an 8-headed demon and the legend that he sought out eight maidens to devour. As his family made a pact with the Orochi, this has some meaning but ultimately does not contribute to his character in any significant way, unless one refers to his Villain Override Neck Lift done to Orochi himself at the end of '97... There is also the way his design invokes himself as Kyo's opposite in several ways.
    • Evil Ash has a DM where the screen is filled with black flames, in direct contrast to Elizabeth's Neo MAX, which bathes the screen in white light.
    • The Maximum Impact series is just rife with this. The series' cast features aliens with bizarre powers (even by KOF standards) among their ranks; main antagonist Jivatma is one of said aliens and controls one of the sub-syndicates of Addes, an organization whose seal is that of the Grim Reaper, uses Metatron as its public name, and whose known branches take their names from various corners of angelology and demonology (they're respectively named Children of Kokaviel, Kusiel, Mephistopheles, and Belphegor).
  • Foe Yay Shipping: Iori Yagami, who spends roughly ninety-eight percent of his time thinking about what Kyo is doing, following Kyo around, and fantasizing about ways to kill him. (Meanwhile, Kyo just wants to live his life as a fighter at the fullest and be left the heck alone, and not to mention he barely cares about the whole Orochi deal unless either he and/or his friends are directly involved.) This is actually lampshaded in the Dating Sim Spin-Off series, Days of Memories—which sometimes has the two play the role of romantic rivals—and in XIII.
    Maxima [to NESTS!Kyo, after he asks if he's still "babysitting" K' and Kula]: Well, at least I don't have a psychotic stalker!
    Ash Crimson [to Flames!Iori]: You're pathetic. You know what? Kusanagi this and Kusanagi that... What are you? His crazy ex?
  • Franchise Original Sin: Due to XII and XIII's exuberantly expensive sprites, several corners were cut in order to ensure their quality. Many staple characters were cut, all DLC characters use existing assets (every one of them is an alt of a character already in the game, with all of their normals generally being the same and usually sharing a bunch of moves the other version has), and many returning characters were not only mainly made up of counterparts (the Art of Fighting Team being a great example as all of them share a vast majority of each other's moves and special attack effects), but many of the cast themselves are missing several iconic moves such as Terry's Power Dunk and Benimaru's Break Dance Kick. The biggest offenders however were Ralf and Clark, as after roughly ten years of developing the characters so that they're completely unique from each other despite sharing a couple of moves, they basically became flanderized versions of what they were back in '94 by being the same characters of one another, except Ralf punches more and Clark has command grabs, with both characters having a bunch of generic new moves, replacing some of their iconic moves from old and having only four moves that they had originally respectively. Despite XIV using new character models however (making animations cheaper to make as well as allowing for more unique interactions), many of the corners remained cut despite how little of a problem this would have been to resolve, leaving certain characters just not the same as they were from games prior to XII and XIII.
  • Game-Breaker:
    • Armor Ralf in Maximum Impact 2. As the name implies, it's Ralf decked out in armor. This version of Ralf is a contender for the most broken non-boss fighting game character of all time. He has super armor, cannot be thrown normally, has infinite priority, does EVEN MORE DAMAGE THAN NORMAL RALF, and cannot be knocked down. He was so broken that he was actually removed from the Regulation A upgrade to the game, though his data and model are still on the disc. His only real disadvantage is a universal one: Sabaki reversals can't be used against projectiles.
    • Angel in 2002. She is meant to be played by players with experience in string-system combos; however, since this system would be considered hard to use properly, the game rewards Angel with long invincibility periods while doing her moves. This translates in the opponent having to guess what Angel will do and attack in the hopes that her next move won't have invincibility, which leads to many frame-trap shenanigans. Also, one of her moves in the string is a uppercut that can hit the opponent while he is recovering in the air. Should Angel spam this on the corner, we have an infinite combo that requires absolutely no power stocks.
    • Billy Kane fights with a stick that gives him a unfair advantage at zoning. He also has a incredibly fast 2-hit attack that can be abused and can combo with other way stronger moves, should it hit near the corner. His MI2 incarnation is far worse. The Tekken-esque dial-a combos only bolster his rushdown game, his specials come out far quicker with less recovery time, and he gains devastating new attacks revolving around his bo. In other words, he can do all sorts of wicked shit. This match from MI2 and this match from Regulation A are good examples of what you're up against.
    • Athena's Psycho Ball projectile possesses almost instant recovery, as well as having a teleport and a bug that makes her retreat at absurd speed when doing a backdash. Should you be at a lower health when the match time is about to finish, unless you're a very fast character yourself there's pretty much nothing you can do other than try and follow her while avoiding her projectiles and watching out for a DM that jolts you if you touch her.
    • Choi is a dwarf; his hitbox is about half the vertical size of a regular character. Most attacks, including specials and a good number of super moves pass right above his head; essentially cutting in half the viable options, strategies and combos of practically every other character in the game. Because of this, he's been top-to-god tier in almost every single installment of the series, and a staple Tier-Induced Scrappy.
    • Iori Yagami in '98 is beatable due to his clunky moves and his slow movement, yes, but he is also a god-tier character. Pretty much all of his moves, normal or not, have a longer range than they look, and are solid combo tools giving him deadly hit confirms. His air attacks hit extremely low, so much that his jumping C can easily hit a crouching Choi Bounge, and lets not get into his very reliable cross-up kick that pulls in opponents on hit. He has a invincible grab (Kuzukaze/Scum Wind) that makes the opponent open to anything, and anything he does can combo into his Aoihana (Hollyhock Flower), a 3-input move that deals high damage, rewards Iori with a hard knockdown for okizeme and quickly stuns the opponent. And, he has a fast projectile of his own, allowing him to zone. AND, his Ya Otome AKA Maiden Masher DM rushes toward the opponent with high priority, low enough to go under any midair projectile and like all ranbu-type supers it's possible to hit opponents with it who happen to be jumping in. Go ahead, try to find a pro-level match where Iori isn't present.
      • As mentioned before, Iori is more of a shotoclone-like character, but due to his unique moves and his actually high damage output, he's often used a lot as he provides massive combo potential and decent mixup. Though he's a bit of a case of Difficult, but Awesome due to the fact that his moves are clunky, as in very easy to punish if misused, and his walking speed is quite slow. In it all, Iori is powerful, but still a difficult character to manage due to some of his more unsafe tools.
    • Wolfgang Krauser in '98UM. Normal moves have good reach and damage, simple but damaging Bread and Butter combos and an auto-combo DM that can serve many functions like Iori's Maiden Masher DM. Eventually in the Final Edition version of that game, he was heavily nerfed in terms of total damage done on several of his moves and a bit of range and more recovery on them, while other characters received some nice buffs.
    • Rugal's Genocide Cutter in KOF '94. At maximum power, it can be a One-Hit Kill. Coupled with his SNK Boss status... Word of God apologizes for "going a bit overboard" with the damage ratio. The move was toned down in later installments, but is still quite devastating.
    • Daimon in '98, thanks to a glitch. Averted in Ultimate Match, which removed said glitch.
    • Heidern's Moon Slasher and Stormbringer in KOF '94. Due to bugs, these two moves had abusive damage ratios to the point that a maximum power Stormbringer could one-shot a character who was at full health. Luckily, these bugs were addressed by the time '95 rolled in, but was intentionally added back in his DLC version in XIV as a re-balanced easter egg as seen here.
    • Ralf's Galatica Phantom in EX2: Howling Blood. This version has a much, much shorter charge time despite it still being an SDM. As a trade-off, it loses some of its power, but still eats about 50% off of an opponent's lifebar. Go buck wild with it, and watch the body count skyrocket.
    • A highly technical combo involves Ralf cancelling out of his Blazing Vulcan Punch on the last hit and performing the Galatica Phantom. In other words, the moment the opponent recovers, they're greeted by Ralf's (unblockable) fist.
    • Eiji in '95. He held of the distinction of being able to chain almost anything together. Seriously, you could flail your hands across the controller like a frantic monkey and still catch your opponent off-guard about 75% of the time.
    • Orochi Iori was playable via a rather simple code in the KOF '97 arcade, as was Orochi Leona and the Orochi New Faces Team. And they were not brought down.
    • Gato and Kula received one too many buffs in XI, thrusting them into top-tier. Oswald, too, thanks to his speed and versatility.
    • Krizalid. Yes, he might be a SNK Boss, but the Typhoon Rage gives Rugal's Genocide Cutter a run for its money with its omni-priority, high damage output, juggling ability, and the ability to fill his super meter at the speed of sound IF YOU BLOCK IT. In 2002: Ultimate Match, this fact alone makes Krizalid more broken than Clone Zero, Original Zero, "lovable" Igniz, and Omega Rugal himself. Only Nightmare Geese can outdo him. And none of this is counting the rest of Krizalid's devastating moveset, chief amongst them Lethal Impact, an attack throw which triples as an anti-air, an overhead, and a counter. The supervising designer of Krizalid even noted, "I think I overdid it a little."
    • Nightmare Geese has faster Reppuukens, and non-negateable Shippuukens (meaning they pass through all projectiles and CAN'T BE CANCELLED BY ANOTHER NIGHTMARE GEESE'S SHIPPUUKENS) and that he can fire FOUR of them at once, a powerful multi-hitting OTG version of his Raging Storm, a throw much like Iori's where he can toss you aside and leave you open to a free combo (one of his throws in past Fatal Fury games) AND even has an infinite combo involving one of his old command normals chained into his x4 Shippuuken. Averted in XIV where Nightmare Geese is simply a skin for Geese (as well as being balanced beforehand in MI2 and Regulation A).
    • Foxy in 2001 is so broken of a character that to this date, she is the only playable character completely banned from any official KOF contests - unblockable low kicks, lightning fast moves with high priority and supers that can be easily chained with her moves to deal huge damage combos. Oh, and did we mention that one of her supers is a suicide-bombing move? Luckily, 2002UM toned her down by reducing her attack speeds and move priorities.
    • Chin in the early games, particularly due to his DM. It was easily spammable, had virtually no startup time, and the chip damage was ridiculous. Any time a Chin player saw themselves with a low lifebar, it was time to RUN AWAY. (Hence why it was made into his NEOMAX instead in newer titles.)
    • Nakoruru in XIV prior to being patched, due to a combination of things, her heavy and EX Annu Mutsube can be made safe on block for one. Then there's her bird, Mamahaha, which acts as a projectile that comes in at a diagonal angle, making it work both as a long range poke and an anti-air move. Add to this the fact that it cannot be stopped by hitting Nakoruru which means it can break her out of combos, and even stop DMs in their tracks. There's a reason Mamahaha has been nicknamed Bird Jesus by some players, and this would really bring back the nightmares of how broken she was in Capcom vs. SNK: Millennium Fight 2000.
  • Gateway Series: In a rather… odd example of this, quite a lot of KOF fans (a good chunk of them from Latin America) have admitted that they got into the series thanks to the pornographic doujins by Saigado. ...seriously.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff:
    • Chang, along with Choi, is one of the franchise's most popular characters in Korea. Now you know why Chang was included in the CvS2 lineup (with Choi along for the ride) and how Choi himself made it into SvC: SVC Chaos.
    • K' is much more popular in the States than he is in Japan; some American KOF fans regard him to be a better character than previous protagonist Kyo. K' did, at least, receive some backlash before the fans warmed up to him. It may be because of the Western's bigger tolerance to Darker and Edgier and anti-heroic characters (while Kyo is a bit of a jerk, he's still a hero in a traditional sense), and K' just screams of '90s Anti-Hero who is just right in many ways without being overly obnoxious.
    • The series is very popular in Central and South America, where arcade owners found it more cost-effective to utilize Neo Geo cabinets and keep up with the latest entries by simply purchasing new cartridges, as opposed to whole cabinets. As a result, audiences in those regions were more exposed to KOF than its more expensive (and better known elsewhere) competitors such as Street Fighter, and many professional KOF players are Mexicans who started out as the archetypal kid who spent the tortillas' change at the KOF arcade in the corner shop. Characters such as Ramon and Angel (and eventually the Mexico and South America teams) were made to acknowledge the popularity of the games and the audience in those regions.
    • You can pretty much tell where a player is from based on what KOF games they like. Latin Americans tend to prefer either '98 or 2002UM. Filipinos love vanilla 2002. Americans, especially those new to the series, tend to like XIII. The Chinese prefer '97. In addition to this, the only game of the entire series that's universally loved and revered by everyone is '98.
  • Good Bad Bugs:
    • This series of videos is all you need to see.
    • In '94 and '95, Kim, Ryo, Robert and Takuma can start their desperation move in mid-air, launching themselves all across the screen in blazing speed. Unlike nearly every other game-breaking bugs, this is accepted as a legitimate tactic in tournament, as these characters aren't considered all that overpowered either way. This was actually kept as a super move for Kim in later series (but not for the Art of Fighting Team).
    • The Amazing Flying Jhun glitch in 2003. To elaborate, one of Jhun's aerial moves involved stomping on your head. Performing a roll quickly after successfully executing this technique would leave Jhun hovering in the air. On top of that, his pushback was no longer functional, allowing him to smash anyone open with the purest of ease. For examples, see here and here. However, as seen here, it can also go horribly wrong and end in utter, hilarious humiliation.
    • According to developers, Takuma had several extended combos in 94 that weren't supposed to be there initially. But when they removed the combos during testing, they felt he was weaker without them, so they left them in. Some of these combos would stay in for later games that Takuma appeared in.
  • Growing the Beard: General consensus is that KOF '96 was the point where the series really began to take off. The Orochi Saga was in full swing, overall gameplay felt smoother and more accessible, forward dashing was omitted in favor of running, rolling replaced the dodge mechanic, and music shined across the board as opposed to the previous two games (arguably) having only a handful of notable tunes.
  • Ho Yay:
    • Aside of the Kyo/Iori super hyper Foe Yay? For someone who was apparently said to be Camp Straight by the developing team themselves, some of Benimaru's pre-battle quotes against handsome males in XIII were rather... flirty. Especially against Shen and Duo Lon.
    • Shingo's hero worship of Kyo can be very easily seen as a man-crush, most noticeable in their special pre-match intros for both '98 and '99.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • In '99, Ralf's victory quote was "I can survive anything—even nukes!" Fast forward to his and Clark's inclusion in Metal Slug 6 where Ralf is the only member of the playable cast who isn't a One-Hit Point Wonder.
    • With a possible side of Fandom Nod: In the M.U.G.E.N fanbase, the KOF-centric Vans gave his version of Kyo an aerial version of the Orochinagi. Come XIII...
    • K9999's official profile on the KOF 10th Anniversary website blatantly acknowledges his resemblance to Tetsuo. Shortly after 2002: Unlimited Match was released, his picture on the site was mysteriously deleted.
  • I Am Not Shazam: The Sega Saturn port of '95 refers to him as "Omega Rugal", even when recapping the events of the previous game... when he wasn't Omega Rugal. Likewise, the O in his name stands for Omega, not Orochi, a common misconception, seeing as he draws upon the Orochi power.
  • It's Easy, So It Sucks!: Veteran gamers think this about KOF XIV, due to the inclusion of an "Aggresion" system that enables the player to perform a 4-6 hit autocombo by rapidly mashing a button.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • All things considered with the Yagami/Yasakani's 1600-year blood curse and the hints that Iori is possibly the only one who can redeem his clan, Iori still manages to be a massive Jerkass while doing... practically anything, with few exceptions. There is also Ash, an odd variation in that he starts out acting like a grade-A jerkass, but when the act drops and his backstory is fully revealed (in XIII), he then earns major Woobie points.
    • Yashiro in the New Face Team's ending. He kills Chris and Shermie to power up Orochi, but then he cradles the fatally injured Shermie in his arms to comfort her as she bleeds to death — and when she's gone, he offs himself.
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships:
    • Good lord, Kyo. Among the various candidates are Athena, Yuri, Iori, K', Shingo, Chizuru, Benimaru, his various clones, and his canonical girlfriend Yuki, and that's before getting into the Crossover Ship potential enabled by the Capcom vs. games. The ship wars over who should end up with him can get quite bloody, with poor Yuki unfortunately taking the brunt of the heat.
    • Yuri Sakazaki has a sizeable shipping fandom of her own, as well as her own doujinshi series by Saigado Comics aptly titled, "Yuri & Friends". Most feature her getting it on with Mai and King, but she's also been paired with Chizuru Kagura, Kasumi Todoh, Kyo, and even her brother, Ryo. A bonus comic featured Yuri with Street Fighter's Ryu and Sakura. In fanfiction, she's been shipped in numerous crossover pairings. The KOF section of the now defunct shoujoai.com site mainly consisted of stories about Yuri with either Chun Li, or Sakura (sometimes both), as well as Ibuki and Makoto.
    • It's also thanks to Saigado, that a lot of fans tend to pair Kensou with most of the ladies in the series.
  • Memetic Badass:
    • Depending on the community, Terry, Ralf, Yamazaki, Shen Woo, and Gai Tendo.
    • The boss characters, who are so badass that they collectively are the Trope Namer for SNK Boss.
  • Memetic Mutation:
  • Mis-blamed:
    • Nona received a lot of flak for the artwork on the most recent entries in the series, due to their new art designs. While he was the art director for XII (and draws for the pre-fight exchanges in XIII), it's actually Eisuke Ogura, the artist for NeoGeo Battle Coliseum, who handled the artwork. For some odd reason, Nona would also get blamed from the story developments, an area that he has minimal influence in at best.
    • People have whined against fellow artist Falcoon for his work in Maximum Impact. While he is the artist in charge, it doesn't mean he handles all the decisions in regards to the artwork, and he didn't certainly have ALL the shots in regards to the character roster and story.
  • Moe: Athena (more so starting in XII), Hinako, Kula, Momoko, Yuri, Hotaru, Angel. Leona might count, but this overlaps with her status as The Woobie. XIV ups the ante by bringing in SNK's (or Japan's) champion Moe character, Nakoruru, along with some legit Moe characters like Mui Mui and Sylvie... though the last one is a psychotic Moe. And although she's just on the way of doing so, Mian's Shrinking Violet personality might push her into this territory. Meitenkun is a male example, being a sleepy androgynous young boy, his voice helps.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Rugal crosses the horizon during a KOF '94 drama CD, in which he kills his servants for making minor goofs and not being "perfect". That same action is repeated in Tatsuya Shinjyouji's KOF '94 manga, where in the second volume he bloodily murders a barely teenaged maid for merely bringing him the wrong wine for dinner. As he slowly approaches the poor little girl, you see him walking and looming over the poor girl as she begs him to not hurt her... and then "SPLAT."
      • He just gets worse after this. In the third volume of the same manga, Rugal orders one of his subordinates to kidnap Kyo's girlfriend Yuki and lock her in a room with a time bomb only to force Kyo, Benimaru and Daimon fight the Women Team in the streets of Osaka, in a sort of Deadly Game where instead of fighting to the death, they fought to rescue poor Yuki. Thank God the bomb was fake and Yuki was rescued in the nick of time. Rugal didn't even really need to have them fight that way, and did just to troll Kyo and co. For the Evulz.
      • And then, there's the wicked pleasure he took on having Saisyu Kusanagi tortured within an inch of his life and then Brainwashed and Crazy to make him his servant in '95. Double when you play with the Japan Team and he gloats about it in front of Saisyu's son Kyo, who understandably ends up screaming "This Is Unforgivable!!"
      • There's also his mauling of Heidern's family and mercenary unit (mind you, this was single-handed and that Heidern's unit was fifty men strong). Apparently done for no other reason than to provoke and slight Heidern. It was also featured in Shinjyouji's manga, with an added bonus: Clara and Sandra were killed while trying to protect the badly injured and now eye-less Heidern.
    • Goenitz's crossing happens when, in response to Gaidel turning down his offer to join him in the attempt to resurrect their master Orochi, awakened Leona's Orochi blood for the first time when she was still a child, causing her to destroy her whole village and kill every inhabitant, her own family included.
      • He continues down the same path in Ryo Takamisaki's KOF: G. First, he gives Mai Shiranui a cruel Breaking Lecture when she's at a very low point, which causes her to go Unstoppable Rage on Kyo and Athena. Second, he wreaks havoc in the finals, and we get to see the people collapse and almost surely die when his power rises and destroys everything, with the side-effect of making Benimaru snap completely on Kyo and sending other fighters into Brainwashed and Crazy states. Third, he almost beats both Kensou and Chizuru to death, and shows up bragging about it while lifting the badly beaten Chizuru by her head. And fourth, remember what he did to Leona in her past? In this version, he does this again, making her go into the Riot of the Blood with words alone so she'll kill everyone for him, with only Clark and Ralf's timely intervention keeping her from doing so.
      • His murder of Maki Kagura in front of her twin sister Chizuru is already bad, but in the KOF: KYO manga it's even worse because, in that particular continuity, Chizuru and Maki were little girls under the age of ten and he was barely a teenager.
    • Yashiro Nanakase, Shermie, and Chris: Revealing themselves as members of the Orochi Clan and becoming the sub-bosses. In the Sacred Team's pre-fight talk, add revealing that they plan to use Yuki as a Human Sacrifice, and mocking her boyfriend Kyo's anger and concern. The last one is worse in the KOF: KYO manga, as in the original '97 game they still have not gone searching for her, but here it's done in front of a restrained Yuki, who has already spent at least two days as their hostage.
    • Igniz: Upon deeming himself a god, and choosing to use NESTS clones for his own goals, all while playing on all other NESTS members' utopian (or at least utilitarian) ideals and then having (and/or setting up) even the NESTS organization's most faithful servants (Krizalid, Foxy, Diana, Kula Diamond, Candy, Original Zero, Nameless, and Isolde), to be killed off for no longer being useful to him, he has demonstrated that he is a sociopath who has absolutely no respect and value for human life, but only seeing human beings as being like oranges and that he can throw the peel away.
    • Jivatma ordered the death of Lien's parents and family because her father would not join Addes.
    • Ron, former leader of Hizoku, crossed this point when he razed his own village and murdered a sizable number of his clansmen to offer his services to NESTS for reasons unknown. Ron was labelled as a traitor by the clan and nearly every survivor of that massacre who didn't jump ship with Ron is now hunting him down for answers and retribution.
    • Saiki, already established as a massive Jerkass and a master of horrendous underling treatment (despite Those from the Past's plans going off with only the most minor of slip-ups), has his when he callously kills his most loyal and sympathetic servant, Mukai, right after he had offered to fight in his stead. Seeing him take over Ash's body to transform him into Evil Ash and keep fighting the heroes is not much better.
  • More Popular Spin-Off: Of both Fatal Fury and Art of Fighting. Even here at this very wiki, people mention some FF and AOF characters as being from The King of Fighters even when those characters, at best, only make cameos in the series.
  • Narm: Now with its own page.
  • Narm Charm:
    • SNK's Dodgy Engrish usually are downright HILARIOUS in otherwise serious circumstances. From the slightest misspellings to Rugal's almost babyish "I'LL BE BACK... YOU JERKS!" line from '95.
    • Any time anyone insults anyone. Which happens often. "Absolute karate. That's Kyokugenryu. And don't forget it, dweebenheimer!"
    • The English dub of the Maximum Impact games is So Bad, It's Good.
    • Terry's mangled English has become a vital part of his character. As well as Geese's. Which led to his hilariously cheesy reveal trailer at XIV (although this quote was instead taken from his Capcom vs SNK incarnation): "PREDICTABO!!"
  • Never Live It Down:
    • Athena. It doesn't matter how many KOF or fighting games she appears in, most older NES owners are still gonna remember her awful game on that system, which was actually a disastrous port of a decent arcade game.
    • Quite a few players wrote XIV off entirely due to the bad first impression it left with its rough graphics, despite the fact that SNK polished the game quite a bit with early patches (not to mention that they didn't even play the game before giving up on it).
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • If Magaki's highly unsettling "true form" doesn't give you nightmares, the way he fights will.
    • Duo Lon's idle pose involves him holding his leading foot in such an extreme twisted inward angle that it suggests that his ankles are broken or at very least he can easily dislocate them at will. Considering how odd the Hizoku clan is to begin with, with a gamut of abilities ranging from necromancy to stretching their limbs at will to naturally producing poisonous substances from their bodies to dissipating into skeletons in order to disappear/reappear on a whim, it's safe to say they're more than a bit unsettling. Seeing as some of the other fighters are creeped out by Duo Lon (a Nice Guy and a shining example of Dark Is Not Evil), it's very possible the heroic members of Hizoku are full-blown Type 4 Terror Heroes firmly settled in Creepy Good territory.
    • Krizalid's animations are so stiff and awkward in his second form, along with the fact that he was one of the most unforgiving SNK Boss creations at the time can come off as this. Not helping matters is that while he doesn't say or possibly do too much in his first form where he wears his coat....you're possibly close to beyond screwed when he decided to remove his coat to reveal his suit; don't forget his very eerie theme in his said first form added with the stage background.
    • Literally in the case of Geese. He has an alternate form called Nightmare Geese that will give you nightmares trying to fight him. In this form he's one of the cheapest SNK Bosses in existence. Subverted in Maximum Impact 2 where he's balanced, but then doubly subverted in 2002UM, which introduces an even cheaper version of Nightmare Geese that you have to fight as the last Expert challenge in Challenge Mode to unlock everything. The 2002UM version is basically everything you fear about Geese, Turned Up to Eleven. His already ridiculous speed, power, and health are massively boosted. He has double Reppukens and Shippukens that move much faster than regular ones. His upgraded Ja'ieken combo knocks you to the ground, and he follows it up with an unblockable barrage of Reppukens. He can do a Raging Storm any time, but will do it after almost every throw or attack that knocks you down. He can still counter anything, and one of the counters also lets him directly go into a Raging Storm. Another counter triggers a powerful combo that leaves you stunned and helpless while Geese charges up his more powerful red Raging Storm. This wipes out 90% of your life bar. He can Guard Cancel Roll (basically a free escape from your combo) anytime he wants. He can do all of this insanity because he has infinite meter. His CPU is also set at its highest level. He can and will annihilate you in seconds. Oh, and you have to face him with a single character, no teams or boss characters allowed. Good luck...
    • Taken Up to Eleven with Nightmare Geese in XIV. This time, his nightmarish aspects extend to his appearance, as he actually look like he's returned from beyond the grave (despite KOF being a separate timeline from the one he dies in) with pale purple skin, red eyes, gray hair and tattered clothing. He now sports a Voice of the Legion and ghostly purple reppukens as well, giving him a truly otherworldly and frightening vibe.
    • So you know that Verse is an amalgamation of many souls and most of them got released to the real world. One of them? Mizuki Rashoujin, the dreaded priestess of Ambrosia that ruined the world so badly that Nakoruru needed to sacrifice her life just to undo her damage. Imagine Mizuki raising hell in the modern day just as she escaped from Verse's body and she may be more savvy now with her experience in the past with Nakoruru. And unlike Orochi, Ambrosia is completely malicious that this could be the most threatening foe that Kyo (or Shun'ei) may ever have to face one day...
  • Older Than They Think:
    • Jhun's Zankou Haki Geki HSDM in 2002 Unlimited Match actually first appeared as his MAX2 in the lesser known Neowave, the sort of alternate 2002 where Jhun was playable.
    • Athena's and Kensou's designs from XII and XIII were only new to the King of Fighters games; the costumes were actually derived from their original appearances in Psycho Soldier.
  • Polished Port: The Dreamcast versions of '98 and '99, Dream Match 1999 and '99 Evolution respectively, feature smoothed sprites, 3D backdrops, and arranged music. '99 Evolution also included some extra Striker characters that could be unlocked (including the first appearances of Vanessa and Seth, who would become full characters in 2000).
  • Porting Disaster: Not an extreme case, but KOF: The Orochi Saga was marred by in-game loading, which wasn't present in the arcade versions. The same issue occurred for Metal Slug Anthology for PS2, and both compilations were made by Terminal Reality.
  • Relationship Writing Fumble: Kyo and Chizuru are acquaintances, if not good friends (with Chizuru as a Cool Big Sis figure that Kyo can't deny a lot to, if Sky Stage is to be believed), and have close roles in guarding the Seal of Orochi. When Kyo became majorly pissed at Ash for stealing Chizuru's powers in 2003 (and pretty much violating the poor woman while doing so), some fans were led to believe that Kyo has beyond brother-sister-friends feelings for her. It doesn't help that Kyo's intro with Ash in XI has him screaming "YOU BASTARD!" at the top of his lungs. Apparently, these fans have forgotten that Kyo has Yuki (To be fair, it's not like poor Yuki has been seen around in years) or the fact Iori similarly cares for her (as shown in XIII). Word of God also jokes on the Anniversary website that Chizuru must have envisioned Kyo eternally as a schoolboy (i.e. from the time they teamed up during the Orochi Saga) when creating Kusanagi. And then in Sky Stage Kyo claims to Terry that Chizuru is almost babying him and the other fighters. Cue fans claiming she's in some type of a Loving a Shadow relationship with Kyo.
    • Then there is the mysterious relationship between K Dash and Kula Diamond. Unlike the protagonists from the Orochi arc, these two barely interact in the NESTS arc. However, in some artwork by Hiroaki the two appear to get really close, to the point there was a suggestic theme for the XIV where the two are removing their clothes. There is also a novel where the two hug but in the Maximum Impact series, Maxima suggest Kula to call K Dash "uncle" despite their close age. Lastly, if in XIII K Dash and Kula fight, the former expresses regret in having come to do this, which comes as a surprise considering his bad mood.
  • Replacement Scrappy:
    • While K' managed to avoid this during NESTS (although in the very beginning he had his haters), Ash Crimson got the full brunt of hatred from fans (of the west, at least), especially when he started actively upstaging Kyo by beating Riot of the Blood Iori. His flamboyant appearance doesn't help, either. Thankfully, XIV's new protagonist Shun'ei managed to avert this: While he wasn't that greatly received, at least he did not generate the massive hate Ash got.
    • May Lee was once seen as this due to replacing Jhun in 2001 and then replacing longtime regular King in 2002 and taking her spot on the Women Fighters Team alongside fellow vets Yuri and Mai. The Japanese essentially screamed, "I RAGED. HARD" over the latter to the point that not even adding King back in the home ports could undo the damage. Adding fuel to the fire is that back in those days, due to SNK's takeover by the Korean company Eolith, said company demanded a 'female Korean' to be promoted, and this created May Lee, prompting some to see her as Creator's Pet. Most of this scorn has passed over since and May Lee is seen as an Ensemble Dark Horse elsewhere, compounded with how jokes about her going missing stopped being funny due to the passing of her original voice actress.
    • Momoko is sometimes considered as such. To Bao of all people. Frequently cited reasons are her voice, Button Mashing, and the fact that she was based off of discharged designs of Bao.
  • Retroactive Recognition: The announcer for the Maximum Impact games is Mark Okita; Kamen Rider fans were no doubt surprised when they fired up the games and heard Decade's belt talking to them (and vice versa).
  • The Scrappy:
    • Bao. Added to the Psycho Soldiers team in '99. Too annoying to fight as, overpowered (at least his first incarnation) to fight against; stealing Kensou's powers. The strangest thing about this? He was conceptualized as beginner friendly. How they could screw that up so much is a mystery.
    • SNK Playmore sees K9999 as this due to the blatantness of his tribute to Tetsuo Shima, which eventually led to his replacement by Nameless. He does have actual fans, though - some of them would even say that they like him because of the Tetsuo similarity.
  • Self-Fanservice: Muscle fetishists tend to fawn over a sizable portion of the female cast (namely the adult ones). They're particularly fond of Leona for some reason, but the list of likely runner-ups for fan artists includes (but certainly is not limited to) Mai, Blue Mary, Athena, Vice, Shermie, Vanessa, Angel, and even Kula.
  • Seasonal Rot: 2001, due to the game being handled by a different team, and KOF XII, due to being an Obvious Beta.
  • Ship Mates:
    • Ryo/King and Robert/Yuri shippers get along very, very well.
    • Kyo/Yuki fans tend to ship Iori with Athena, and sometimes Leona and Chizuru. If not, they'll likely go for Kensou/Athena.
  • Ships That Pass in the Night: Iori/Leona. Likely routed in their common ailment (the Riot of the Blood), but the pair hardly seems to think much about each other, let alone anything remotely positive. The most you'll get is Iori expressing some curiosity in XIII that Leona is showing signs of being able to control her powers. To be fair, in the KOF: KYO visual novel it is established they're acquaitances and Iori has visited her on occassion to see how she manages with Orochi's curse, but that's still not saying much given Iori's cold attitude towards the whole thing.
  • Shipping Goggles:
    • All over the place, Relationship Writing Fumbles or not. But let's be honest: every company in charge of KOF is very, very aware that the franchise as a whole is EXTREMELY popular among female gamers of all ages (from teenage girls who are new to the games, to older ladies who grew up either watching others play or played alongside the boys). With the buttloads of Ship Tease, it'd be weirder to NOT have a good part of the fandom all over it.
    • Iori and Athena, believe it or not. They both like music and Iori is seen in Athena's band in Days of Memories. He appears to think she is cute because he thinks she should "be at home baking cookies" instead of fighting in one of their pre-fight dialogues, and Athena is among the few who show some degree of worry for his sake. Also, their battle quotes have to do with Iori telling Athena to take care of herself, in his own way. Finally, in the KOF: KYO manga, Iori and Athena's hearts connect when his attack accidentally hits her; he shows regret for hurting her, she takes the time to look for him, and she tells Kensou how much sorrow she could sense coming from him. Unsurprisingly, this has been followed by the mild popularity of the Iori/Athena ship.
  • So Bad, It's Good: The manhuas by Andy Seto. While they loosely follow the canon of the story, there's some questionable designs in the art, ranging from Only Six Faces to You Don't Look Like You, or passing through wrong colouring, to plain standard colouring, and rarely (for dramatic purposes only), full-blown BEAUTIFUL digital colouring looking almost as good as or even better than official art. On the "good" part, the fight scenes are well done and the power attacks look amazing, almost like they were ripped from Dragon Ball Z (but you wouldn't mind it because they look, well... pretty badass).
  • So Okay, It's Average:
    • The '94 manga by Tatsuya Shinjyouji. On one hand, the drawing style is very simplistic and unremarkable and the Cliché Storm is undeniable. On the other, the storytelling flows in a relatively smooth manner despite the cliches and it offers some interesting background tidbits and possible interpretations—like Heidern's story (Sandra and Clara died in an Heroic Sacrifice to save him from Rugal), how the Women's Team met in this continuity (Mai and Yuri become friends over being rejected as prospect members of the AOF and Fatal Fury team and then have to recruit King together), there's a background story in regards to the stages used by the Korea Team (Kyo, Daimon and Benimaru walked into Kim's capture of Chang and Choi, Kim recognized Kyo and immediately challenged him and his group to a fight right there) and the Japan Team (they and the Women Team improvised a stage in the streets of Osaka since Kyo and his friends were caught in a cruel Deadly Game/Hostage Situation with his girlfriend Yuki's life at stake), etc.
    • The graphics for XIV, after numerous patches to bring them up to snuff. Though bland and forgettable compared to the visuals of other fighting games, they're quite functional for the generation they were released in, and don't look as garish as they were upon initial release, not that some people would ever let them off the hook for it.
  • Spiritual Successor: It can be argued that the King of Fighters series became, probably by accident, the true sequels to Art of Fighting 2, since most of the series' mechanics were incorporated into KOF '94 (and lasted until the NESTS arc) — and the only AOF title that came after KOF '94's debut was a semi-Gaiden Game with a dose of Later Installment Weirdness. While KOF '94 borrowed as many mechanics from the Fatal Fury series, the latter managed to hold on its own until SNK's bankruptcy.
  • "Stop Having Fun" Guys:
    • Very prevalent among the Mexican and Brazilian communities, where there is little to no tolerance towards beginners. There's also a consensus that you can't be caught playing as Rugalnote  even for fun, because you will immediately be labeled as a "pussy", "coward" or something similar. Even the phrase "Jugar con Rugal es de maricas" (Playing Rugal is for pussies) has reached memetic status among Latin players.
    • Still in the topic of 2002, to some players, only real men play the Magic Plus version, or some other hacked versions, because if you instead prefer the original one... Heck! Even if you say that you prefer any other game besides 2002, then you are a Scrub (Nevermind the Fridge Logic that the Magic Plus version allows for cheap tricks such as switching characters in the middle of battle, or performing HSDM moves without the requirement of having less than 25% of your life bar, or having Kusanagi, Omega Rugal and Orochi Leona as characters with their own slots).
  • Surprisingly Improved Sequel:
    • 2002 is seen as this to 2001 for some. Although others hold the game in the same regard to 2001 given Eolith's involvement, it's popularity rivals the first Dream Match game in certain regions. Returning it to the traditional 3-on-3 system without strikers, new mechanics, and seeing the return of several old favorites probably helped. 2002: Unlimited Match is this for people who didn't even like 2002, due to an even larger roster (the biggest in the series,) an improved soundtrack, and Eolith having no involvement in it.
    • XIII is this to XII. It added a lot more characters, including those that were inexplicably missing before, more modes, closed the Tales of Ash saga, and made the fighting more fun overall.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song:
  • Tainted by the Preview: It did not take long at all for the reaction to XIV's first trailer to garner this response, due to the noticeably poor appearance of the character models. Though this died down somewhat after more trailers were released, showing that the core gameplay and move animations were intact, and with noticeable improvements to the graphics (as well as giving Kyo his old hair color back as a more targeted response to fan criticisms).
  • Tear Jerker: If you know how XIII ends, you know why this phrase (an except of a Robert Browning poem) stings:
    God's in his heaven, all's right with the world!
  • That One Attack:
    • Heidern's neck roller in 2002 UM. It's unblockable and has a deceptive hitbox.
    • Rugal's Genocide Cutter will beat your ass if you don't prepare accordingly. When you couple all of this with his already impressive arsenal...
    • Goenitz's Yonokaze technique. Dude will use it for all it's worth. Nonstop. KOKO DESU KA?
    • Marukare is probably the first thing to come to mind when one thinks of Orochi, although his Harue special (the projectile-esque attack that can't be nullified by anything) is pretty bad too. Just be thankful that they didn't have him spam his Honosu Sori like Goenitz's Yonokaze.
    • Krizalid, who could be considered NESTS' equivalent to Rugal in several aspects, has Typhoon Rage, as noted in Game-Breaker above. Better get to writing your will while he's juggling you to death.
    • Igniz' whip attack, which can juggle infinitely when the AI feels like it. You can even play as Igniz in 2002 UM with the move completely intact in terms of cheapness and comboability.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!:
    • Many of the voice actors were changed en-masse for XIV, with mixed-to-negative reception. Terry'snote  garnered this reaction in particular due to Hashimoto's Large Ham Gratuitous English being particularly memorable with fans while Kondo's take was a lot more subdued.
    • Kyo's XIV redesign is not particularly well-liked due to the fact that he's so Bishōnen it makes him completely unrecognizable. It would have been even more different, had fan outcry not pushed them to revert his hair color from black to its original brown.
    • To a lesser extent Iori's XIV costume was also rather poorly received for looking garish and falling on the wrong side of Fashion-Victim Villain.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • Despite being toted as "the other protagonist" of "The Tales of Ash" saga, Adel Bernstein (noble son of Rugal) plays no role in the climax. Hell, he's not even present in XIII. Only his sister Rose appears. Subverted by the console version, which shows Adel working behind the scenes to help the Ikari Warriors in their investigation of Those from the Past. He's still not playable, despite concept art indicating that he was considered for the roster.
    • This is a general consensus about the revelation that Kyo-1 and Kyo-2 were two of thousands of Kyo clones created by NESTS when it was Left Hanging immediately afterwards.
    • The Out of Focus status of the Fatal Fury and Art of Fighting cast (and to a lesser extent some of the characters from the earlier KOF games); they are either Demoted to Extra, become The Artifact, or are a case of Chuck Cunningham Syndrome. SNK seems to be downplaying the fact that the KOF series is supposedly a big crossover of various SNK series and is focusing more on the characters that are more made for this series instead. However, SNK Playmore is showing some signs in trying to rectify this with XIII as they are starting to flesh out the older characters more.

      That being said, more unorthodox decisions for who gets to ride the bus back to KOF can cause a schism in the fanbase. Hwa Jai is perhaps most notorious for this; older fans were glad to see him after some two decades, whereas many others felt he was undeserving of returning to the ring, which was not helped by him playing in a similar fashion to Joe (even if it was mainly from an aesthetic standpoint) and suddenly coming across as somewhat Ax-Crazy, as if he were channeling the more popular Yamazaki. A similar case could be made for Hwa's teammate Raiden, as opposed to, say, Tizoc.
    • A lot of noise is made about Kensou's mysterious Dragon Power only for it to be unceremoniously dropped after XI.
  • Tier-Induced Scrappy:
    • Choi Bounge. He wasn't the most popular character (outside of Korea, of course) to begin with, but after his appearance in 2002, he became flat out despised.
    • There is a respectable number of people who have come to despise Kula after KOF XI.
    • K' is seen as such in XIII, right next to Raiden. The best teams have both as staple members with a rotating third. While revisions for the console version have knocked down Raiden a peg or two (mainly due to lengthening the charge time for his dropkick, a staple part of Raiden's lockdown and pressure game), fans are divided on whether the changes to K' have really made him less of a threat, as some have actually served to improve his ability to string together hits in a combo.
    • XIV has quite a few depending of the version. Nakoruru dominated the scene completely in version 1.00, after being nerfed, Leona and Robert became the dominant characters during version 1.10. The 2.00 version brought Benimaru to the spotlight and finally, version 3.0 has been characterized by Iori, Shun'Ei, Heidern and Najd becoming the top picks in the competitive scene.
  • Uncanny Valley:
    • Sprites before XIII had Kula resembling a human-sized doll with bug eyes.
    • Due to the increasing realism in Shinkiro's style some of his later work for the series unfortunately falls into this.
    • The biggest complaint about the graphics for XIV aside from the general quality was that many of them came off as glassy-eyed and creepy.
  • Unexpected Character:
    • Seeing at it was the old SNK's last hurrah, 2000 featured a massive overload of cameos from most of their older titles. The Maniac Strikers in the console versions continue the trend.
    • It happened again with XI, which added the likes of Gai Tendo and Silber from Buriki One and Sho Hayate and Jyazu from Savage Reign/Kizuna Encounter as Secret Characters.
    • Raiden in XII and Hwa Jai in XIII, two characters from the original Fatal Fury that players never expected to see again. Ever. Bonus points for teaming up with Kim.
    • XIV brought with it not only Nakoruru from Samurai Shodown, but also Mui Mui and Love Heart, characters from a couple of obscure Japan-only Pachinko games as part the "Another World Team". The fact that they're appearing in a non-Dream Match Game opens the door to more of these as well.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: While Die for Our Ship blows it out of proportion, Athena loses points for deliberately ignoring and then forgetting about Kensou's Love Confession back in 2000. The guy spent two years waiting for an answer (well, two tournaments) before the series decided to just up and drop it. Throw in some Unintentionally Sympathetic for Kensou, since the makers of 2002 think keeping him on tenterhooks makes for a good joke.
  • Video Game Movies Suck:
    • The 2010 live-action movie is a hot mess, essentially being a movie of KOF In Name Only. Problems include (but are not limited to) white-washing Kyo and Mai, turning Mai and Terry into CIA agents for no reason, and a nonsensical plot about a "King of Fighters" dimension.
    • Averted with The King of Fighters: Destiny, a faithful adaptation of the plots of the first KOF games (plus the story of Fatal Fury) with compelling fight scenes.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion:
  • What an Idiot!:
    • It's already strongly implied that Eiji was on the receiving end of a Yagami beatdown at the end of '95, but his XI backstory states that he also challenged the entire Kyokugen Team after the tournament. If the latter happened immediately after the former, we all may need to reconsider Eiji's status as a threat. Maybe.
    • Saiki gets this in XIII, due to a big case of a Villain Ball. Sure, one of your strongest minions who has nothing but loyalty for you offers to fight in your stead, which would really help if you needed to duck into the door to the past in a hurry... and your response is to kill him for no reason other than that he spoke up to you. Yeah, that's REALLY going to help. Especially when you follow it with taking over the body of your own descendant despite knowing clearly that he is NOT to be trusted.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Badass?: The other reason Yuki was hated. Feeding into the whole Die for Our Ship aspect, the fact that she was a mix of Barrier Maiden and Ordinary High-School Student didn't endear her to fans who would rather see Kyo paired up with someone they felt was more "badass" and proactive.
  • Wheelchair Woobie:
    • Kaoru started out as such, but her interactions with the Psycho Soldier Team managed to improve both her health and disposition
    • Chizuru is seen briefly as one, more exactly in the Story Mode of XIII.
  • Win Back the Crowd: XIII is this by virtue of completing the Obvious Beta that was XII (although the Russia stage from XII is mysteriously absent). Mai and K' are back as well as a true SNK Boss. You'll find every known character that was planned for inclusion in XII in XIII as well.
  • WTH, Costuming Department?:
    • General consensus regarding Shun'ei's outfit is that it looks rather overdone and screams "chuunibyou protagonist" all over, what with the half-rolled pants leg, Coat Cape and headphones. Sylvie gets it even worse, with some deriding her just because of her very flamboyant J-Pop styled outfit.
    • Iori's pimp jacket in XIV. It's overdesigned, suffers from Too Many Belts in awkward places (even for a character who always demonstrated this trope) and comes in a garish shade of maroon. Thankfully the classic costume for Iori is still available, albeit via DLC.
    • Kyo's XIV jacket gets this to an extent as well. While it's a little less cluttered than Iori's, fans still feel that it goes overboard with the pockets, zippers, and insignias, along with that the collar is much too big. Interestingly fans don't mind the outfit as much in official artwork, suggesting the issue comes down to rendering. Again, thankfully Kyo's classic '94-98 appearance is available via DLC for those not happy with the outfit or his overall redesign.

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