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King of Fighters has a few killed off characters that definitely need to be brought back in King of Fighters 15 after the events of the previous game

Story spoilers for a game from 2016, obviously

Posted by Nicholas 'MajinTenshinhan' Taylor • June 13, 2020 at 7:41 p.m. PDT • Comments: 49

King of Fighters is the grand crossover featuring characters from many of SNK's different popular franchises that came before it from staples such as Fatal Fury and Art of Fighting to lesser known but quite beloved titles like Psycho Soldier and Ikari Warriors. With that, there's obviously a quite large roster — and it keeps growing, as King of Fighters quickly took on a life of its own and started developing brand new beloved characters that have since become faces of SNK like Kyo Kusanagi and Iori Yagami.

One thing that SNK has been remarkably consistent about across their titles is something that is true in real life as well — death sticks. Once they kill off a character, no matter how popular said character may be, they're generally left off entirely from future rosters unless it's one of the semi-regular "Dream Match" games like King of Fighters '98 and King of Fighters 2002 (though it's worth noting that exceptions have been made for Mature and Vice, who appear as ghosts since King of Fighters XII). SNK clearly care a lot about their lore, but it seems that fans wishes may have wore them down, since they made quite a big thing happen at the end of the latest game in the series, King of Fighters 14 from 2016, which will likely lead to this "no dead characters" rule becoming a situation where it's technically true but with some shenanigans involved.

The events of King of Fighters 14

Let us first set the stage for what this event actually is and why it matters so much. While King of Fighters 14 didn't have a particularly in-depth story mode, there were endings in place for each team in the game (16 different teams) with some being a bit more intricate and plot-heavy than others.

The final boss in King of Fighters 14 is the same no matter which team you're using, though, and that is Verse, a being created from negative energy and feeds on the darkness of people's hidden desires. We'll get to the exact origins of Verse as a character and why he exists a bit further down in the article, but one of the key aspects mentioned about him is that he traps several different fighters' souls from different ages.

In fact, this time-spanning nature of Verse is the very reason why Nakoruru showed up in King of Fighters 14 across time and space, because she sensed this universal threat to the timeline and arrived in present day in order to eliminate it.

Whichever route you end up going (as in, whichever team's ending you see), Verse will be defeated in the end. With his defeat, however, another thing happens — all the souls locked within his grasp are released upon the world again, and King of Fighters 14 ends somewhat vaguely with the notion that fighters who had previously been dead have now been revived all across the world.

Some endings even show this in action, with the image above showcasing how Iori senses the return of Orochi and reunites with former ally Chizuru Kagura and hated rival but once begrudging ally Kyo Kusanagi to put an end for Orochi right away before he fully awakens, which gives the impression that many other returns may be in play as well.

The majority of dead characters from the King of Fighters are similar to Orochi in that they're actually boss characters who seem unlikely to return as regular cast members (this has happened on occasion in SNK games, but it's a rarity).

It's possible that boss characters could return as bosses once more or be tweaked as playable since there are a lot of them that are quite popular as well and remain iconic within the King of Fighters universe, though the former playable fighters who have most fans' attentions right now are the relatively few who were just regular members of the roster and have been gone from rosters ever since their untimely disappearances.

Obviously, this is an easy way for SNK to give themselves a blank slate as far as which characters they can have in their rosters and it essentially puts any and all dead characters back on the table. While it's a fairly weak storytelling mechanism, it's fantastic news for fans of characters who've had to see their favorite characters die on screen and be relegated to mere cameo and reference material.

Now, as for the exact reason for why Verse even exists and holds the key to bringing back so many beloved characters, we'll have to jump back one game and look at the most recent victim at the hands of SNK's writers, namely the main protagonist of the quadrology which started in King of Fighters 2003 and ended in King of Fighters 13.

The imminent return of Ash Crimson

If you haven't been following King of Fighters lore particularly closely and were wondering why Ash Crimson sat King of Fighters 14 out despite being one of the three main protagonists we've seen so far in the series (after Kyo Kusanagi and K'), there's a very simple reason for that.

In King of Fighters 13, Ash kind of died. Saying that he died is actually putting it quite lightly, since the more specific fate that ended up befalling him was to be erased from the timeline entirely alongside the arc's villain, Saiki. With a lot of time travel shenanigans going on and Saiki being from far in the past, his descendant Ash decided to stop their entire bloodline and foil Saiki's plan entirely, thereby sacrificing himself in the process.

In short, if you thought your favorite character being dead dropped their chances of coming back in future King of Fighters installments to zero, Ash just upped the ante tenfold by showing what true fandom despair looked like.

Thankfully, through the trickery of SNK's writers deciding it was time to reintroduce a bunch of popular characters they'd been ignoring ever since their untimely demises, Ash Crimson was somehow restored once more.

The details as to why Ash returned aren't entirely clear, though it is specified that Verse himself only exists due to Ash's actions in removing both himself and Saiki from the timeline. Their disappearance caused his appearance, and thus his defeat seems to have caused the reappearance of Ash Crimson.

Ash got special treatment beyond what any other dead characters from King of Fighters history got in that we explicitly see Ash in King of Fighters 14. In the ending for the "Official Invitation" team, they made it a point of showing specifically Ash being found by his childhood friend Elisabeth and new mysterious character Kukri (who became even more of a mystery after his dastardly portrayal in SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy, by the way).

Showing Ash re-entering the plane of existence from which he was deleted seems like a surefire way to tell fans "don't worry, we brought him back" and basically makes him an absolute lock for the upcoming King of Fighters 15. While Ash's return is sure to please many a fans, he actually only sat out one game since his introduction.

Next, we're going to take a look at a very popular trio who've been forced to sit on the sidelines for much, much longer than that...

A highly beloved team are now back on the table once more

One of the most popular teams in King of Fighters history and whose return fans have been clamoring for as long as 20 years at this point (not counting their appearance in the non-canon dream match game King of Fighters 2002) is the New Faces Team from King of Fighters '97.

This team consists of three servants of the nefarious Orochi, who has connections in the storyline to many different characters, though most notably to Iori Yagami. The team consists of Japanese brawler Yashiro, French beauty Shermie and Swedish fighter Chris (though as a Swede myself I must note there's really nothing apparently Swedish about Chris, not even his name).

These three characters have been immensely popular ever since their conception and it seems like SNK have been somewhat remorseful in killing all three off in the very first game they appeared in since they went out of their way to include them in several crossovers, promotional materials, dream match games and various cameos ever since.

Despite this, they've never relented on their "no dead characters" rule outside of non canon materials, meaning that their fates have been sealed ever since their debut title. With the events of King of Fighters 14, however, this is all subject to change now.

Unlike Ash, these characters didn't just miss out on one game — they've been gone for over 20 years with fans asking for their return constantly ever since, with SNK having to address their absence in several interviews and reiterating their desire to keep their canon titles relegated to living characters.

As mentioned earlier in this article, though, SNK did mysteriously make exceptions for Mature in King of Fighters 12 and her partner-in-crime Vice in King of Fighters 13, after which the two have returned to mainstay status which makes their steadfastness feel a little bit hypocritical.

Although King of Fighters already has more than enough fighters to choose from when deciding on rosters, the door has now been opened for dead characters to return as well. While many of the previously deceased characters are various boss fighters who are unlikely to be brought back as regular fighters (unless they're as popular as Goenitz who may indeed make a comeback based on fanbase alone), the New Faces Team stands out as characters with no such restrictions or asterisks to their names.

These three are instead simply incredibly requested and popular picks who have been kept out for storyline reasons which no longer apply, making them prime candidates to return in King of Fighters 15. Fans have been pushing for it for a long time and SNK have made strides to shift their storyline around in a manner where they can bring back the characters without denying the backstories of their previous titles.

In the near future, I'll be writing about which boss characters I'm hoping to see return from the dead as well as which characters who weren't part of the King of Fighters 14 roster who I'm hoping to see make a triumphant return, so please look forward to those pieces as well.

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