The .hack (pronounced "dot hack") series is a conglomeration of books, video games, manga, OVA, and anime TV series that started with the games by Cyber Connect 2. Most of these are character dramas told from the perspective of online gamers playing an MMORPG called "The World," which displays the disturbing tendency to affect the minds of its players, calling into question the nature of human consciousness.
Most of these series contribute to canon while others, such the second anime series, .hack//Legend of the Twilight, are retellings of the same story from differing perspectives. Each installment refers to the others, making this an All There in the Manual series. The title always follows the construction of .hack//title and are read as "dot hack title". The slashes are never used when referring to the series as a whole. The word "Dot" is often written in small print inside the "." to reinforce the proper reading.
The setting for the series is Twenty Minutes Into the Future, diverging from the real-world timeline beginning in October 2002. On December 24, 2005, a supervirus codenamed "Pluto's Kiss" destroyed all of the world's computer operating systems. Microsoft, Macintosh, Linux... all gone. All except for one,
OpenBSD ALTIMIT, which seems to be immune to all computer viruses. In response, hacking becomes a capital crime worldwide, and the internet returns to its roots as a communication network for government and military use for the next several years.
Eventually, commercial internet access becomes available again, and the release of the first post-crash online game, The World, turns it into an instant craze, with twenty million users joining in the first few years. With a computer, a virtual-reality headset, and a gamepad, one becomes a swordsman, magic-user, etc. and experiences The World through the perspective of the character.
Though they'd never admit it, the game's publisher, CyberConnectCorp doesn't fully understand how the game's core program was created. It was based on a prototype written by a German neurobiologist who has disappeared. He created his program after the death of the woman he loved, a poetess who began working on an unpublished masterpiece after having what she called a "supernatural experience." This beta version of the game was known as frägment and a few recurring characters had active accounts during said beta test.
The first chronological installment localized in the US is the first novel, .hack//AI buster, which takes place in 2010. Watarai, a game administrator, meets the first Vagrant AI (an NPC whose intelligence has grown to a level that cannot be programmed) that he cannot deny has a soul.
Shortly after, in the anime .hack//Sign, an introverted player named Tsukasa finds himself trapped in the game itself. Tsukasa's body is in a coma in the real world, but Tsukasa the character is still playing the game, and experiencing The World with his full senses, even to the point of experiencing pain when he's hurt or killed. The series focuses on a handful of players who become aware of his entrapment within the game, and decide to explore Tsukasa's character and his connection with an "unborn" AI character named Aura.
The first series of PlayStation 2 games (.hack//Infection, .hack//Mutation, .hack//Outbreak and .hack//Quarantine), the .hack//Liminality OVAs and the .hack//Another Birth novels chronicle the following adventure, where another band of players - later known as the legendary "dot hackers" - challenge Morganna, the evil AI lurking within The World. Using a game-breaking power given to him by Aura before her destruction, the newbie Kite and his partner BlackRose lead the fight against Morganna in the hopes of restoring Aura and the many coma victims that have resulted from Morganna's attacks. A set of Novels known as .hack//Another Birth retell this story from Blackrose's point of view, tells us about her offline and some of the things she does when not with Kite.
The .hack//ZERO novel series is set shortly after; a set of stories that tells the story of a character named Carl, of what happened to the character of Sora after the end of SIGN, and of Tsukasa's real life after being able to log out from The World. This series was never finished and Carl's fate was eventually revealed in other material.
The series timejumps to 2014, where .hack//Legend of the Twilight takes place. Shugo is the new hero, and he and his sister Rena take on limited edition, chibified clone accounts of Kite and BlackRose to try to defend Aura's Daughter Zefie, whose existence is threatened by debuggers that still don't understand that AIs are more than data, and return her to her mother.
By 2017, Aura has vanished of her own accord, and many errors started to form on the net, which had become dependent on her. CC Corp tries to fix this by reforming the Morganna system under their control to recreate Aura. They are unable to do so and are only able to restore the eight Phases she controlled, which are placed under the control of special players (with one stolen by a staff member). During a test the creator of the plan, Jyotaro Amagi, goes insane and sets fire to CC Corp ruining the servers and much of the data and losing the data of the phases in the system. The World's remaining data is combined with another project and released as The World: Revision 2.
The anime .hack//Roots begins here, with the new player Haseo joining the game. For reasons he can't guess, two powerful guilds are competing for Haseo's allegiance from the first day he logs in. The story primarily follows the changes in his character as he joins one of the guilds, his leader Ovan disappears and the guild falls apart, his love interest Shino is attacked and put into a coma by a mysterious player-killer called Tri-Edge (who looks strangely like Kite), and Haseo finally becomes obsessed with destroying Tri-Edge and all other player-killers.
The story immediately continues with the second series of PlayStation 2 games, .hack//G.U. (Vol.1:Rebirth, Vol.2:Reminisce, and Vol.3:Redemption). Haseo is back at level 1 after a losing battle with Tri-Edge, and finds himself embroiled in a complex plot involving the use of his newfound Avatar power (his character data possessing one of Morganna's eight Phases), warring guilds, rampant player-killing, a malicious AI phenomenon called AIDA, and the truth behind Tri-Edge. The .hack//CELL light novels are a side-story set between Roots and G.U.
The latest story continues three years later with .hack//Link, where yet another new version of The World has been created. The World R:X. 14-year old Tokio Kuryuu gets sucked into this new game (apparently physically) by a mysterious new classmate, Saika Amagi, via her PSP. Currently a manga and PSP game in Japan (the American release is forthcoming), this new series combines elements from both the R:1 and R:2 eras. An organization of illegally modified characters is going after MacGuffins called "chrono cores" located within certain previous main characters. These cores connect to the Akashic Records of The World, and with Saika Amagi acting as Mission Control, Tokio has to repair them by actually traveling between all of the .hack series: the R:1 and R:2 games, SIGN, the novels, and the different manga.
An OVA called .hack//Quantum, which also sets in The World R:X in 2022, was released in 2011.
A full-length CGI movie set in the The World FORCE:ERA was released in January 2012 titled .hack//Beyond The World, set in 2024 centering around a girl named Sora and her friends Balder and Gondo as they try to save the world from destruction. . A new video game has also been announced, set in 2025.
.hack is not for everyone, as it is mostly dialog and artistic character pieces, despite being about a video game. (Some have said that it's a good simulation of what playing an MMORPG is really like.)
There is also a card game called ".hack//ENEMY" (previously distributed stateside by Decipher, but now no longer in print), online/offline RPG (not an MMO, and service has since ended) called ".hack//frägment" named after the prototype of The World, and a short .hack//GIFT parody of SIGN and the games, available only on DVD; none are Canon.
Some media have their own articles - tropes for them should go on these pages, not here.
- .hack//AI buster (novels)
- .hack//Sign (anime)
- .hack//IMOQ (the first four games)
- .hack//Liminality (OVA)
- .hack//Legend of the Twilight (manga/anime)
- .hack//G.U. Games (the second generation games)
- .hack//Quantum (OVA)
Not to be confused with Nethack.
Also see the character sheets.
For tropes specific to individual installments, visit their respective work pages.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The good or otherwise nonevil AI are obscured by the many many obvious evil ones.
- Akashic Records: The MacGuffin in .hack//LINK.
- All There in the Manual: In short, if you want a full understanding of what's going on without consulting a wiki, be prepared to spend a lot of money.
- Anti-Gravity Clothing
- Apocalypse Day Planner
- Art Shift: .hack//LINK featured an opening animation sequence animated by Studio4°C, the art looks radically different from previous .hack// installments game and animation series alike.
- Art Major Biology: Some dungeons in the first games are Flesh-type Womb Level dungeons. Of course, don't expect them to follow any kind of sensible anatomy.
- Justified in Vol. 1's Bonus Dungeon "Aerial Fleet". An accident has left a fleet of aircrafts carrying a mummified giant to wander the skies forever. The insides are of a standard Flesh dungeon until the Boss Area, where it is the only metallic room left. The boss's name? "Parasite Dragon".
- Awesome but Impractical: Any skill beyond the standard Data Drain, such as Drain Arc and Drain Heart, is situational at best. With nasty side-effects like level down and
deathinstant Game Over from overexposure to viruses due to Data Drain, using riskier forms of Data Drain just to get rare items or hitting multiple enemies seems superfluous.
- Because Destiny Says So is subverted. The overbranching theme of the series is how the "gods" are dead and people have to make their own path.
- Black Box: The technology of The World, and to some extent, ALTIMIT itself.
- Black Comedy Rape: Try giving the Promise card to one of Aura's Knights, or Natsume. You've been warned. Also Mia on Elk in .hack//GIFT.
- Blind Idiot Translation: The manga and novels, as published by Tokyopop, as the translators didn't stay true to canon. (And the soundtrack CD published by Pioneer.)
- They weren't quite that bad. It was a case of lazy translation, followed by a "rewrite" to make it friendlier to the perceived audience, both done by people unfamiliar with the series. Things got better starting with volumes 2 and 3 of Another Birth.
- Bragging Rights Reward: Eventually averted, when all your rewards fuse into the Infinity Plus One Armour and Accessory.
- Butt Monkey: Elk to a T. However, completely Justified. Why? See Love Hurts below.
- Calling Your Attacks: justified in that they're in a video game. OF COURSE THEY'RE GOING TO MESS WITH THIS!!!
- Possibly justified with the magic. Each element gets a word, and each "magic type" (e.g. making a tornado, dropping a blob of the stuff on the opponent) gets a word. Although it seems like the words depend on the level.
- It still seems odd that the players themselves would feel the need to call out the names of the game's spells, though. It's possible they could actually not be calling their attacks and it's just for the benefit of the actual player of the games.
- City of Canals: Mac Anu.
- Character Class System: The World R:1 has six classes which are Blademaster, Heavy Axeman, Long Arm, Twin Blade, and Wavemaster:
- Blademasters are warriors that use one-handed blades in battle. Their attack skills are diverse and powerful, with multi-hits while falling under the Darkness, Earth, Fire, and Water elements. They are ranked third in attack but first in physical defense.
- Heavy Axeman specializes in axes and is the physically strongest compared to other classes. They have the best physical attack and HP, while their physical accuracy is better than Blademasters. Heavy Axemen are considered the best tanks though they lack speed, so they don't do well against faster enemies. Their skills can hit multiple enemies, though they can be inaccurate and can be of Darkness, Earth, Thunder, and Water elements.
- Heavy Blades are the class that uses katana, and double-handed swords are considered one of the strongest classes. They can equip the heaviest armor with a high physical attack and accuracy. The caveat is they have a low attack speed and defense especially compared to Blademasters. Depending on if they use their katanas or double-handed swords defines what type of skills they can use. The elements of their skills fall under Fire, Thunder, Earth, and Wood.
- Long Arms are a physically focused class that uses pole arms as their weapons with fast movement. They are considered equal in speed to Twin Blades but differ due to their greater attack and defense. They do lack magic and multi-hit skills, though. Their HP and SP are like that of Heavy Blades and Blademasters. Their Double Sweep family of skills can mop through enemies with two hit attacks within the range of their spears. The skills are Fire, Thunder, Water, and Wood elemental.
- Wavemasters are the most powerful with magic but lack physical stats. They wield rods while also only being able to equip the lightest armor. Wavemasters can learn the most powerful spells while showing diversity using attack, healing, and buff types. Though they lack physical skills, they can use summon magic to compensate for this.
- Twin Blades are the class that wields dual blades and are the most balanced. They are the jack of all trades, master of none, known for their decent physical and magical stats and superior speed. Though, they can't equip the strongest armor while not having access to stronger magic. Their strength comes from their multi-hit skills coupled with elemental damage can do massive damage to enemies weak to them. Another problem is how they lack Earth and Water skills.
- Due to R:1's data being destroyed in a fire, what remained had to splice together, which led to the creation of The World R:2. The Classes were then changed into the different 11 Jobs:
- Twin Blades are the most versatile Job with different weapon types and subtypes compared to other jobs. Their attacks are weak but fast, which can be used for combos. Their rapid attacks can help make openings for Rengeki attacks which is helpful against unarmored flightless enemies. On the other hand, they are weak due to being close range, making it difficult for faster enemies and hitting airborne enemies with normal attacks. It is also the only 'class' that survived the reconstruction of The World.
- Blade Brandier uses one-handed swords or katanas that are average in strength. They are not as fast as Twin Blades or Tribal Grapplers but are faster than the heavier Lord Partizan.
- Edge Punishers use double-handed broadswords and excel in physical attack, especially against armored enemies. They also have a high physical defense with their heavy armor though they are slower and lack magical defense. Edge Punishers have a long range and can charge their attacks which can break through enemies' guards.
- Flick Reapers wield scythes for a medium range in combat. Their attacks can flick multiple enemies while excelling at hitting airborne enemies. Though they are weak to long-range attacks.
- Harvest Clerics are healers that wield staves known for their high magical stats and lower physical ones. Their staves don't give a magical bonus but grant elemental boosts. They can learn healing spells by leveling up naturally though they can learn other spells through expensive books. Harvest Clerics being healers, are staples in Arena battles due to items being unusable during matches.
- Shadow Warlocks are mages that use Grimoires as their weapons. Grimoires boost magic but do nothing for their elemental stats. They learn attack magic naturally though they can learn spells from expensive books.
- Macabre Dancers use fans as their weapons and battle in a way that looks like dancing. They specialize in status effects, buffs, and debuffs through attack and healing magic. By leveling up, they gain spells but learn no Arts.
- Lord Partizans use lances for medium-range attacks against a single target. They have very high physical attacks and defense but are weak to magic attacks. Lord Partizans are great for fighting against monsters such as airborne and armored ones. They are fast with their damage output though their skill progression is considered the lowest.
- Steam Gunners use bayonets that deal long-range physical damage as their weapons of choice. Their skills are their shots that act like spells but do physical damage. Their long range is coupled with their physical attack, though they lack close-range damage.
- Tribal Grapplers wield gauntlets with their fast punches. They have a high attack speed that helps perform Rengeki rapidly. Tribal Grapplers have a high HP, but their defense is low. Their skill repertoire is limited as well.
- Adept Rogues are a Job of their own where they do not specialize in one weapon. They instead have access to different weapons through their Job Extends. When an Adept Rogue is created, the user can pick from 2 to 3 other Jobs through a point-buy system where they have 4 points to use. This prevents unbalanced combinations like with a Shadow Warlock and a Harvest Cleric. They can choose one of 3 armor types despite their combinations. Their skills are limited until they complete Job Extend quests. Once they get their final Job Extension, they obtain the Multi-Trigger, which allows them to mix and match Skill Triggers that can switch their weapons during combat. Adept Rogue's stats are balanced and independent from their Jobs, leading to them being viewed as mediocre compared to the specialization of other Jobs. It is the least popular Job due to its 'jack of all trades and a master of none' status.
- Collectible Card Game
- Crisis Crossover: .hack//Link
- Digital Avatar: The characters in the series are shown as these instead of their flesh and blood players, with a few exceptions.
- Degraded Boss: Of Type-B variety. Think you've had enough defeating those Data Bug Bosses? in Vol.3 onwards, expect dungeons filled with NOTHING but Data Bugs. Happy hunting, hope you don't overdose on Data Drain!
- Demonic Invaders: Viruses and hostile AIs.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Mistral's "confession" in Vol. 3/Outbreak sounds exactly like another kind of confession. She acts like a teenager in-game but betrays that she's older than she acts in e-mails (by mentioning cooking, going to store and haggling, for example), which gives an interesting possibility: "Is she an older woman into Shotacon?" Nah, she's an expecting housewife that will soon give birth to Mirei who will inherit her Player Character later in Legend of Twilight Bracelet.
- Do Well, But Not Perfect: The Grunty races award prizes for beating the 1st, 2nd or 3rd place times, and you can race them over and over again to win more; however, your race times become the new record times to beat. If you want to maximize the payout, then you want to just barely beat the current times (starting with 3rd place and working up) so that the new times are not too hard to beat.
- Dual Boss: Gorre
- Dueling Games: Square Enix attempted to sponge off the series' success with an Action RPG named Code Age Commanders, which would have been followed up with a anime and manga series, as well as portable spinoffs. However, the mothership game failed and sunk any chance of having a series developed around it.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Type 2. Kite (Sora), an unlockable extra character in Link, is the main character in .hack//The Other Side of the World.
- Easter Egg: Keywords to access secret areas in the games were hidden throughout other media, including the subtitles for the Liminality OVA.
- Eyes Always Shut: A-20 in .hack//SIGN.
- Natsume, a character in the games with the same character model, has this as well, so one can assume it's the character base.
- Expy: Justified example (see Facial Markings below), but it doesn't stop the trope from being lampshaded and played with; for example, BlackRose and Mimiru actually argue over this in a SIGN Omake episode, accusing the other of being a copycat; in the same episode, Bear is killed by Orca but everyone assumes one is the other. A similar incident occurs in Roots and the G.U. games, where Haseo finds himself being befriended by a character who's nearly identical to a close friend of his, who was PKed and put into a coma. Mistral and Mirelle are an interesting example as Mistral and Mirelle are the same The World character, but Mirelle is played by Mistral's player's four year-old daughter. (She changed the character's name to Mirelle at an event.)
- The character of both Kite and BlackRose has been used many times, particularly Kite. Aside from Kite himself, there's Shugo (Legend of The Twilight Bracelet), Azure Flame Kite (G.U.) and Azure Flame Knight (LINK). Oh and, Kite (Sora) in LINK as well as Sakuya in Quantum (both being played by females, incidentally).
- On another note, some has noted the physical similarity of Kite's X-Form with Kaworu. Hey, Sadamoto is the character designer after all...
- The character of both Kite and BlackRose has been used many times, particularly Kite. Aside from Kite himself, there's Shugo (Legend of The Twilight Bracelet), Azure Flame Kite (G.U.) and Azure Flame Knight (LINK). Oh and, Kite (Sora) in LINK as well as Sakuya in Quantum (both being played by females, incidentally).
- Facial Markings: Used to distinguish Player Characters, since, as in some real video games, the base "design" is the same for each gender/class combination. Also doubles as a Power Tattoo.
- Fan Service: All parts of the franchise have some, but the biggest offender is definitely the Legend of the Twilight manga.
- .hack//GIFT probably has the best example: After the cartoony silly parody of the series is done, it goes to a silly cartoony parody of the .hack//sign credits, before suddenly inexplicably cutting to a photo of Mimiru, BT, and Subaru completely nude bathing in a sauna. Barbie Doll Anatomy took a step back for that scene.
- Final First Hug: Ovan gives Haseo one of these when he's finally defeated in the manga.
- Fun with Acronyms: In GIFT, there is one part where they muse on whether the three kana that make up the Japanized pronunciation of the word (gi, fu, and to) point to three words (three-word combinations serving as room names/coordinates). One of these hilariously random Wild Mass Guesses was partially bleeped out (if unbleeped, it would be Awkward Marital Slaughterhouse or something like that).
- Genre Savvy: Justified since they're people playing an MMORPG.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Some characters suspect that the unkillable monsters, mysterious message board posts, and players "allegedly" trapped in the game are all part of some elaborate meta-event or Alternate Reality Game. Very few realize that the situation is entirely real and beyond the boundaries of the game.
- GIRL: Played straight, subverted, and inverted all over the place. The most classic inverted example is of course, Tsukasa. ASTA (from G.U.), on the other hand, is a straight example.
- Gotterdammerung: In the backstory of The World, the humans had a war with the gods which ended in the death of the gods, and the general ruined feel of much of the game world. Also, in G.U. most of the AI "gods" are inactive, apathetic, or dead.
- Hair Colors: For the same reason as above.
- Hermetic Magic: In the online videogame version.
- Hidden Eyes: Nearly everyone's depiction in the real world has overshadowed eyes. Only the few honest or "free" personalities have eyes.
- Honest Axe - In SIGN and the original video game tetralogy. The honest answer provides the player with an upgrade or downgrade of the item they have thrown in, while the dishonest answers provide weak golden and silver axes that are only useful for trading. Tsukasa just tries to kill the water spirit.
- If the item is out of the level range for the pond you tossed it in, and are honest, the water sprite will suggest you take it to a different area and give it back along with both the Gold And Silver axes.
- Instant AI, Just Add Water: somewhat Justified, given the fact that The World was specifically designed to produce an AI.
- Instant Runes
- Just a Machine
- Lampshade Hanging: To be expected, considering the players are in an MMORPG.
- Late Arrival Spoiler: If you insist on being spoiler-free, start by reading a novel, then follow up with its sequel [a short story collection], then watch a 26-episode anime series, then play 4 games (or cop out by reading 4 novels... actually, just do both as the books tell the story from Black Rose's point of view while the games are from Kites and some events are only shown in one version as only one of them is there), then read a 3-volume manga series (and don't you dare cop out by watching the anime adaptation, as that's in Canon Discontinuity), then watch ANOTHER 26-episode anime series after that, then play 3 games. In that order. Not to mention the movies that come with the first four games, which tell what's going on in the real world in the time period the games take place in.
- Done with that? Great! Now you've got a few more books to read, one more game to play (which is unlikely to be officially localized but will at least play on your PSP) a subtitled miniseries to watch, and the movie that'll be out sometime in 2012! Have fun!
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: One of the NPCs in the first four games tries to lead noobs astray by relating false "rumors." The rumors include stating that the online game is not an online game but a perfectly crafted game since people seem to speak several lines before repeating what they have to say.
- Level Grinding: Aside from the events of the plot and the odd event here or there, this seems to be the entirety of what The World consists of, you go into dungeons to level up and get better equipment so you can go to higher level dungeons to level up more and get better equipment...
- More conventionally, be prepared to do some of this yourself in the games. If not for actual levels, than for the randomly Data-Drained Virus Cores. Annoyingly, using Data-Drain increases your infection level, which makes it less likely that you'll get Virus Cores from using it, meaning you can't just spam Data Drain at the enemies that have the cores you need.
- Linked-List Clue Methodology Go to dungeon. Get clue. Go to next dungeon, get next clue.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: For the series as a whole more than individual stories: most of the stories in .hack focus on someone completely different, so this was pretty much inevitable.
- Lost Aesop: A lot of effort is made in R:1 to show that Man and AI can get along together and build a bright future. Most of these AIs die in .hack//ROOTS and after or else choose not to interact with humans directly ever again. The plot no longer cares.
- Perhaps it will be regained in Links.
- It wasn't. If anything, the final boss made that aesop even more lost.
- Perhaps it will be regained in Links.
- Love Hurts: Poor, poor Elk. Not only does Mia, the only friend he has in The World and his first love turn out to be an AI but immediately after that revelation, he is forced to fight her alongside the main character and erase her from the game. It gets better in the Bonus Dungeon where you bring her back into the game...only to get much, much worse during the move into G.U. when Mia gets destroyed anyway along with the rest of the world. This turn of events causes Elk, now Endrance, to become a social recluse and spend his life addicted to the world. When he thinks he is finally reunited with her in the form of a cat, he finds out that it was only AIDA manipulating him and watches as she disintegrates right in front of him when you defeat him in battle, leading, understandably, to ANOTHER Heroic BSOD where he becomes a recluse in The World, literally trapped in crystal. Elk's got it rough.
- Meaningful Name: Everyone. Seriously, everyone. Even the ones that aren't even names, like BT. Justified in that players name their own characters, and would naturally choose something personally meaningful.
- Mini Game: Racing Grunties!
- Replaced by Steam Bikes in GU/The World R:2
- Mind Screw: From the "What is .hack//XXXX?" page of the first volume of said manga, here's this: "* Incidentally, this background image is a random image from the non-existent manga ALTIMIT XX which .hack//XXXX is simultaneously related to and disconnected from. (CC 2: Matsuyama)" Wha...?
- Monster of the Week: The Eight Phases of Morganna you will fight in the game.
- The Movie: A feature length CGI movie simply titled .hack//The Other Side of the World .hack//G.U. Trilogy could also count.
- Nice Hat
- No Export for You: .hack//frägment an online RPG version (not to be confused with an MMO) that allows custom created characters on a playable online server, only released in Japan. Fans fear that this may also be the case with .hack//Link, as the PSP is nearing the end of its lifespan.
- Nonstandard Game Over: If you use Data Drain too many times, your corruption level will rise to such a high point that when it reaches 100%, you have a fair chance that the game just immediately kills you. Made even worse later on when you NEED to Data Drain everything in sight to look for rare Virus Cores. Made even worse than that because a bonus dungeon contains almost nothing but protected enemies that require you to data drain them to kill them, so your corruption level will reach 100%.
- Old Save Bonus: As can be expected, playing the games in order and loading new games with the saves of previous ones will benefit your characters, usually transferring their levels over, as well as any Optional Party Members you encountered. Transferring from the first four (and frägment) to G.U. even unlocks a few special e-mails
- Inversion? Starting a new game of .hack G.U. volume 1 with volume 2 clear data starts Haseo at level 35 with better weapons and armor.
- One Game for the Price of Two: Four. Then another for three.
- One-Gender Race: All the Vagrant AIs appear entirely female except for one, whose gender is listed as "male?".
- Only Six Faces: Justified. Lots of characters have similar voices, or faces, or body types, or hair styles, or costumes. But since this is an MMORPG you're bound to run into stuff like that now and then.
- The Other Darrin: Balmung was voiced by Doug Erholtz in the first game of the original tetralogy. He is voiced by Crispin Freeman from Mutation onwards.
- Perspective Flip: .hack//Another Birth tells the story of the R1 games through the perspective of Black Rose.
- Power Tattoo: The Wave symbols on any given character model are more or less a permanent bonus trait to whatever spells or abilities your armor grants you, granting different attack styles or defensive perks that would otherwise not exist.
- Rant-Inducing Slight: What Haseo does when Atoli cranks her love freakiness Up to Eleven.
- Recap Episode
- Relationship Values: Make your friends like you more through e-mail and trades. .hack//G.U. has a wedding at the end.
- Rewarding Vandalism
- Road Cone: If you went through .hack//G.U. with anyone other than Atoli as Haseo's love interest, you're gonna be disappointed when you watch the movie - and it's hinted that Haseo ends up with Shino at the end of the manga.
- But those other sources are non-canon so they don't really matter.
- Role Playing Game Verse: Literally.
- Save Both Worlds
- Say My Name: There's a scene in the Legend of the Twilight anime which is nothing but the two main characters shouting each other's names. For about ten minutes.
- Scenery Porn: Especially in .hack//SIGN, where the camera spends ages languidly panning across the World's various landscapes.
- Schmuck Bait: The Guardian enemies Protect Break after unusually small amounts of damage. If you Data Drain them, they become The Bracelet. Enjoy your Game Over.
- On the other hand, actually killing The Bracelet nets you huge amounts of experience points (far more than any other enemy in the game), so if you're capable of it, it saves a lot of time on level grinding.
- Schoolgirl Lesbians - Tsukasa and Subaru.
- Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Emma Weilant's Epitaph of Twilight. Harald Hoerwick used her poem as the setting for frägment, the beta version of the The World, both of which which are actually an attempt to create a true AI by studying the millions of players. But part of his program ends up becoming intelligent on its own and rebels against its purpose, resulting in the rebel AI and a handful of players actually reenacting the story of the Epitaph in ways Harald never anticipated. And considering Emma's rather mysterious inspiration for the poem...
- Serious Business: Much like in real life, people take The World way too seriously and PKing has the same status as murder. Somewhat justified with those trapped inside the game, since it becomes a question of what would happen to them in the real world if they died.
- On a more conventional sense, the gender of Hotaru's real-world player, one of the characters of .hack//Legend of The Twilight Bracelet, is very fiercely debated due to several conflicting informations across the medium. Specifically, while many has said that Hotaru is a female, she is revealed to be male in the non-canon Let's Meet Offline, and in a throwaway, hard-to-translate line in A.I. Buster 2, which is canon. It doesn't help that real-world Hotaru is shown at the end of Volume 3 (along with the other real-world versions of the cast), and looks VERY genderly-ambiguous.
- This series brings this trope Up to Eleven. Players of The World never seem to just take a step back and say "OK, this is a game - even if something really terrible happens, I can just quit and forget all about it". As such, you never see players log out or turn off their computers when faced with "real" threats from The World, which is what any sane person would normally do.
- Note that a scene in Liminality suggests the Mind Raping begins with just the presence of such a threat. When Mai and Junichiro encounter Skeith, Mai just pulls off her headset, but Junichiro's twitching and foaming at the mouth, madly mashing his control pad, until she shuts down the system. And he wasn't even Data Drained.
- Shout-Out: In .hack//Link, Haseo and Ovan's secret costumes are Asbel and Malik.
- There are quite a few to another one of Cyber Connect 2's games, Tail Concerto. Various "other players" are named after the charaters in Tail Concerto (Waffle, Cyan, etc.). There are even ads on your desktop about the game.
- In G.U. you can read a message board poster saying he/she is reminded of a story about wolves searching for paradise.
- Gaspard sends you an e-mail saying "I aint afraid of no ghost"."
- Super-Powered Evil Side:Quite a few examples, although it's played for laughs in Natsume's case.
- Synchronization: Happens in reverse form, where various AIs - Aura, the eight Avatars, and AIDA - are linked to certain players and respond to their emotions. More than one player openly questions how such a thing could be possible.
- Theme Naming: It seems many Captains and Guild Leaders in G.U. have to be named after Heavenly Objects. The various arena champions are all named after stars, and the guilds are named after birds (although Silabus offers an alternate explanation for "Canard").
- There Are No Girls on the Internet: Part of the reason for the denial about Tsukasa.
- Title Drop: The group that defeated Morganna is known in later installments as the ".hackers".
- Tragic Monster: Most of the series' "villains."
- Trapped in Another World - Get killed by the various corrupted evils of .hack, and you get to spend RL in a coma, and your mind in The World!
- Twelve-Episode Anime: The Legend of the Twilight Bracelet is also an adaptation of a .hack monthly serial.
- Underground Monkey: Many of them in the video games.
- Woman in White - Mainly Aura and Helba , though there are quite a few others. Helba takes the evil version of this trope, being a hacker and her character name is from the Queen of Darkness in the Epitapth of Twilight, though she is more an Antihero. Aura takes the pure from of this being the core of the system.
- Your Mind Makes It Real: Characters who get attacked by Data Drain also reportedly suffer severe comas in the real world; this is explained in Legend of the Twilight, where it's revealed that Data Draining causes the mind to assume a "nocebo" death.
- Wait, does that mean nothing The Dot Hackers or Haseo did actually helped people escape their comas? This also puts Tsukasa's existence into question.
- Except that's likely from the anime, which isn't canon.