Ace Attorney

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
If only jury duty was this epic.

Ema Skye: Why can't we have a normal, straightforward killing once in a while in this country!?
Apollo Justice: I'll pretend I didn't hear that.


Originally released in Japan as the Gyakuten Saiban (Turnabout Trial) series, the Ace Attorney franchise chronicles the adventures of a couple of hotshot young defense attorneys. It comprises the following games:

Wii Ware ports of the first three titles have been released, as well as a version for the iPhone.

More recently, a crossover game for the 3DS with Level-5's Professor Layton series has also been announced, starring Phoenix, Maya, Layton, and Luke. Titled Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney, it seems to entail the involved characters finding themselves in a third, swords-and-sorcery style universe, with Phoenix defending and Layton prosecuting a woman accused of witchcraft. Gameplay is a mystery at the moment. From what can be inferred, the players will take control of Professor Layton to solve puzzles in the traditional style while Phoenix Wright will then be required to engage in what are known as "Witch Trials" to defend characters. The trailer seems to imply a slightly antagonistic, if not distrusting relationship between the two and presents Professor Layton seeming to serve in the role of a prosecutor at one of these trials. The trailer can be found here.

Phoenix also made his fighting game debut in Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom 3.

While it has become famous in the English-speaking locales for its above-and-beyond top notch localization (outside of a few grammatical errors) and has gleaned much Memetic Mutation from the fanbase, the original Japanese series has such a following that it spawned two official musicals and the Gyakuten Saiban Orchestra does regular performances. A film adaptation, directed by Takashi Miike, has also been made and stays very close to it's source material.

This Memetic Mutation lead to the creation of many things, but there are a few worth mentioning: First, its very own Gag Dub /parody series "Phoenix Wrong", mainly due to the dramatic gestures to which the characters are prone while on the stand.[1] Second, the plenty communities creating fan sequels for the series (such as this one), up to the point of making "Create your own case" engines. Third, a theme park attraction in Japan. Fourth, a fully-produced fandub of the "Rise From The Ashes" case, with every line voice-acted by actual actors. Fifth, its very unofficial [2] musical. And finally, it is now slated for a live-action film adaptation. It also has a spin-off manga, with the story by Kenji Kuroda and the art by Kazuo Maekawa.

Tropes used in Ace Attorney include:
  • Accuse the Witness
  • Alliteration: "You huffy, puffy, loosey-goosey excuse for a whimpering whining wuss of a witness." - Franziska, with some good ol' rhyming added for good measure.
    • Valant Gramarye in Apollo Justice was prone to this as well.
  • Aerith and Bob: Being a series that's absolutely full of oddly-named people, any real-sounding names could count as an example of this. A good one in particular though, would probably be Troupe Gramarye's line-up. Magnifi, Valant, Thalassa... and Zak.
  • Always Murder: The second case of the third game initially appears to be about a case of grand larceny (which creates an odd scenario where the victim of the crime is alive, and yelling at you for taking the defense case), but within a day, you have to defend the same guy for a related murder.
    • Also occurs in case 4-2, with 3 related cases - 2 thefts and 1 hit-and-run. But then, of course, a murder occurs.
    • Interestingly though its not always. Case 1:3 involves a manslaughter in self-defence and case 2:3 also involves a manslaughter.
  • Amateur Sleuth: Despite the fact that you're always playing the role of the defense attorney with no police training whatsoever, it's also the player's job to do all the detective work for their client.
    • It's been stated on-record in interviews that the entire series is one massive Take That against the Japanese judicial system, of which the system in the games is an accurate depiction!
  • Animal Stereotypes: Used in different ways for character designs to help build their characterization. Maggey Byrde's name is a pun based on a magpie, thought to be a very unlucky bird. Furio Tigre isn't just named for an angry, powerful tiger; he has one on his shirt and roars when he's upset. The Kitaki mafia family has trickster foxes on their clothing, and Wocky's hair makes him look like a fox. Alita Tiala has bird wings on her dress to help her look sweeter. Daryan Crescend's hair and jacket are reminiscent of a vicious shark. Phoenix's name is a reference to his trials ability to, essentially, come back from the dead.
    • Not surprisingly, some of these characters have the same puns in their Japanese names. Furio Tigre's surname "Toranosuke" literally means Tiger boy. The tiger devouring a dragon on his shirt is actually a reference to Phoenix that is lost in translation, because Phoenix's name in Japan is "Ryuichi" and is spelled with the kanji for "dragon"—tigers and dragons are natural enemies. "Ryuichi" isn't supposed to have any meaning at all, but the writers chose to play around with it in the third game anyway when they make his "evil twin". The English release gave the main character's name meaning anyway, via Woolseyism. Same for Maggey Byrde, who's name has no animal references in Japanese (but literally means "continues to lose").
      • Actually, the relation between Furio and Phoenix takes a whole new twist as both the Phoenix and the Tiger are major animals in Chinese mythology, which makes more sense if you consider that Furio isn't that big of a rival to Phoenix to warrant the Dragon/Tiger contrast, but are instead just similar in one aspect, but go in complete different directions in everything else (something lampshaded by Phoenix himself).
  • Arc Words: "X years ago" is a common one. In the first game's second and fourth cases, it's "15 years ago." In case 1-5, it's "2 years ago" to the point of being lampshaded (and to a lesser extent, "6 months ago"). In Apollo Justice, it's "7 years ago." The third game has a bunch of them, but "5 years ago" is probably the most common.
  • Arrogant Kung Fu Guy: The primary characterization of every prosecutor Phoenix encounters in his career (minus Butt Monkey Winston Payne).
    • Klavier Gavin of the fourth title plays both sides of the fence. In his younger days, he exhibits some of the attributes but is cooler-headed than someone who might be the AKFG. Later in his career, he mellows and enjoys his work as a prosecutor as a chance to match mettle with the defense attorney rather than a trial being a battle that can only be won or lost, which ultimately turns him into a subversion (though his brother may be the defense attorney-equivalent).
  • Art Evolution: Most visible between the games that originated on the GBA, and the ones that have originated on the DS. However, the series' character design style has changed quite a bit over the years—the first game used fairly low-key and realistic character designs, but the following games have had much more outlandish designs. The contrast between the styles is almost distractingly obvious in cases 1-5 and 4-4, the only cases where old and new sprites are next to each other.
  • Asshole Victim: Roughly half the victims in the series. Sometimes they're done in by other assholes, other times by more sympathetic characters, but in many cases, there's at least two people who hate them enough to kill them.
  • Author Tract: The games are somewhat a satire of legitimate corruption in the Japanese Judicial system.
  • Awesome but Impractical: The DS support functions for the microphone and touch screen. While it is cool to press the Y button to turn on the mic and yell "Objection!" and "Hold it!", it's far easier to press the shoulder buttons instead. The touch screen is rarely ever required for any of the games either. Apollo Justice tries to make the best use of both functions by implementing forensic tools to discover clues throughout the game, but for the most part, such a requirement comes up maybe only once or twice per game.
    • The shoulder buttons are easily to damage and don't work
  • Awesome McCoolname: Phoenix Wright and Apollo Justice, natch.
  • Be as Unhelpful as Possible: Neither Phoenix nor Apollo will get a single useful bit of information out of a witness, suspect, or even the detectives unless they drag it out of them.
    • Especially jarring in 2-2, when you have to use the Magatama to find out where Pearl was at the time of the murder. She wants to help you, she really why doesn't she just say it and help you out a bit? You find out why she doesn't just help you, but when you don't know what her reasons are, it's more than a little infuriating.
      • Brought to new heights in Apollo Justice, when Trucy refuses to tell how a magic trick was pulled off, even though the outcome of a murder trial hangs in the balance.
    • Larry also embodies this in general.
  • Better Manhandle the Murder Weapon: One reason why Edgeworth ends up charged with Robert Hammond's murder, even though Yanni Yogi was the other person in the boat.
  • Big No: Witnesses have a tendency to do this when you manage to break their alibis.
  • Big Red Button
  • Big Screwed-Up Family: The Fey clan.
    • The von Karma family belongs here as well.
    • If they can be considered a family, Troupe Gramareye fits too.
  • Big "What?": Frequent, often in response to case-breaking evidence being presented.
  • Big Word Shout: "Objection!" "Hold it!" "Take that!" "Gotcha!" "Eureka!" "Not so fast!" "Overruled!"
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Usually the true murderer. Dahlia Hawthorne before she developed her Yandere tendencies towards Mia, and Alita Tiala from Apollo Justice. Matt Engarde had this as his defining character trait--even his name is a hint. And from Gyakuten Kenji 2, Souta Sarushiro.
  • Boke and Tsukkomi Routine: Pretty much the core comedy dynamic between your main attorney character (tsukkomi) and their side-kick (boke). In court, your attorney is usually the tsukkomi for the prosecutor, the judge, and the more loony witnesses, though Edgeworth often flips the tables on Phoenix in their games.
  • Bunny Ears Lawyer: Most of the cast, including any and all lawyers, from the unflappable but hapless title character to the driven, coffee-guzzling Godot.
    • Characters who aren't really that involved with law are this too: Maya, while showing some rather pronounced Cloudcuckoolander tendencies, is also a very talented spirit channeler (she's probably be even better, wasn't it for her occasional lack of self-esteem). Same applies to Ema, who may have screwed up the exam but is very skilled in Forensics and Trucy, who is one of the best illusionists you'll ever find anywhere. Kay Faraday, is an exception: She's as untalented as a thief as one can be.
  • Busman's Holiday: This combined with Economy Cast makes many of the characters wonder if it's them that's having the bad luck.
  • But Thou Must!: A very frequent occurrence. Just look at the page's image.
  • Canadian Accents: The Judge's brother is a walking stereotype; he even calls you a hoser several times.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Played straight with Phoenix and Apollo, averted hard by everyone else. Witnesses routinely perjure themselves, and they threaten and bully the lawyers. Prosecutors withhold evidence, and assault the defense, witnesses, and even the Judge, and refer to the defense by insulting nicknames.
    • Actually, this hapens to Edgeworth as well in Investigations. Seems like being a main character instantly turns you into a Butt Monkey.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Larry.
  • Catch Phrase: "Objection!", of course! To a lesser extent, "Hold it!" and "Take that!". "Objection!" is shouted one last time in every game's ending before the credits.

Edgeworth: I, myself, never let an opportunity to shout "Objection!" pass me by!

    • Pearl lampshades the use of it at the ending of the third game: "Oh, I love this part! I can't wait to hear it...!"
    • Even witnesses and others such as Maya and Trucy scream out "Hold it!" and "Objection!", although they don't use a voice clip for it.
    • Phoenix's habit of thinking, "I'll get you for this...! In court!"
      • And "I've got a bad feeling about this..." / "* sob* "
      • "Anyone could wear that costume! Even me!" (Which leads to a Brain Bleach moment during case 3-3.)
    • Apollo's "Here comes Justice!"
    • Sister Bikini's "Especially in Winter".
    • Ema's "At my age, no less".
  • Caught on Tape
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Larry again. He might be an idiot, but when he falls in love, he falls hard.
  • Chekhov's Armoury: This is a game based on court proceedings with a judicial system requiring that even with logical sense and linked facts, there needs to be concrete and decisive evidence to prove all separate facts, after all. The only way to be sure you have all the evidence is downright kleptomania. For a non-item version, early in the third game, a silly digression involving a ketchup stain hints at the fact that Godot can't see red on white—which becomes vitally important in the final case.
  • Closet Geek: Edgeworth is a huge fan of Sentai serials, particularly the Steel Samurai/Pink Princess series, to the point where he sabotages his own prosecution rather than let his hero, the Steel Samurai (or at least the guy who plays him on TV) go to jail for murder. His ringtone in Ace Attorney Investigations is even the Steel Samurai theme song. He usually gets defensive about his fandom to everyone ... except Maya, interestingly enough.
  • Come to Gawk
  • Continuity Cameo: Phoenix Wright is mentioned by She-Hulk in Marvel vs. Capcom 3. In She-Hulk's ending, both Wright and Edgeworth appear.
  • Conviction by Contradiction: The only way to make any progress during a cross-examination/rebuttal is to notice and point out factual inconsistencies. It's actually a bit of an inversion in the main games, though, as you're a defense lawyer, not a prosecutor.
  • Cool Shades: Ema Skye. Oh come on, don't tell me YOU didn't want a pair of those awesome evidence-finding shades.
    • Also Klavier, in the flashback court segment of 4-4.
    • Shi-Long Lang has what is possibly the most pointlessly elaborate, yet completely awesome pair of sunglasses ever to exist.
  • Courtroom Antic: Every one in the book. And then more.
  • Cultural Cross-Reference: All references to Perry Mason are in the original Japanese script. Apparently the Japanese love Perry Mason.
  • Cultural Translation: The English-language versions are posited to take place in a place not unlike Los Angeles (except that it snows in the wintertime and there are a surprising number of Shinto temples in the vicinity), but so many visual elements are so very distinctly Japanese (to say nothing of the court system) that it stretches suspension of disbelief a little much at times...
  • Cute and Psycho: Mia Fey, if this official comic is any indication.
  • Dark Secret: Almost every character has at least one of these. Figuring out what they are is the whole point of the games.
    • Taken to its logical conclusion with Kristoph Gavin's black Psyche-Locks that never (formally) get cracked.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Phoenix several times over. He may not always say it out loud, but if he's not saying something sarcastic, there's a very good chance he's thinking it.
    • Sometimes people will react to these statements, meaning that either he's muttering at least some of them under his breath, or there's a bunch of telepaths running around.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Franziska von Karma does this often with the word "fool." Take, for example:

von Karma: Tsk, tsk, tsk. Mr. Phoenix Wright. I grow tired of the foolish foolery of the foolish fools of this foolish country...
von Karma: Foolish fool spouting foolish foolishness, just as I expect of a foolish fool such as you.
von Karma: A foolishly foolish idea born from the foolish mind of a foolhardy foolish fool.

    • Not to mention one of Larry's lines in the first game.

Larry: It's lonely, being alone on Christmas Eve.

    • Larry has quite a few.

Larry: My claim is a claim claiming my claim. Do you have a problem with that?

    • Or this from Klavier Gavin in the fourth game.

Klavier: The jurists will function like a jury.

  • Devil in Plain Sight: Many suspicious witnesses (and of course, the real culprit of a case) start acting awfully suspicious the more holes you start poking in their testimonies, to the point that some of the culprits could probably have easily been convicted in Real Life simply based on how they were behaving (you wouldn't believe how many of them start openly gloating if the prosecution gets a leg up on you.)
  • Double Entendre: In spades. Hits a real high with Apollo and Ema's conversation about her "tool" in the fourth case.
    • Franziska's "I DEMAND SATISFACTION!" before whipping Larry Butz into unconsciousness.
    • In the latter part of Investigations' first case, a lot of time was spent on figuring out who touched Portsman's knob. Only Portsman himself and his partner touched his knob. Possibly unintentional, but who knows.
  • Doujinshi: Two volumes of it were released in English, one with comics focusing on Wright, the other with comics focusing on Edgeworth.
  • Dramatic Irony: There are several cases (generally the first one in the game) where the murderer is made clear from the very beginning, but the main character doesn't realize it.
    • Looking at the whole series, Phoenix's disbarment could be seen as such. During case 1-2, Mia told Maya that Phoenix should have another three years before he's someone she could rely on in court. Three years forward of the events of the first game, Phoenix is forced out of the legal profession in disgrace.
  • Dub Name Change: Not just from Japanese to English, but also to French, and many other languages, to keep the puns they carry.
  • Dying Clue / Couldn't Find a Pen : Referred to repeatedly throughout the series. Usually used in a nonstandard way.
    • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney case 2: Near the victim's body, Maya's name is written in blood. Detective Gumshoe says this is a message from the victim saying that Maya did it. It turns out that the killer wrote it in the victim's blood to frame Maya.
    • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney case 5: The name "Ema" was written in blood on the "unstable urn."
    • Justice for all case 1: The name "Maggie" was written in the sand in front of the victim and the victim's right index finger was near the last letter. The player shows that the killer used the victim's hand to write this to frame Maggey by showing that the name is spelled wrong (when the victim would have known how to spell it) and that the victim was left-handed.
    • Trials and Tribulations case 5: The name "Maya" is written in the victim's blood. It turns out that the victim was channeling a spirit at the time and that the spirit wrote the name to implicate Maya because said spirit was hostile to Maya.
    • Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney case 3: There is something written in blood on the floor in front of the victim, but it's hard to read. It turns out that the victim was an Interpol agent and wrote his agent number. The killer saw this and tried to smear the number to make it unreadable - proving that the person who tried to smear the number wasn't blind.
    • Ace Attorney Investigations case 1: When you put the binders back on the shelf, you find that the name Gumshoe was written in the victim's blood on the file binders. It turns out that the killer wrote this name to frame someone, but then someone else came and stole one of the binders that the name was written on.
      • Considering that every time this comes up it turns out to be a Red Herring, one has to wonder why this clue popping up isn't automatically dismissed as a false trail. Maybe if it were, it would lead to criminals leaving their own names at crime scenes, making it look like they're being framed...
        • Because this would be Troll Logic...Saying "I can't be the murderer because my name is written with the victim's blood at the scene" will likely get you arrested on the spot in real life.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: Ridiculously cute Regina not only has half of the male cast swooning over her, but even Maya admits to being tempted to confessing love to her.
  • Everything's Sparkly with Jewelry: Whether it's evidence or for characterization.
  • Every Episode Ending: Every game in the series has the protagonist shout "Objection!" at the very end of the game.
  • Evidence Scavenger Hunt
  • Expy: The Takarazuka Musical has Monica Clyde for Ema Skye, obvious from the first glance at her. Less direct expys are also present. All necessary for compressing the plot into a 2 hour play, plus dancing.
    • Kristoph Gavin and Manfred von Karma.
    • Let's face it, the other main young female partners to the lawyers (Ema, Trucy, Kay) are obviously expies of Maya. This is lampshaded and used as a plot point in 1-5, as Ema's resemblance to Maya is what spurs Phoenix to take on the case. Maya, Ema, and Trucy are all identified as "in training", and even Takumi stated before AJ that Trucy's role would be "just like Maya's".
  • Failure Is the Only Option: In case 1-4, there is a piece of evidence that can turn the case around. However, in order to progress, you have to confront Von Karma with it - at which point he hits you with a tazer and destroys the evidence, and it's the only thing left during that particular investigation.
  • Fan Boy: Edgeworth is a huge Steel Samurai fanboy. It's subtle in the main games, confirmed in the supplemental materials. Investigations throws all pretense out the window and makes it a minor plot point in the final case.
  • Fan Girl: All of the assistants are a huge fan of something in popular culture, including Gregory's male assistant a younger Tateyuki Shigaraki - Maya (Steel Samurai and its spinoffs), Ema (Edgeworth), Trucy (Troupe Gramarye and the Gavinners), Kay (Jammin' Ninja), and young Tateyuki (Dansweets)
  • Finger-Licking Poison: The murder weapon for a case in Apollo Justice is a commemorative stamp.
  • Flanderization: From game to game, this gets more and more notable. Gumshoe's incompetence, the Judge's airheadedness, Larry's immaturity/stalker thing, and Oldbag's infuriating nature.
  • Flash Back: Used frequently to recall key clues during a case, or to reference events from past games or cases. Can be somewhat annoying as the game will sometimes flash back to things that you just saw a few minutes ago, especially in the third case of the fourth game, when you see one scene something like four times in close succession.
    • About half of 4-4 is a playable flashbacks.
  • Fluffy Fashion Feathers: Some of the fancy ladies' outfits.
  • Foreshadowing: The games have a lot of this, particularly Trials and Tribulations and the bonus case 'Rise from the Ashes' in the first game, which was created as part of an Updated Rerelease with the writers knowing what was going to happen in later games, leading to lines foreshadowing Trials and Tribulations ("We certainly can't get a dead person to testify" as well as Phoenix stating he would get found out if he lent his badge to someone (foreshadowing Phoenix lending his badge to Edgeworth). Also, Gumshoe asks if he can work as Wright and Co. after he is fired foreshadowing him working for Phoenix in the last case in Justice for All. The climax of the case in which Phoenix is accused of withholding evidence could be foreshadowing Apollo Justice.
    • Also in the second case of Trials and Tribulations, when talking about Mask DeMasque Phoenix says that when you're famous there are always imitators. Pearl then says that if Phoenix works hard, someday he'll have his own imitators. The next case revolves around Furio Tigre impersonating Phoenix to cover a crime.
    • Investigations has an odd case of reverse-foreshadowing. Specifically case four. It's a flashback to four years before the first game and six months before Edgeworth's first trial, and contains multiple references to future events. If you hadn't played the first few games you wouldn't get the meaning behind von Karma's comments (he killed Edgeworth's father), the fire extinguisher being used in a crime (later used to bash Phoenix on the head and give him temporary amnesia), Franziska mentioning she wouldn't know what to do were her father to die (it is implied in JFA that Manfred dies after being convicted on the murder of Gregory Edgeworth) and saying she would never have to work with Detective Gumshoe or Edgeworth mentioning his badge won't stay shiny forever (his reputation will eventually be tarnished).
    • In case five, the 'shadow of the Yatagarasu' is formed by more than one statue. This foreshadows the fact that the real Yatagarasu is more than one person.
    • In case 3 of the first game, Phoenix makes a somewhat overly-dramatic comment to Cody Hackins, a Steel Samurai fanboy, that seeing through lies is "one of his powers". Fast-forward to case 2 of the second game, when Phoenix is given a Magatama, which literally gives him the power to see through lies, via Psyche Locks.
    • In the bonus case of the first game, 'Rise from the Ashes', when accused of forging evidence, Damon Gant points out that although Edgeworth may have been found to have unknowingly presented forged evidence, says "It's not just prosecutors who can forge evidence, right Wrighto?" Fast forward to Apollo Justice...
    • Apollo Justice, Case 3. A player watching closely during The Guitar's Serenade can notice the flash of the igniter going off and the fire growing.
  • For Great Justice: Most obvious in Phoenix and Apollo, of course, but Edgeworth also learns to seek out the truth rather than just more wins on his record. Being a game series based on lawyers, it's justified.
    • It's also the Steel Samurai's motto.
  • Framing the Guilty Party: Crops up on multiple occasions, including one particularly brutal Deconstruction.
  • Freudian Excuse: Some killers have Freudian excuses.
  • Friendly Enemy: Edgeworth (after his Heel Face Turn) and Klavier.
  • Frothy Mugs of Water: Oddly, averted; juices are served in wine bottles and glasses, including tomato juice (Justice For All) and grape juice (Apollo Justice, Investigations), which leads to think of this. However, they are juice in the Japanese version as well.
  • Gag Dub: The "Phoenix Wrong" series. For example, this compilation
  • Gainaxing: April May could hit herself in the face if she's not careful.
  • Gambit Roulette: Many of the arguments for both sides in several cases are these, dependent entirely on a particular character being in possession of the Idiot Ball at a particular time.
  • Genius Ditz: Despite Gumshoe's seemingly sieve-like mind and short attention span, he actually seems to have a knack for engineering, over the course of the series building a mechanical puppet, a frequency detector, and a metal detector. The frequency detector is actually a pretty basic model that professional detectives wouldn't usually use, but it's somewhat justified that Gumshoe made it in middle school and didn't have time to fill out the paperwork for the precinct's equipment.
  • Giving Someone the Pointer Finger: In a particular pose that's easily as iconic of the series as any of the catchphrases. It's in the series' logo and even in the scroll text button on the touch screen. It is oddly absent on the touch screen in Apollo Justice and Investigations, however.
    • The Preorder Bonus for the first DS game in the US was a stylus...whose tip was a hand with that very pointer finger.
    • The Wii port of the first game even allows you to issue an objection by flailing the Wiimote at the screen in imitation of said pose.
    • Case 1-5 (first game, fifth case, Rise from the Ashes) has this exchange:

Judge: "If I cut my finger Mr. Wright, I wouldn't be able to pound my gavel anymore."
Phoenix: (Yeah. But if I cut my finger, I wouldn't be able to point it at people anymore...)

    • And now Wright is crossing over with Professor Layton, another famous pointer. This can only end well.
  • Gonk: Perverted hospital "director" Hotti, and the scholar from Apollo Justice are all good examples.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Kristoph Gavin has a scar on his hand that looks like a devil's face that's actually an important clue.
    • Matt Engarde has evil scars behind his Peek-a-Bangs in Justice for All.
  • Gosh Darn It to Heck: The series avoids explicit swear words, so you'll get this a lot. Oftentimes there'll be oddly creative surrogate words for when there's supposed to be a swear.
  • Guide Dang It: Some cases require spectacular leaps of logic, which can prove frustrating for many people—especially younger children. What makes this even worse is that sometimes they're accommodating and let you present different pieces of evidence that, logically, would raise the same argument as each other, and other times they will only allow one.
    • One particularly difficult moment happens in the third game. You've got your target on the ropes but one final, massive testimony gets unloaded on your lap (at least ten different phrases to press). This testimony is also an instant-lose condition: press the wrong phrase and it is an automatic game over, which defies the standard procedure of gameplay. Finally, unlike other times where the game is very immediate about giving feedback, every phrase you press will generate a universal reply at first, preventing you from simply brute-forcing your way through all the testimony by restarting the game with each failed press (the correct phrase will only change the outcome after a few sentences have been spoken). If you're astute, the solution will be apparent but it's probably one of the most difficult moments in any installment.
  • Guile Hero: It doesn't get more "Guile Hero" than a defense attorney who can only use evidence, brains and balls to save innocent people from the chair!
  • The Gump: Kristoph Gavin in the final case of Apollo Justice.
  • Hammerspace: See Kleptomaniac Hero, below. Also, someone is apparently lugging around 17 cups of coffee to Godot's every trial. Or the coffee machine to make them, and the water, and the various blends, and assorted ingredients...
    • Simple: giant urn of coffee under the bench. Or Godot just has a rather impressively sized thermos flask.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: Expect a lot of Big Word Shout back-and-forth during trials.
  • Hello, Attorney!: Of course.
  • Hope Spot: It is nearly impossible to get to the end of a trial without the prosecutor or culprit finding a significant flaw in your case, often a lack of decisive evidence, that renders your entire argument worthless despite everything you have proven. Cue Phoenix holding his head in his hands... until...
  • Hurricane of Puns: The vast majority of names you meet are a pun of some sort. Some are subtle, most... not so much.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every episode (save the bonus case in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, "Rise From The Ashes") contains the word "Turnabout" in the title. The Japanese name of that case can be translated as "Turnabout Revival". And the series itself is originally titled "Turnabout Courtroom", which quite nicely describes Phoenix's tendency to make a dramatic comeback when all seems lost.
  • Idiot Ball: Gets passed around frequently.
  • The Idiot From Osaka: Lotta Hart is this in the Japanese version, though she's translated as being from the South, as per standard procedure.
  • Impersonating an Officer: The lawyers frequently overstep their authority in their crime scene investigations. Its very vague about whether the lawyers are actually allowed to do this—sometimes Phoenix will be stopped from entering a crime scene due to lack of authority, and sometimes the police will gladly let him look the whole thing over and take whatever valuable evidence he wants.
  • Improbable Age: Edgeworth became a prosecutor at a very young age, but he's got nothing on Franziska von Karma, who started practicing law at age thirteen! And Klavier Gavin started practice at age seventeen while still finding the time to become a rock star. The German/American legal system must be fun! Only gets away with it due to Rule of Cool.
  • Indy Ploy: At least once every trial, Phoenix comments on how he's making his defense up as he goes along.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Winston Payne, minus the "Sympathetic" part.
  • Informed Ability: Winston Payne is described as a "rookie killer", yet every single rookie he goes up against in the games he ends up losing to. The only time the player sees Winston win a case is when he's arguing against Furio Tigre, in a Paper-Thin Disguise as Phoenix, who was trying to lose.
    • To be fair to Payne, the first trial that he lost was chronologically his first appearance, and this first loss led to him becoming the loser that he is in the rest of the games.
  • Infraction Distraction
  • Interactive Narrator: It seems people can occasionally hear Phoenix thinking or talking to the player.
  • Intercontinuity Crossover: The new Ace Attorney and Professor Layton crossover game being made by Level 5 and penned by Shu Takumi.
  • It Meant Something to Me
  • Invisible Advertising
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: A lot of the prosecutors.
  • The Judge: ... and his Canadian brother! Who is also a judge. I smell a sitcom!
  • Just in Time: Often times, just when all seems lost... someone bursts in with case-breaking evidence at the very last moment, usually backlit by the sun for extra dramatic effect.
    • Which is actually pretty odd, seeing as how in Apollo Justice during the MASON system segment, we see a overhead view of the courthouse, and that door opens to a hallway...
      • There's more than one courtroom in that courthouse.
  • Kangaroo Court: The legal system in this universe clearly operates on presumption of guilt...but it doesn't stop there. It's not enough to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that the defendant is innocent. There is at least one point in the games (probably more) where it is actually possible to have the defendant found guilty despite the Judge acknowledging that you've already proved their innocence. It's not even enough to prove who else did commit the crime. To get the defendant acquitted, you have to identify the real criminal and make them confess on the stand. This is Hand Waved by the Twenty Minutes Into the Future fictional legal system having undergone legislated reforms to drastically shorten and simplify the trial process, resulting in a system where the majority of defendants are quickly found guilty unless the defense can prove their innocence.
    • To be fair, the series originated in Japan, which has a significantly different legal system. It has an inquisitive court system, where the goal is to find the truth. Even trial by jury was not established in the Japanese legal system until 2009—and even then only for certain severe crimes (and the arrangement has far more in common with a court-martial than a common law trial). Yeah, it seems mildly biased against the player, but that's simply a gameplay mechanism. The prosecutors tend to treat the inquisitive court system as an adversarial one, doing anything to get their guilty verdict. Phoenix is not corrupt, and tries to only defend clients he truly believes innocent. The Rule of Cool and the Rule of Funny let the characters get away with murder (well, not literally, that's the one thing no one actually gets away with). When the judge believes there are loose ends, he will not give a verdict until the loose ends are tied up. So it's not guilty until proven innocent, except where it inconveniences the player.
    • Even most countries with the inquisitive system, including Japan, have the principle what one is "innocent until proven guilty". However, in a bit of Truth in Television, the Japanese court system has a >99% conviction rate (though it has been attributed to limited funding leading to only the most solid cases being tried), forced confessions are allowed frequently, and prosecutors can appeal not-guilty verdicts. In 2008, the Justice Minister noted that the idea of "innocent until proven guilty" was one that he wanted to constrain. However, this game takes it even further than the broken system in Japan and makes it so that one is "guilty until someone else is proven guilty". More in this article.
  • The Killer Was Left-Handed: Played straight, inverted, AND subverted.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: If it even conceivably passes for evidence, Phoenix or Apollo nabs it. However, it's difficult to tell if Phoenix or Apollo actually grabs the evidence, or just takes a picture of it or something similar. It would be highly improbable for them to lug around a large statue or noodle cart, for example. The general consensus seems to be that if it disappears from the scene, Phoenix or Apollo took it, and if it stays there, they took a picture. However, for extra fun, simply imagine them holding everything, and then presenting it in court by lugging it out from Hammerspace.
    • Well, there is always Trucy's panties...
    • Godot and Edgeworth also seem to share this trait, both finding the safest place for evidence to be their pocket and satchel respectively.
    • In Investigations, it's "Jotted down in the Organizer" unless the object is clearly handed to you, and you can examine it in detail.

'Bear snatched up by Edgeworth.'

    • Yeah, that bear the size of a hotel room.
    • The assistants, Maya and Trucy, are also fond of grabbing things and the protagonist often has to talk them out of stealing things. Not that they call it stealing mark you.
      • Trucy gets called out on this in case 4-3. When Gavin says they can take a flyer Apollo tells him good, as Trucy already swiped one. She is a little upset to be found out.
      • Kay often claims she was about to do this, but never actually does. It's funny when the Spirit Medium and the Illusionist among the Partners do indulge in more theft than, well, the thief.
  • Lady of War: The Pink Princess, the Steel Samurai's love interest, wields a rapier.
  • Large Ham: Is the character a Lawyer? They are this. Is the character a witness? They are this. Really, there's just something about the court system that turns everyone involved into one of these. Even the judge gets to join in once or twice.
  • Last-Name Basis: Edgeworth, von Karma (Manfred more than Franziska), and Gumshoe, most prominently.
  • Late Arrival Spoiler : Unaware that Miles Edgeworth makes a Heel Face Turn? Just look at the title of Miles Edgeworth: Ace Attorney Investigations.
    • Dahlia Hawthorne's Leitmotif is in the Kurain medley on the Gyakuten Meets Orchestra album.
  • Laughing Mad: Several guilty parties once they're exposed.
    • ESPECIALLY, Luke Atmey, and Calisto Yew.
    • And in Apollo Justice's last case, Kristoph Gavin. The game describes the killer's laugh thusly, as you look on his final breakdown.

A laugh louder than any ever heard before... or since.
A laugh that echoed in the halls of justice, lingering for what seemed like hours.

  • Leitmotif: Several characters have their own personal theme songs.
  • Life Meter: The 2nd game and onward use this to show the judge's patience with the player, though this can be a bit random since you can also lose life for messing up during Psyche Lock segments (something the Judge isn't involved in). Sometimes a single mistake can cost you the whole bar, which is an instant game over.
    • In the first game, the Life Meter takes the form of a row of five exclamation points. One gets taken off for each mistake, regardless of the severity, and at every save point, all five were restored.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Edgeworth and Franziska were raised as siblings.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Celeste and later Franziska for Adrian Andrews. The Case Files manga parodied this with the suggestion that Adrian, by accepting Franziska's advice, was just as co-dependent as ever.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Just LOOK at all the characters in JUST the Phoenix arc!
  • Mad Prosecutor's Gorgeous Children: Franziska von Karma is the daughter of the Big Bad of the first game (not counting DS 1-5), though she doesn't fall in love with Phoenix. At the same time, Miles Edgeworth is the adoptive son of von Karma and Franziska's "unrelated little brother".
    • It's symbolic of Franziska's personality that she calls Edgeworth her "little brother" when he's older than her.
  • Magic Realism: Ghosts regularly become involved in what would otherwise be a fairly realistic setting.
  • Malaproper: The localization of the first Investigations game inadvertently turns Edgeworth into this. "On his personage"? "Secretariat" used to refer to a single person? Argh!
    • Redd White: "You wish to know the title of my personage?"
  • Matrix Raining Code: The MASON System.
  • Matter of Life and Death: In Trials and Tribulations it is shown on two occasions that murder is a capital crime, thus all the trials are this for the defendants. This fits with the Japanese origin of the game as the one time we hear details of an execution, it is performed by hanging as it would be in reality.
  • Meaningful Name: Too many, but one that practically spoils Apollo Justice immediately is Kristoph Gavin, Japanese name "Kirihito Garyu". As in "hitokiri". As in "murder".
    • If you know the correct way his name is pronounced, Godot can suffer from similarly easy spoilers in the English version. It's the last syllables of his real first and last name (Diego Armando) smashed together.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: To the point that there are no female victims in two of the games and Investigations only features one female victim in the backstory to the fourth case.
    • Do note, however, that there are quite a number of dead females tied into cases. Also, in the first game, there are 2 female victims, one in the first case, the other, your mentor.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Mia Fey dies, Diego Armando is poisoned, Gregory Edgeworth is murdered, Manfred von Karma is executed for murder, Kristoph Gavin is convicted, and Grossberg ends up being ... Grossberg.
    • Not to mention Elise Deauxnim, who mas murdered too. Of course, her student was Laurice Deauxnim, also known as Larry Butz. And you know what they say: When something smells...
  • Milking the Giant Cow: Didn't they teach you in law school that it's rude to point?
  • Mission Pack Sequel: Aside from the introduction of Psyche Locks and a Life Meter in the second game, the first three games are almost identical. The fourth game mixes things up a little bit, the gameplay is still extremely similar. The Edgeworth game completely averts this.
  • Moon Logic Puzzle: Frequent.
    • To be fair, often pressing the witnesses doesn't earn you penalties, and helps find out what's wrong with their testimonies. Heck, sometimes Phoenix's inner dialogue even highlights the crucial question that went unanswered.
      • Sometimes the Moon Logic comes in when you have two or more pieces of evidence that are equally relevant to the contradiction in question, and/or two or more bits of testimony that the character could reasonably object to. Sometimes the game designers realized this, and give the player more than one correct option. Other times, not so much.
  • Motive Rant: Often accompanied by a brief Freak-Out or a Big No.
    • In fact this is apparently so omnipresent in the Ace Attorney Universe that when, in 2-4, Adrian Andrews fails to deliver one, Phoenix immediately become suspicious of her guilt.
    • Averted, though, with Kristoph Gavin, who confesses to a murder but refuses to disclose his reason for doing so. Then Drew Misham bites the dust, Apollo and Phoenix investigate the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death, and we finally realize why Kristoph is so tight-lipped about his own agenda.
  • Motor Mouth: Wendy Oldbag.
  • MST3K Mantra: Invoked in-universe when Ema encounters an ad showing a cartoon cow eating a steak, and Phoenix tells her not to think about it too hard.
  • Mukokuseki: A significant part of the reason the sweeping name changes in the English version don't cause too much complaining; if anything, the number of characters who look distinctly "Asian" - never mind Japanese - are a minority, and passing off characters like Reiji Mitsurugi and Mei Karuma as caucasians (as Miles and Franziska, respectively) is somewhat more believable given how they look.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The series lives and breathes this trope.
    • Basically, it takes law—as any non-reader of End User License Agreement will attest, law is really boring—and makes it awesome, often simply by increasing the volume ("Objection!"). The fact that all lawyers in AA look really cool also helps there.
    • There's also the fact that after you win a case, confetti rains from the gallery (handcrafted and thrown by Gumshoe) and the crowd cheers.
    • At various points in the series, the dramatic close-up of one of the lawyers that's usually reserved for adding impact to rightfully awesome declarations is used for completely ridiculous (though they make sense in context) statements, such as "What kind of murderer uses a Samurai Slap?" or "Baseballs have stitches! Are you saying that all baseballs are suspicious?"
  • The Musical: Both an official Takarazuka Musical and fan project: The Phoenix Wright Musical Project.
  • Musical Nod: Objection 2001 appears when Phoenix objects in the first case of Apollo Justice and all the music in the flashback to the trial in case 4 is taken from the first game.
    • Near the end of Trials & Tribulations, a remix of Cornered 2001 is used in place of T&T's own Cornered track.
  • Musical Spoiler: If you present the correct piece of evidence in court or rebuttal (Investigations), the soundtrack will cut to silence. Results in subversions in game 3, where, no matter what evidence you submit, the music cuts out and the dialogue is the first.
  • My Name Is Not Durwood: Many characters keep calling Phoenix under different names (Mr. Wrong, Trite, etc.) as an insult, and Klavier Gavin's favorite nickname for Apollo is Herr Forehead. Franziska does the complete opposite by always addressing Phoenix and Edgeworth by their full names, but notably refers to Gumshoe as "Scruffy McTrenchCoat".
  • Mystery Magnet: Many cases start with Phoenix having only taken a passing interest in something (an awards ceremony, for example), only for someone involved with whatever it was to turn up dead. Apollo Justice seems to have been set up to become one of these as well, and the same is true for Edgeworth in his Gaiden Game.
    • Lampshaded by Gumshoe, who mentions he's beginning to wonder if Phoenix is the cause of all the chaotic situations he gets wrapped up in. Edgeworth then notes that Gumshoe is usually involved in the exact same incidents.
    • In the manga, Gumshoe again comments that Phoenix "get(s) mixed up in too many murders, pal!" in Turnabout Gallows.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Quite a few characters, both in English and Japanese. One of the standouts would be Shelly DeKiller.
    • Furio Tigre.
  • Names of Cool: Just about everyone. See Names to Run Away From Really Fast.
  • Eucatastrophe: Frequent. Very frequent. Most trials typically range from Phoenix having one last chance to present decisive evidence before his client is convicted to the judge announcing the verdict before someone comes in with new information.
  • Never Say "Die": An odd example. While the murders are shown and described in bloody detail, and the death penalty is mentioned, it is absolutely never mentioned that the previous killers were executed. In fact, about Franziska von Karma, they only say, "Her father's gone, you know."
    • With one exception: Dahlia in 3-5 talks explicitly about her death, going as far as stating that she was hanged, while her spirit is being channeled.
    • Investigations 2, however, suggests that Frank Sahwit seems to have avoided the death penalty, since he appears as a witness in Case 2.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The official trailer for Ace Attorney Investigations showed several scenes of Kay Faraday assisting with the investigation of the second case. Edgeworth doesn't meet 17-year-old Kay until the beginning of case 3.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: The first Phoenix Wright game takes place in 2016. Nothing's changed at all, really, except the court system. And cell phones have regressed back to the late 1990s.
  • Nightmare Fuel: In-Universe, Phoenix and Apollo seem to have this opinion of the Blue Badger.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: For the most part (they're all just puns), but Gumshoe does mention at one point that he lives in Compton.
  • Non-Standard Character Design: Mike Meekins looks quite unfitting compared to other characters, even the ones drawn by the same artist. Kinda looks like someone from Lupin III.
    • Spark Brushel from Apollo Justice would fit right in with the Looney Tunes.
  • The Obi Wrong: Here's a word of advice—don't become the mentor of a rookie attorney. You'll most likely end up dead or the victim of otherwise horrible circumstances. Or in jail, as we see in Apollo Justice.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Cammy Meele in Investigations. Also Phoenix Wright in the fourth game, to the point that even Apollo believes that he is doing it on purpose.
    • And Yanni Yogi. And Matt Engarde. And April May. And Ini Miney. And Quercus Alba. In fact, if one of your witnesses is extremely ditzy you should probably immediately suspect them of faking it. Although subverted in the case of Colias Palaeno, whose eccentricity and cheeriness seems a bit... suspicious until it's revealed he wasn't the culprit.
    • Damon Gant in Case 1-5 seems to be very happy-go-lucky, even childlike, for a Police Chief. Then things start turning on their head, and you can see how formidable he really is.
  • Oh Crap: Half of the fun is watching the reactions of the prosecuting attorneys and witnesses as you rip right through their evidence and testimonies. Especially since almost all of them have insulted you in some way at some point or another.
  • Only Sane Man: The playable character in each game.
  • Orgy of Evidence
  • Passive-Aggressive Kombat: Cases that don't get heated turn into this.
  • Penultimate Outburst: An essential part of the games.
  • Periphery Demographic: In-universe, the Steel Samurai franchise seems to be popular amongst older people like Maya and Edgeworth, despite being designed for little kids.
  • The Perry Mason Method: Courtroom scenes, which constitute half the gameplay, are nothing but this.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: Gregory Edgeworth's could easily be one of these in the Ace Attorney games. Basically, it was his death that kick started Miles' ambition to be a lawyer, which started Phoenix's. You could even go further back and say that it was Isaku Hyodo's death that led to Gregory's, and so on. Gregory's death was also the distant catalyst for Misty Fey's disappearance (which in turn had several repercussions on the Fey clan, such as Dahlia and Iris's father leaving, Mia's Promotion to Parent, etc, Yanni Yogi's Obfuscating Stupidity, etcetera.
    • In fact, a lot of deaths in this game series have kicked off new arcs and plots (Mia Fey, Magnifi Gramarye etc).
  • Pointless Band-Aid: Detective Gumshoe has been wearing a bandage in the same spot on his left cheek for at least seven years. It's almost-but-not-quite lampshaded in Investigations, when he asks, "Do I have something on my face or something?"
  • The Pollyanna: Maya. Just... Maya. All the assistants qualify, but Maya takes the cake.
  • Precision F-Strike Miles Edgeworth pulls roughly one "What the hell[...]?" per game, most memorably from 1-5:
    • Also, in Investigations

Lang: Quercus Alba, you BASTARD!

  • Proud to Be a Geek: Edgeworth may be a closet nerd, but Maya's quite upfront with her geekishness.
  • Punny Name: Lots and lots.
    • To the point that the Musical used the English names to avoid rampant confusion.
  • Rant-Inducing Slight: Two words--Wendy Oldbag.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The "Jurist System" in Apollo Justice was introduced largely in reaction to the Japanese government re-establishing trial by jury in 2006.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Edgeworth, baby (wine-red, according to investigations. Looks like magenta, though).
    • Seems to be thrown about everywhere. Phoenix's pink sweater when he was younger, Larry's pink overall (okay, so those two don't really count in the context used), Kristoph's pink neck-ribbon-thing, Zak Gramarye's most amazing get-up (it's referred to as red but if you believe that you're colorblind) and Wocky's jacket if we can include Edgeworth—Capcom seems to love putting pink on men.
      • And let's not forget Max Galactica. Wow.
  • Reality Subtext: The whole deal with the Jurist System in Apollo Justice exists due to Japan actually testing for themselves a jury system.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Inverted with Phoenix and Miles. Loud, hot-blooded and impulsive Phoenix wears a blue suit, while calm, composed and calculated Miles wears a red burgundy suit.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Every murderers of the series base their plans on the assumption that no one can even hope to imagine the things as they happened. Luke Atmey is a great example of that, trying to use a guilty verdict for a lesser crime as a defense for a murder. Things would work out if it wasn't for the fact that Phoenix, Apollo and Edgeworth themselves tend to be quite audacious in their theories and explanations.
  • Rule of Cool: This trope heavily applies to the series as a whole. The cast includes some ridiculously over-the-top characters who nevertheless serve as lawyers/prosecutors.
    • Klavier Gavin is the most blatant example: A prosecutor who's also a rock star. Could you imagine such a thing in real life?
  • Rule of Fun: The justice system presented in the games would be a joke in real life, the lawyers and witnesses get away with attitudes and behaviors that would be punishable by contempt of court at least, and any witness revising their statement that much would have their credibility wrecked in about fifteen minutes. But is it fun? Heck yes.
  • Running Gag: Numerous. The longest running would be the eternal 'ladder vs step-ladder' debate.

Maya: Look, a ladder!
Phoenix: That's a "step"-ladder.
Maya: So? What's the difference? You need to stop judging things based on narrow-minded cultural assumptions, Nick!
Phoenix: R-right... sorry.

    • This running gag also continues in Apollo Justice only with the papers inverted.
      • And again in Ace Attorney Investigations, with Kay identifying one as a step-ladder. Miles comments that both of them are equally guilty of being dangerous during earthquakes.
    • Miles Edgeworth has poor luck with getting witnesses to introduce themselves on the stand. It becomes more hilarious each time it happens; at this point this joke is a staple and you'll anticipate it in advance with each trial you'll play.
    • Every time you visit the detention center and examine the guard (who's really just a part of the background image), Phoenix makes a new smartass comment about his stoicism and general motionlessness (because he's really just a part of the background image).
    • Phoenix's strange fixation with scrubbing the toilet, though this mostly appears in the third game. Both in the American AND the Japanese versions.
    • There is also Charley the potted plant, who gets a special mention despite the fact that pretty much everything in Phoenix's office is a running gag because he even turns up after the law office is converted into a talent agency. Charley may actually be a reference to the LucasArts running gag of Chuck the Plant, who appeared in several of their classic adventure games, starting in Maniac Mansion.
      • Speaking of office gags, starting in 1-4:

Phoenix: Difficult-looking legal books stand in a formidable row. They mock me. [...]

        • How this line finishes depends on the case, and whether there's anyone else present. Eventually they start collecting an impressive layer of dust. There's at least one amusing Call Back to the first instance of this, from 1-5:

Ema: Oh, I tried studying one of those just now. Remember what they were talking about in the trial today...?
Phoenix: Oh, right, evidence law. So, did you learn anything?
Ema: Well, when I tried reading it made my head hurt.
Phoenix: Oh...
Ema: Then, when I closed it, it slipped out of my hand and fell on my foot.
Phoenix: (Oddly enough I find myself identifying with her on this one...)

    • "Anyone could wear that ____. Even me!"
    • The movie poster in Mia's office, said to be the first movie to make her cry. The gag being that nobody knows the title of the movie, including Mia. Eventually Maya tries to replace it with a Steel Samurai poster, but puts it back when she finally sees the movie (though the reader never hears the title either).
      • In 4-4, Phoenix said he finally found out the name and watched it, and he might show it to Trucy sometime. Then he realised he forgot the name...
    • The guy in the police station is always doing a different type of image training. It changes every time something new happens in the room.
      • Likewise the lead detective in the back middle of the room. Phoenix always assumes the guy's hard at work on something, then gets irritated when he finds out the guy's just looking up gossip on the Internet.
    • The Gatewater Hotel from the first game's second case. Examining the window facing it in every case reveals that it goes from a no-name hotel to, with the help of that case, a famous five-star hotel and eventually, a theme park.
    • No one can seem to remember Wendy Oldbag's name, or at least know it well enough to not have a sense of doubt.
      • There's also her undying love for Edgeworth, which, given her age, is pretty strongly unrequited..
    • Phoenix loves to present his Attorney's Badge to anyone he meets during investigations. Although necessary in a few cases (notably case 4 of the first game), mostly this is met with either confusion or ridicule. Phoenix himself lampshades this if Apollo presents his own badge to him. Gumshoe also lampshades it in 1-5, noting that "you show this to me every time we meet, pal," then adds with a grin, "real men show their police badge! 'Nuff said!"
      • Continued in Investigations, where you never actually get to use Edgeworth's Prosecutor Badge, and the flavor text states that he tends to keep it in his pocket. It's also lampshaded by none other than MANFRED VON KARMA.
    • In Apollo Justice and Investigations, Phoenix and Edgeworth respectively seem to have a fondness for "grape juice." In huge glass bottles, in bars and VIP lounges. One might think that this is censorship of wine, however, not only is the substitution of grape juice in both the English and Japanese versions, but why would they need to censor alcohol in a game about violent murders?
      • They don't need to censor alcohol, really, but I'd contest that they do anyway - why else would Phoenix not be allowed grape juice in the hospital? This is further spotlighted by the fact that he SWITCHES THE LABEL with mineral water to sneak it in, and then LIES TO HIS DAUGHTER about that, with a big stage wink to Apollo.
    • Not really a gag, but the last case of all three Phoenix arc games has a different prosecutor from the usual as your opponent for at least part of the case.
    • At least for the first three games, if you include the bonus case for the first game, all end with Phoenix being put in a difficult position, and finally ending with one last "Objection!"
    • Throughout, whenever flowers are examined or brought up, Phoenix always mentions that the only ones he can identify are tulips and sunflowers. In the final case of Apollo Justice he has an epiphany and realizes that he can identify roses too.
  • Ruritania: The small nation of Borginia, home country of Machi Tobaye and Romein LeTouse from Apollo Justice and Zinc Lablanc and Akbey Hicks from Investigations. For added strangeness, the country also exists in Capcom's Dino Crisis.
    • Possibly a nod to the fact that Ace Attorney creator, Shu Takumi, was also the director of Dino Crisis 2.
  • Say My Name: Several times.


  • Scary Shiny Glasses: Kristoph. You actually get to see through those glasses. It isn't pretty. Payne also has them, but they aren't scary. Also subverted by Machi in the third case of the fourth game—he has the glasses, but he's actually a very kind and gentle boy.
    • Not to mention the fact that they're sunglasses, and he's got a good reason to be wearing them. He's pretending to be blind.
  • Screen Shake: Used for everything from Franziska's whip to random lines of dialogue.
  • Seamless Spontaneous Lie: Very common; characters who are caught out on their lies often come up with entirely different, equally detailed stories within very little time. Of course, due to the nature of the game, these are always found out eventually.
  • Sequel Difficulty Drop: In Investigations, however, because in nearly every situation Edgeworth's inner monologue would make it clear even to Gumshoe what you're supposed to do next.
    • This is probably because many fans mentioned they liked the way he thinks during his small turn as defense attorney in the third game.
    • Also inverted that penalties in the game always take off 10% of your life bar, thus you have 10 chances before a game over, which is pretty easy going compared to the roller coaster of penalties amounts in the previous games. The penalties are beefed up to 20% when Alba gets annoyed at one point by your constant time wasting with your questioning.
  • Sequel Difficulty Spike: The main series games get harder after the first one.
  • Serious Business: The law is a serious thing in just about any setting, but this game still manages to push legal work to the level of spectator sport.
  • Sheathe Your Sword: There is at least one point in every game where the prosecution demands evidence supporting your theory and you don't have any. Rather than receive repeated penalties from trying everything in the inventory, the correct answer is to say that you don't have evidence. This is usually followed by a Hope Spot sequence.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: Phoenix and Maya, in spite of Pearl constantly saying that he is Maya's 'Special someone'.
    • Also done hilariously in Investigations with Edgeworth and Wendy Oldbag.
  • Ship Tease: Capcom is very aware of the Ho Yay fan base. The end of the third game also drops one more on the fans before the seven year time skip to Apollo Justice seems to erase it.
    • Pearl believes that Phoenix is Maya's "special someone" and mentions this several times in their presence. The interesting bit is that Maya never outright denies it.
  • Shout-Out: Has it's own page. Both the Japanese version AND the English translation use many throwaway pop culture references as gags. Justice for All had a serious spike in online memes inserted into the localization, presumably thanks to the Memetic Mutation of the first game.
  • Show Within a Show: The Steel Samurai, sort of. Also the Pink Princess, the Nickel Samurai, and the Jammin' Ninja.
  • Sidekick: It's series tradition for the main character to have a cute/attractive female sidekick in almost every case. Or Gumshoe.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Miles Edgeworth has a chess set in his office. Phoenix notes that the problems he sets up tend to have the red side utterly dominating the blue side, if you get my drift.
  • Smug Snake: Many of the murderers turn out to be one of these if it's not immediately obvious, such as Redd White, Morgan Fey, Dahlia Hawthorne, and Matt Engarde. The last of those almost qualifies for Magnificent Bastard status, but made one little mistake. Richard Wellington is a particularly over-the-top example.
  • Speed Stripes: See Super Move Portrait Attack.
  • Spiritual Successor: Ghost Trick.
  • Stopped Clock: Used repeatedly (twice in the first game alone).
  • Stupidity Is the Only Option: You have to play dumb until it's the "right" time to solve the mysteries, even the ones that are blatantly obvious from the beginning. This becomes an emotionally painful part of game play in the fourth game when the player can't choose to not present the evidence that results in Phoenix's disbarment since by that point it's pretty damn obvious what will happen. Of course, that's also part of a flashback, so averting this would be somewhat of a time paradox.
  • Super Move Portrait Attack: Happens during trials when an attorney or prosecutor delivers a particularly energetic "Objection!" The special sprite is superimposed on light blue Speed Stripes.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: Several, including someone who killed the man who had made everyone think the killer was deranged and ruined his life fifteen years ago in the first game.
    • How about Godot? His murder was self-defense and defense of another, not to mention payback for the poisoning that ruined his life by putting him in a coma for years, making him effectively blind, and making him unable to protect the woman he loved?
    • There's also Acro. He wanted to kill Regina because she doesn't understand that she's responsible for putting his brother in a coma and himself in a wheelchair. Then he killed the wrong person, the ringmaster who's pretty much his surrogate father. You get the feeling that if his brother is dead instead of in a coma, he would have just turned himself in or killed himself.
  • Takarazuka: Wright:+ Ace+ Attorney+ (Cosmos+ 2009)
  • Take That: It's one of the catchphrases that gets big red letters.
  • That Was Objectionable: The Trope Namer.
  • That One Case: In Apollo Justice, the one that resulted in Wright's disbarment.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: Whenever a lawyer gets the upper hand, their theme music plays. Played to the hilt in 3-5 when Phoenix's theme music from the first game plays right when he finishes everything off.
    • Not to mention the 'allegro' themes, which are quicker, more dramatic versions of the cross-examination themes which play instead of the normal theme after contradictions start showing up.
  • Think in Text: (Shown as light blue text between parentheses. Expect lots of snark to come out of these.)
  • Training from Hell: [1]
  • Traveling At the Speed of Plot: Kurain Village is a two hours' train ride from the city, yet during the investigation phase of 2-2 you make at the bare minimum two-and-a-half round trips in the span of 3 hours. It's also somehow possible for an eight-year-old child to travel the distance on foot in a single morning.
  • Tribute to Fido: The police dog in the first game is named after Missile, the creator's Pomeranian. He doesn't do anything useful, but he does eat all of Larry's hot dogs.
  • Truth in Television: Unfortunately, all the prosecutors who obsess over perfect win records and with the odds so stacked against you is very true in Japan's criminal justice system, even false confessions are common to avoid dishonoring a family further with a long and drawn out trial. In a way, you could say the series is actually a brilliant and scathing satire.
  • Try Everything: Sadly, if you're not able to divine some the less obvious hints, you'll be doing this even during trials and rebuttals.
  • Tsundere: Franziska, particularly in the third game after she's mellowed a bit. Even lampshaded. Both Phoenix and Edgeworth say "she's so openly hostile it's almost cute".
  • Underdogs Never Lose: Played very straight with every defense attorney.
  • Vaporware: The fifth Ace Attorney game is starting to look like this. Two Ace Attorney Investigations games have been released (the first one localized), both a fan-made and official musical written, and all the news currently known is that it will likely be developed for the Nintendo 3DS.
  • Villainous Breakdown: The closer you get the real murderer to confessing, the more out of control they get. Once the truth is revealed, they cry, scream, tear their hair and clothes, laugh hysterically, and sometimes faint dead away. Luke Atmey in particular is this trope.
    • Some of the breakdowns are way over the top.
    • Also, the more out of control they get, the more smug they get when the prosecuting attorney brings up something that could pull their ass out of the fire-"How I Would Have Done It" by OJ Simpson levels of smug. The only thing that keeps this from convicting them on the basis that innocent people simply don't get this smug is that the game is too busy trying to convict your client to notice that the real guilty party's behavior is giving them away without Phoenix pointing this out.
  • The Von Trope Family: The von Karmas.
  • Wanton Cruelty to the Common Comma: If a semicolon should be used somewhere, it'll be a comma,[3] and "double quotes are never switched for "single quotes" within larger quotations." Gumshoe also says "their's" at one point during Investigations. "Its" versus "it's" also rears its ugly head fairly often.
  • We Will Not Use Photoshop in the Future
  • Wham! Episode and Wham! Line: If a case has a plot twist, expect at least one of these. Especially if it's near the end of the game.
    • 2-4 has perhaps one of the biggest ones in the series. For the first time, your client actually IS the culprit.
      • 2-4 has so many whams that it's actually lampshaded by the Judge.

Judge: This is a most unexpected turn of events. For the...fifth time now?

  • What the Hell, Hero?: In The Stolen Tournabout, the case initially appears to be about the theft of the Kurain Village's Sacred Urn. Maya and Pearl flip out at Phoenix when he decides to defend the guy accused of being the thief.
    • Edgeworth's threatening to reveal Andrian Andrews' psychiatric records and suicide attempt to get her to testify after his Heel Face Turn is played as this.
  • Whip It Good: Franziska von Karma.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes? Quakes?: Edgeworth + earthquakes = debilitating panic attacks. In his own game, the turbulence on an airplane produces a close enough effect that it triggers his phobia and he passes out.
    • Fridge Logic: Depending on the version of the game, Edgeworth works in one of two places: Japan, or southern California. If he's so afraid of earthquakes, why does he work in a place that (in either case) is so seismically active?
  • World of Ham: In any other world, the desk-slamming, "Objection!"-shouting Phoenix would be a Large Ham. Here he is the most normal person.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: As implied by the Japanese title, most of the courtroom showdowns wind up being this, with both sides playing a hasty game of catch-up whenever a new piece of evidence turns the tables. Special note goes to many of the murderers who have a talent for being able to frequently adjust their story to counter anything that gets thrown at them, especially Quercus Alba, who manages to keep going the lion's share of an entire chapter after having his Diplomatic Impunity revoked.
  • Yakuza: In the fourth game, Apollo Justice has to defend the son of the head of a yakuza/mafia family. Yakuza/mafias are also present in the third case of the third game.
  • You Are Number Six: All attorneys are given an identification number. Edgeworth takes slight at this.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: And pink hair. And bright red hair. And orange hair. And a different shade of blue hair.
    • Franziska von Karma is actually a literalisation of this trope (as well as Curtains Match the Window), as she actually has pastel blue hair. (Vera Misham and Lisa Basil also possess literal blue hair.)
  • You Keep Using That Word: In the American legal system, an "objection" is a protest issued when one counselor wants to keep a part of testimony out of the official record and the ears of the jury or to deem submitted evidence unusable by virtue of illegality or irrelevancy. In the games, it's used as a translation of the Japanese "Igi ari", or "I disagree". Granted, it's definitely catchier.
    • Also, an in universe example, with Redd White.
    • The games tell you to find "contradictions in the testimony" whenever a prosecution witness testifies. Sometimes, the testimony contradicts itself, but more often it contradicts something like the autopsy report. It's not so much a contradiction "in" the testimony as a contradiction between the testimony and something that is probably more reliable.
    • The games play loose with the definition of the word "lie." If a detective forgets a detail, someone will say that his testimony "contains a lie." If someone misinterprets a photograph and you have to point out something in the photo that disproves their claim, your assistant will say, "find the lie in the photograph!"
  • You Shouldn't Know This Already: It doesn't matter if you've already figured out who killed the victim, with what, or where, you'll still have to play cat and mouse with the witnesses and prosecution till you reach the appropriate point in the case.

The Musical provides examples of

  • All Musicals Are Adaptations
  • Alternate Continuity: The first musical is basically Case 1-5, but it changes names and backstory elements, smushes some characters together, and includes some characters who weren't originally involved in that case, like Lotta Hart and, well, Maya (though it doesn't really give Maya anything to do besides be comic relief). Interestingly, it also follows the American localization rather than the original Japanese games, setting the action in California and using the characters' American names.
  • Composite Character: Senator Robert essentially fills the roles of both Jake Marshall and the 1-5 victim Bruce Goodman (in as much as he's both the one allegedly killed by Lana/Leona and the one whose detective brother was killed in the original incident). Leona, besides being a Lana expy, also has elements of Edgeworth (she defended Phoenix in the "classroom trial" in fourth grade, inspired him to become a lawyer, and has now become cold and distant, leading Phoenix to wonder why she changed).
  • Dream Ballet: All of Phoenix's flashbacks to his time with Leona take this form.
  • Expy: Leona for Lana, Monica for Ema, Miller for Gant.
  • "I Am" Song: "My Rule" for Edgeworth, "The Truth Reborn" for Phoenix.
  • I Will Wait for You: When Leona moves from California to New York, she says she'll wait for Phoenix, but breaks up with him over the phone after the Jack Lyon incident. In the end, Phoenix says he'll wait for her to get out of prison, since while innocent of murder, she did tamper with the crime scene.
  • Let's Duet: Phoenix and Leona have one titled, with stunning originality, "I Love You".
  • Massive Multiplayer Ensemble Number: At the end of Act I.
  • Promoted to Love Interest: Lana/Leona
  • Reprise Medley: The aforementioned Act I closer is one, as is the finale.
  • Summon Backup Dancers: Edgeworth's even look just like him.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Miller, who's well on his way to becoming President. Rather than a "The Villain Sucks" Song, he's introduced with a crowd number about what a great guy he is.
  • Yin-Yang Clash: The Han Feizi story of the unbreakable shield and the sword that can pierce anything is retold at once point. The "King of Prosecutors" trophy is a broken shield and broken knife, in reference to this.

The Manga provides examples of

  • Asshole Victim: Robin Wolfe, who drove Eddie to suicide and laughed about it. Bright Bonds subverts this, as he actually refused to cheat on his wife with Belle and died for it, instead of being killed for being unfaithful as Payne claimed. Oracle Hecate from the third case.
  • Bald of Evil: Robin Wolfe.
  • Berserk Button: Raymond Spume gets enraged whenever Julie Henson bites her nails, saying that she's ruining the image of the show.
  • Big Fancy House: Wolfe Manor
  • Busman's Holiday: Turnabout Showtime. Phoenix and Maya visit Sparkle Land, a murder happens while they're there, and Phoenix ends up defending Julie Henson. Hilarity Ensues when Phoenix introduces himself as a defense attorney and the Sparklestar cast tries to guess who called him and why.
  • Character Tics: Julie Henson biting her nails. Phoenix likes it, but Raymond Spume hates it.
  • Covers Always Lie: In the back cover of the 3rd volume, you see a couple of characters. One of them is April May, who only appeared once in it and that was part of Wally Flores's imagination.
  • Cuffs Off, Rub Wrists: Maya, after being restrained in the Den of Spiders' chair, which binds her by her wrists, ankles, upper arms, shoulders and waist.
  • The Cutie: Julie Henson, to whom Phoenix is attracted because she looks a bit like Dahlia Hawthorne.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Robin Wolfe decides to punish the arachnophobic Eddie Johnson for having a bad attitude (although this may be a cover for disapproving of his relationship with his daughter), by restraining him in a chair in a room full of spiders for three hours, leading to his suicide. In Turnabout Showtime, Raymond decides to frame Julie for murder because he thinks she'll ruin the Sparklestar show with her nail-biting habit.
  • Fan Boy: Cameron Show and (secretly) Edgeworth for Sparklestar.
  • Food End: Edgeworth, Phoenix, Maya and Russi have ice cream after Turnabout Prophecy
  • Foreshadowing: Cool Saito predicts Phoenix will become a pianist, a prediction that comes true in Apollo Justice
  • Gonk: Biddy Tenniman, Bobby Wolfe and Oracle Hecate.
  • Good Lawyers, Good Clients: Phoenix has an ethical crisis as Robin Wolfe looks more and more suspicious, and decides not to defend him, but then Robin gets murdered and he ends up defending Bobby, who is innocent.
  • Gorn: Flip Chambers is soaked in blood after being fatally stabbed. Unlike most stabbings in the series, the killer did not leave the weapon in or wipe up the blood.
  • Heel Realization: The murderer in Turnabout Showtime.
  • Locked Room Mystery: Flip Chambers gets stabbed in the stomach, despite the fact that the front of his costume wasn't torn, and it was impossible for the mascots to open the costume from the inside if they were wearing them the "right way"; it turns out that Flip and his killer were wearing them backwards, enabling Raymond to open his and Flip's zippers and stab Flip.
    • Another one appears in Turnabout Prophecy in where Oracle Hecate was killed in her booth, where both the front and the back doors are locked. You can unlock the back door through the Gate of Hell using your hand.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Raymond Spume, whose English and Japanese names were derived from "Scum"
  • Never Speak Ill of the Dead: Averted. Robin Wolfe goes into great length about Eddie's flaws, and even suggests he's weak for committing suicide.
  • Older Than They Look: Bobby, partly the result of being short and partly because he's a shut-in with an obsessive interests in spiders, looks like a small boy when in fact he's 35.
  • Pet the Dog: Subverted twice with Robin Wolfe, whose building a guest house for his brother Bobby and providing him with spiders are ploys to keep him out of sight of guests, and his asking him to deliver something to San Francisco (which Bobby appreciated as an opportunity to do something for him) was a ruse to get him out of the Guest House so he could use it on Eddie. Possibly played straight with a flashback showing him drawing a picture of his daughter, though.
  • Red Herring: Flip apparently dumped Julie in the past, which is suspected to be her motive for killing him. She turns out to be innocent and it's never brought up again.
  • Revenge: The motivation for Brock killing Robin Wolfe. It's also discussed when Lira tells the murderer that she cannot forgive his killing her father despite hating him for killing Eddie, but will not seek revenge, tearfully saying that "Revenge never makes anyone feel better. You know that."
  • Saying Too Much: An example in Turnabout Showtime in which it isn't revealed that the person made a mistake until much later. Raymond yells at Julie for biting her nails during the show when he shouldn't have been able to see her due to her being behind him. Toward the end of the trial, this is proof that his costume was turned around, enabling him to carry out the murder.
  • Sleeves Are for Wimps: Brock Johnson.
  • Standard Female Grab Area: Gumshoe drags off Julie Henson, and in an omake, one of the author's female assistants, by the wrist. Justified in that it's not a good idea to resist arrest.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: Brock Johnson.
  • Unreliable Expositor: Robin Wolfe is caught in several lies in front of Phoenix, which makes one wonder about whether he actually knew that Eddie was arachnophobic, especially considering he claims he only had a talk with him.
  • Villainous Breakdown: The killers' breakdowns are fairly low-key compared to the video games, as they typically go straight into their confession after a moment of silence following the decisive evidence.
  • Warmup Boss: Winston Payne is the prosecutor in the first case again, although Phoenix is not a rookie or amnesiac this time. Belle Windsor, the murderer, surprisingly wasn't even planning on framing Larry, and admits that the plan essentially fell apart after the killing was carried out.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: In the second volume, Phoenix becomes suddenly infatuated with Julie Henson, who he ends up defending. While the book is quite heavy-handed in illustrating the effect she has on him during the investigation, his feelings aren't mentioned at all during her trial, and after she is declared "Not Guilty" her name is never brought up again.
  • Woman Scorned: Played straight with Belle Windsor, subverted with Julie Henson (while things are awkward between her and her ex boyfriend after their breakup, she didn't kill him.
  • Working with the Ex: Julie and Flip, leading to some unspoken tension.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Comes up in the first case, and it's subverted, as Belle killed Bright because he wouldn't leave his wife for her, instead of him pursuing her and her rejecting him.
  1. (see cover art)
  2. Capcom is said to have contacted this musical production to make them official though
  3. this makes the sudden proper use of semicolons in Ace Attorney Investigations' fifth case and only in its fifth case fairly jarring