Dead or Alive (franchise)

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A big, bouncy 3D Fighting Game franchise akin to Tekken and Virtua Fighter. Even though the male fighters outnumber the female fighters by a slim margin, it's the women who are the real stars of the show.

The actual story is about the dealings of the sinister DOATEC corporation, who hold the Dead or Alive tournament as a front to finance the genetic research in creating the ultimate fighter. A runaway ninja named Kasumi gets tangled in the struggle, using the tournament as a means of escape and to look for her lost brother Hayate, and take revenge on her traitorous uncle, Raidou. Other characters enter the tournament for their own personal reasons, but all get sucked into DOATEC's larger scheme. Ayane, who is also looking for Hayate, is required to kill her half-sister Kasumi (as desertion from a ninja clan is punishable by death); Ryu Hayabusa (remember him?) is looking for him as well; Hayate is trying to recover the memories he lost after being experimented on by DOATEC; Zack's just doing it for the money; and it builds steam from there.

Of course, nobody plays the game for that. They play the game for... well, another reason.

Despite the vast quantities of Jiggle Physics, the game actually has a great deal of independent merit of its own, being much more fast-paced and kinetic than the 3D fighters that it competes with while remaining technical and reasonably well-balanced. It's generally considered in the top-tier of 3D Fighting Games, along with Tekken and the Soul Edge series.

After the fights, they tend to get together and play beach volleyball.

The character sheet is under construction.

Though sometimes shortened to DOA, not at all to be confused with the Film Noir DOA (which is quite lacking in boobies in comparison), the 1999 Yakuza Dead or Alive film series by director Takashi Miike (likewise), or the Tom Clancy novel Dead or Alive (likewise, though there is one amusing bit about an attempt at steganography resulting in inadvertent porn). For the viewer's inconvenience, the 2007 film adaptation of the games is titled DOA: Dead or Alive, instead.

The fifth installment is currently under development and scheduled for release during 2012. So far (as of E3 2012) Kasumi, Ayane, Hayabusa, Hayate, Hitomi, Christie, Bayman, Lei Fang, Zack, Bass, Tina and Kokoro have been confirmed and shown to the public. The game has a deep graphic upgrade from Dead or Alive 4 (not surprisingly, since it's been 7 years since then) and an aesthetic redesign that shows more realistic characters, with smaller and less anime-like eyes, the same to what was shown in Ninja Gaiden 3. Special mention to the girls, who have more realistically proportionate bodies, although the Jiggle Physics are still in full display. In collaboration with Sega, Dead or Alive 5 will also feature Guest Fighters from the Virtua Fighter series. As of E3 2012, Akira Yuki and Sarah Bryant are a part of the roster (and this list suggests that Pai Chan will also make the leap).

Tropes used in Dead or Alive (franchise) include:
  • Action Girl: Every female character, obviously.
  • All Just a Dream: Kasumi's Dead or Alive 4 ending.
  • Amazing Technicolor Battlefield: Vs. Omega/Genra.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: In the story mode for Dead or Alive: Dimensions, the first four chapters go over the events of the series from the point of view of the ninja characters. The fifth and final chapter re-tells the events from the second game on from Helena's perspective.
  • Anime Chinese Girl: Lei-Fang.
  • Anti-Hero: Ayane.
  • Armor-Piercing Slap: In Dead or Alive: Dimensions, we see 4 examples of this in the "Chronicle" mode cinematics. Considering this is a fighting game, the slaps paralizing effects look kinda weird.
  • Arrogant Kung Fu Guy: Jann Lee.
  • Art Evolution: In every game thanks to improving hardware, but Dead or Alive 5 takes the cake for now: special mention goes to the female characters, whose new designs look much less generic anime, with smaller eyes and less fanservice-y bodies, or maybe fanservice-y in a different way.
  • Auction of Evil: In The Movie; Donovan used Nanomachines to copy everyone's martial arts skills so he could use them himself, and planned to sell the data to the highest bidder.
  • Badass Back: Ayane has a whole set of moves based on this, and so does Dead or Alive 4 newcomer Kokoro.
    • Brad Wong also has quite a few backward attacks as well. Then again, it's all part of the Drunken Master style of fighting.
  • Badass Grandpa: Gen Fu.
  • Badass Normal: Regular old teenagers who fight for fun can hold their own against ninjas, mystical superpowered beings and a genetically altered interdimensional clone of one of aforementioned ninjas.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Both played straight and averted with the female fighters, depending on the game.
  • Battle Butler: Christie, to Helena.
  • Battle in the Rain
  • Between My Legs: Christie's ending in Dead or Alive 4. Also in the fight between Christie and Helena in the movie.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Gen Fu is really a sweet old man. But if you cross him, watch out.
    • The same goes for Kasumi, Kokoro and Elliot.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Zack in Helena's Dead or Alive 4 ending.
    • Ryu in Dead or Alive: Dimensions during Kasumi vs Kasumi Alpha, and Ayane and Hayate vs Omega.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Characters give and take some pretty severe beatings with nothing to show for it. Unsurprising, given the aim.
  • Boobs of Steel: Every singly female character.
  • Boss Rush: Arcade course 6 in Dead or Alive: Dimensions plays like one of these, culminating with a battle against a Secret Character on a Secret Stage.
  • Brainwashed: Ein, who after being dumped by the villains is revealed to be Hayate, Kasumi's brother and Ayane's half-brother.
    • Genra in Dead or Alive 3. Though Dead or Alive: Dimensions revealed he was just evil.
    • Ayane in Dead or Alive: Dimensions.
  • Brawn Hilda: Spartan-458.
  • Breakout Character: Ryu Hayabusa, who at the time of the first Dead or Alive, was but a mere classic character that hadn't been seen for years; simply put a exotic Guest Fighter for old timers. Comes the Revival for the Ninja Gaiden series in 2004, and Ryu's popularity rises to the limit, many modern gamers came to know and adore him; success that would pass (or give it back) to Dead or Alive itself, now Ryu is heavily integrated to the plot, thus not being a guest anymore, to the point of arguably being a main character himself. The ninja reached a place where he makes The Protagonist Kasumi share a cover with him, as seen in Dead or Alive Dimensions.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: For a given value of victory. Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 has you unlock clothing for the girls while you play it which serves no other function in order to make the already fanservicy sandbox-game more fanservicy. Too lazy to work for your fap? You can buy a girl's complete set using real-world money. Oh, and all of this only lasts until you reset the game's save slot - of which it only has one. So restarting the game on that particular account meant having blown your cash for nothing.
  • Bruce Lee Clone: Jann Lee. Considering Jann is an Ascended Fanboy of Bruce, it makes perfect sense.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Hitomi is Japanese with a German father; Kokoro is the child of Dead or Alive sponsor Fame Douglas and a Japanese geisha.
  • Cain and Abel: Ayane and Kasumi.
  • Canon Foreigner: Loveable Rogue Max and Not-So Evil Genius Weatherby from The Movie.
  • Canon Immigrant:
    • Spartan-458, who was somehow allowed into the Dead or Alive and Halo canon via Applied Phlebotinum Time Travel. Also notable as she was not only the first female Spartan to be depicted in a video game, but the first Spartan ever seen on the Xbox 360 (Halo 3 was released a year later).
    • Rio of Rio -Rainbow Gate!- was added to the PSP version of Dead or Alive Xtreme as both a dealer in the casino and a unlockable character. She originated as the mascot of the Super Blackjack series of Pachi-slo games (a slot machine designed to bypass Japanese laws against gambling). Also, Tecmo co-developed the Super Blackjack series with pachi-slo maker Net.
    • Irene Lew from Ninja Gaiden finally made her long awaited, but sadly non-playable, appearance in Dead or Alive: Dimensions.
  • Cherry Blossoms: Kasumi's motif.
  • Chick Magnet: Zack, who buys an island that sets the tone for the Dead or Alive Xtreme side-series. Why does he do it? Because he can.
  • Combos
  • Contract on the Hitman: Kasumi; from the third game onward, Bayman.
  • Counter Attack: If it's not the copious fanservice, this is what the series is most well known for. The game places heavy emphasis in attack interception and reversing an opponent's offense.
  • Dating Sim: The Dead or Alive Xtreme games are easily the best-known Dating Sim to the non-Japanese gaming market (and most people don't even know that's what they are).
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • Many characters in The Movie. Isn't it sad, Lei-Fang?
    • The "Chronicle" mode in Dead or Alive: Dimensions manages to include every major fighter from the entire series, but many characters only appear in one or two scenes. Some of the females have even been demoted to little more than Ms. Fanservice.
  • Dirty Old Man: The Player. Putting the player's age up to the maximum increases the Jiggle Physics.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Lei-Fang to an unlucky(?) old man in her Dead or Alive 4 ending.
  • Drunken Master: Brad Wong.
  • Eagle Land: Tina and Bass. Possibly Probably Zack too.
  • Even Bad Girls Love Their Adopted Fathers: Ayane; see Manly Tears below.
    • She also shows a more tender and emotional side around her mother in Dead or Alive: Dimensions.
  • Excuse Plot: Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball.
  • Expy:
  • The Faceless: Miyako, Kokoro's mother.
  • Fan Service: "She kicks high", indeed. The only female character who avoids this is Nicole, the Distaff Counterpart of Halo's Master Chief. She probably still has a smoking hot body under the power armor.
  • Fan Service Pack: Irene Lew (confirmed to be Sonia from Ninja Gaiden 2 for the 360) in Dead or Alive: Dimensions sure has changed compared to her rather plain original design; now she's a Miss Universe like every other woman Team Ninja has ever modeled in 3D.
  • Foot Focus: Hitomi in her Karate Gi in Dead or Alive 3 and Dead or Alive Ultimate.
  • Free-Floor Fighting: Quite a few arenas have sections where you can knock your opponent into another area, like off balconies, down stairwells or through walls.
  • Friendly Playful Dolphin: Helena swims with a dolphin in her ending cinematic from the third game.
  • Gaiden Game: The two Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball games dispense entirely with the male combatants and put the women on an island with volleyball nets and the skimpiest bikinis known to man. The Dead or Alive series itself qualifies as this for the newer Ninja Gaiden series.
  • Gainaxing: Dead or Alive's shtick since the first game, but in Dead or Alive Xtreme 2, each breast has its own physics, meaning both can jiggle independently. It look as ridiculous as it sounds.
  • Genre Shift: In Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball; guess what they do instead of fighting...
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: Ryu impersonates Mr. Noah in Dead or Alive: Dimensions and delivers a backhand slap to Kasumi in an attempt to stop her from searching for Hayate.
    • Also Hayate while being offended by some of Ayane's accusations toward Kasumi.
  • Giant Waist Ribbon: Ayane a.k.a. "The Giftwrapped Ninja".
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: Again, Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball: they love playing with their enemies. It's even possible for you to play as Christie and get Helena to be your volleyball partner if you give her enough dolphin-related merchandise, completely ignoring the fact that you killed her mother (although to be fair, Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball was before Dead or Alive 4, which is where Helena learned that information).
    • Though Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 takes place after the reveal in Dead or Alive 4.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Kasumi. Nicest character in the series? Check. Lethal fighting skills? Check. Seeks to kill Raidou after he attacked her brother? Oh check.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Fairly mild variation: if the player, as Ayane, beats Kasumi in Dead or Alive 2's story mode, she either leaves Kasumi for dead in the snow (the camera just focusing on Ayane as she glares down before muttering "...traitor") or finishes her off with a jutsu of some description, cutting away just as Ayane finishes "casting" it. Either way, you never see a corpse. This is non-canon, mind you: for obvious reasons, Ayane loses that one.
    • Zigzaged by Hayate's ending in Dead or Alive 4. It opens with him violently slicing a Mook in half, however for the rest of the scene the Jittercam is so intense that you can't really see much more than a few splashes of blood.
  • Gratuitous English: In the first Dead or Alive Xtreme game, Japanese is the only language available. Most of the time, the girls speak in Japanese (despite their nationality), but during matches, you can hear them say random English phrases like "Nice spike!", "Nice serve!", and "Nice block!".
  • Guest Fighter: Nicole, a female Spartan soldier, is playable in Dead or Alive 4 and Virtua Fighters Akira Yuki and Sarah Bryant will join the fray in Dead or Alive 5.
  • Heroic Bastard: Ayane eventually fits this trope, as she's the product of the first game's Raidou raping the mother of Hayate and Kasumi. She's a female bastard by the way because her sister killed Raidou.
  • Highly-Visible Ninja: All four of them.
  • Hot Mom: Good lord Kasumi and Ayane's mom looks young, heres a link, she's the brown haired one.
  • Houko Kuwashima: Kasumi's seiyuu from the third game on.
  • Husky Russkie: Bayman. Leon is Italian in the US version of Dead or Alive, Russian in the Japanese and European versions.
  • Identity Amnesia: Ein/Hayate.
  • Instant Awesome, Just Add Ninja: Kasumi? Ayane? Ryu? Hayate? Hell yeah this fits.
  • Intercontinuity Crossover:
    • Nicole's story in Dead or Alive 4 suggests that the Halo series (or at least the ilovebees Alternate Universe thereof) occurs in Dead or Alive's far future.
    • Ryu Hayabusa, the star of Ninja Gaiden, exists in the Dead or Alive world. Ayane, a ninja who first appeared in the original Dead or Alive, returns the favor by appearing in Team Ninja's Ninja Gaiden games.
    • A trailer for Dead or Alive: Dimensions seems to suggest that the Metroid games possibly take place in the same universe as well, thus making Haloid's existence Hilarious in Hindsight.
    • Dead or Alive 5 carries on the tradition with the inclusion of Akira Yuki.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Ayane appears ready to commit suicide, preparing to plunge a kunai into her throat while believing that Hayate hates her until her mother walks in on her.
  • I Play It For The Combat: A good portion of the fandom. That said, there are indeed fans of the series (this includes the Volleyball spin-offs) who enjoy the games beyond the Panty Fighter appeal, believe it or not.[1]
    • Apparently, Dead or Alive 5 is being geared more towards this crowd with Team Ninja toning down the fanservice aspect of the game and taking player suggestions and impressions to heart.
    • The first Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball game got decent reviews as a volleyball game (if anything, some reviewers took points off for the gratuitous Fan Service).
  • Jiggle Physics: Not only is the series sold on it, but the series takes the ball, runs with it, and spikes it in the end zone... to cause even more jiggling. While the fighting genre has plenty of examples of large breasts, this series is often deemed the Queen of Hotter and Sexier in FightingGames. The Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball series helps.
  • Juggle Fu: Christie In Name Only from The Movie, with her bra.
  • Justified Trope: In The Movie, Donovan manages to display Life Meters for the tournament contestants during their fights, thanks to the nanomachines he injected into them. The justification is that the machines are also a vital part of the Big Bad's master plan.
  • Kotono Mitsuishi: Christie's seiyuu.
  • Lady of War: Helena.
  • Large Ham: Tengu.
    • Special mention towards Bass too. "YOU BETTER EAT! EAT SOME MEAT!"
    • Zack, of course.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Literally in Dead or Alive Xtreme 2. You have to get 9 Jackpots to earn a Secret Ticket, which makes your character perform a poledance. The problem is, the machine you have to get the 9 Jackpots on is notorious for taking away anywhere between 100-500 times what you bet.
  • Made of Iron: Everyone. Thrown down some steps? Knocked off a multi-story building? Blown up? Meh, just keep on fighting like nothing happened. Even by fighting game standards, some of the damage the fighters can sustain and keep on rolling is ridiculous.
  • Manly Tears: Ayane's Dead or Alive 3 ending.
  • Meaningful Name: Dead or Alive is so named as it was an All or Nothing effort to get Tecmo out of the red, similar to another video game series.
  • Mighty Glacier: Spartan-458. She is one of the easier characters to play because she quickly pounds enemies into submission.
  • Mistaken for Murderer: Helena is convinced that Ayane was the assassin that killed her mother, but it later turns out that Christie did it, and she was sent to kill Helena, as well.
  • Mistaken Identity: The end of the E3 2012 trailer for Dead or Alive 5 has Zack pouring on praise to Tina practicing blows on a punching bag... only to get put into a head lock by the real Tina, while "Tina" is revealed to be Sarah Bryant.
  • Mood Whiplash: Anything having to do with Zach, especially his victory movie in Dead or Alive 3, which was out-and-out slapstick. With a mummy. Dimensions has him coming in as comic relief at times in the more serious and ninja-focused Chronicle mode.
  • Ms. Fanservice: While any girl can fit this for individual taste, the series does seem to favor Kasumi in terms of fanservice. She and Christie are the only two characters to actually be seen fully nude in the series. Averted by Spartan-458.
  • Mythology Gag: In Dead or Alive: Dimensions, Irene Lew, Ryu's Love Interest from the original NES trilogy, appears as his CIA contact during the story mode cut scenes. Hayate and Ayane both wonder if something is going on between them.
  • Ninja: A lot of the cast.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Zack = Dennis Rodman. Which became funnier when Rodman himself played Zack in Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball.
  • Notable Commercial Campaigns: The beloved/infamous "She kicks high." commercial for Dead or Alive 3.

(Scene: Two Gamers on a Couch.)
Gamer 1: (nervous, interrupted by gameplay footage) Well, I - I only play it for the fighting. I appreciate the expansive... multi-tier environments, the 16 characters with the... the pixel shaded bump-mapping... (Gamer 2 giggles.) and the rich plot development. Seriously, why else would I play it? (Beat)
Gamer 2: She kicks high.
(Scene of Kasumi high-kicking an opponent.)

  • The Ojou: Helena.
  • Old Master: Gen Fu.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Christie is psychotically devoted to protecting Helena, so she can kill her herself.
  • Only Six Faces: Despite being the focus of the cast, the female characters have very identical facial and body structures. If it weren't for their varied hairstyles and eye colors, you wouldn't be able to tell them apart.
    • This part might get some attention from what we've seen of Dead or Alive 5 so far. Ayane, Kasumi, Hitomi and Christie, while as well endowed as ever, have distinct enough facial features.
    • In Last Round, however, Honoka and Marie Rose have the same face. Whether this is the devs reusing faces again, or an actual plot point, remains to be seen.
  • Ornamental Weapon: None of the ninjas use their swords except in cutscenes. Averted with Omega and once you've fought him, you'll understand why other characters can't.
    • Bayman doesn't use his gun, knife, grenades or who knows what hidden weapons he keeps on him.
      • Justified as most fights in the series are part of a formal hand-to-hand tournament that most likely forbids the use of weapons.
    • Averted with Nicole, who uses plasma grenades.
  • Panty Fighter: One of the best known examples of the "scantly-clad girls beat the crap out of each other genre" in gaming.
  • Perpetually-Shiny Bodies: Averted in Dead or Alive 5 where the fighters sweat and get dirty, though this can be toggled in the options menu.
  • Professional Wrestling: Tina, Bass and Lisa/La Mariposa.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Kasumi and Ayane.
  • Relationship Values In the Dead or Alive Xtreme games, giving the other girls presents will make them more likely to partner up with you... Provided you give them something they like. Some items, like all Stripperiffic swimsuits, will make them less likely to partner up with you.
  • The Rival: Ayane/Kasumi, Lei Fang/Jann Lee, Hayabusa/Hayate, Leon/Bayman.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Helena. She wants it because Ayane went on one to stop Helena from going after ninja, which resulted in her mother being killed. Kasumi willfully incurs the wrath of becoming a renegade shinobi by going on one of these after a fight between Raidou and Hayate.
    • Pretty much the plot of Dead or Alive 4 with the ninjas.
  • Rule of Cool: When the Dead or Alive 4 ending movies aren't shameless Fan Service, they are this. How could blowing up a tower while playing an electric guitar on a skate-board not qualify?
  • Ruthless Modern Pirates: A group of modern day pirates run afoul of Tina in her introduction in The Movie. And the same pirates have the misfortune to encounter the heroines when they're stranded at sea at the end.
  • Ryu and Ken: Bayman and Leon.
  • Sequel Hook: Dimensions has one at the end of the "Chronicle" mode.
  • Smoke Out: Kasumi can do this with cherry blossom petals, Ayane with iris petals. Ryu smokes out with leaves, Hayate with raven feathers.
  • SNK Boss: All of the final bosses appear to varying degrees, the worst being Kasumi Alpha-152 from Dead or Alive 4.
  • Some Dexterity Required: While a given for the Fighting Game genre, Hayabusa and Hayate both posses combo throws that, while devastating (knocking off as much as a quarter of the health bar when pulled off), are done in three parts, requiring precise timing and inhuman precision with D-pad rolling.
  • Stock Scream: The infamous Wilhelm scream shows up in the movie, when Hayabusa throws a ninja off a balcony.
  • Stripperiffic: Again, just about every female other than Nicole, who you can really only tell is female by her voice.
  • Suspiciously Vague Age: The localized games refuses to give away the ages of the girls who are obviously minors: Kasumi, Ayane, Kokoro and Eliot This because they're exploited to extreme cases of Ms. Fanservice by wearing revealing to downright fetish clothing, due Values Dissonance in the west it wouldn't stick well for 17 and 16 year-olds to be seen this way.
  • Take That:
    • Itagaki, Team Ninja's former lead designer, was incensed by the Tekken series taking shots at Dead or Alive through a radio commercial, and has returned fire accusing Tekken 4 and on from suffering quality decay. He later said he expects good things from Tekken 6.
    • Marie Rose, an eighteen-year-old Swedish lolita, was created specifically to spite Swedish distributors for refusing to release the games in Sweden in the wake of a child pornography scandal.
  • There Are No Therapists: Ayane and Helena have both attempted suicide. And Helena has (or had) more than enough money to afford professional help.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Even considering this trope spits in the face of physics, Kasumi's sword flying in a straight line for at least 100 meters in the opening scene of the movie looks extremely jarring. Of course, considering the entire movie relies on the Rule of Cool to a ridiculous degree...
  • Took a Level in Badass: Jann Lee's backstory. He spent his childhood as a weak, bullied kid that can only escape the harsh reality by watching Bruce Lee films. Then he became an Ascended Fanboy. And the rest is history.
  • Tsundere: Following the trend of their Red Oni, Blue Oni personalities, Ayane is a Type A and Kasumi a Type B.
  • Uncle Tomfoolery: Zack in Dead or Alive 4. Taken Up to Eleven in his victory movie, to cringe-worthy levels.
  • Waif Fu:
    • Taken to an Egregious extreme. All female characters are skinny and look like models, yet are capable of blowing wrestlers twice their size across the arena in a few punches.
    • Dead or Alive 4 adds a skinny teenage boy who can kick anyone's ass as well, though he does practice a specific form of martial arts popular for having a lot of physical power without requiring beefy muscles.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Helena threatened to shoot Kasumi dead just because of she was in her way, or more likely so that more likely DOATEC could no longer use her to create another Alpha-152.
  • World of Buxom: A staple of the series, though this aspect was toned down notably in Dead or Alive 5. There is still boatloads of fanservice, but there appears to be a slightly larger, more realistic variety of breast sizes.
    • The arcade version of Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate now adds Marie Rose, a girl with a small bust into the mix.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: The Dead or Alive Xtreme side-series.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Kasumi, as a result of her quest for revenge.
  1. Quite a few of these fans were pleased to learn that Dimensions was going to attempt to flesh out the characters and the storyline more so than in the past.