A distant Darker and Edgier sequel to Mega Man X, itself a Darker and Edgier revamp of Capcom’s popular flagship series Mega Man, Mega Man Zero was released for the Game Boy Advance in 2002 and continues the story of Zero, the partner and best friend of X from the previous series.
A century after the Elf Wars, Zero awakens to find the world is still not at peace and Reploids are being hunted by the military of Neo Arcadia, a utopia for humans and Reploids Gone Horribly Wrong. Ciel, a human scientist who leads the Reploid resistance, asks for his help to stop Neo Arcadia and to bring peace between humans and Reploids.
The series lasted for 4 games and spawned several soundtracks, drama tracks, and an Official Complete Works artbook. Aside from being part of the overall Mega Man mythos, it directly inspired a sequel series, Mega Man ZX, which currently stands at two installments. A Compilation Rerelease of the entire saga has also been released for the Nintendo DS.
Keep in mind that many of the following tropes contain spoilers. You’ve been warned.
This series has a character page.
- After the End: This series is set after two apocalyptic events, the Eurasia Crisis of X5 and the Elf Wars.
- All Deserts Have Cacti: In Zero 2 intro stage, you'll find robotic cacti that can shoot thorns. Averted in Z1 and Z3, though.
- All There in the Manual: Much of the backstory and plot details are given in drama tracks, but not in the games themselves.
- Also the Official Complete Works.
- All Your Powers Combined: The "mimic elf" in the fourth game; it has 21 abilities that were adapted from cyber-elves from the previous games. And, in Ultimate Mode, nearly all these abilities can be used without a single penalty, and, true to the trope, all at the same time.
- Sometimes the Ultimate Mode can backfire, since the constant stream of elemental shots can obscure your view, and can trigger an enemy's invincibility frames just before you unleash a much more effective strike. And because of how the abilities stack, having all three elemental shots active is the only way to use the increased defense. However, the health boosts do NOT stack (although you DO get the random health pickup drops). It isn't much of a penalty, since the highest health power up is the equivalent of the max health bar from previous games.
- Ambidextrous Sprite: Averted in Zero 4; when Zero switches side while he's hanging from something with his Z-Knuckle, we can see him switching his hand. Played straight almost everywhere else.
- Androids Are People, Too: Played with. The Reploids in Neo Arcadia are treated as second class citizens, except for the higher-ups in its governing body as well as the Reploid army. However it's implied that they were treated the same as humans when X was still the ruler, seeing as it's his dream.
- Anti-Villain: The Guardians (type 4) and Craft (type 3).
- Arc Welding: Unlike the two series that preceded it, there is a different Big Bad for the first two games. This is shot down by Zero 3, wherein that game's Big Bad, Dr. Weil, can be easily marked responsible for the events of the previous two, making him the Big Bad for the entire Zero series.
- Art Evolution/Shift: In part because the new character designer for the series, Toru Nakayama.
- Also, much of the concept art and character mugshots in Z1 are incredibly sketchy compared to the cleaned up style of all the subsequent games.
- Ascended Fridge Horror: Worked into a Post Script Season. 3 was the original Grand Finale, but Weil is left alive and essentially with sole rulership over Neo Arcadia, which kicks off the plot of 4.
- Audio Adaptation: The drama tracks in Remastered Tracks Rockman Zero (the first, Telos, and Physis). Telos's tracks act as supplements to the main story, while the tracks on the first album and Physis are simply voiced versions of scenes from their respective games.
- Awesome but Impractical: The Proto Form, reward for beating Zero 2. It not only makes Zero a Glass Cannon, but it disables the upgrades the players have made to their weapons (e.g. the Z-saber's combo). Hard Mode forces you to use it.
- Ax Crazy: Both Omega and Weil, and super ax crazy at that. While Omega loves destruction, Weil managed to nearly wipe out the world's population with Baby Elves, copies of the Mother Elf, a super advanced computer program that helped eradicate the Maverick Virus, but ironically led the world to its current state.
- Background Boss: The Carnage Force 0 (the second stage boss), Hell The Giant (the boss encountered in Neige's prison), and Randam Bandam (after beating Craft the second time) in Zero 4.
- Badass: Many Reploids that aren't Red Shirts or Mecha Mooks, but namely Zero, often approaching Rated "M" for Manly levels.
- Battle Amongst the Flames: The Final Boss battle of Zero 3. After you beat Omega's second form, you and him fall into a familiar place... The intro level in Zero 1, where Zero was sealed, now Wreathed in Flames.
- Big Bad: Dr. Weil. Even more so, that the events in the first two games (where he wasn't the Big Bad) were somehow connected to him. He converted the Mother Elf into the Dark Elf, which was then sealed by X's body, which then urged the people to create a copy for him (and Ciel voluntarily made it), leading to the events in the first game. Then the Dark Elf becomes the MacGuffin in the second game, with Elpizo trying to get his hands on it.
- Big Damn Heroes: The Guardians and Mega Man X himself at the end of Zero 3. Enough said.
- Zero himself at the opening of Zero 4, to the Human Caravan.
- Bittersweet Ending: The end of Zero 4. Sure, the bad guy is killed and the world is saved and peace is restored but...the ending cutscene starts off with Zero's survival in deep doubt. Ciel runs off to a hill to cry her heart out in peace. She then regains her composure and looks hopefully to the sky, telling Zero to come back soon...cue a shot of his broken helmet and strewn mechanical parts in a crater somewhere.
- Blind Idiot Translation: All the games have this to some extent, especially the first.
- In Zero 1:
Ciel: "It was I who recreated the duplication of X..."
- Also in Zero 1, when you approach Ciel to save or start a mission:
Ciel: "What's now?"
- Some of the boss names suffered, especially Tretista Kelverian. As he's a Cerberus-themed character, his name is clearly supposed to be Tretista Cerberian.
- In Zero 2, Ciel's computer asks: "Do you want to know?" Ciel also constantly uses the word "subsequent" in reference to her new form of energy, when the obvious intended meaning is "substitute."
- The Zero 3 database listed Phantom as the "Evil Dark Lord". It should have been "Shadow General". The other Guardians also get odd-sounding prefixes, but at least those fit their characteristics.
- Blob Monster: The Rainbow Devil in Zero 1 and 2.
- Bloodier and Gorier: The original Japanese games are FAR more graphic than classic Mega Man and even Mega Man X: The first game opened with each Redshirt Army Reploid who got killed die with a large splash of red mech fluid- A.K.A. Reploid blood. The same fluid splashed out of bosses that you bisected with the Z-Saber. However, in the American export, where game ratings are considerably less flexible, the game was changed into Bloodless Carnage to market it to the younger kids without parental objections. Unless you have a sick kick for slashing up robots, it really doesn't ruin the gameplay- but it puts into perspective that this is a Crapsack World and Anyone Can Die- PAINFULLY.
- Bolivian Army Ending
- Literally in Zero 1, where Zero faces down an enormous army of Pantheons after defeating Copy-X. However, Zero 2 opens with Zero still cutting his way through the army. It's been a year since the end of the previous game.
- In Zero 4, Zero's fate after re-entry is left "unknown".
- Boss Rush: It's a series tradition.
- Bottomless Pit Rescue Service: In 3 with the Cyber Elves, but only once per Elf... Unless when you upgrade them into Satellite-Elves, which makes them last forever and thus, you could not die from pits. Also in 4, where the nature of the special elf also gives the same result as above.
- Bowdlerise: A very mild version. In order to keep an E rating, the blood sprays were edited out of the American release. Arguably for the better, since even the robots bled in the original.
- Bragging Rights Reward: Getting S ranks. A rank is sufficient to get any of the unlockable content, and S rank is damn hard to achieve in some levels, especially if you're playing on Hard Mode.
- Subverted in 2 and 3, where you got a new technique (see Power Copying) that made the game easier if you ranked A or higher. Played straight in 4 where getting the power had nothing to do with rank.
- Not to mention the mini games from Zero 3, including the ones you got by getting 100 points on each level, aka finishing quickly, not being hit more than once per level, destroy as many mooks as you see, not using any Cyber Elves, not falling to bottomless pits/spikes of doom, and not failing the mission by going to Cyberspace. Simple, right?
- Brainwashed and Crazy: Inflicted by the Dark Elf and its progeny. Also, the Bosses of 3 and 4, except one. Tech Kraken is the only non-brainwashed Reploid, as he goes along with the big bad to avenge his former boss, Phantom.
- Broken Aesop: Kinda. The Neo Arcadians hold the Humans Are Special idea to the extremes, yet in this game, Humans Are (Mostly) Bastards. But in Zero 4, humans finally learn to put their differences aside and try to bring and maintain peace.
- Also, Zero believes that there's still good humans to bring peace.
- Brought to You by The Letter "S": All bosses for the first three games have the Greek letter Omega as their symbol (due to it being the symbol of Neo Arcadia); the fourth game replaces this with W/V. Zero's own signature Z is gone, for obvious reasons, but concept art for the Z-Knuckle shows that the chips representing the weapon retains the iconic symbol.
- The 4 Guardians have an X on their chest, as well as on their back.
- Bus Full of Innocents: Area Z-3079, a whole city block, the target of a missile by Dr. Weil with Omega inside, who was sent to capture the Dark Elf spotted inside the area. Needless to say, Zero fails the mission, with hundreds of innocents killed.
- But Thou Must!: In Zero 2, refusing to help Elpizo with Operation Righteous Strike near the beginning of the game simply ends the conversation. However, there is literally nothing else to do other than roll around the base, which Elpizo snarkily lampshades if you initially refuse. Later on, once the operation commences, the two navigators will take turns begging you to follow Elpizo until you accept.
- Character Title: Subverted - Zero is not a Mega Man, nor is he ever called as such.
- Charged Attack: With the saber, no less. I mean, sure, the Buster's still there as a dinky little pistol, but still - Charged Saber.
- Handwaved by Word of God claiming that X installed the technology that controlled his own Arm Cannon to the saber before giving it back to Zero. This explains why the Rods can charge (they're all variants of the saber), but no such explanation for the Z-Knuckle.
- The Guardians all have a charge sequence right before their special attacks (Avoided in Phantom's cameo appearance in Zero 3, as his special attack is omitted outright). Justified, since all four of them are based on Mega Man X. So does Omega.
- Chekhov's Gun: When Zero first visits Ciel's room in Zero 2, there is a tank containing a Cyber Elf. Turns out, this is one of the Baby Elves.
- Chromatic Arrangement: The remaining three of the Four Guardians in Zero 2: Harpuia is green, Fefnir is red and Leviathan is blue.
- Clingy Jealous Girl: Discussed Trope, in which a Resistance soldier believes that all human females have the tendency to have this personality. If there's any implication, she believes Ciel is one.
- Cloning Blues: Copy X and the four Guardians and Zero, although it's subverted in the latter's case. Also, the Pantheons.
- Colony Drop: Weil's second plan for Ragnarok.
- Color-Coded Elements: Fire is associated with Red, Water/Ice is associated with Blue, Electric/Wind is associated with both Green and Yellow, and Non-elemental is associated with Purple. This is later brought out into the ZX series.
- Continuing Is Painful: Ranking is severely penalized if the player ever dies in a stage. This wouldn't be too bad if unlocking new abilities wasn't dependent upon rank.
- Death Is a Slap on The Wrist: The Zero/ZX Legacy Collection re-release includes an optional "Save Assist" feature that renders death this. If you die, you get sent back to the last (visible) checkpoint you hit with full health, and these checkpoints are placed all over the place.
- Continuity Nod: Phoenix Magnion in Zero 2, being an illusion specialist, is able to draw from Zero's memories images of his old foes from the Mega Man X series to torment him. Vile, Agile, Bit and Colonel pop up for some tag team fun.
- In Zero 4, Dr. Weil summons the bosses from 3 to assault the hero.
- The final mission in the first game takes place in an orbital elevator, like the Jacob from Mega Man X 8. While X8 came out after Z1, this arguably brings the post-X5 series out of Canon Discontinuity.
- In the first game, you encounter Repliforce (from X4) submarines.
- Omega Zero's signature attacks, the Z-Buster and Z-Saber combos, make a return for the third game.
- Ceratanium, a special alloy that was last mentioned in the classic series, returns in Zero 4.
- In Zero 3, one of the mod cards summons a lonely blue Cyber Elf to float by the command room door. It's Elpizo, after the Mother Elf changed him. A second Mod Card has a Cyber Elf implied to be Phantom appearing on the roof.
- In Zero 4, the leader of the Neo Arcadia rescue operation is Colbor, the Mauve Shirt Zero saved from Harpuia back in Zero 1.
- In Zero 3, after you beat Omega's second form, you and his remnants fall into a familiar place... The same lab where Zero was sealed, wreathed in flames. And later, suddenly a Pillar of Light shines up - mimicking Zero's unsealing in Zero 1 - and then Omega Zero appears from the crumbles, released from the "seal".
- In the Hibernation Chamber level of Zero 4 there are various iron pipes that Zero can use with the Z-knuckle. Zero used an iron pipe against Sigma back when he first awoke from hibernation in Mega Man X.
- A Lower Deck Drama Track features Alouette wandering the Resistance base in search of a name for the Baby Elves. Zero refuses to even attempt naming them, which ticks Alouette off. In Zero 4, if you refuse to use Alouette's name for your new elf, you are not allowed to name it yourself and Zero has to wander the trailer looking for names.
- One of Andrew's Rambling Old Man Monologues is about the time one of his students gave him a three-leaf clover after failing to find a four-leaf clover. Later on, Brise states that clovers used to remind her grandmother of her teacher.
- Similarly, in Zero 3 (again), the second set of four bosses you face (you face three; four of the eight gentle judges make up the first set and the other four judges make up the last set) are remakes of four bosses from Zero 1: Blizzack Stagroff R, Hanumachine R, Anubistep Necromanses V (the Zero 1 version was Anubistep Necromanses the Third), and Copy X Mk. 2.
- Crapsack World: Supposedly set up by the Colony Drop in the previous series. Ironically, the "cure" to this dying condition is in the ruins of the aforementioned Colony Drop itself.
- Crystal Spires and Togas: The Neo Arcadia.
- Custom Uniform: The only ones in La Résistance who don't wear the green uniform are Ciel, Alouette, Zero and Elpizo.
- Cyber Cyclops: Pantheons are eerie, one-eyed mockeries of X's design.
- Cyberspace: Part of the gameplay in Zero 3, supposedly caused by the arrival of Omega. In Zero 4, the storyline requires Zero to enter one.
- Darker and Edgier: And bloodier, if you're playing a Japanese copy. This is the darkest saga in the series, hands down.
- Desperation Attack: The Four Guardians have one, if you have an A or S rank, with a Battle Aura. They're invincible when it's active.
- Diabolus Ex Machina: The plot of Zero 4 is one that benefits Weil by having every aspect of the plot from Zero 3 that could hurt him magically disappear. Heck, Weil himself is one that ruined what was almost going to be a peaceful resolution of the war in Zero 3.
- Diagonal Cut/Half the Man He Used To Be: Pretty much any enemy killed by the Z-Saber or any bladed weapon. Division by Zero, if you will.
- Hit Stop: Happens to the bosses if you do the above to them.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Despite being human, Dr. Weil seemed pretty much invincible thanks to his Powered Armor. This was well-evidenced by the fact that he survived--with little more than some torn clothes--being struck by a laser from a space station that reduced the city around him to ashes. Then, in what is the greatest Crowning Moment of Awesome of any Mega Man game, our hero Zero actually manages to kill this "invincible" villain using only the weapons at his disposal. Burning up on reentry may have also helped.
- Also when he fights Omega.
- Do Not Run with a Gun: Averted with Zero's Z-Saber, as the game mechanic makes it more versatile to use, and also his buster. Played straight with the Rod weapons and the Z-Knuckle, however.
- Do-It-Yourself Theme Tune: "Freesia", the vocal version of the Zero 4 theme and also the ending theme, is sung by Rie Tanaka, who plays Ciel.
- Downer Beginning: The first game: It starts with La Résistance being oppressed by the Neo Arcadian forces as they run away in a Dramatic Chase Opening. Several of the Red Shirts get cut in half by the Golems. As Zero is unsealed, only Ciel was alive.
- Drill Tank: One of the boss in Zero 1.
- Dynamic Difficulty: If you have A or S rank when you're fighting bosses, they'll have a special move. The Guardians will have a Desperation Attack that makes them invincible in execution.
- In Zero 4, if the stage's weather is compatible with the boss (indicated with highlighted lines near the stage icon), the boss and the stage will be harder.
- Earn Your Fun: The "Ultimate Mode". To elaborate, you'll start the game with all of the Cyber-elves abilities activated without any penalty. It also has good stats, and you can do instant charged attacks using button commands. In Zero 3, some of the upgrade chips are also available from the start, including the Infinity Plus One Boots. That's worth all the effort of Gotta Catch Them All (specifically, the Cyber-Elves).
- Earn Your Happy Ending: The peaceful era after hundreds of years of war has finally come, and the enmity is finally dissolved between humans and Reploids by the two sides working together. However, it's subverted in that, those who really fought hard for such peace, X and Zero, sadly never had the chance to see it (at least, not on the earthly plane).
- Empathy Doll Shot: In the first game, the resistance base is stormed by Neo Arcadian Forces. While the bodies of a few resistance solders are found, if Zero enters the hallway where Alouette is usually found, only the stuffed animal she always clutches will be lying on the ground. Once the threat is taken care of, she reclaims her lost companion.
- Empire with a Dark Secret: Unknown to the human residents of Neo Arcadia, their utopia comes at a price: the retirement of their fellow (innocent) Reploid citizens. Then again, maybe they just don't care.
- The End of the World as We Know It: Double Subversion in Zero 4: the Colony Drop really isn't going to bring out the aforementioned effect; however, seeing as the target of the drop is a New Eden area in a Crapsack World, it arguably comes close.
- Energy Being: The Cyber Elves and, by extension, X and Elpizo.
- Escort Mission: Two in the first game: in the intro stage (where you escort Ciel) and in Anubis Necromancess III's stage (where you escort one of the Red Shirts).
- Evil Knockoff: Copy-X again. And of course there's the grand inversion that was Zero.
- Evil Tower of Ominousness: Copy-X's stage in the third game, which extends all the way into outer space.
- Executive Meddling: Keiji Inafune originally intended for the real X to be the big bad of the original game, but because of the Executive Meddling in the X series, he was forced to change it to a copy.
- Fan Nickname: The series is often referred to as the "Second Maverick Wars", with Mega Man X then referred to as the first.
- Fantastic Racism: Arguably what drove the intentions of the three Big Bads. Copy X against the Reploids (ironically, he is one), Elpizo against the humans, and Dr. Weil against both, seeing as he's technically neither race anymore. And Weil's motives for the Elf Wars is this as well, thinking that Reploids, as machines, do not deserve the freedom given to them, and chastises them for instigating the long-running Robot War that ravaged the planet.
- Finishing Move: Subverted with the EX Skills of most Boss enemies (even including those that can't be, obtained).
- Fire, Ice, Lightning: Literally, as the simplified version of the Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors compared to its predecessors, where, on the second game onwards, Bosses are always grouped in fours (one for each element and the fourth for a non-elemental). Three of the four Guardians, Fefnir, Leviathan and Harpuia, respectively, even embody these elements. Mega Man ZX would also follow this trend.
- Five-Bad Band:
- Copy X and the Four Guardians (although as the characters develop they’re no longer exactly “villains”).
- In Zero 3:
- Big Bad and Evil Genius: Dr. Weil
- The Dragon: Omega. Very Ax Crazy, yet loyal to Weil.
- The Brute: Copy X Mk-II (a ruthless Knight Templar who is easily manipulated by Weil and is very aggressive in battle.)
- The Dark Chicks and Sixth Rangers: Baby Elves (they're considered "distant" enough from the other members and only recruited 1/3 into the story.)
- Sixth Ranger Traitors: Harpuia, Fefnir and Leviathan (they're stripped of their positions and later aid Zero in his battle against Omega.)
- Foe Yay: By the truckload. Especially from the Guardians (well, except Phantom) who can't get over how "alive" Zero makes them feel.
- Foreshadowing: Each game has at least one example before an important Reveal, in the form of character's dialogues. In order:
- Before the gauntlet that are the final levels:
Unknown Elf (the real X): "Go. Terminate that copy of me. Terminate with extreme prejudice..."
- After one of the first missions:
X: "The Baby Elves will do anything to reunite with their mother. Stir the humans' minds and bring chaos...It's all to meet their mother, the Dark Elf... The Dark Elf that I sealed..."
- Upon defeating Omega in the first encounter, Copy X and Dr. Weil issue a challenge to La Résistance to find out who can capture the Dark Elf first. Before leaving, Weil gives the following cryptic remark:
"Let's see how far you get with that body!"
- Before being sent off to the Ragnarok core to stop the Colony Drop:
Ciel: "With both Weil and Craft gone, who could still be running Ragnarok? Zero, I have a bad feeling about this. Just be careful, okay?"
- Also, in the Rockman Zero 4 commercial, Zero disappears into light. Subtle.
- Four Is Death: Aside from the Four Guardians, there's the Elf Wars, that lasted for only four years, yet brought so much damage to the world. Partial subversion: The only reason the war ended on its fourth year was because of Zero only reappearing at that time. Also, there are four games in the series.
- Four-Star Badass: The 4 Guardians technically qualify, as they're generals of their respective armies.
- Freudian Trio: Ciel (Superego), Zero (Ego), and Elpizo (Id) in Z2. It doesn't end well.
- Fun with Acronyms: The Convergent Ignition by Energen Linkage System.
- A God Am I: Omega's trademark exclamation is "Ware wa messiah nari!" which translates to "I am the Messiah!" Yeah...Omega's pretty much crazy. And backs it up pretty well too.
- Good Is Not Nice: Zero (type 3) and Harpuia (types 3 and 6).
- The Good, the Bad, and The Evil: Zero and La Résistance are good; Copy X, the 4 Guardians and Neo Arcadia in general are bad (at least at first); Dr. Weil and Omega are evil.
- The Government: Neo Arcadia, which started out as a peaceful city-state where humans and robots lived in peace until it became fascist and genocidal after the disappearance of its original leader.
- Grand Finale: The first in the series to have one (followed only a few months later by Battle Network). The fascist government that the heroes are fighting against is finally gone, and the Big Bad, desperate, is getting ready to destroy the last hope of healing a dying Earth with a Colony Drop. The hero confronts the Big Bad, passing up the chance to escape to safety so he can stop the Colony Drop and the Big Bad once and for all. Add the fact that the hero finally finds his purpose in fighting the war, a problem that has plagued him since the previous series, and that peace is finally restored after a very, VERY long time.
- Gratuitous French: Most of the resistance fighters are named after the French names of various birds—Perroquet (parrot), Hirondelle (swallow), and so forth. More important characters are named after various concepts—Ciel means heaven, Cerveau means brain. The Baby Elves Crea and Prea are named after “créer” (to create) and “prier” (to pray), respectively.
- The sixth soundtrack, Résonnant Vie, is a (sort of unnatural) way of saying “resonant life”—meant to evoke the paradox of machines having emotions.
- Gratuitous Greek: Lots of bosses take their names from Greek mythology. In fact, the bosses as a concept are called “Mythos reploids” ([[Blind Idiot Translation | “Mutos reploids” in English).
- Green Aesop: Plot of the final game: Protecting the last trace of nature from a Complete Monster bent on making sure that his empire is the only habitable place left on Earth.
- Guide Dang It: You can't find all the Cyber-elves without one.
- Zero 2 only slightly hints at the Forms system; after that, the players will have to rely on luck unlocking each of them unless they consult a guide. A player can possibly even go through the whole game without unlocking a single one (until completion, of course, where the Bragging Rights Reward for beating the game is the Proto Form.
- In Zero 3, players tend to ignore entering Cyberspace so as not to lower their rank. However, entering the Cyberspace in a specific stage is key to obtaining the best foot chip in the game.
- You have to guess most of the recipes in the Item Crafting feature in Zero 4, unless, of course...
- Guilt Based Gaming: In this series, Zero can find powerups to upgrade his abilities and activate some temporary cheats. The problem about it is that the powerups are Ridiculously Cute Critters that you raise and "eat". Not even a single character comments about it, but the developer's intentions are obvious. The third game softens this by allowing you to equip some Cyber Elves without sacrificing them while the fourth has just one elf that mimics the abilities of the others.
- Halfway Plot Switch: Happens in Zero 2. The first half of the game has Zero taking care of missions for La Résistance, or, more specifically, for its new commander Elpizo, in preparation for his Operation Righeteous Strike. When the Operation turns out to be a disaster, Elpizo becomes the designated Big Bad of the game, and the second half is spent trying to find him, and stop him from his plans.
- Hate Plague: One of Omega's abilities and the one responsible for a huge chunk of casualties in the Elf Wars.
- He Who Fights Monsters: Copy X, his Guardians, and Elpizo. Craft becomes this by the last moment of his life in Z4, too.
- Hero Antagonist: Harpuia is really just an honest guy trying to protect humanity. Too bad the term Maverick has undergone severe Flanderization.
- The Neo Arcadian Military personnel that aren't clearly enjoying themselves in retiring innocent Reploids. Pretty much the entire Zero 2 lineup consists of Reploids defending military installations you are trying to destroy to help confuse the Neo Arcadian defenders from your imminent attack, or are trying to keep the Baby and Mother Elves out of the hands of those who would use them for malicious intent * cough* Elpizo* cough* . Then 3 comes along and from then on they're all reprogrammed, obsessed with revenge, joined Weil, or built by him.
- The Hero Dies
- Heroic Sacrifice: Zero at the end of the series.
- X sacrificing his body to seal the Mother Elf, Cyber Elf X burning through his reserves to save the Resistance Base.
- Arguably Phantom in the first game, destroying himself in a misguided attempt to prevent Zero from getting to Copy X.
- Hitbox Dissonance: A couple times, noticeably in the first level of Zero 2.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Subverted by Weil being the target of the Kill Sat he himself created upon its completion, yet was able to survive.
- Hold the Line: One mission in Zero 2 involves Zero defending Ciel (who's defusing a bomb) from enemies in 90 seconds.
- Holding Your Shoulder Means Injury: Zero does this when at a critically low level of health. He also does this in the intro stage of the second game regardless of how much health he has, showing the toll one year of non-stop fighting and Walking the Earth has exacted.
- Honor Before Reason: The Guardians, especially Harpuia, are all heroic guys, but they are bound to obey the will of Neo Arcadia, even if that "will" is obviously either A. That of a fascist tyrant who goes against everything the city once stood for, or B. A human government who is greedy and uncaring.
- Hopeless Boss Fight: Subverted in Zero 1 first boss. You can defeat it only with your buster, but it can only do one unit of damage every time, and the boss has Mercy Invincibility. Also, middleway through the fight, Cyber-elf X appears in the background and then throws Zero a sword that will OHKO the boss.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Craft and Neige.
- Humans Are Special: The villains all hold this view, to the extreme. But played straight in Zero 4, where Zero has a short line about how humans are the ones who can change the world and tells Craft the reason he failed is because he was a Reploid built for war, while Zero was fighting for Ciel (a human).
- Humans Are the Real Monsters: Humans are described in the first three games as selfish enough to ignore the genocide of Reploids, and even encourage it, so that they can live, not merely comfortable lives, but outright luxurious lives. The actual appearance in 4 doesn't do much to dissuade this. To be fair, the humans are told by the government's propaganda that Zero and La Résistance are all extremists.
- Zero seems to hold this view of Neo Arcadians in Z3 and (if one pays attention) about half of Z4.
What value is there in the justice that complacent humans seek?
- Humongous Mecha: There is a Boss in the first game that qualifies, "Hittide Hottide". Needless to say that the entire mission is spent trying to destroy this monster. Also a borderline example of Battleship Raid.
- Also, the Golems.
- Hell the Giant and Carnage Force 0 from Zero 4, who are expies to the intro bosses from X2 and X3.
- Omega. 'Nuff said.
- Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: Although it is only one uniquely-named mode, the Ultimate Mode present in all four games. It's almost always the hardest mode to unlock (all games present a Gotta Catch Them All requisite), with good reason: it's the best mode of play in the series. Simply put, it's a middle point for hardcore players who resent  NORMAL Mode, and casual ones and/or "newcomers" who resent Hard Mode, arguably enjoyable for both tiers.
- Image Song
- Ciel/Rie Tanaka has two. L’oiseau du bonheur, whose lyrics (which are in French) are about a singing bird who brings her happiness (a metaphor for love?); its Leitmotifs are associated with Ciel throughout the series. The other is Freesia, which is sadder. Freesia plays over the credits in the Japanese Zero 4, but in other regions it was replaced with an instrumental version.
- Zero/Toru Itoga has one as well, called Clover, on the IDEA soundtrack. The song itself, remixed and minus vocals, shows up at both the beginning and end of Mega Man Zero 2.
- Inexplicable Treasure Chests: The boxes containing Cyber Elves (1 and 2) and Secret Disks (3).
- Infinity+1 Sword: The Ultimate Mode (Form in 2). Handed to you at the start of them on Easy Mission mode in the DS re-release.
- The secret Cyber Elf Jackson in 1. Which is also handed to you at the start of the game on Easy Mission Mode in the DS re-release.
- Ultima Foot Parts in 3. ALSO handed to you on Easy Mission Mode in the DS re-release.
- Interspecies Romance: There are some Reploid/Human couples in the series, see Ridiculously-Human Robots below. Zero and Ciel may or may not qualify.
- Invisible to Normals: Cyber-elves can usually only be seen by Reploids. Ciel is an exception to this, thanks to an innate ability to interact with them.
- Ironic Echo: The Big Bad of Zero 1, Copy X, annihilates all Reploids for the sake of mankind. Then comes the Big Bad of Zero 2, Elpizo, and his plan to annihilate mankind for the sake of the Reploids.
- Item Crafting: In 4, Zero makes customization chips out of "recipes" of enemy parts.
- Japanese Beetle Brothers: The subbosses Herculious Anchortus and Kuwagust Anchus in the first two games, respectively.
- The Jimmy Hart Version: Elpizo's Leitmotif, "Combustion", for the renowned "Battle without Honor or Humanity".
- Kill Sat: The true means of Operation Ragnarok.
- Killed Off for Real: Zero at the end of the series (though the art book lists his fate as "unknown"). Even though he's died and come back many times before, this time it seems like he's really gone for good...until he comes back in Biometal form in Mega Man ZX. X, after his body is destroyed in Z2 and his spirit fades away in Z3. Phantom, except when he comes back in Cyberspace (rumored to be where Reploids go when they die) in Zero 3, and then he also comes back again in Mega Man ZX as a Biometal. This also goes for the rest of the Guardians, who are confirmed by Word of God to have died in Omega's explosion at the end of 3.
- La Résistance: The protagonist and nearly every non‐enemy NPC are part of it. There’s even Gratuitous French!
- La Résistance
- Lampshade Hanging: Occasionally. An NPC in Zero 2 remarks on the difficulty of getting pictures of bosses for the stage select, and a mod card NPC in Zero 3 will note Zero's Celibate Hero tendencies if you refuse her advances. Another mod card NPC speculates about why the operators have No Name Given (after he tells you their names).
- Land, Sea, Sky: Fighting Fefnir, Fairy Leviathan, and Sage Harpuia respectively.
- Last Bastion: Arguably, the Resistance Base, since it's (probably) the last hope for the oppressed Reploids in Neo Arcadia.
- Late Arrival Spoiler: Revealed very late in the first game that Ciel built Copy X, leading to the first conflict in the series. The sequels never even bothered to safeguard such a plot twist.
- Incredibly ironic, as Word of God says that Ciel's ancestor created Zero's copy body.
- Levels Take Flight: At one of the turning points of Zero 2 (right after the failed attack on Neo Arcadia and Elpizo's Face Heel Turn), Zero has to cross an entire air fleet of Neo Arcadian vessels in order to hijack and stop a missile launched at the Resistance Base.
- Locked Out of the Fight: In the third game, the 4 Guardians only shows up to aid Zero after he defeats all three of the Final Boss' form.
- Lost Forever: Zero 1 is bad about this with the Cyber Elves. In each stage, at least half of the enemy types in that stage must be killed roughly five times to produce a Cyber Elf. Failing to do so during the stage means you can't get that Elf later. What's worse is that the game will, about half the time, not even provide you with a sufficient amount on a straight run, meaning you have to run back and forth over the same area to trigger respawns of the enemy type. There's also the Underground Lab area, which has two Cyber Elves hidden in out of the way places. If you beat the Data Recovery stage (where Maha Ganeshariff is the boss), those two will be permanently sealed off. Finally, in the desert level, there is a Cyber Elf at the top of some collapsible platforms. The platforms not only collapse ridiculous fast, requiring precision timing to get across, but they never regenerate (as in, once collapsed, they never come back for the entire game), so you have to get it right the first time, restart your save to try again, or beat the game, reach those areas again, and give it another shot.
- Zero 3 has a cross-platform example with the Battle Network chip Z-Saver [sic] in Ciel's computer. This is a once-only chance. Not once-per-game, mind you, once per cartridge. If it gets traded off, anyone else who gets their hands on the cart is stuck with whatever you traded the Saber for (which is sadly, most of the time, a Guard chip). There's always a Game Shark to fix that problem, though.
- Love At First Punch: The 4 Guardians, except for Phantom. Well, the "love" for beating (or sometimes, be beaten by) Zero, mostly.
- Magical Database: As said by the ghost Phantom, the Cyberspace holds all the datas of the past. How this comes to be is never so much explained, though.
- Magikarp Power: Zero's weapons in the first two games apply, as well as the "Mimic elf" in the fourth.
- Meaningful Names to Run Away From Really Fast: The big bad's Japanese name is "Doctor Vile". His English name, while spelled "Weil", would be pronounced the same way. That pretty much says it all.
- Meaningful Echo: Zero's line from the end of the first game is repeated before his final battle with Weil:
I won't stop! If an enemy appears...I'll terminate it.
- Metroidvania: The hub of the first game.
- Monstrosity Equals Weakness
- Multiple Life Bars: Bosses in this game has layered life bars. Zero can get them, too, with a special Cyber-Elf.
- Musical Nod: Zero's Badass Leitmotif from Mega Man X 1 comes back in the Zero 1's intro. And the Fandom Rejoiced.
- Names to Know in Anime:
- A Nazi by Any Other Name: Neo Arcadia, after an energy crisis, had started persecuting Reploids as being Maverick for no real reason, resulting in a mass amount of retirement (IE, execution) of said Reploids, allowing for anti-Reploid policies that are heavily implied to include genocide, and the person who directly created these policies is himself a Reploid (and by that, it means an actual Reploid, as in not even something of X or Zero's caliber). It's kind of hard not to see the parallels between this and the creation of Nazi Germany, and more importantly the rise of Adolf Hitler.
- Though to be fair, he does all that supposedly for humanity's betterment. The human population does see him as a hero.
- New Eden/Last Fertile Region: Area Zero.
- New Game+: Although what you carry on to the next playthrough is dependent on the game.
- New Neo City + Arcadia = Neo Arcadia.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In Zero 3, Zero forces Copy X to go "all out," but instead of activating his ultimate form he instead activates a bomb that was planted in his body by Dr. Weil. Results: everyone thinks Zero retired Copy X and Dr. Weil takes over Neo Arcadia, as an even less benevolent ruler.
- Before that, there's Ciel, effectively the series' female lead, responsible for creating the Big Bad of Z1, the imperfect Copy-X.
- Nintendo Hard: Especially the first two games. The critics even say that "it's not cheap to use cyber-elves to make the game(s) easier."
- Specifically, in the first game, the bosses were very hard (to the point of putting in a skip system), you couldn't backtrack if you did use said skip system, you had to grind with your weapons to level them up, the cyber elves were very unforgiving in mistakes and gave huge penalties, took an absurd amount of energy crystals to fully level up, and weren't nearly as useful as the later ones. In Z2, the elves are more useful, didn't need so many crystals, there were two free e-tanks, and you could get permanent power ups, however, you still had to level up your weapons, and said upgrades were only available for A or S rankings. In Z3, you no longer had to level up weapons, it was easier to get upgrades, there were more opportunities to use elves, and there were useful armor chips. And Z4 was just so easy compared to the rest, it would take all day to compare it to the others.
- No Cutscene Inventory Inertia: In the second games and beyond, Zero can acquire equipments that change his color. However, in cutscenes, he's always the default red.
- No Fair Cheating: You lose score points if you use cyber elves.
- No OSHA Compliance: In Z1, you have to restore power to your base so that the Red Shirts can take the elevator to the shuttle bay so they can evacuate the base. Because, apparently, there are no stairs, ramps, or ladders.
- Norse Mythology: A recurring motif, but it's the strongest in Zero 4.
- Not So Different: In 4, most of the Caravan humans insist that the Resistance Reploids and Neo Arcadian Reploids are this, claiming that no matter what their individual goals are, in the end they're both essentially causing bloody war after bloody war, and the humans are sick of it.
- Ciel and Harpuia in many ways have the same goal but their methods couldn't be any more different.
- Also Zero and Harpuia given that both fight to bring about X's vision.
- Ominous Save Prompt: If Ciel ever asks you if you want to save, something is about to go down (assuming it hasn't already).
- One-Winged Angel: Pretty much every single final boss, three out of the four members of the Guardians (Phantom has one in concept art, but is dead by the time the others use theirs in-story), all of the Eight Gentle Judges (though some of their transformations are only slightly bigger than their human forms), and, finally, a Pantheon. Boy, did Capcom go overboard with this one. The Guardians' transformations are referred to as Armed Phenomena; Fanon has come up with similar terms for the other transformations.
- Opening Scroll: Every game except the first a'la Star Wars, yet again.
- Operation Blank: In Zero 2, there's Elpizo's "Operation Righteous Strike", which is essentially an invasion of Neo Arcadia. It fails horribly, with many Red Shirts dead, and Zero having to rescue Elpizo before he's killed by the Guardians.
- In the drama tracks, there's "Project Elpizo", an operation to create Omega, a Reploid that’s a perfect ruler using the Mother Elf’s program rewriting ability. TK-31 (Elpizo's former codename) accidentally found the data about this project, and because it's supposed to be a secret for Neo Arcadia, he's declared as Maverick by Harpuia. Eventually, he managed to run away from the country and changed his name into...you know...as well as starting his quest for power by stealing the Baby Elves.
- There's also Operation Ragnarok in Zero 4, which aims for the destruction of Area Zero using Ragnarok.
- Overly Long Gag: YMMV, but when the Resistance members got Brainwashed and Crazy in Zero 3, they deliver this cheesy line:
Inscribe it upon the world... The name of our ruler... Weil! Weil! Weil! Weil! Weil! Weil! Weil! Weil! Weil!
- Pan-Up-To-The-Sky Ending: Zero 4's ending and credits roll involves a nightsky with a swarm of pieces of Ragnarok.
- Perspective Flip: Simply put, the roles of hero and villain is flipped between the "Mavericks" (La Résistance) and the "Hunters" (Neo Arcadia), a complete reversal of the previous series.
- The Phoenix: Phoenix Magnion from Zero 2.
- Platforming Pocket Pal: Cyber-elves that Zero use.
- Power Copying:
- Absent in 1, but 2 and 3 would grant you a technique resembling a boss's Desperation Attack if you went into its stage with an A or S rank. In 4 you could earn the technique simply by playing a boss's stage in disadvantageous weather conditions.
- The Zero Knuckle from Z4 can rip off all types of weapons from Mooks.
- In a lesser example, Z3 has Zero collect "custom chips" from defeated Bosses, with some chips reflecting some innate ability of the Boss (Absorber, prevents recoil damage, from gigantic Tetrista Kelverian; Double Jump, from the high-jumping Cubit Foxtar, Ultima, which grants all foot powers simultaneously, from Phantom, etc.).
- Pre-Explosion Glow: All of the animal bosses glows before exploding after you defeat them. The humanoid bosses usually don't do that (except Phantom, Copy X (in the third game), Omega and Weil).
- "Previously On...": Each game after Z2 features a prologue of sorts that narrates what happened in previous games (see Opening Scroll). The narrator in Z4 is actually a character introduced later in the same game: Neige.
- Protection Mission: The second mid-game mission in Zero 2 contains a segment toward the end where Zero must protect Ciel as she disarms a bomb, which takes 90 seconds. The enemies coming after you two are quite weak, but there are a lot of them.
- Puffer Fish: One Mechaniloid in the fourth game is modeled after this. They exploded into spikes if left long enough.
- Put on a Bus: Reversed yet played literally in Zero 4. It's the main characters who are put on a bus (a truck, actually) but the rest of La Résistance stay put in the original base, and were as good as gone from the script, save for some cameos.
- Pyrrhic Victory: It's easy to say that all installments (even the Grand Finale) leave some sort of crushing blow to the heroes.
- Quirky Miniboss Squad: The Four Guardians, minus the "quirky" part.
- Rank Inflation: You can get up to an S grade on each level. In theory, anyways. And don't forget that achieving a perfect S100 in levels is necessary for some unlockables.
- Recurring Boss: The Four Guardians.
- Red Shirt: Subverted; after the fiasco that was Operation Righteous Strike, Zero makes a vow that no more of his teammates will ever be killed senselessly while he's around.
- Repeating So the Audience Can Hear: If a conversation doesn't feature this it is safe enough to assume that Zero does not speak.
- Restart At Level One: Zero puts himself to sleep at the end of Mega Man X to fully eliminate The Virus. 100 years later he is violently woken by a scientist under attack by mooks so his restoration is incomplete and he needs to remember his previous skills with the weapons.
- Played literally and justified in the second game. After traveling the wastelands for a year, Zero's weapons are damaged (one, the Triple Rod, was even beyond repair), and when Zero returns to the La Resistance base, his weapons are restored (the Triple Rod was replaced), but he has to level them up again.
- Thankfully averted from Zero 3 onwards. Your weapons already start at full power, saving the tediousness of leveling them up.
- The Revolution Will Not Be Vilified: Zero is found by the Resistance to Neo Arcadia, an empire that Zero's friend X (hero of the previous series) created with the best of intentions, only for it to go bad after he left. The Resistance is full of spunky, heroic types with French names, and they're always in the right — with one major subversion. Elpizo, the leader in Zero 2, is zealous and aggressive; when his new methods fail, he goes nuts and becomes the game's Big Bad.
- Rewriting Reality: The Remastered Tracks says Cyber Elf's powers work like this, by rewriting the programming code of reality via Cyberspace. Too bad they die after that... new models and really powerful ones such as X and the Mother Elf are exempt from this, though.
- Ridiculously-Human Robots: All Reploids. Up to the fact that Reploids are now capable of aging and even falling in love, with humans. Best not to think about it too much. Here's a notable exchange:
Neige: I was amazed at how Craft fought to protect the humans. Hehe, it's kinda strange, a human falling for a Reploid.
- Same goes for one Reploid, Andrew who actually married a human. He even went so far to modify his age-appearance to match hers and stayed that way even after she died as a way to remember her.
- Riding the Bomb: The latter half of a mission, including the level's Boss Battle, in Zero 3 takes place inside a missile as it was launched towards an unsuspecting target.
- Robo-Family: While the four never say it outright, some of the fandom call the Four Guardians "siblings", due to their similar origins and purpose. X can also be considered their "father" (and, by extension, Copy-X is their "stepfather". The four are loyal to both.)
- Robotic Psychopath: Doesn't even begin to describe Omega.
- Rousseau Was Right: According to the drama tracks, the Eight Gentle Judges were quite fair and benevolent until Weil comes along; see Brainwashed and Crazy above.
- Also, Elpizo is actually a good guy (if somewhat short-tempered and likes to take a violent approach), he's just too ambitious with gaining power from the Dark Elf and then getting drunk on it. Also, in the drama tracks, if only he never found the room contains the secret data about the Sigma Antibody Program, he'd never be so violent like what we see him now.
- Score Screen: Used after you finish the missions.
- Segmented Serpent: A variant in the second game: Hyleg Ourobockle's boss room has this as the battlefield itself, with Bottomless Pits below it. Said serpent can detach and its segments can form various shapes.
- Sequence Breaking: In Zero 1, Leviathan will talk about your fights with Harpuia and Fefnir, whether or not you've even met them.
- Sex Is Violence: The Guardians (except for Phantom) like fighting Zero a little too much. To quote Harpuia (who's practically tame compared to Leviathan):
Harpuia: "Ha ha ha... You are still so strong... I like it... No... I love it this way. You are the only one who can make me feel this alive... I enjoy the sensation, I love the pain... You are worthy..."
- Shifting Sand Land: The desert level in the first game and the second game.
- Ciel's line after the first Boss battle in the first game:
- And another Star Wars reference: Elpizo's Model Number is TK-31.
- Omega Zero's finisher is a seven hit combo that he initiates by dashing low to the ground at Zero, resembling Akuma's Shungokusatsu. it is actually called Rambu, though, meaning berserk dance.
- One of the CD dramas is titled "Record1_Clockwork Apple".
- Elpizo's line when he successfully infiltrates Yggdrasil, where the Dark Elf is sealed within X's body:
"Hee hee hee... I'm going... I'm going to gain the ULTIMATE POWER!"
- The Z-Saber igniting in the drama tracks makes the exact same sound as another Laser Sword. It makes the same sound in Mega Man X, at least in Japan.
- Omega's second form has different-colored arms and white middle body. You know, there's some other guy named Omega who has the same appearance...
- When Zero finally reaches the Ragnarok Core, Dr. Weil says "Welcome to your front row seat to the end of the world."
- Dr. Weil's trying to crash Ragnarok into Area Zero heavily resembles Sonic Adventure 2's last story where the Space Colony Ark, after being given the seven chaos emeralds, ends up falling towards Earth's atmosphere due to a program that Gerald Robotnik made during his grief-enduced insanity and prior to his execution. Furthermore, one of the heroes ends up sacrificing himself in an attempt to stop the colony from falling into the Earth, complete with defeating the enemy fused to the falling colony. Coincidentally, both instigators of the event (directly or indirectly) share the same voice actor in Japan.
- Another Street Fighter reference: the boss Maha Ganeshariff, who has what's obviously the Hundred Hand Slap of E. Honda.
- Slow Doors: In the first game, one mission requires you to sneak into a factory. if you're detected, the Slow Door starts closing. if you're not through it before it closes, Game Over.
- Spell My Name with an "S"
- A carry-over from the X series: the Japanese term is Repliroid; the English term is Reploid.
- Zero 3 reveals that the animal-like Reploid bosses are known as Mythos Reploids, referring to the fact that they're all based on various mythological figures. The English translation slipped up and translated it "Mutos" (the katakana is myutosu, for those curious. Japanese transliteration of Greek can be sort of weird).
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad:
- It may be averted for the Four Guardians compared to Zero, but Harpuia takes most of the light from the group itself. With Phantom pulling off a kamikaze, it just leaves Fefnir and Leviathan being fanboys of Badass Zero, as they bear little relevance to the plot. And don't get started with Craft and the Hand Wave needed to move on to Zero 4...
- Spotlight-Stealing Title
- Stealth Pun: When you defeat an enemy with a bladed weapon, they split in half before exploding. In other words, they got Divided By Zero! Wakka wakka!
- Also, the Ragnarok's core is named after Laevatein, a legendary sword (in the manual, anyway). Said core is sword-shaped.
- The Stinger: At the end of Zero 2, Dr. Weil commands his creation Omega to act.
- Swiss Army Weapon: In the manga, Zero only has two weapons—the buster and the saber, which has the game's Shield Boomerang and Triple Rod as alternate modes of it. This is lightly implied in the video games, where all of Zero's energy weapons have the same aesthetic (green blade(s), white handle).
- According to the designs sketches, the Z-Saber really does transform to become all the different weapons. It even becomes the magazine for the gun.
- Sword Lines: Whenever Zero, Harpuia and Omega Zero swing their Laser Blades, this occurs. Leviathan uses a halberd to do the same.
- Talking Is a Free Action: Most bosses always take the opportunity to chat up the hero just before exploding. Even if they've just been visibly bisected down the middle.
- Talking To Herself: Copy X and Leviathan are played by the same woman.
- Technicolor Death: Defeated bosses are usually engulfed in a spherical blast that emits beams of light after being defeated. The explosion may be Justified due to them being robots; since Zero's trademark weapon is a sword, it may have compromised their power systems. The radiating beams of light part? Not so much. Also, the attack that depletes their health meter causes much more damage than any other attack (blowing a chunk out of them if it's a charged beam shot, Diagonal Cut if it's with the sword), but that's another trope.
- Theme Naming: Bosses are named after various mythological creatures; Resistance members are named mostly after French names of birds. In the latter's case, the handle of the one who named them is French for "sky".
- "Three Laws"-Compliant: Weil attempts to use this as a self-defense from Zero, as he deems any Reploid breaking the three laws is considered a Maverick. Did it work? Ahahahahahaaaah... No.
- Throwing Your Shield Always Works: The Shield Boomerang. Particularly if you're playing Hard Mode in the first game, where it not only works, but it's pretty much the only thing that works (it's the only weapon that can charge without Hard-Banned upgrades to use elemental attacks).
- Timed Mission: Some missions have a time limit. The most notable one is the Final Final Boss of the series, which gives the player only 2 minutes to finish him off or it will definitely be The End of the World as We Know It, again...
- Title Scream: In the first game.
- Tomato in the Mirror: Zero's body is a clone, and the original body is being used by Omega.
- Tragic Hero: Harpuia, who's too blinded by pride to see the truth.
- Traintop Battle: Panter Flauclaws' stage.
- Trial and Error Gameplay: If you're going for A or S rank, then expect to reload from your save file over and over while you memorize the layout of each level and the attack patterns of the boss therein. And god help you if the level doesn't end at the boss.
- Turns Red: The enemies' attack patterns are modified once they're down to 1/2 or 1/4th of their hitpoints. Special mention goes to the guardians, who not only change patterns, but gain an attack that makes them invincible until they complete it. Moreover, they are covered in aura which makes it impossible to jump them without climbing a wall, which none of their areas have.
- Underwater Boss Battle: Once an installment. Zero 3 has a subversion in Childre Inarabbita's level, where fulfilling the mission's objectives will decrease the Boss Room's water volume to knee-high depths. Played straight when you fight him again during the Boss Rush though, since there are no switches to lower the water.
- Untrusting Community: The citizens of Area Zero in 4 don't think very highly of Zero and the Resistence at first.
- Ungrateful Bastards: During the Battle for Area Zero, most of them didn't take too kindly to being rescued by Zero...
- Unusual Ears: Headphone-like ears of the Reploids. What makes them "unusual" is that the original Mega Man does have a human ear (when he takes his helmet off) despite being much less advanced.
- Updated Rerelease: The Mega Man Zero Collection for the Nintendo DS.
- The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: The final location in each game has some sort of climactic impact to the storyline. In order: Area X, the Big Bad's headquarters and palace of sorts; Yggdrasil, a tower where the Dark Elf is sealed; Dr. Weil's secret laboratory, which, coincidentally, was near where Zero was sealed at the beginning of the series; and finally, the Kill Sat-turned-Colony Drop Ragnarok.
- Video Game Cruelty Potential: The use of Cyber Elves. However...
- Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Using them also decreases Zero's game ranking.
- Zero 3 actually distinguishes between certain fusion elves. Sub-tank elves? Won't hurt your rank if fused outside of a mission. Life extension? Same. Double life? same. Instant A-rank for one mission? You just lose one point, meaning you can still get from a B-average to an A-rank in the same mission you use it. It also offers the use of Satellite Elves, which don't die when used.
- There's a bizarre variation in the second game: The Crystal Cave area is full of Reploids under enemy control; you're supposed to save them, but if you kill them instead, you get a 1-up! However, killing them will reduce your mission points (which is important to your rank), and they won't become helpful NPCs at the Resistance Base like other Reploids you've saved.
- Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Using them also decreases Zero's game ranking.
- Violence Is the Only Option: Unfortunately for the series' resident Actual Pacifist, this happens in Z3.
- Visible Silence: Abused throughout the first game, with ellipses that span multiple dialogue boxes. Later games dial this back to the regular three dots.
- "Wake-Up Call" Boss: Aztec Falcon, the first real boss in the first game, is known for shocking the players who have been used to the previous Mega Man games.
- Wasted Song: Weil's Zero 3 theme, "Curse of Vile", only gets really interesting long after you'd be done reading the dialogue it accompanies.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Elpizo, who might also count as a Knight Templar. Arguably Copy X as well, since he's heavy on the "Extremist" side.
- What Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic: All over the place. Many bosses are named after obscure figures from mythology around the world, the final game brims with Norse mythology, and of course there's Copy X's Beam Spamming seraphim form, battling the crimson red, devil horned hero.
- What Measure Is a Mook?: Zero stops short of killing the Guardians when you first fight them, with no explanation offered. Granted, you find out later that they're Hero Antagonists, but their subordinates, who are similarly just doing their job, are all fair game for bisection.
- The Guardians also apply this as What Measure is a Red Shirt. In the second game, Harpuia chooses to spare Zero when Zero is at his mercy, even though he spent the previous game retiring Resistance soldiers left and right. Later on, they also let Zero leave with Elpizo after slaughtering his entire army.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The main conflict in the series involves the dwindling rights of the Reploids, relentlessly persecuted for trivial reasons. Later, the humans receive this treatment as well, ironically from the most inhuman of them all.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Neige delivers a lengthy one to Zero at the end of the battle for Area Zero.
What are you doing to help humanity!? How can you talk about the greater good after seeing what you've done to harm nature and this Settlement!? It took a long time for nature to return to its former glory for the humans living here to find peace...You're trampling humanity underfoot, not helping it! It doesn't matter how hard you try to justify your actions you're both just fighting the same stupid war!
- What the Hell, Player?: If you dawdle around and just keep slicing mooks in half on the intro stage of Zero 2, eventually, Zero will mumble to himself "This isn't fun anymore...", which is probably centered towards you to get going.
- Surrendering missions in the first game will lead to a passive-aggressive form of this - namely, epic guilt trips from Ciel and the Resistance members.
- What the Hell, Townspeople?: Zero chews out the Caravan on attempting to abandon Neige when she's kidnapped.
Zero: You're just going to abandon her? She put her life on the line to stop the fight and save you and your settlement!
- Where It All Began: The final battle in Zero 3, Zero vs. Omega Zero, takes place where Zero was found at the beginning of the series.
- White and Grey Morality: Brutally deconstructed in the first two games. Barring the psychopaths (the bosses from Zero 3-4, Copy X, Elipzo, Omega, and Weil), no one in the war was truly a villain in the proper sense. This point is what makes the Guardians (especially Harpuia) the most sympathetic antagonists in the franchise.
- Hell, even Copy X and Elpizo had their Alas, Poor Villain moments, and they both ultimately only wanted what was best for the people they were fighting for. Arguably, the only real villain in these games was Weil, who is a Complete Monster and was behind the horrible events of the games backstory, not to mention being involved in some way in the plot of the first two games which was before he was even introduced.
- Surprisingly, Weil himself too. The Official Complete Works revealed that he started the whole Elf Wars because he thinks that Reploids, being just machines, were getting off too easy for the massive destruction caused in the Maverick Wars, especially once the plan to solve the Maverick problem was to basically install anti-virus software (the Cyber-Elves) and call things even. So he was more of a Well-Intentioned Extremist from the start, but then he went through the Moral Event Horizon by creating the Elf Wars in the first place (and he went nuts even more during his exile). This shows how much this trope is deconstructed in this series.
- Hell, even Copy X and Elpizo had their Alas, Poor Villain moments, and they both ultimately only wanted what was best for the people they were fighting for. Arguably, the only real villain in these games was Weil, who is a Complete Monster and was behind the horrible events of the games backstory, not to mention being involved in some way in the plot of the first two games which was before he was even introduced.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?/Promethean Punishment/What an Idiot!: Weil's punishment for starting the Elf Wars was to be placed inside a suit that stopped him from dying.
- World of Cardboard Speech: At the very end of the final game, Zero delivers one to Weil in what is undoubtedly the best moment of the entire series.
Zero: If I destroy Weil's core, the explosion will take Ragnarok out with it...If Ragnarok is blown apart, it no longer poses a threat!
- He has another one in a flashback from the Drama Tracks, delivered to Omega. This one more or less speaks for his earlier incarnation and says more or less the same stuff.
Zero: Omega, I finally knew because I fought with myself. What kind of fighting I have done so far? What exactly my hesitation has been so far? Now I can say that my power is not for destruction. It's for my friends; my power is to protect my friends' beliefs! Be gone, my nightmare!
- World Sundering: The aforementioned Elf Wars, the closest thing to The End of the World as We Know It that the series ever approached.
- World Tree: Yggdrassil, the prison of the Dark Elf.
- Worthy Opponent: All of the Guardians, except Phantom, think that Zero is this.
- You Can't Thwart Stage One: Many instances:
- Halfway through Zero 2, your missions are all the same: searching the runaway Elpizo. Guess what happens every time. Zero also failed to save X's body in time, as Elpizo destroys it, releasing the Dark Elf in the process.
- In Zero 3, you have to stop a missile from harming a residential area. When you arrive, the missile is launched, and then you ride onto it, trying to destroy the inactive Omega inside. Unfortunately, the Baby Elves hold you in the middle, long enough for the missile to reach its destination and claim thousands of lives.
- Later, Zero tries to stop Copy X Mk. II, and then it's revealed that Weil is just using them as his Unwitting Pawns to become the ruler of Neo Arcadia.
- In Zero 4, it's said that the Einherjar Eight Warriors are just distractions for the Operation Ragnarok.
- Your Princess Is in Another Castle: In Zero 4, let's see: Craft has just destroyed Neo Arcadia, the symbol of Reploid oppression in the series, with Ragnarok, taking Dr. Weil with it. Before Craft could fire for a second time, Zero puts a stop to him. It's over, right? Nope, since Dr. Weil survives, and cues the Colony Drop.
- When Harpuia was in charge, he was aware of the Ciel system being close to completion. This would solve the energy crisis that started the war. He orders his mooks to let Ciel go at the beginning of Zero 3 probably because of this, despite claiming otherwise.
- the only one of the five to try both a sneak attack and a boss fight before his stage even begins. His division in the Neo Arcadian army is also stated as the Intelligence Unit. He could also be considered the second Dragon as well, considering he's the most loyal to Copy X, to the point of trying to take Zero with him.
- The DS re-release adds "Easy Mission", which gives you all permanent cyber elf effects and the Ultimate Form where applicable
- I mean, Omegamon. You probably won't get the catch easily, because Omegamon's name overseas is Omnimon.