The Kingdom Hearts series as a whole has an in-depth storyline that for the average consumer, well, is hard to follow. It’s confusing enough that there are articles that rank each game from least to most confusing. This isn’t limited to the plot: the characters are also tricky to understand. As a fan of the series, I still struggle to remember which character is which. It’s especially difficult when you discover some characters have not just one name, but multiple. Additionally, a lot of the names sound similar to each other. I wished there was a character guide to remind me who everyone was when they referred to characters such as Xemnas, Xehanort, Ansem the Wise, DiZ, etc. Hopefully, this basic guide will help you as you jump aboard the gummi ship and explore the world of Kingdom Hearts.
Kingdom Hearts Characters
Don’t ever forget. Wherever you go. I’m always with you. — Kairi
- Sora: Sora is the main protagonist of the majority of the Kingdom Hearts series. At the beginning of the series, he is a young teen who lives on Destiny Island with his friends Riku and Kairi. After the Heartless attacks the island, he joins Donald and Goofy in search of his friends. Sora wields the Keyblade and uses this weapon to defeat the Heartless and unlock worlds from the darkness’ grip.
- Riku: Riku is Sora and Kairi’s best friend, and he is also a secondary antagonist throughout the beginning of the series. He is often tempted by the darkness. He was originally supposed to be the wielder of the Keyblade after Terra chose him to be his successor in Birth by Sleep, however, the Keyblade chose Sora instead. Ansem, Xehanort’s nobody, possesses Riku’s body in Kingdom Hearts I, and Riku takes the form of Ansem in Kingdom Hearts II. He becomes a Keyblade master in Dream Drop Distance after completing the Mark of Mastery exam.
- Kairi: Kairi is the best friend of Riku and Sora, and is one of the seven princesses of heart, which means she is pure of heart. Originally from Radiant Garden, she left after the darkness took over her home and renamed it as Hollow Bastion. She arrived on a meteor in Destiny Island and was adopted by the mayor of the town. She can use a Keyblade due to her interaction with Aqua in Birth by Sleep.
- Roxas: Roxas is Sora’s Nobody, and a playable character at the beginning of Kingdom Hearts II and 358/2 Days. He is a member of Organization XIII. He returns to Sora’s heart to allow Sora to wake up at the beginning of KHII. As a result, he now lives on in there.
- Namine: Namine is Kairi’s Nobody. Sora’s turning into a heartless in Kingdom Hearts I to free Kairi’s heart created Namine. Kairi’s heart and Sora’s soul and body created her. Therefore, she’s different from the other Nobodies; she lacks Kairi’s memories and can manipulate Sora’s memories.
- Axel: Axel is a member of Organization XIII, and is Roxas’ best friend. He is the Nobody of Lea, a person who befriends Vantus in Birth by Sleep and later trains Kairi in Kingdom Hearts III. He kidnaps Kairi in Kingdom Hearts II intending to bring Roxas back from Sora.
Birth by Sleep Protagonists
Strength of heart can carry you through the hardest of trials. — Terra
- Ventus: Ventus is introduced in Birth by Sleep, and resembles Roxas in appearance. He is an apprentice under Master Xehanort and is one of the three main protagonists of the game. His dream is to be a Keyblade Master. By the final battle of the game, his heart is lost and now resides in Sora’s body. As a result, his body became comatose.
- Terra: Terra is one of the three main protagonists in Birth by Sleep, and is best friends with Ventus and Aqua. When he takes the Mark of Mastery along with Aqua, he fails due to not being able to control the darkness in his heart. Throughout the game, Master Xehanort manipulates him. By the end of the game, he succumbs to the darkness to stop Master Xehanort from killing Aqua. He combines with Master Xehanort and loses his memory, becoming Ansem, Seeker of Darkness.
- Aqua: Aqua is the only one in Birth by Sleep to become a Keyblade Master during the Master of Marks. She bestows a protection spell on Kairi when she is a child, which shields her when Radiant Garden gets consumed by darkness. She gives up her Keyblade and armor to save her friend Terra, but fails, and is trapped in the Realm of Darkness at the end of Birth by Sleep.
Types of Enemies
- Heartless: The Heartless are the main enemy you fight throughout the Kingdom Hearts series. There are two types of Heartless: Pureblood, born out of the darkness in people’s hearts, and Emblem, which machine manufactured copies of Purebloods. They are mindless creatures whose primary goal is to consume more hearts, and they can only be controlled by those with a strong affinity for the darkness.
- Nobodies: Nobodies are the bodies and souls of someone whose heart became a Heartless. The stronger a person’s heart was before they became a Nobody, the stronger their Nobody will be.
- Organization XIII: Organization XIII is a group of Nobodies whose goal is to take a corrupted heart from the Heartless so that they can have a heart and be whole. They consist of 13 members, and Xehanort runs the organization.
- Ansem the Wise: Ansem the Wise was the king of Radiant Garden before darkness overtook it. Terra-Xehanort was his apprentice and called himself Xehanort. Ansem tested on Xehanort’s heart to learn to control the darkness in people’s hearts. This ultimately ended up going wrong and led to the development of Xehanort’s Nobody and Heartless. Ansem also had five other apprentices. This study developed their Nobodies, who created Organization XIII. Ansem the Wise goes by the pseudonym DiZ throughout the series, which stands for Darkness in Zero.
- Xehanort: Xehanort is the main antagonist of the Kingdom Hearts series, and he goes through multiple incarnations throughout the series. He is Master Xehanort at the beginning of the timeline and then combines with Terra to create Terra-Xehanort. Terra-Xehanort splits into a Heartless named Ansem, and also a Nobody named Xemnas. Additionally, his younger self, Young Xehanort, time travels throughout the story and is the main antagonist of Kingdom Hearts III.
- Ansem, Seeker of Darkness: This Ansem is the Heartless of the Terra-Xehanort. He is the most powerful Heartless and the main antagonist of Kingdom Hearts I. He can take on a human form because he separated his heart from his body and soul before giving into the darkness.
- Xemnas: Xemnas is Terra-Xehanort’s Nobody. He is the founder of Organization XIII and the ruler of The World That Never Was. He is the main antagonist in Kingdom Hearts II and 358/2 Days, and also a supporting antagonist in Kingdom Hearts III and Dream Drop Distance. His goal is to form his own Kingdom Hearts and become a god.