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Issues: Story and origin (focus on important uses of Heartless and events important to Heartless as a whole; not every single Heartless appearance needs to be given a detailed synopsis)
The Heartless (ハートレス Hātoresu ) are beings of darkness that manifest in two forms, "Pureblood" and "Emblem". While most Heartless are, in fact, manifested hearts, they behave entirely devoid of emotion, and thus were named "Heartless".
The Heartless are the primary enemy type in the Kingdom Hearts series, with various subspecies appearing as enemies in nearly every game.
Before Kingdom Hearts χ
Darkness originally had physical forms, but cast them off in order to attack hearts directly. These original Darknesses infected people's hearts and preyed on their negative emotions, giving rise to the first Pureblood Heartless.
Kingdom Hearts χ
With the incoming Keyblade War, a Nightmare Chirithy manipulated Keyblade wielders in an attempt to prevent them from fighting over Lux. However, the Dream Eater's actions caused opposite reaction, leading to them giving into darkness and being turned into Darklings. They continued their pursuit of Lux eventually coming for Skuld and Player but fled after a fight. Later on, the trio are absorbed by Nightmare Chirithy to do battle again, but ends in defeat. The Darklings' pursuit continued after crossing the world line and following the Dandelions into the data world. Inside the Clock Tower as glitches appear Player, Ephemer and Ventus are soon are surrounded by a Darkling who utters "not you...", which confuses the trio. Then a lone Darkling was followed by Ephemer and Player while traversing through the mysterious tunnel, still muttering the same phrase it did before. They do battle, and the Darkling runs further into the tunnel, with the pair following.
Ephemer continued to follow it through Game Central Station and into Hero's Duty, and once again reunites with Player despite defeating the Darkling for the third time; it still says "not you", leaving Ephemer perplexed about what it could mean. Before confronting it further, the Darkling gets eaten by a Cy-Bug, fusing them together then flies off as the pair chase after it and finally catching up to it, they manage to destroy it. Later, in Sugar Rush, after King Candy and the Cy-bugs are defeated, Player and Chirithy sensed that the Darkling is still around and sees that it has gotten much stronger since their last encounter. Finally, Chirithy asks the Darkling why it keeps following them if they are not the ones it wants but the creature doesn't answer and is destroyed once again. Remembering the Cy-Bugs behavior in Hero's Duty Chirithy wonders if the Darkling was drawn to the light of the Keyblade and was really after a Keyblade wielder.
During the confrontation with Darkness and the Union leaders, Darklings appear, around a comatose Ventus, seeing him as their target. He wakes up and uses the light within his heart to destroy them.
Keyblade wielders fight both Pureblood and Emblem Heartless as they journey across the worlds to collect Lux. However, these are merely projections from the Book of Prophecies, which contains records of future events, as true Emblem Heartless did not yet exist.
Between Kingdom Hearts Dark Road and Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep
In an attempt to draw out the darkness in the heart of his pupil, Ventus, Master Xehanort summoned several Neoshadows to fight him, but Ventus was overwhelmed and nearly destroyed by the Heartless instead.
Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep
As Aqua wanders the Realm of Darkness following her battle with Terra-Xehanort, she encounters a group of Darksides. Although she initially summons Master's Defender, she decides to let the Darksides come at her without resisting. However, Terra's and Ventus's Keyblades come to her rescue, a last symbol of hope from her old friends. Her spirit returning, and in hopes of returning to her home, Aqua presses on through the Realm of Darkness, along the way encountering many Pureblood Heartless, including Shadows, Neoshadows and Darkballs. During this time, she is stalked and attacked by the massive Dark Hide, engaging it in combat and emerging victorious after a strenuous battle.
Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep -A fragmentary passage-
Aqua fights off numerous Purebloods in the Realm of Darkness, which included Darksides, Neoshadows, Shadows, and a huge swarm of Shadows called Demon Tower. Extremely rare elemental Heartless, such as Water Core, Flame Core, Earth Core, and Fluttering attack Aqua as she journeys through the realm. While in the remains of Enchanted Dominion, Aqua railslides through a forest of thorns, evading the punches and energy blasts of numerous Darksides. A swarm of Shadows called the Demon Tide attempts to attack Riku when he tries reaching the Door to Darkness, but Aqua holds it off and ultimately destroys it as she renews her convictions to defeat the darkness.
Between Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep and Kingdom Hearts
Building on Ansem the Wise's research into the nature of the heart, two of his apprentices, Xehanort and Master Xehanort's co-conspirator, Braig, experimented on people's hearts without his knowledge, convincing Ansem's other apprentices, Dilan, Even, Aeleus, and Ienzo, to assist them.
During the experiments, Xehanort discovered the Heartless and named them. Radiant Garden. After further study, he built the Heartless Manufactory inside Ansem's castle and created the first artificial Emblem Heartless.One of them leads him to the heart of
After discovering his apprentices' experiments and realizing his error in trying to interfere with the nature of the heart, Ansem the Wise ordered his apprentices to cease their research. However, they overthrew Ansem, banishing him to the Realm of Darkness while Xehanort took his name. Their continued experiments eventually led the group to lose their hearts, turning them into Heartless and Nobodies, and Xehanort's Heartless, Ansem, Seeker of Darkness, began planning to find and take the power of Kingdom Hearts.
In the meantime, the Heartless consumed most of the world, leaving only Hollow Bastion, and they began spreading to other worlds. Ansem began manipulating Maleficent and her allies to use the Heartless in their bid to conquer all worlds and take Kingdom Hearts. In this conquest, Enchanted Dominion, Castle of Dreams, Dwarf Woodlands, The Land of Dragons, Pride Lands, Beast's Castle, La Cité des Cloches, Prankster's Paradise, The Grid, Country of the Musketeers and Symphony of Sorcery were destroyed by the Heartless, along with the homes of Bambi and Dumbo.
Maleficent sends the Heartless to invade many worlds, to consume their hearts and search for the seven Princesses of Heart. Many of her allies use the Heartless to advance their own plans, in many cases to conquer their own worlds.
Sora encounters Heartless within his Dive to the Heart, including a Darkside. A few days later, when Riku opens the door to the heart of the world, the Heartless invade en masse, and they succeed in devouring the islands, despite Sora obtaining the Keyblade and attempting to stop them.
After he escapes to Traverse Town, Sora meets Leon and Yuffie, who explain to him the nature of the Heartless and tell him his Keyblade both draws them to him and is the best weapon against them. This leads Sora to fight the Heartless alongside Donald Duck and Goofy, in an effort to save the worlds.
Sora eventually learns that the Heartless are being used by Maleficent to capture the seven Princesses of Heart and open the door to Kingdom Hearts, so that she and her allies can rule over all worlds. However, Ansem, possessing Riku's body, uses the Keyblade of heart to drown Maleficent in her own darkness and transform her into her dragon form. After she is destroyed by Sora, Ansem reveals that, like the other villains, she was being used by the Heartless.
Ansem challenges Sora in order to claim Kairi's heart and complete the Final Keyhole, but Sora defeats him. Sora then uses Ansem's Keyblade on himself, in order to free Kairi's heart and complete the Keyhole so it can be sealed. Although he succeeds, he loses his own heart and becomes a Shadow Heartless in the process. Kairi's light restores Sora to his human form, and he soon travels to the End of the World to stop Ansem from reaching Kingdom Hearts.
Ansem uses a great many Heartless in an effort to defeat Sora, but he is finally beaten in front of the Door to Darkness. Ansem reaches out to Kingdom Hearts to try and control the darkness he expects within, but he is destroyed by the light of Kingdom Hearts.
In order to stop an immeasurable wave of Heartless from emerging through the Door to Darkness, Sora closes and locks the door with the help of Riku and Mickey, who are stuck in the Realm of Darkness.
Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories
The Heartless appear inside Castle Oblivion, variously formed either from Sora's memories or Riku's darkness as they seek to indoctrinate the two boys.
Axel, due to his friendship with Sora's Nobody, Roxas, is fascinated by Sora's Heartless, as Sora was able to hold onto his mind and feelings when a Heartless should be mindless and instinctual, something that only one other Heartless, Ansem, was able to accomplish.
Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days
After Maleficent and Ansem's defeat, the Heartless run wild without a guiding will behind them, although villains like Pete are able to summon and control small groups of them. As a Keyblade-wielding member of Organization XIII, Roxas is often sent on missions to defeat them and collect hearts. During one of his early missions, Marluxia introduces Roxas to fighting Heartless, explaining to him the difference between Pureblood Heartless, which contain no hearts, and Emblem Heartless, which release hearts upon defeat. He tells Roxas that the hearts he collects will gather to form Kingdom Hearts, the ultimate goal of the Organization. Marluxia and Zexion emphasize the importance of Roxas's role in collecting hearts for the Organization's purposes. Xemnas creates Xion to duplicate Roxas's abilities, as a failsafe should Roxas have proved inadequate for the purpose of collecting hearts.
After Xion's death, Roxas attempts to reach the Organization's Kingdom Hearts in the hopes of bringing her back. However, he is stopped by numerous Neoshadows, which he slays with the help of Riku.
Kingdom Hearts II
After Sora awakens in Twilight Town, he travels to the Mysterious Tower, where he meets Pete, Maleficent's second in command, who is working to make an army of Heartless for Maleficent's use. After defeating his squad of Heartless, Sora realizes that the worlds are still in danger. He meets with the Tower's master, Yen Sid, who explains Sora's new mission, telling him that although Sora and company prevented a catastrophic invasion of the Realm of Light by Heartless, there are still many Heartless throughout the worlds. Maleficent and Pete continue to use the Heartless in their attempts to conquer worlds, and as Axel reveals during the Battle of the 1000 Heartless, Organization XIII is using Sora to release the hearts of every Heartless he destroys to create their own Kingdom Hearts.
In Halloween Town, Dr. Finkelstein creates an "artificial" Heartless called The Experiment. When it comes to life, it chases presents, hoping that the joy of the presents would be enough to give it a heart. The Experiment is eventually defeated by Sora, Donald, and Goofy when they arrive in Halloween Town the second time.
With this knowledge, Sora heads for the Organization's base world, The World That Never Was, to stop their plans for Kingdom Hearts. Inside the Castle That Never Was, Saïx shows off the Organization's Kingdom Hearts to Sora's group, and he summons a great many Shadows to attack.
Kingdom Hearts is damaged when Ansem the Wise fails to encode it as data, causing hearts to rain down over the Dark City, spawning a great swarm of Shadows that attack the castle. Maleficent and Pete take on the swarm, sending Sora and company to defeat Xemnas, atop the castle.
Kingdom Hearts coded
Digital representations of the Heartless appear within the datascape of Jiminy's Journal, just as they had appeared in the real worlds. The bugs infecting the Journal also appear as various species of Heartless. The source of the bugs, the digital representation of Sora's Heartless, absorbs the defeated Heartless in order to increase in power, but it is defeated by Data-Sora and King Mickey, and the journal is repaired.
Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance
Ienzo reveals to Lea that when a Heartless and Nobody are destroyed and their hearts find their vessels, they are returned to the place they became a Heartless and Nobody. However, if that world is destroyed or otherwise unavailable, they would appear in Traverse Town.
Kingdom Hearts III
During their closing research into the New Seven Hearts and Replicas, the real Organization XIII regularly employs Heartless, alongside Nobodies and Unversed, to both further their experiments and rebuff Sora's attempts to stop them.
When the Seven Guardians of Light arrive at the Keyblade Graveyard, the Organization sends the remaining reserves of their armies to quash the heroes. Sora and his friends are able to repel the first assault, but after Terra-Xehanort confronts them and leaves them in disarray, the swarm attacks again and is able to extinguish the guardians. However, before the Lich can consume their deaths, Sora exploits the power of waking to bring them back, and in the process generates a singularity that returns them to before the battle. This time, the Lingering Will drives off Terra-Xehanort, allowing the spirits of the fallen Keyblade wielders to rise up and help Sora finish off the massive swarm. In one last attempt, Dark Riku summons a final swarm of Heartless, Nobodies, and Unversed to overwhelm the guardians, but Yen Sid arrives and uses his powers to clear a path to the waiting organization.
In general, Heartless are beastly creatures with beady yellow eyes.
As naturally occurring Heartless, Pureblood Heartless look more primitive and tend to use more chaotic fighting styles. When they are not possessing objects or using them as armor, Pureblood Heartless are predominantly dark-toned with eerily-colored veins, antennae, and tendrils on their bodies. In addition, they generally do not cast shadows onto the world. Some Pureblood Heartless have chains hanging off their bodies. Particularly strong Pureblood Heartless look somewhat humanoid and possess a heart-shaped hole in the center of their torso.
Emblem Heartless have more varied shapes and colors than their Pureblood cousins. They are branded with an emblem, which resembles a heart with a fleur-de-lis at the bottom and a spiky "X" crossing through the center. The physical appearance of Emblem Heartless is influenced by the world they appear in. Unlike Purebloods, these Heartless generally do have shadows.
- "Pitiful Heartless. Mindlessly collecting hearts."
Pureblood Heartless are natural Heartless, born from the darkness in people's hearts. They are native to the Realm of Darkness, and they are more common in other places that are close to or saturated in darkness, such as End of the World and The World That Never Was. Upon their destruction, they simply disappear in puffs of darkness, without a heart leaving its body. While Purebloods have less variety, they are far more numerous in quantity and often attack in swarms.
Emblem Heartless, on the other hand, are artificially created. They were first created from a machine designed to reproduce the process of a heart being consumed by darkness. They are more common in the worlds within the Realm of Light, and they can adapt their appearance to fit the world they are in, often mimicking the shape of creatures or objects within that world. Powerful Emblem Heartless can also be created directly from the influence of darkness on a creature or individual.
Heartless – Emblem or Pureblood – are dark creatures that act on instinct alone. They will attack others to consume more hearts, and will target wielders of the Keyblade. However, a powerful user of darkness can summon or control Heartless. The Heartless will obey a powerful enough force, but they are only loyal as long as the leader remains strong-willed.  Additionally, some Heartless are able to command fellow Heartless.
Heartless possess the ability to travel between worlds using Corridors of Darkness. They naturally seek out the heart of the world to corrupt it with their darkness. A Keyblade can lock the heart of a world away from the Heartless; while this prevents the Heartless from destroying the world's heart, it does not keep Heartless out of the world itself.
If a Heartless is slain by a Keyblade, the heart will be freed and reunite with the body and soul it left behind (provided there is no corresponding Nobody). Magic and certain weapons can also destroy Heartless, but only temporarily. No method of eliminating Heartless is capable of stopping them forever, for as long as darkness lingers in the hearts of individuals, Heartless will continue to form.
The strength of a Heartless is proportional to the depth of the darkness from which it was born: the darker the heart forming a Heartless, the more powerful and more monstrous the resulting being will be. For those with no darkness within their hearts, such as the Princesses of Heart, they cannot create Heartless. The process of creating Heartless occasionally also forms Nobodies, which are born from the body and soul left behind when the heart is lost.
List of Heartless
- Heartless listed in italics are exclusive to Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix, or Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Final Mix.
- Heartless listed in bold serve as bosses.
Wayward Wardrobe's branchees Heartless
Wayward Wardrobe's high-heeled boot Heartless
Wayward Wardrobe's skirt Heartless
- Note: The Gummi enemies that appear in Kingdom Hearts are merely Gummi Ships piloted by Heartless. Those that appear in Kingdom Hearts II and Kingdom Hearts III are Heartless themselves.
Possessed by Heartless
Notes and references
- Ansem's Report 3: "One thing I am sure of is that they are entirely devoid of emotion."
- Kingdom Hearts II, Sora: "Santa Claus thinks maybe it left because it was trying to find a heart." / Dr. Finkelstein: "That's quite possible. Unlike my Sally, it wasn't equipped with a heart." / Sora: "But if it wanted a heart, why was it going around stealing all those Christmas presents?" / Sally: Maybe because...presents are a way to give your heart to someone special.
- Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, Ienzo: "When someone who's lost their heart is recompleted, they should return to the place where it happened. And if that world is unavailable for whatever reason, a refuge is made for them in the realm between—a world called "Traverse Town". They would be sent there."
- Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, Marluxia: "The ones you just defeated are known as Purebloods. Purebloods don't release any hearts when you defeat them. In other words, don't bother with them."
- Secret Ansem Report 5: "The six traitors were operating a laboratory that churned out those cursed shadows. Not only did they generate "pureblood" Heartless from living hearts, but they then used those Heartless to synthesize artificial versions of the creatures as well. These synthetic Heartless bore insignias and were called "Emblems." Pureblood or Emblem, these Heartless act only to fulfill their instinctive needs. They single-mindedly detect hearts and swarm around them."
- Kingdom Hearts, Leon: "The Heartless have great fear of the Keyblade. That's why they'll keep coming after you no matter what."
- Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Ultimania "As Yen Sid says in Kingdom Hearts II, the Heartless cannot be separated from the darkness in people's hearts, and have been around for a long time. Beings of darkness can draw out the darkness in the heart, so Master Xehanort could summon the Neoshadows with his own hands. In the same way, when Xehanort and Ansem the Wise's students begin to perform the first experiments on the darkness of the heart, artificial Heartless were created in large numbers."
- Kingdom Hearts II, Saïx: "The Heartless ally with whoever's the strongest."
- Kingdom Hearts, Maleficent: "Don't steep yourself in darkness too long. The Heartless consume the careless."
- Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, Xion: "But if I don't defeat Heartless with the Keyblade... the hearts they release just find their way into other Heartless instead. I swat them in one place and they just pop up in another."
- Kingdom Hearts II, Yen Sid: Your past endeavors did prevent an immense effusion of Heartless from the great darkness; make no mistake about that. However, the Heartless are darkness made real---and darkness lingers yet in every heart. The Heartless are fewer. But while darkness exists in a single heart, it will be difficult to eliminate them."
- Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, Pete: "I'll give that pirate somethin' he can reeeally be greedy about. Then I'll summon a great big whopper of a Heartless!"
- Kingdom Hearts II, Yen Sid: "At times, if someone with a strong heart and will---be they evil or good---becomes a Heartless, the empty shell they leave behind begins to act with a will of its own."
- Ansem, Seeker of Darkness appears to have characteristics of both Emblem and Pureblood Heartless, in both his human and world forms. In both forms, he bears the Heartless emblem on his chest, though in human form it could possibly be an article of clothing. Notably, though, the otherwise identical outfit worn by Master Xehanort does not possess the emblem. Furthermore, the Dark Figure attached to him in both forms possesses the "hollow heart" shared by many other Pureblood Heartless. Though it is uncertain what Ansem's situation is, it is possible that this makes him both an Emblem and Pureblood Heartless.
- Kingdom Hearts II, Pete: "Anger and jealousy turned the king of Pride Rock into a Heartless!"
|Kingdom Hearts Melody of Memory|
|Kairi - Sora - Roxas - Aqua - Riku|
Donald Duck - Goofy - Axel - Xion - Terra - Ventus - Meow Wow - Komory Bat - Mickey Mouse
Hercules - Aladdin - Ariel - Peter Pan - Beast - Fa Mulan - Simba - Stitch
|Xehanort - Ansem, Seeker of Darkness - Xemnas - Maleficent|
|Aeleus - Ansem the Wise - Even - Fairy Godmother - Ienzo - Nameless Star - Terra-Xehanort - Yen Sid|
|Mysterious Tower - Radiant Garden - The Final World|
|An Oath to Return - Another Key - Key Art - Keyblade - Museum - Rhythm Points - Story Scene - The End - VS Battle - World Tour|
|Kingdom Hearts Melody of Memory - Special Disc - Unnamed tracks|
|Artwork - Bosses - Enemies - Items - Trophy - Songs|