Xehanort is a major character in the Kingdom Hearts series, and is the central antagonist of the Dark Seeker Saga.
A Keyblade Master who once taught Ventus, Master Xehanort believes that darkness and light should exist in perfect balance, and for this reason, he seeks to conquer Kingdom Hearts and recreate the worlds according to his wishes. Through his many different incarnations, including Terra-Xehanort, his Heartless, Ansem, Seeker of Darkness, and his Nobody, Xemnas, Xehanort is ultimately responsible for the series of events that repeatedly threaten the worlds with destruction, including the mass release of Heartless into the Realm of Light, and the creation of the Nobodies and Organization XIII. He has also brought tragedy to many that have crossed his path, including Sora, Riku, Kairi, Terra, Ventus, and Aqua.
Young Xehanort acquired the ability to travel through time from his future self's Heartless, and he used it to manipulate events so that his future self's plans would come to fruition.
Master Xehanort first appeared in the teaser for Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep as the antagonist battling Terra, Aqua, and Ventus alongside Vanitas. Despite being the true main antagonist of the "Dark Seeker Saga," Master Xehanort did not appear until Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, the series's sixth installment, and he did not meet Sora face to face until Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, the seventh. After Kingdom Hearts II, it was believed that Terra-Xehanort, then simply known as "Xehanort" and the original persona of Ansem, Seeker of Darkness and Xemnas, was the true Xehanort and the series's antagonist, until Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep revealed that the character was simply Terra possessed by the elderly Master Xehanort, the villain's original incarnation. Master Xehanort's origins and connection to Terra-Xehanort were hinted when it was revealed that he would be voiced by Chikao Ōtsuka, the father of Akio Ōtsuka, who voiced Terra-Xehanort and Ansem. On January 15, 2015, Ōtsuka died of ischemic heart failure, and was replaced by Akio for Kingdom Hearts III.
In the English version of the series, Master Xehanort is voiced by Leonard Nimoy. Nimoy was chosen specifically by Tetsuya Nomura because of his role as Mr. Spock from Star Trek and because Nomura himself is a huge fan of both Star Trek and Star Wars, two franchises he intended to pit against each other by additionally casting Mark Hamill as Master Eraqus, Xehanort's enemy. Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep was originally intended to be Nimoy's final performance before his retirement in 2010, but he came out of retirement and briefly reprised the role of Master Xehanort in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance. On February 27, 2015, Nimoy died of chronic lung disease, and was replaced by Dutch actor Rutger Hauer for Kingdom Hearts III.
Xehanort's younger incarnation, from Dream Drop Distance onward, has been voiced by Takanori Okuda in Japanese, and former child voice actor Benjamin Diskin in English. Prior to this, Young Xehanort had a single line of dialogue in the opening scenes of Birth by Sleep, where he was voiced Mamoru Miyano in Japanese and David Gallagher in English (who both play Riku in their respective languages).
Before Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep
Xehanort grew up on the Destiny Islands. As a young man, he was paid a visit by his future self's Heartless, Ansem, who granted him the power to traverse time and tasked him with gathering twelve other incarnations of himself from across time. After carrying out his duties in the future, Xehanort returned to his proper place in time at the Destiny Islands. While the rules of time travel prevented him from keeping his memories of his travels, they engraved themselves on his heart so that he retained a desire to eventually leave the islands.
Xehanort eventually found a way to depart his home world. Though his name was forgotten over the years, Xehanort's exploit of managing to leave Destiny Islands would be remembered for years.
Eventually arriving at the world Scala ad Caelum, Xehanort met a Keyblade Master, who saw potential in him. Under this master, he began training as a Keyblade wielder, along with his fellow pupil Eraqus, who Xehanort eventually came to see as a brother. The two often spent their time between training playing chess. The Master taught the two the ways of the Keyblade and that their role as Keyblade wielders was to protect the worlds of light from darkness. However, this answer was unsatisfactory to Xehanort, and he often visited other worlds without permission to learn more. Initially, Xehanort wore Keyblade Armor during his travels, to protect himself from the darkness between worlds, but eventually he discarded it and sought to control the darkness, believing that if he succeeded, he would not need his armor for protection. Eventually, both Eraqus and Xehanort became Keyblade Masters, and Eraqus was chosen as the Master's successor; Xehanort was chosen to inherit the No Name Keyblade. The newly titled Master Xehanort was free to take on apprentices of his own to train, and he traveled the worlds freely.
As he journeyed, Xehanort obtained vast knowledge concerning Keyblade lore, the Heartless, and the mysteries of the Keyblade War and Kingdom Hearts. Xehanort came to believe that darkness and light were meant to be in balance, but the "tyranny" of light had destroyed much of the darkness and shifted that balance. He therefore resolved to obtain the power of Kingdom Hearts, so that he may create a World in balance. To that end, he sought to recreate the legendary χ-blade and begin a new Keyblade War. By this time, however, Xehanort had grown very old, and he devised a plan to use his Keyblade to extract his own heart and transfer it to a younger body to prolong his life until his ambitions were fulfilled. At one point, Xehanort discussed his ideas about the Keyblade War with Eraqus, who attempted to dissuade him from risking a new apocalypse for the sake of gaining knowledge. When Eraqus tried to stop him by force, Xehanort used his power of darkness to easily fend him off, scarring his face in the process.
Eventually, Xehanort encountered Ventus, who he took on as a pupil. Finding Ventus unsuitable as a vessel, he decided to use the boy in his plan to create the χ-blade. After failing to stimulate Ven's darkness during a training exercise in the Badlands, Xehanort forcibly extracted the darkness from his heart, creating Vanitas. Ven's heart was badly damaged in the process, and Xehanort brought him to the Destiny Islands to die in peace, but Ven showed signs of recovery after his heart connected with that of the newly born Sora. In order to strengthen Ven's light and keep him separated from Vanitas, Xehanort brought him to Eraqus at the Land of Departure and requested that he take care of Ventus and train him as a Keyblade wielder. His hopes were that Eraqus's dedication to the light would nurture Ventus and make him equal in strength to Vanitas, so that they could one day fight each other, forging the χ-blade. Despite how they had parted ways, Eraqus readily accepts Xehanort's request, taking Ventus as an apprentice, to be trained along with Terra and Aqua. While there, Xehanort notices Terra's desire for power, and he decides to make Terra his new vessel.
Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep
A few years later, Master Eraqus invites Master Xehanort to the Land of Departure to witness Terra and Aqua becoming Keyblade Masters. Xehanort accepts, but he hints that Terra has the potential for darkness and suggests Eraqus administer a Mark of Mastery exam to the two apprentices. During the exam, Xehanort subtly uses darkness to affect the Orbs of Light and nudge Terra's darkness during his spar with Aqua. At the end of the exam, Eraqus names Aqua as Master, telling Terra that he failed to keep his darkness in check. Meanwhile, Xehanort leaves the building, passing by Vanitas, who tells him that Terra is the key to luring Ventus away from home. Outside, Xehanort tells Terra that he should not fear his darkness, and that he should learn to channel it instead. He then leaves via a Corridor of Darkness, making himself unavailable when Eraqus tries to contact him about the Unversed threat. Master Eraqus tasks Aqua and Terra with countering the Unversed and locating Master Xehanort, and Vanitas manipulates Ventus into following Terra.
During his travels, Master Xehanort meets the evil fairy Maleficent, and he informs her of the existence of other worlds, the Princesses of Heart, and Kingdom Hearts. He also tells her that the Keyblade is necessary to take others' hearts, and warns her of the three Keyblade wielders that would follow him to her world.
Some time later, Master Xehanort summons Terra to the Keyblade Graveyard, where he tells him of Vanitas and his connection to the Unversed. He explains that he created Vanitas after Ventus succumbed to darkness in a training accident, and he asks Terra to stop Vanitas for him, suggesting that he may be drawn to Radiant Garden, the city of light.
After arriving at Radiant Garden, Terra spots Master Xehanort walking into the Castle Town, but he is distracted from following him by a giant Unversed. Xehanort strikes an alliance with Braig, and they stage Xehanort's kidnapping in order to manipulate Terra into using darkness. Braig faces Terra in battle, and Terra accidentally channels his darkness, scarring Braig's face and forcing him to flee. Xehanort consoles the distraught Terra, offering to take him under his wing, so they may pursue a balance between light and darkness together. He tells "Master Terra" to continue his journey and his search for Vanitas.
After Terra leaves Radiant Garden, an injured Braig attempts to gun Master Xehanort down, furious at being set up as "collateral damage", but Xehanort easily forces him to back down. When Braig remarks that a scarred face is better than a lost heart, Xehanort reveals that Terra is incapable of stealing a heart, implying that he himself was the one who stole Aurora's heart.
Later, Master Xehanort has Vanitas abduct Mickey Mouse to lure Ventus to the Keyblade Graveyard, where he reveals to Ventus the truth about his past and his plans to create the χ-blade. He adds that Master Eraqus has kept Ventus from venturing away from the Land of Departure in order to prevent the creation of the χ-blade, and that he never trusted Ventus enough to tell him the truth. Xehanort summons a dark vortex that sends Ven to the Land of Departure, expecting him to confront Eraqus. He then calls Terra to him, telling him that Ven went to confront Eraqus on his own, and that he fears for Ven's safety. He sends Terra after Ventus, and Terra arrives in time to protect Ven, throws him through a portal to safety, and defeats Eraqus in battle. Although Terra and Eraqus both regret their actions, Xehanort appears and delivers the final blow against Eraqus, who dissolves into light in Terra's arms. Revealing his true intentions to Terra, for him to succumb to darkness, Xehanort tells Terra to return to the Keyblade Graveyard, where he will see Ventus and Aqua meet their ends. He then summons his Keyblade and uses it to unleash darkness on the Land of Departure, completely destroying the world and leaving nothing but the castle's remains, before departing.
When Terra, Ventus, and Aqua travel to the remains of the Land of Departure again, they meet the time-displaced Young Xehanort, who hides his identity by keeping his hood up. After he is defeated, he departs again through time.
Terra, Ven and Aqua arrive at the Keyblade Graveyard, where Master Xehanort and Vanitas confront the three Keyblade wielders. Xehanort uses his immense magic to alter the landscape, summoning giant cliffs and creating a whirling stream of abandoned Keyblades that pursues the three friends. Terra is knocked onto the cliff where Xehanort stands, Ventus tries to attack him from behind, but Xehanort instantly moves behind Ven and grabs him by the helmet of his Keyblade Armor. Terra is knocked off the cliff by the flying Keyblades while Xehanort flash-freezes Ventus and drops him off the cliff. Xehanort then creates an orb of magic which he launches into the clouds overhead, summoning Kingdom Hearts in the sky.
Terra returns to the top of the cliff and faces off against Xehanort and Vanitas, but Xehanort soon sends Vanitas to fight Ventus, leaving Xehanort and Terra to fight one-on-one. Xehanort goads Terra into tapping into his darkness, and Terra successfully defeats the elderly Master. While the battle between Ventus and Vanitas climaxes in the forging of the χ-blade, Xehanort uses his Keyblade to extract his own heart and implant it into Terra, declaring his vow to survive to see the results of the Keyblade War. Terra-Xehanort becomes the new incarnation of Xehanort, with his old body fading away in a shower of light with a triumphant smile.
Master Xehanort and Terra continue to dispute over internal dominance within the new Xehanort. Despite Xehanort's insistence that he will soon subsume Terra's heart into his own, Terra remains confident that he will win over and eventually expel Master Xehanort. Xehanort realizes that Terra is harboring the heart of Master Eraqus, which may allow him to resist his darkness for longer than he expected. However, Xehanort serenely points out that he has many other plans in the works should he lose control over Terra's body.
Between Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep and Kingdom Hearts II
Anticipating that Ventus and Vanitas's union may fail to successfully create the χ-blade, Master Xehanort had arranged a number of back up plans: Braig, as Ansem the Wise's trusted guard, took the role of advisor and comrade for Terra-Xehanort, who had lost his memories following his fight with Aqua. With Braig's guidance, the new Xehanort began conducting experiments into the nature of the heart and the darkness within, in the attempt to remove one's sense of self. The two recruited Ansem's other apprentices to assist in their research, which eventually led to the mass release of Heartless into the Realm of Light. Having banished Ansem the Wise to the Realm of Darkness, the apprentices continue their experiments until they lost their hearts to darkness. Terra-Xehanort, recovering the use of his Keyblade, takes Braig's heart himself, then gives his own heart over to darkness, creating his Heartless, Ansem, Seeker of Darkness, and his Nobody, Xemnas.
Ansem and Xemnas each carry out a part of Master Xehanort's plan: Ansem manipulates Maleficent into gathering seven hearts of pure light, while Xemnas and Braig's Nobody, Xigbar, found Organization XIII, intending to turns its members into vessels for Master Xehanort's heart. However, anticipating that the Organization members would prove unsuitable as vessels, Ansem, lacking a body, travels back in time and approaches Xehanort in his youth. He grants him the ability to move forward in time and tasks him with gathering many incarnations of himself from throughout time.
In the meantime, Ansem and Xemnas each attempt to obtain the power of Kingdom Hearts. Ansem, by manipulating the Heartless into consuming the hearts of many worlds, creates Kingdom Hearts in the depths of the End of the World from the lost hearts, while Xemnas, by having Roxas and Xion collect hearts from Emblem Heartless, and later by manipulating Sora into doing the same, creates Kingdom Hearts in the sky above The World That Never Was from people's hearts. However, their plans are both thwarted by Sora and his friends, and both incarnations of Xehanort are destroyed.
Kingdom Hearts coded
When Mickey returns to the Mysterious Tower, Yen Sid explains that the destruction of Ansem and Xemnas will inevitably lead to the resurrection of Master Xehanort. Musing that Xehanort will have left himself many paths to take and cryptically suggesting that there may be more than one of Xehanort to contend with, Yen Sid instructs Mickey to summon Sora and Riku to the tower to take the Mark of Mastery exam.
Meanwhile, the time-displaced Young Xehanort travels to Radiant Garden and wakes Braig. The two discuss Master Xehanort's plans and the details of his Keyblade for a short period, then agree to take Isa, as Saïx, with them.
Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance
The time displaced Young Xehanort successfully gathers other incarnations of himself from across time, until they total twelve, including himself and the elder Master Xehanort, and is provided with a replica body for his heart when he reaches the present.
At the beginning of Sora and Riku's Mark of Mastery exam, the disembodied Ansem appears, in his robed appearance. He causes Sora to be marked with the Recusant's Sigil, allowing him to be tracked and guided through the Sleeping Worlds by Young Xehanort and his comrades.
He appears before Sora and Riku in several worlds, often accompanied by either Ansem or Xemnas. They taunt the two, Sora about his unknown links to others' hearts, Riku about his dark past, and both about being trapped in their dreams. Young Xehanort chooses to make Sora the thirteenth vessel for Master Xehanort's heart, as Riku had developed a resistance to darkness. In the Symphony of Sorcery, Xehanort confronts Sora, commenting on the idyllic and beautiful dream-like landscape. Xehanort reveals he is not part of Sora's dream and ominously tells Sora to keep sleeping and they will meet again.
Eventually, Sora is brought to the real World that Never Was, where Xigbar explains how his journey had been manipulated all along, and Young Xehanort plunges Sora back into a deep sleep, showing him illusions of his own past. Sora then dreams of the many people connected to him, and when he chases the phantoms in his dream, he falls deeper into sleep. Eventually he confronts Xigbar and Xemnas, who reveal to him the true purpose of Organization XIII and admit that Nobodies can regrow their hearts over time. Although Sora defeats Xemnas, the fight weakens him to the point that he cannot escape from his deep sleep. Young Xehanort reappears before him, and he tells Sora how they had manipulated his journey. As Sora falls unconscious, Xehanort informs him that he will become the thirteenth member of the new Organization XIII.
Riku attempts to find Sora in The World That Never Was, eventually defeating Ansem and returning to the real world. He tracks Sora to the Castle That Never Was, where he finds Sora in Where Nothing Gathers. Young Xehanort stops Riku from reaching Sora, and he tells him about the true purpose of Organization XIII as vessels for Xehanort, as well as his role in gathering the members from across time, and his choosing Sora as the thirteenth member. The current members appear, but before Master Xehanort fully materializes, Mickey arrives and freezes the area with a Stopza spell. However, Master Xehanort possesses the body of his younger incarnation, allowing him to move and to summon a Keyblade. Young Xehanort faces Riku in battle, but Riku finally prevails. The time freeze wears off, and Master Xehanort fully revives on the highest throne, while Young Xehanort takes his place on another.
Master Xehanort admits to his past endeavors and his failed attempt to create the χ-blade to Riku and Mickey, but also reveals that he has another way to create the χ-blade and restart the Keyblade War. Since the χ-blade was divided at the conclusion of the Keyblade War into thirteen darknesses and seven lights, he had orchestrated many previous events, including manipulating Maleficent into capturing the seven Princesses of Heart and the creation of Organization XIII as vessels of darkness, each meant to harbor a piece of his own heart. Due to Sora and Riku's interference and the unforeseen independence or weakness of a number of Organization members, the two-part plan had failed. However, having given Young Xehanort the ability to travel through time, Master Xehanort has brought about the creation of a new Organization XIII made up of himself, his other incarnations, and vessels that harbor pieces of his heart, which he intends to pit against the "Seven Lights".
Master Xehanort moves in to place a fragment of his heart inside Sora, but the arrival of Lea, Donald, and Goofy stalls the Organization long enough that they are forced to retreat, each member returning to his own time. As Master Xehanort fades, he tells his opponents that both the seven of light and the thirteen of darkness will have their numbers filled when the time comes.
Although Yen Sid and Mickey agree that they will be playing into Xehanort's hands, they resolve to gather seven Keyblade-wielding defenders of light, rather than endanger the Princesses of Heart.
Kingdom Hearts III
In order to conduct an experiment on the growth of hearts, Young Xehanort takes several of Andy's toys and traps them in an alternate version of their world called the Toy Box. He has a particular interest in pitting Buzz Lightyear and Woody against each other to learn about the relationship between hearts and bonds. The toys (accompanied by Sora, Donald, and Goofy) track Xehanort down to Galaxy Toys, where he admits the fraudulent nature of the world before summoning Heartless to take over several Gigas action figures and attack the group.
Once the toys find Rex in the game store, Young Xehanort has a Heartless possess Buzz and forces him to shoot at Woody. Xehanort dodges Sora's attacks while explaining his plan: to separate Woody, Buzz, and their friends from Andy, who was the source of their hearts through their close bond, so as to weaken them, the appearance of Sora and their distrust of him being the last straw until they could be taken over. He then traps Sora in a video game. Young Xehanort takes Buzz through a Corridor of Darkness before being followed by Sora and Woody. They dispel the darkness of isolation surrounding Buzz through the light of friendship, teaching Xehanort that empty vessels can truly grow hearts. He disappears and leaves behind the King of Toys Heartless as a "parting gift."
Master Xehanort himself is not seen until Sora, along with the other guardians of light, arrive at the Keyblade Graveyard. He appears alongside Ansem, Xemnas, Vanitas, and his younger self, giving a similar speech to the one he gave Eraqus many years ago. The group summon a massive horde of Heartless, Nobodies, and Unversed to stall the guardians before departing.
After Sora rescues Axel's heart from the Lich in San Fransokyo, Young Xehanort appears once again, admonishing Sora for blindly pursuing the Lich to save his friends, and warning that there will be a heavy price to pay.
Once the guardians make it back to the Keyblade Graveyard, Master Xehanort and the rest of the Real Organization XIII confront them at the crossroads where he once confronted Terra, Aqua, and Ventus. He states that the secrets of the Keyblade War will finally be unlocked, then summons No Name and creates a sprawling labyrinth known as The Skein of Severance as the battleground for the final clash, signifying the beginning of the war. Xehanort himself remains on a larger pillar behind the labyrinth to observe the coming battles.
After defeating nine of the thirteen darknesses, Sora, Riku, and King Mickey arrive at the Tower of Endings at the end of the labyrinth, where they are confronted by Young Xehanort, Ansem, and Xemnas. Master Xehanort informs them that the nine clashes beforehand have produced nine keys, taking the form of the No Name, and that the remaining four will be forged with the final four battles, waving off the heroes' hopeful protestations. Young Xehanort, Ansem, and Xemnas then attack the group.
After a difficult battle, in which Master Xehanort frequently interferes via a storm of Keyblades, Young Xehanort is defeated and returned to his proper place in time, though not before again warning Sora that there is a high cost to overusing the power of waking.
After Ansem and Xemnas are also defeated, Master Xehanort declares that only one more key is needed, uses No Name to summon Kingdom Hearts, and beckons Sora to battle him. While Sora initially refuses, Xehanort reminds him that he plans for every eventuality and reveals Kairi, whom Xemnas had kidnapped. Before Sora can reach her, Xehanort slays Kairi. Sora, Riku, and Mickey all attempt to attack Master Xehanort, but are easily repelled.
As the thirteenth key appears, Master Xehanort rises into the air and points No Name at Kingdom Hearts. The thirteen keys forged by the clashes combine, transforming No Name into the completed χ-blade. With the χ-blade finally in hand, Xehanort bids Kingdom Hearts to open and show him a new world. A ray of darkness emanates from the χ-blade and strikes Kingdom Hearts, consuming it with darkness which starts raining down onto the Keyblade Graveyard.
Sora doubts that they can defeat Xehanort now that he controls Kingdom Hearts, but is reassured by the arrival of the rest of the guardians of light. Riku states that as Xehanort can travel through time, he acts as a portal, which can be used to trap him. Sora volunteers to stop Xehanort, aided by Donald and Goofy, while everyone else keeps Kingdom Hearts under control. Sora surprises Xehanort by opening the portal within him, transporting the four of them to a memory of Scala ad Caelum.
After Sora defeats the remnants of the Real Organization XIII, Xehanort appears again and explains that Scala ad Caelum use to be the seat of power for all Keyblade wielders, and that he and his other selves can reunite here. Xehanort proceeds to absorb the remnants of the Real Organization XIII, granting him a set of Keyblade Armor resembling Baphomet. Summoning No Name, he proceeds to reshape the soul-world to trap Sora, Donald, and Goofy, and engages them in battle. After a grueling battle both within the town and under its waters, Xehanort's armor is destroyed, but he escapes through a Corridor to the peak of the town. Sora, Donald, and Goofy pursue him to the tower, where he summons the χ-blade, summons Kingdom Hearts once again, and challenges the three to a final battle. Eventually, Xehanort uses the power of both Kingdom Hearts and the χ-blade to nearly slay Sora, but he is called back by Donald and Goofy. Together, they use the Keyblade and the power of friendship to break through Xehanort's attack and deal a final blow.
Sora urges Xehanort to admit defeat, but Xehanort states that it's too late. Xehanort reveals that Kingdom Hearts will trigger a purge, destroying all Worlds and returning them to their original state, giving them a new beginning free of the darkness that has continuously sprouted within people's hearts, one which he will shepherd as its leader. Sora rebukes him, stating that a true leader would know that destiny cannot be controlled, reminding Xehanort of Eraqus.
The rest of the guardians of light arrive, having followed their hearts to find Sora. Terra approaches Master Xehanort and reminds him that there's more to light than meets the eye, causing Xehanort to remember that Eraqus's heart has been with Terra all along. Eraqus emerges from within Terra and tells Xehanort to hand the χ-blade over. Xehanort initially refuses to admit defeat, but Eraqus declares checkmate.
Finally accepting that he has lost, Xehanort hands the χ-blade to Sora. After silently observing the reunion between Terra, Aqua, Ventus, and Eraqus, he finally succumbs to his injuries, but is supported by Eraqus before he collapses. Eraqus asks his old friend if he is ready, and Xehanort assents. The two briefly take on the appearances of their past selves, share one last laugh, then finally depart for the afterlife together.
As an old man, Master Xehanort is bald except for thin eyebrows and a curled, silver goatee. His ears are pointed and his eyes are yellow. He has broad, hunched shoulders and a crooked back. He appears overall as a somewhat feeble old man, certainly deceiving given his immense power. His clothing is the same as that worn by his eventual Heartless Ansem. It is composed of a white and black coat with a red inner lining, which is worn over a white shirt with two thin black belts, as well as white gloves and calf-high black boots. The major difference between the two outfits is that Ansem wears the shirt unbuttoned, exposing the Heartless emblem on his chest. However, there are a few minor changes as well; Ansem's coat has gold lining on its edges, where Xehanort's has black lining. He sometimes wears a black coat, which would later be worn by Xemnas and the Organization members, over this outfit.
In Kingdom Hearts III, Xehanort has noticeable veins covering the back of his head, due to the lack of hair.
In his youth, Xehanort had mildly tanned skin, golden eyes, and silver hair which both slightly spikes and falls past his shoulders in the back; it is styled similar to Terra-Xehanort's, albeit with four bangs framing his face, the back two thicker than the front two, and the two backwards spikes on the sides are absent, the topmost one slicked back. He wore the same style of white shirt, which only reaches to his thighs, a black vest with a high collar, long armbands which cover his forearms, and dark grey pants stuffed into his boots, similar to those worn by Organization XIII but without the silver lining on top, much like those worn by the guards of Radiant Garden. While traveling through time, he wears the black coat.
Young Xehanort's body model in Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep is a slightly-modified copy of Saïx's, though it is likely that this is simply due to data recycling rather than any deeper significance.
Like the members of the original Organization XIII, Xehanort's name contains the letter "X", along with the anagrams "Another" and "No Heart".
Xehanort is shown to be a cunning, callous, and pragmatic being with the sole goal of merging with Kingdom Hearts and obtain ultimate knowledge, the lives of innocent people and even those who care for him meaning absolutely nothing to him. To this end, he is willing to put whatever he pleases on the line or destroy anything in his way, demonstrated when he manipulated several characters such as Terra, Aqua, Ventus, Braig, and even Maleficent, created Vanitas, a sentient being born for the sole purpose of forwarding his evil plan, and slew his old friend Master Eraqus in cold blood after tricking Terra into defeating him in battle. He even shrugged off ruining Terra, Ventus, and Aqua's lives by telling Mickey and Riku that they were destined to fall, and went as far as to refer to Sora as a "dull, ordinary boy". Xehanort tends to have a series of back-up plans to occur whenever his previous scheme fails, and his skill for this has given him a reputation as a "devious tactician", as relayed to Mickey by Yen Sid.
Despite his overweening malice, Xehanort has been shown to have some slight sympathy for his victims, such as when he takes pity on Ventus, following the rupture of his heart, and decides to leave him to perish peacefully on the Destiny Islands. All of Xehanort's other seeming virtues are revealed to have sinister intentions behind them, demonstrated when he only took Ventus as an apprentice and cared for him solely with the intention of making the boy his vessel once he was strong enough, and when he only accepted Master Eraqus's invitation to witness the Mark of Mastery exam to win back Eraqus's trust following their falling-out and sabotage the exam to put Terra on the path to darkness so as to make him his new vessel after deciding to instead use Ventus for the χ-blade. Like his other incarnations, Xehanort puts on a polite façade to make other people do what he desires. In his final moments, however, he admits to Sora that his true intention was to create a world devoid of corruption and darkness, and develops a newfound respect for Sora upon his defeat at the boy's hands, allowing him to close Kingdom Hearts and telling him "very well done".
Overall, Xehanort is the true catalyst of all the events in the series so far, having been responsible (either directly or indirectly) for converting Terra into the first of his many vessels, arranging his younger self's quest through time, the Disney Villains' hunt for Kingdom Hearts, the creation of Vanitas, the Unversed, and the original Organization XIII, the release of the Emblem Heartless and Nobodies, and the plaguing of the Sleeping Worlds with the Dream Eaters. Xehanort has a few unusual tendencies and quirks, however, such as turning away from the people he speaks to, or over-dramatizing his hand gestures when delivering a speech, even flexing his fingers in a peculiar grasping motion.
However, in Kingdom Hearts III, Xehanort indicates that his past goals were merely a cover for his true purpose—to exploit the darkness to summon Kingdom Hearts, but then use it to reset the world to one without darkness. Upon noticing how Sora reminded him of Eraqus, Xehanort got a chance to speak with his old friend, who convinced him that they had finally reached "checkmate". For the first time, Xehanort admits defeat, seemingly reclaims his friendship with Eraqus, and develops a respect for Sora.
Master Xehanort is an extremely skilled Keyblade Master and magic user. Able to teleport if he is in danger, Master Xehanort strikes opponents with powerful, fast-paced combos. He also can bombard foes with Fire, Thunder, Blizzard, and Earth-based magic. His magic skills are some of the most advanced seen in the series so far, as he is able to create massive rock formations and pillars, encase Ventus's body in ice, project a gust of wind powerful enough to send Ventus and Mickey flying from his hand, block Braig's Arrowgun shots without raising his arms, and telekinetically control the Keyblades covering the Keyblade Graveyard to attack Terra and Aqua. Master Xehanort's magical prowess is shown when King Mickey tries to confront him in Kingdom Hearts III; Mickey attempted to wipe him out with an Ultima spell, but Xehanort countered with a Stopza spell so powerful, it reached far enough to immobilize Riku. He also possesses physical strength sufficient to grab a fully-armored Ventus by the back of the head and lift him into the air with one hand. His old age, however, somewhat hampers his mobility, forcing him to rely more on magic and cunning in battle, until he manages to possess Terra.
Master Xehanort shows a great deal of skill in utilizing the heart and its capabilities, able to create a living being, Vanitas, out of the darkness of Ventus's heart when he unlocks it, to direct his heart into Terra's body to possess it after his defeat in the Keyblade Graveyard, or to steal the light from Sora's heart. Master Xehanort's greatest asset, however, is his intellect and capacity for manipulation. For over a decade, he has, directly or indirectly, influenced many of the hardships and suffering the worlds have gone through, and always has backup plans ready in the event his initial schemes fail.
Young Xehanort has the ability to control time with enough precision to manipulate the flow of battle, either by slowing the opponent while unleashing a multitude of swift, powerful strikes, or reversing the flow of time to recover from damage. He is also an extremely skilled magic user, and is able to cast powerful spells based on the elements of Fire and Blizzard, fire magical shots similar to those fired by Sora in Wisdom Form, or teleport himself around the battlefield.
Within his Scala ad Caelum, Xehanort is able to manipulate the town's structure at will. Using the χ-blade, Xehanort could warp by using Keyholes and summon Kingdom Hearts in whatever world he wished.[?]
Master Xehanort is able to wield his No Name Keyblade with great skill despite his age, and enough of his strength has remained over the years that he is able to use it in fast-paced physical combos. His battle stance is similar to that of both Vanitas and Riku, but he mainly allows the Keyblade to hang loosely at his side as he walks slowly towards opponents. Master Xehanort also uses his Keyblade to unlock countless hearts, including his own. Upon forging the χ-blade, Xehanort discards his Keyblade in favor of the ancient weapon.
Young Xehanort wields two weapons that bear a striking resemblance to Xemnas's Ethereal Blades. Unlike many of Xemnas's weapons, however, Xehanort's appear to have hilts. The blades are made of light blue energy, and the black handles are somewhat reminiscent of the Terminus and Ruination Ethereal Blades. The blades can be combined into a dual-blade or can extend to be lashed like a whip. Xehanort wields these weapons with a reverse grip. In his battle with Riku at Where Nothing Gathers, while possessed by his older incarnation, Young Xehanort wields a Keyblade that incorporates elements from both the No Name Keychain used by Terra, Ventus, and Aqua and the No Name Keyblade used by Luxu and Master Xehanort. He also wields this Keyblade during his battles against the guardians of light.
Notes and references
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