Origin and StoryEdit
Kingdom Hearts Birth by SleepEdit
Even before the Xehanort and other of the Ansem the Wise's apprentices have performed inhumane experiments and discovered the Heartless, Heartless were shown to exist during Terra, Aqua, and Ven's time. When Ventus was still Master Xehanort's apprentice, Master Xehanort pitted Ventus against many Neoshadows. He did this in order to embrace Ventus's darkness but Ven refused and was nearly destroyed.
After Aqua had sacrificed herself to save Terra's body, she was stuck in the Realm of Darkness. As she wandered through the realm, she discovers Heartless and even a pack of Darksides. However, as Aqua lets the Darksides come at her, Terra's Earthshaker and Ven's Wayward Wind keyblades come to her rescue and destroys the Darksides.
In Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Final Mix in the Secret Episode, Aqua's time wandering the Realm of Darkness is playable. In the Secret Episode, Pureblood Heartless appear as enemies that Aqua fights. The Shadow, Neoshadow, and Darkball heartless all appear. Aqua eventually encounters an unnamed Pureblood Heartless, often nicknamed "Red Eye", in an arena-like part of the Realm of Darkness.
Inbetween Birth by Sleep and Kingdom HeartsEdit
In-between the events of Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep and Kingdom Hearts, Ansem the Wise took it upon himself to study the darkness within people's hearts. In a secret laboratory under Radiant Garden's castle, Ansem and his apprentices all conducted experiments on the heart. While these tests first started off as psychological tests, they soon became inhumane experiments that caused the subject's heart to collapse and create a Heartless. Unable to determine what they were, Xehanort named them "Heartless" due to their apparent lack of emotion. After finding that the Heartless were naturally drawn to the worlds' Keyholes, he invented a machine within the Heartless Manufactory that recreated the conditions which naturally spawned Heartless in order to create artificial Heartless. In order to differentiate the natural and artificial Heartless, Xehanort set the machine to mark its creations with the castle's emblem, and named the two types "Pureblood" and "Emblem", respectively.
After a visit from King Mickey Mouse of Disney Castle, Ansem officially ceased his experiments, but they continued to be performed by his apprentices, while he was exiled by them to the Realm of Nothingness.
To further their research into Heartless, as well as the Keyblade and the Princesses of Heart, the apprentices cast off their bodies and surrendered their hearts to darkness, giving birth to their Heartless and Nobodies. Against expectations, Ansem, Seeker of Darkness retained his human form, as did the apprentices' Nobodies. Eventually, the witch Maleficent learned of the Heartless and began using them in her quest for power, and gave the power to lead the Heartless to those who joined her in her quest.
Nine years before the events of Kingdom Hearts, she sent a swarm of Heartless to conquer the Radiant Garden, causing it to be lost to darkness so completely that only the castle that became known as Hollow Bastion remained, even in the survivor's memories.
During this time, whether from the machinations of Ansem's apprentices or Maleficent herself, the Heartless became able to invade the Realm of Light at their own choosing, and whole worlds began disappearing to the darkness.
The Heartless appear inside Sora's Awakening as preparation for the coming invasion of Destiny Islands. They succeed in separating Riku from the world, and consume Destiny Islands and everyone that lived on the islands, all except Sora, who slew many of them with the Keyblade. After he escaped, he met Leon and Yuffie, who told him about the Heartless, what creates them and what they hunger for, the Darkness in the heart of every living being. This leads Sora to fighting the Heartless alongside Donald Duck and Goofy in an effort to save the worlds.
The Heartless were actually being used by Xehanort's Heartless, who renamed himself as "Ansem, Seeker of Darkness", and Maleficent, who sought to use their power to rule over all worlds. However, Maleficent's plans were thwarted by Xehanort, who possessed Riku's body to pierce her body with a Keyblade formed from the Princesses Hearts, and change her into her dark ego. After she was beaten by Sora, Xehanort said that she was actually being used by the Heartless.
Sora rushes to where Kairi was, and then encounters Xehanort, who explained that Kairi's heart was inside of Sora the whole time. He also told his false name (Ansem) to Sora. Xehanort needed Kairi's heart so that the Heartless could devour the worlds, but Sora stood against him, and defeated him. Xehanort fell, but he took Riku along with him as his vessel. After turning into a Heartless to restore Kairi's heart, then regaining his shape from Kairi's own heart, Sora went out to save Riku from Xehanort and the rest of the Heartless in End of the World.
Xehanort used the Heartless to try and annihilate Sora so that he could unlock Kingdom Hearts, but he was bested once again. Xehanort proceeded to reaching out to Kingdom Hearts to try and control the darkness from within, however, Sora spoke out, saying that he was wrong, and in actuality, Kingdom Hearts was made of Light. The light shined through toward Xehanort, destroying his dark-fused body, giving Sora enough time to try to seal the door.
Kingdom Hearts: Chain of MemoriesEdit
The Heartless appear inside Castle Oblivion as pawns of Organization XIII. It is unknown if the Heartless in the castle are crafted from Sora's memories or they are real Heartless. It is later suggested that even at this point, the Organization was manipulating Sora into collecting hearts for them.
Kingdom Hearts 358/2 DaysEdit
Roxas was sent by Xemnas, Xehanort's Nobody, to work with other Organization members and release the hearts of every Heartless that he encounters. Since only Emblem Heartless release hearts, the Organization only seeks to slay their kind; Pureblood Heartless are seen only as obstacles. This also explains when you destroy a Pureblood heartless, such as a shadow, on a 'collect hearts' mission, they do not add to your mission gauge.
However, on several missions, Roxas must destroy a number of Purebloods to complete the game. For example, during the game, Roxas must enter Wonderland to destroy a Novashadow.
Roxas's sole purpose in the Organization is to destroy Emblem Heartless, thus completing Kingdom Hearts and are the main enemy in the game.
Kingdom Hearts IIEdit
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 try and make an army of Heartless for Maleficent to use. After a skirmish with a couple 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 to him, though the Heartless have returned, they are not the main enemy this time, the Nobodies were. In almost every world, the Heartless appear alongside Pete, Maleficent, and one of the Disney villains. It was later revealed by Axel during a war on Hollow Bastion that Organization XIII was using Sora to release the hearts of every Heartless he destroyed so that the Organization could take them and create their own Kingdom Hearts.
After knowing this, Sora heads for the Organization's base, The World That Never Was, to try and destroy their Kingdom Hearts. After Ansem sacrificed himself to destroy Kingdom Hearts, the Heartless began moving together inside the Castle that Never Was, to seek out whatever they could to eat. Maleficent and Pete fought off the Heartless while Sora, Kairi, Riku, and the others went on to defeat Xemnas.
Kingdom Hearts codedEdit
The Heartless appear once again as enemies inside of the digital world in Jiminy's Journal. They are not actual Heartless, but rather the information regarding Heartless that Jiminy wrote down during Sora's first adventure (hence why they have no real hearts to release). The Heartless cause much trouble by infecting System Sectors, which cause a variety of glitches across the worlds. While in a System Sector, Heartless can gain increased abilities by becoming Bugged Heartless. When Bugged, they are divided into four categories.
- Red: A Bugged Heartless with a red hue gains the Brick Wall ability, preventing them from being staggered by attacks.
- Blue: A Bugged Heartless with a blue hue is able to fade into the background and become invisible. However, they are still able to be targeted with the Lock-On feature, provided Sora is close enough to them.
- Yellow: A Bugged Heartless with a yellow hue gains the Attack Haste ability, allowing them to pull off their attacks at a much faster pace.
- Green: A Bugged Heartless with a green hue becomes larger, at the cost of some of its speed. However, its attacks are much more powerful in order to compensate for this, as well as having increased HP and defense
Pureblood Heartless Pureblood Heartless are natural Heartless born from the darkness within a person's heart. Purebloods are often ink-black in color and have yellow, beady eyes. They are extremely common in places near or saturated in darkness. Upon defeat, a pureblood will vanish in a puff of smoke.
Emblem Heartless are artifical Heartless originally created by machines that reproduce the process of a heart being consumed by darkness. Stolen hearts can become Emblems. Emblems come in more variety than Purebloods and often mimic the shape and form of creatures and objects from within that world. Emblem Heartless are most notable distinguished from Purebloods with Xehanort's symbol. Emblems are more common in the Realm of Light than Pureblood Heartless.
Heartless, Emblem or Pureblood, possess several key characteristics that define them as Heartless. All Heartless are created when the darkness that resides in a person's heart consumes him or her, thus giving the darkness shape and form (this process occasionally forms Nobodies, which are born from the body and soul left behind when the heart is lost). Being born from darkness, they are mindless and act on instinct, their only goal to find hearts, and consume them to create more Heartless. But what they desire above all are the hearts of worlds, and thus they enter worlds in search of the way into the hearts of the worlds. When they consume these colossal hearts, the remains of the world form new worlds, such as Traverse Town and the End of the World.
At the same time, Heartless seek out the users of the Keyblade, since the Keyblades are able to vanquish Heartless very effectively. In order to stop the users of the Keyblades, the Heartless use the Keyblade itself as a homing beacon, but ultimately desire to take the heart that commands it. Because of this, Keyblade wielders are under constant attack.
Heartless, being formed from darkness, have varying strengths, depending on the amount of darkness in a person's heart. The darker the heart forming a Heartless, Emblem or Pureblood, the more powerful and more monstrous the resulting being will be. An exception to this is Xehanort's Heartless, who retained his human appearance for unknown reasons. This is a direct contrast to Nobodies, which determine rank according to the strength of the heart, and whose appearance becomes more human as they increase in power.
The Heartless, being mindless, usually have no master to direct their actions and instead act on the instinct to gather more hearts. However, there are some higher beings who can command them. Heartless will obey those with an affinity for darkness and a strong will. If many people attempt to control them, the Heartless will side with whomever is most powerful. Those with hearts, such as Maleficent, endanger themselves however, as the Heartless are attracted to their hearts and if they show weakness, the Heartless will not think twice of consuming their hearts.
On the other hand, higher ranking Heartless, like Ansem, Seeker of Darkness, can fully command other Heartless without endangering themselves. Also, Organization XIII members are able to command them as well with their strong wills, but are not endangered of being consumed by them for their lack of a heart.
Heartless make use of the "corridors of darkness", inter-dimensional pathways that connect the many worlds. These pathways are located in the Realm of Darkness, and thus are very dangerous to use if one is not accustomed to the darkness.