|This article is about the Keyblade Master. You may be looking for Ansem the Wise's apprentice.|
They say ruin brings about creation. So, what then would another Keyblade War bring? When the darkness falls, will we be found worthy of the precious light the legend speaks of? I must have these answers. The χ-blade needs to be forged and with it, the door to the Keyblade War unlocked.
Master Xehanort was a powerful and elderly Keyblade Master, serving as the first master of Ventus, and the creator and master of Vanitas. He is also the primary original incarnation of Ansem and Xemnas, and the future self of Young Xehanort.
Master Xehanort served as the central antagonist of the Dark Seeker saga of the Kingdom Hearts series, appearing directly as the main antagonist of Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, and Rank I of the real Organization XIII in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance and Kingdom Hearts III.
Much like Xehanort, "Ansem", and Xemnas, Master Xehanort is shown to be a cunning, callous, and pragmatic being with the sole goal of merging with Kingdom Hearts and become all-knowing, the lives of innocent people and even his closest friends 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; creates Vanitas, a sentient being for the sole purpose of forwarding his evil plan; and slays his old friend, Master Eraqus, in cold blood after tricking Terra into defeating him in battle.
Furthermore, when Riku and Mickey confronted him over ruining Terra, Ventus, and Aqua's lives, Xehanort simply told them that it was their destiny to fall, and dismissed Sora as a "dull ordinary boy" even though Sora had successfully thwarted several of his plans. In the case of the latter, Xehanort tends to have a series of back-up plans to occur whenever his previous scheme fails. Yen Sid mentions this to Mickey while discussing Xehanort, and describes him as a brilliant strategist.
Despite his overweening malice, Xehanort has shown to have some slight sympathy, though the only known occurrence of this trait is when he takes pity on Ventus, following the rupture of his heart, and decides to leave him to die a peaceful death on Destiny Islands. All of Master Xehanort's other positive points 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, left him in Eraqus's care to simply make him stronger to be joined with Vanitas years later, and only accepted Master Eraqus's invitation to witness the Mark of Mastery Exam to sabotage it and 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.
Despite his sinister actions throughout the series, the root of Xehanort's malice appears to originate from his curiosity of how the universe was made and his lust to become all-knowing. It is this trait that enticed Xehanort to leave the Destiny Islands in search of other worlds, ultimately starting his life as a Keyblade Wielder. This trait is shared throughout his various incarnations as Terra-Xehanort, Xehanort's Heartless, and Xemnas all justify their actions by believing that it is all for the sake of research.
His descent into darkness is owed partially to this lust as he wished to learn everything there is to about the worlds, including the Dark Realm. He does not believe in mindless violence or destruction without cause or motive, nor is sadistic in nature, shown by his merciful sympathy towards Ventus after rupturing his heart, but he will willingly engage in violence, cause destruction, and even commit cold-blooded murder if it benefits his quest for knowledge. Ultimately, knowledge and power are the only things Xehanort finds value in and only sees other living beings as tools to be manipulated if they are useful or destroyed if they are hindrances to his grand designs, but always with a greater purpose in mind.
Additionally, Xehanort's reports show the man in a different light than what is initially portrayed as an individual that does not cause destruction and tragedy for the sake of it, but to glean answers from it. Unlike villains such as Maleficent, Xehanort does not seek to form Kingdom Hearts to purely obtain power, but to incite a Keyblade War and see firsthand just how the world was made from such a conflict. Through this observation, he would be able to become all-knowing and create a universe that is more to his liking where light and darkness are more balanced.
While these motives for seeking knowledge and creating a more balanced existence were not initially evil in nature, they allowed Xehanort to feel no remorse for his actions and commit heinous atrocities throughout the worlds for years on end, turning Xehanort into a violent and amoral villain who is eventually consumed by his lust for knowledge, power, and darkness. Though Xehanort's goal of completing Kingdom Hearts is for various reasons, he is not above of being memorized by the absolute power that he would be granted through possessing the χ-blade and unlocking Kingdom Hearts; this lust and obsession would continue on with his Heartless and Nobody counterparts.
Regardless of his justifications and motives for his plans, Xehanort has shown an extreme disregard for all life. This disregard for life is seen in his ultimate goal of inciting another Keyblade War to simply quell his curiosity and remake the universe, which would cost the lives of billions of innocent people and the destruction of all worlds. He gleefully took the life of Master Eraqus, his former best friend, to simply make the darkness in Terra's heart stronger, showing that Xehanort's obsession with Kingdom Hearts overshadows even that of the affection he once felt towards a man he saw as a brother.
His counterparts also share in his extreme disregard with his Heartless destroying thousands of worlds to form a Kingdom Hearts made of the darkness from their destroyed remnants and unleash it onto the worlds while his Nobody created millions upon millions of heartless from the hearts of countless individuals and manipulated his own associates for his own ends, feeling no attachment to them whatsoever and deceiving their own emotions.
This trait is also very indicative of Xehanort's overall persona as he believes that only the emotions of anger and hatred within the heart give one power as they feed the darkness within all hearts. Xehanort's complete disregard for human life, lack of any empathy or remorse, and disdain of any emotion within the heart aside from anger and hatred arguably makes him a psychopath, largely unable to feel any attachment to anything aside from Kingdom Hearts.
While possessing amazing skills, stamina, and powers, even at such an old age, Xehanort has shown himself to lack arrogance, as he displays modesty by constantly never bragging about his skills and even accepting the fact that he is capable of being defeated. Knowing that not even he is unbeatable, Xehanort is always laying out numerous backup plans in case his original designs do not go as planned. This not only allows Xehanort multiple paths to take even if his schemes are spoiled, but keeps him one step ahead of all his adversaries, even the immensely wise and powerful Yen Sid. His modest demeanor and acceptance of possible defeat also contribute to his calm appearance as he knows that, even in defeat, he still has other alternatives to turn to. A lesser part of his modestness is how he acknowledged he had been rash with his initial plan and while calling Sora a dull boy, he still acknowledged Sora's keyblade mastery as being above most he had ever seen. He also praised Terra for his ability to come that far when they finally faced off.
After taking over Terra's body, the villain retains all of his personality traits as the new incarnation of Xehanort (before the latter's fight against the Lingering Will and Aqua) and "Ansem", whose attire is the same as Master Xehanorts'. Xemnas, meanwhile, appears to be influenced several times by Terra's characteristics, such as his goal of locating Ventus and speaking to Aqua's armor as a fallen ally and friend rather than an enemy. Regardless, Master Xehanort's influence appears to be the primary and dominant consciousness controlling Terra's body and mind as all his forms are obsessed with Kingdom Hearts and completing the alternative plans that Master Xehanort had laid out prior to taking over Terra.
However, it was revealed just before his ultimate demise that Master Xehanort had additional and more pure motives for his horrendous actions throughout the series aside from seeking power and knowledge. Years spent on observing the massive inbalance of light and darkness and how both were used for amoral purposes as well as seeing those who aren't worthy of power justify their actions of stealing that power from the ones he deemed worthy had left him bitter and caused him to believe that the worlds were an utter failure and that the people of the worlds are becoming clouded by their desire for power and took it upon himself to reset the worlds in a pure state to be governed by a strong leader; himself.
Even at his worst, Xehanort did not lose his, even if deluded, good intentions, despite his horrid actions throughout the series, and kept a degree of fondness for Eraqus and those who possessed a similar fortitude, being almost pleased when Sora's demeanor reminded him of his old friend. In the end, it was what remained of his old bond with Eraqus that convinced him to surrender, willingly giving the χ-blade to Sora and praising his performance. As he started to collapse due to the wounds he had suffered, Xehanort happily allowed Eraqus to help him ascend into the afterlife, accepting his fate once and for all with dignity and showcasing that even he was willing to admit defeat when bested by a worthy opponent.
Lastly, Master Xehanort also had a few unusual tendencies and quirks as well, 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 an unusual manner, as if itching to grab something. These actions seem very indicative of his obsession and excitement over his plans and visions, nearly losing his calm composure when discussing over what can be achieved and when fulfilling the most essential steps of his elaborate plots and calculated betrayals.
Overall, Master Xehanort was the true catalyst, either direct or indirect, for a majority of the events in the entire series, such as the creation of all his counterparts, Vanitas, the Unversed, the Emblem Heartless, and Nobodies, Organization XIII and the Disney Villains' hunt for Kingdom Hearts. He appears to be the most dangerous of all of Xehanort's forms and where all their malice and evil truly stems from. What started as simple curiosity and an intention to do good turned into pure malice and deception, turning the man into a massive threat and villain throughout all the worlds that has lived on through countless incarnations until finally being stopped by Sora.
Master Xehanort appears as an old man, 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 overall appears as a somewhat feeble old man, certainly deceiving given his immense power.
Master Xehanort's 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, 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 a gold lining on its edges, where Xehanort's has a black lining. Master Xehanort sometimes wears a Black Coat over this outfit.
In his youth, Master Xehanort had mildly tanned skin, grey eyes and shoulder-length silver hair with bangs covering his forehead and several slicked back spikes. He wore a black sleeveless top with a Recusant's Sigil, and a long black gillet over the top, dark grey pants and black boots.
As a young man, Master Xehanort retained his mildly tanned skin and and silver hair, which both slightly spikes and falls past his shoulders in the back; it is styled similar to Xehanort's, albeit with four bangs framing his face - the back two thicker than the front two - and the two backward spikes on the sides are absent, the topmost one slicked back. His eyes had changed from grey to gold. He wore the same style of white shirt as his older self, 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 absent of the silver lining on top, much like those worn by the guards of Radiant Garden.
In the English version of Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, Master Xehanort is voiced by the late Leonard Nimoy, who was chosen by Tetsuya Nomura specifically for his role as Spock in the Star Trek franchise. Nimoy was also featured in the 1978 remake, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which is also similar, given Xehanort's tendency to steal bodies, having done so to Terra and Riku. 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 until his death in 2015 a month after Xehanort's Japanese voice actor Cikao Ōtsuka. Following Nimoy's passing, Rutger Hauer, whose best known for playing Roy Batty in Blade Runner, voiced Xehanort in Kingdom Hearts III that came out months before his passing on July 19, 2019.
In the Japanese version of Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, Master Xehanort was voiced by the late Chikao Ōtsuka, who was chosen by Tetsuya Nomura specifically because he was the father of Akio Ōtsuka, the Japanese voice actor of Xehanort and "Ansem". Chikao Ōtsuka also previously voiced Captain Hook in the original Kingdom Hearts but was replaced by Naoya Uchida in Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep.
Pre Kingdom Hearts Birth by SleepIn his youth, Xehanort, who once lived on Destiny Islands, had dreams of leaving his home in search for something greater. One day he was approached by a hooded figure who told him that he had a role to play. Though he later forgot this, this encounter made his Heart desire to leave his World even more. At some point, he found a way to depart his home world, and was trained to be a Keyblade Master in Scala ad Caelum, eventually befriending Eraqus, another Keybearer, whom he began to see as a younger brother.
During this time he met a mysterious man in a black coat. He gave Xehanort one of these coats, which helped him travels the worlds via the Darkness, protecting him from being consumed by it. Xehanort travelled to many different worlds and obtained vast knowledge concerning Keyblade lore, the power of Light and Darkness, a detailed knowledge of the Heartless, the mysteries of the Keyblade War and Kingdom Hearts.
Throughout his travels, Xehanort wrote down on his reports that he saw that Light was much more prevalent than the Darkness and saw that the people influenced by the Darkness believed that they were doing good deeds. He came to believe that the Darkness needed to be amplified to make a perfect balance. Seeing that light is becoming too prevalent while darkness is being largely excluded or used for destructive purposes, Xehanort makes his plans to destroy the worlds through another Keyblade War and reset them into a single, pure and more balanced existence to be shepherd by himself as its new leader to ensure that the light or darkness are not misused again.
Xehanort met up in the mysterious man again in the Keyblade Graveyard, where Xehanort told the mysterious figure of his findings, which fascinated the man. The man then informed him that if he followed the path he was heading down then eventually he wouldn't need to wear the coat anymore, as he'll be able to control the Darkness, rather than it controlling him. Xehanort asked the man his name, which he told him before leaving. Xehanort then went through the Mark of Mastery and was given the title of Master, and continued to travel the worlds researching the Light and Darkness with in them.
He also reportedly became obsessed with the Keyblade War after years of researching it, desiring above all else to unlock all its secrets and understanding the process of the world's creation through such conflict and knowing the great darkness of the war was what made the worlds, Xehanort believed that another war would be the perfect way to recreate the universe into a more ideal one. Realizing the power unlocking the "heart of all worlds" would grant, Xehanort set his goal on finding a way to open the door to Kingdom Hearts and incite another Keyblade War to find the answers he had been looking for and recreate the worlds.
He eventually discovered a way of doing so: forging the χ-blade, a legendary Keyblade capable of unlocking Kingdom Hearts and cause of the Keyblade War. One day, when he discussed his plans to forge the χ-blade with Master Eraqus, he was met with opposition from the latter, who insisted that his plan was too dangerous. This discussion quickly escalated into physical violence, which ended when Xehanort used the powers of darkness to scar Eraqus's face.
By this time, Master Xehanort had grown old, and realized that he must transfer his essence and knowledge to a "new vessel" in order to survive to see his plans reach fruition. To accomplish this, he sought out an apprentice and found the boy Ventus, who he began training as a Keyblade wielder with the intent of pitting him against one of Master Eraqus's students of light, forging the χ-blade, and to eventually use him as his vessel.
However, Ventus proved to be a poor candidate, and when he refused to use his darkness to fight several Heartless, Master Xehanort instead decided to use him as part of his ultimate plan: using his Keyblade, Master Xehanort extracted the darkness from Ventus's heart, forming a sentient being of pure darkness to whom Master Xehanort gave the name "Vanitas." With these two boys, Master Xehanort intended to forge the χ-blade.
Unfortunately, the process left Ven in a comatose state with his broken heart of pure light slowly fading out. Master Xehanort (in a Black Coat) decided to leave Ven to live out his last days peacefully in his old home, the Destiny Islands. To his master's surprise, Ventus's heart somehow survived and Xehanort realized the boy could still be of use. However, Ventus was still far too weak in comparison to Vanitas, for the two needed to be equal in power for the creation of the χ-blade.
Additionally, Xehanort realized that he could not train Ventus and Vanitas together, as Vanitas's darkness would eventually consume and completely destroy Ventus's light. Master Xehanort ultimately left Ventus in Eraqus's care, to let him train and grow stronger.
At this point, Master Xehanort set his eyes on one of Master Eraqus's apprentices: Terra, within whom he sensed the correct potential to be his new vessel. While in the Land of Departure, Master Xehanort sabotages the Mark of Mastery Exam taken by Terra and Aqua, causing Terra to fail, and later tells him that if he were to become a true Keyblade Master, he would have to embrace the darkness in his heart and channel it rather than fight it. Shortly thereafter, Master Xehanort and Vanitas disappear on an apparent quest to find the Princesses of Heart.
During his travels, Master Xehanort manipulates Master Eraqus's apprentices (Terra, Aqua, and Ventus), who had been sent to find him and destroy the Unversed, a malicious species created as a side-effect of Vanitas's existence, and at the same time, comes into contact with and also manipulates the evil fairy, Maleficent, into beginning a quest to capture the seven Princesses as part of an elaborate fail-safe.
He encounters Terra in the Keyblade Graveyard and puts his manipulative skills to the test, explaining the reason for his actions: He is trying to safeguard the light from the "demon" he unleashed. He then tells Terra an altered version of Vanitas's origins: supposedly, Vanitas was created when Ventus was overtaken by his darkness and Master Xehanort extracted Ventus's darkness in a desperate attempt to save him, severely damaging Ventus's heart in the process. Ashamed, Xehanort left Ventus in Master Eraqus's care.
Though he had attempted to keep Vanitas contained, the dark enigma escaped and began spreading the Unversed throughout the worlds. Master Xehanort then asked Terra to help him stop Vanitas and atone for his mistake. Terra agrees, and is instructed to search in the Radiant Garden, where Vanitas will undoubtedly strike next.
He next travels to the Radiant Garden and strikes a bargain with Braig, who desires the Keyblade for himself. Afterward, Master Xehanort stages his own capture and has Braig fight Terra, with Terra succumbing to the darkness and injuring Braig, blinding the young man in the right eye and scarring his face. Master Xehanort tells Terra that he shows the true Mark of Mastery, as he was able to channel the darkness instead of rejecting it, and that Eraqus will never accept it out of his fear of darkness.
Although Braig was infuriated by having just lost his eye, Xehanort then enlisted his help to to gather a group of thirteen strong willed beings to fill with fragments of Xehanort's heart for him to use them to combine with the seven princesses of pure light across the worlds to recreate the χ-blade. He also asked Braig to guide him in case him using Terra as a vessel resulted in him losing his memory.
Braig was the first of these planned clones, which was why his appearance changed he had a yellow eye and pointed ears due to him agreeing with Xehanort's plans; he would be able to share in Xehanort's power and wield the Keyblade once a full clone, though he would slowly lose his will and mind to Xehanort, in exchange.
He then goes on to state his belief that light and darkness are a balance that must always be maintained. He then gives Terra an opportunity to be his pupil, claiming that they can do the worlds much greater good by wielding light and darkness in equal shares. Master Xehanort then pulls the final string, calling him by the name "Master Terra" and gaining the young man's trust.
Later on, Master Xehanort has Vanitas abduct Mickey Mouse as bait to lure Ventus to the Keyblade Graveyard, where he reveals to him the truth about his past, also stating that Master Eraqus knows about it. While Ven goes to see Eraqus, Xehanort tells Terra that Ventus went to see Eraqus about his past, and is worried he may force the truth out of him. He also tells him that Eraqus has gone mad and is about to destroy Ventus. Terra is tricked into defeating Master Eraqus in battle, allowing Xehanort to cruelly deliver the finishing blow to his former friend.
Master Xehanort then tells Terra to go to the Keyblade Graveyard where he will see Aqua and Ventus for the last time before falling prey to the darkness. He then covers the Land of Departure in darkness, completely destroying the world and leaving nothing but the castle's remains, telling Terra he would not need a home where he is going.
Soon enough Terra, Aqua, and Ventus discover the truth and confront Master Xehanort and Vanitas at the Keyblade Graveyard (the remains of the legendary Keyblade War). There, Master Xehanort reveals to them his true plans to create the χ-blade and unlock Kingdom Hearts. In the ensuing battle, Master Xehanort freezes Ventus, and when Terra reaches Master Xehanort, he demands to know what really happened to Ventus's heart.
Master Xehanort gladly reveals that he intentionally shattered Ventus's heart and created Vanitas. Terra becomes enraged, and battles Xehanort and Vanitas. Mid-way in the fight, Master Xehanort commands Vanitas to fuse with Ventus and kill Aqua.
Terra tries to stop Vanitas, but is impeded by Master Xehanort, who gleefully tells Terra that he is powerless to save them, and that he should use his rage and despair to empower himself. Terra, enraged that Xehanort would destroy his "father" Eraqus and go after his friends, loses control of his anger and succumbs again to the darkness in his heart.
Terra uses the power of darkness to defeat the elderly Keyblade master, but Xehanort enacts his final scheme and uses his Keyblade to unlock his own heart and transfer it into Terra's body, prolonging Xehanort's life and converting Terra into Terra-Xehanort, while Master Xehanort's original body fades out of existence with a triumphant smile.
The hearts of Master Xehanort and Terra are shown disputing over internal dominance within the amnesiac Xehanort. Despite Master Xehanort's insistence that he will soon incorporate Terra's heart into his own, Terra remains confident that he will win over and eventually expel Master Xehanort, who realizes that Terra is harboring the heart of Master Eraqus. Despite this, Master Xehanort shows no concern and reveals to Terra that possessing him was merely one of many roads he chose to take.
You are just one of many roads I might choose to take.Master Xehanort to Terra
In Kingdom Hearts Re:coded, Yen Sid explains that the destruction of "Ansem" and Xemnas will eventually lead to the reconstruction of Master Xehanort.
A man like Xehanort will have left many roads open.Yen Sid to Mickey
With Master Xehanort's impending return drawing closer and closer, Yen Sid finally reveals the truth behind Xehanort to Sora and Riku as he tasks them with the mission to awaken seven different worlds from a state of sleep. However, as Sora and Riku go through these worlds deep within the Realm of Sleep, they are intercepted by various incarnations of Xehanort, including Xehanort's Heartless, Xemnas, and a younger version of the Keyblade Master.
It is eventually revealed by Xigbar, who has also returned due to moving through time into the future by the young Xehanort, that Master Xehanort, in his heartless form known as "Ansem", had enlisted the help of his younger self from the past, and gave him powers to survey time and space itself to enlist different incarnations of himself, including Xehanort's Heartless and Xemnas, to form a new Organization XIII.
With these various forms of himself under his control, Xehanort uses them to draw Sora deeper into the worlds of sleep to use him as his final vessel to complete the new Organization. Riku and Mickey are able to locate a comatose Sora in the Organization's former headquarters in the World that Never Was, now under the control of Master Xehanort, and face his younger self, infused with his future self's power to wield a keyblade, in a battle to save him. When they defeat him, the final remnants of Master Xehanort's consciousness leave his younger self and combine to form the original, elderly Master Xehanort, finally returned to full power.
Upon Master Xehanort's return, the villain reveals that he has not given up on his plans to form the χ-blade and incite another Keyblade War. In fact, he further states that everything that has occurred throughout the past twelve years, from Maleficent capturing the Princesses of Heart, to the formation of Organization XIII, was all part of an insidious, fail-safe plot to form the χ-blade.
Xehanort explains to Riku and King Mickey how his plans to merge Ventus and Vanitas were an overly hasty attempt to form the χ-blade, and that he overlooked the true way to create the weapon; by clashing thirteen hearts of darkness against the seven defending lights of the worlds. It is revealed that in the aftermath of the Keyblade War, the χ-blade was shattered, and released seven light pieces and thirteen dark pieces, and when these two sets of light and darkness are brought together, the true χ-blade would return.
Over a decade ago Xehanort, possessing Terra's body and with Braig there to guide him, enlisted the help of Ansem the Wise's other apprentices and exploited his research to experiment with controlling the mind and enticing the body to renounce its sense of self. This was accomplished through the method of separating hearts from bodies in order to create Nobodies of all the apprentices, leaving them hallow vessels ready to be filled with fragments of Xehanort's heart, which also led to the creation of the destructive force of the Heartless, which Xehanort and his cohorts used to further their plans. However, as Xehanort himself also separated his heart and body, his Nobody, Xemnas, made plans to form an artificial Kingdom Hearts in order to gain the power to fragment his heart into the other Nobodies.
However, Xemnas and Xigbar, the Nobody of Braig, knew through their research of Heartless and Nobodies that Nobodies could indeed cultivate hearts once more and develop emotions over time, as with the case of Roxas, Namine, and Axel. Knowing that this would entice the members of the Organization to disobey them, Xemnas and Xigbar deceived them all by telling them that Kingdom Hearts was the only way to recover their hearts.
However, most of the members were either too weak or turned traitorous before they could be turned into appropriate vessels, and had to be eliminated or were defeated by Sora and Riku. Xigbar and Saïx, the Nobody of Isa, were the only members that were strong enough and had gone through the initial stages of the cloning process. Xemnas, however, knew his younger self was assembling a fail-safe group and continued on his plans to form Kingdom Hearts to gain absolute power, and embark on the next phase of his plans.
At the same time, Xehanort's Heartless destroyed thousands of worlds to form a Kingdom Hearts made entirely of darkness to increase the balance between light and darkness in his favor, and manipulated Maleficent into capturing the Princesses of Heart to use their hearts to locate the Door to Darkness in an attempt to extinguish their light, combine their hearts with the thirteen darknesses, and leave the worlds vulnerable to the darkness. However, this plan was promptly thwarted when Sora rescued the princesses and began destroying the members of Organization XIII, but Xehanort took precautions in case of such circumstances.
To this end, Xehanort's Heartless enlisted the aid of his younger self before he even left his first home to become a Keyblade Wielder and gave him the powers to survey time and space itself in order to enlist Xehanort's Heartless, Xemnas, Xigbar, Saïx, and 6 other different incarnations of himself to create a reformed Organization XIII.
Riku was originally intended to become the final vessel once Xehanort's Heartless seized complete control of his body, but this failed when the heartless was destroyed and Riku built up a tolerance to the darkness. Xehanort then moved his sights to the next best, Roxas, before eventually setting his sights on Sora, the same boy who contains the power of Ventus, Xehanort's first pupil, who is personified in Sora's nobody, Roxas, who was made from Ventus's heart.
Once this new Organization is formed, Master Xehanort intends to use them to target the Princesses of Heart and clash with the seven guardian lights to obtain his ambitions once and for all. Regardless if his darkness' merge with the Princesses or the Keyblade Wielders, the χ-blade would finally be forged, the true Kingdom Hearts would resurface, finally complete, and the Keyblade War would begin anew.
Through this war, Xehanort would finally gain all the answers he craved for most of his life, and become all-knowing and, with the great darkness that would awaken, reorganize the worlds to one existence where light and darkness are balanced, in a universe under his rule.
Xehanort then attempts to make Sora his final vessel, but is stopped by Lea, who has volunteered to help Yen Sid protect the worlds from Xehanort. Xehanort then cruelly orders Lea's former best friend, Isa, to attack him and sends his Heartless and Nobody counterparts to restrain Mickey and Riku. As Riku, Lea, and Mickey fight off their opponents, Xehanort's Heartless and Xemnas are defeated with the timely arrival of Donald and Goofy. Unshaken by this minor setback, Xehanort informs all the heroes that the clash between light and dark is inevitable and bids them farewell as he looks forward to the start of the battles that will create the χ-blade and escapes.
In the end, Yen Sid and Mickey prepare to form a group of seven Keyblade Wielders of light to stop Xehanort and his new army from targeting the Princesses of Heart and forging the χ-blade to start a second Keyblade War, while fearing that such a war may be inevitable, as the seven lights and thirteen darkness' may be forced into conflict to prevent the exploitation of the princesses.
Master Xehanort is not seen until Sora and the other Seven Guardians of Light arrive in the Keyblade Graveyard. He approaches them with the other members of the real Organization XIII, repeating his words, previously said to Eraqus, regarding the Keyblade War. Using his Keyblade, he creates the Skein of Severance. He is not seen again until Sora, Riku and Mickey clear the Skein of Severance. He remarks that nine keys have been forged due to the nine clashes between the Guardians of Light and the Seekers of Darkness, and that the final four keys will be forged now. He watches on as his younger self, Xemnas and Ansem battle Sora, Mickey and Riku to create three of the remaining keys. Once young Xehanort, Ansem and Xemnas are defeated, Xehanort strikes down Kairi in order to motivate Sora into clashing with him.
With the final key created, Xehanort summons the χ-blade and opens Kingdom Hearts, casing a shower of Darkness to fall upon the World. Riku explains that Xehanort is a portal through time, and while the other Guardians try to hold off Kingdom hearts, Sora opens a portal around Xehanort, transporting him, Xehanort, Donald and Goofy to Scala ad Caelum. The fragments of Xehanort's heart that had previously occupied the other members of Organization appear and attack Sora, but when they are defeated, they return to Master Xehanort, who summons a new set of Keyblade Armor to combat Sora himself. He manipulates Scala ad Caelum during the battle, constantly changing their battleground from the town itself, to underwater, then in the air.
Sora defeats Master Xehanort, destroying his Keyblade Armor, but Xehanort retreats to the top of Scala ad Caelum's clock tower. Sora pursues him, and Xehanort once again summons the χ-blade and opens Kingdom Hearts in Scala ad Caelum. After a long battle in which Xehanort attempts to drain Sora's Light, Master Xehanort is finally defeated. Expressing shock that he had lost, Xehanort nonetheless explains his belief that he can still carry out his plan of using Kingdom Hearts to start a 'purge', in which Kingdom Hearts will return the Worlds to how they were, with him to guide the hearts of the people to their destiny. Sora tells him that it's not his decision to make.
At that moment, the other Guardians of Light arrive in Scala ad Caelum, and Terra speaks to Master Xehanort, using the words of Eraqus, whose heart still resides within him. Eraqus appears before Xehanort and convinces him to surrender the χ-blade to Sora, stating that while it is too late for the two of them, it is not too late for Sora and the others. After surrendering the χ-blade, Xehanort fades away with Eraqus, briefly taking on their childhood forms before their Hearts fly away toward Kingdom Hearts.
Despite his old age often causing opponents to underestimate him, Master Xehanort is truly an incredibly formidable foe to behold. An extremely skilled Keyblade Master, reputed to be the most powerful Keyblade Master of them all, Xehanort retains more than enough prowess and physical capability in his older days to quickly perform powerful, fast-paced combos with his weapon, although his old age made him rely more on his teleportation abilities to avoid before attacking and primarily used Magic. He can easily take on much younger and highly adept Keyblade wielders, as shown by how Terra was unable to defeat him until he gave in to the darkness, with Xehanort still lasting long enough for the χ-blade to be forged, and by how he easily repels Sora's furious attack after he struck Kairi down. His inhuman strength and reflexes is so beyond someone of his age that he was able to effortlessly react to a quick sneak attack from a fully-armored Ventus from the back of his head and lift him into the air with one hand. Another display of this great physical power is by his ability to surprise and pin down Terra potentially long enough to freeze him unless Terra struggled with all his might and can easily grab Sora by the head and throw him down to the ground with great force. He can teleport in quick succession while in combat to avoid most attacks and quickly counter. After absorbing the twelve Replica Xehanorts, Xehanort gains a new Keyblade Armor and enhances the efficiency of his keyblade skills by empowering himself with darkness to increase the strength of his attacks and incorporating his teleportation to swiftly counter attacks. He can perform swift spinning moves to quickly cover distances and attack repeatedly without a chance of interruption and also can use a version of "Dark Aura" where he charges at Sora from all directions at great speeds and deals heavy damage.
His magical skills are the most advanced seen in the series so far, being highly proficient in the use of elemental magic, capable of creating massive rock formations and pillars on whim, firing multiple blocks of ice at once, striking down powerful overhead thunderbolts, encasing Ventus's body in ice and projecting a gust of wind powerful enough to send Ventus and Mickey flying from his hand. He was also able to use "Stopza" to ultimately overpower Mickey's "Ultima", with the spell notably reaching far enough to immobilize Riku, although the clash had greatly waned his strength. His telekinetic prowess is such that he can telekinetically control the Keyblades covering the Keyblade Graveyard without even needing to use hand gestures. In Kingdom Hearts III, when fought Xehanort is fought after he has absorbed the twelve Replica Xehanorts, he can raise gigantic pillars of flame, scatter balls of thunder, create an exploding orb of gravitational force and project a large ball of thunder that sucks in Sora before exploding. He also could place an orb around Sora to teleport him to his location. In Remind, Armored Xehanort proved to be able to telekinetically use the replicas of his keyblade in battle, swinging them down and upwards like sharp wings and even spinning them for multiple attacks and could rain down meteors and fire balls of fire. When using the χ-blade, Xehanort can strike several bolts of blue lightning at once and empower the χ-blade with ice magic to freeze Sora before firing several large balls of fire.
Master Xehanort displays superb skill in manipulating darkness for both supplementary and offensive purposes. He easily defeated Eraqus with mere two blasts of dark energy, blinding one of his eyes, and repelled Braig's shot with barriers of dark energy without even needing to raise his hands. He was also able to easily gain the Orbs of Light used by Eraqus during Terra and Aqua's Mark of Mastery Exam and also nudge Terra's darkness to make him show visible signs of it with a mere slight gesture. He could open and travel with the Corridors of Darkness with ease, at one point generating a massive portal of darkness that sent Ventus to his home and Mickey to an unknown place, and was able to completely cloud over the Land of Departure with darkness. The χ-blade allowed Xehanort to rain down meteors of darkness and he could channel the Kingdom Hearts to fire a large beam of darkness that would have overwhelmed Sora had he not been empowered by his connection to his friends. He also gains power over Light at this point, able to steal Sora's light and trap it in the center of the arena, using it to create pillars of light and having it emit golden waves of energy. His Limit Cut Boss Fight proves able to Formchange the χ-blade into a whip for long-range attacks and also a long staff and can create cannons that fire beams of light or red energy as well as unleash razors of light.
The capabilities of Xehanort at his prime could be seen with the No Heart, the data simulation of him when he was wearing his Keyblade Armor, where his agility and strength are noticeably sharper, able to quickly move through the terrain despite his heavy armor and execute strong blows that can quickly take out the player, and could transform his Keyblade into multiple shapes. He also displays noticeable prowess in hand-to-hand combat with the gauntlets and graves he could transform his Keyblade into, able to quickly unleash either a 4-punch combo or 6-kick combo. He also uses various potent dark-elemental attacks, creating large shockwaves, explosions, waves and projectiles of darkness, and could also open corridors of darkness able to pull in, damage and teleport the player to his Keyblade, as well as slow them down by either creating a pool or pillar of darkness. In the first round, he surrounds himself with a barrier of darkness and telekinetically controls his Keyblade effortlessly to attack, which he can do in the final round.
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 and even able to direct his heart into Terra's body to possess it after his defeat in the Keyblade Graveyard. After his resurrection, he can somehow bestow other with fragments of his heart to give them the power to use the Keyblade and control darkness without needing to force his heart out, which is how he forged the True Organization XIII.
After absorbing the twelve Replica Xehanorts, he proves capable of summoning the chairs of Where Nothing Gathers and having shadowy versions of himself rise from them to fight for him.
Possessing the χ-blade allows Xehanort to call upon the Kingdom Hearts whenever he desires, which he uses to start the purge of worlds, and he can open keyholes as an instant form of teleportation.
Once he becomes Terra-Xehanort through the possession of Terra's body, Master Xehanort proves to be the stronger of the two hearts residing within him, repeatedly overpowering Terra's influence over his body, as demonstrated several times during the battle between Terra-Xehanort and Aqua, Master Xehanort's influence beginning the fight in the first place and even releasing Terra's heart from within the body of his younger incarnation when Terra begins to regain control. His combat abilities are enhanced due to not only now possessing Terra's much fitter body but also gaining access to Terra's own skills. He wields his old Keyblade with deadly proficiency, not only using far more dangerous variations of Terra's attacks but also using his personal deadly combos by combining Terra and Xehanort's own abilities together. In addition, he can use Terra's affinity with earth to cast the powerful Meteor and Quake, with the additional spell of Rock Storm, firing homing meteors, and is even able to heal using the Curaga spell. He also tends to use Terra's darkness related techniques and when in desperate need for power, can use Terra's Ultimate Cannon Shotlock. The first one to manifest the Guardian, he can have it travel by opening portals before physically attacking with a powerful force, fire spheres of dark energy and summon columns of dark energy.
His greatest asset, however, is his outstanding intelligence and skills at manipulation. For over eleven years, Xehanort's master plan has been going about, resulting in, among other things, the founding of the original Organization XIII and Riku's possession of the Seeker of Darkness, and he always has backup plans ready in the event his initial schemes fail.
Master Xehanort is able to wield his 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 pose 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.
When Master Xehanort possesses Terra's body to become Terra-Xehanort, he abandons Terra's Keyblade and replaces it with his own. Terra-Xehanort wields the weapon with great skill, combining several of Terra and Master Xehanort's abilities to form his own deadly combos. As this Keyblade was gained by Terra-Xehanort through Master Xehanort's heart's more powerful influence, it is also used through Master Xehanort's influence to unlock Terra-Xehanort's heart.
- Ansem, Seeker of Darkness, made from the heart of Master Xehanort, is referenced twice in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep. First, Master Xehanort asks Terra to "Seek out the darkness that upsets the balance", similar to Ansem's title, and second, Terra tells Master Xehanort in Blank Points that "You're gonna get shown the door, old man", referencing Ansem's fate at the end of Kingdom Hearts.
- In both versions of Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, the voice actor for the young Master Xehanort is uncredited.
- Both of Master Xehanort's original voice actors have passed away in 2015. Chikao Ōtsuka passed away on January 15 followed by Leonard Nimoy a month later on February 27. In addition, his Kingdon Hearts III English voice actor Rutger Hauer passed on July 19, 2019, months after the game's release.