Master Xehanort is the main antagonist of the Kingdom Hearts video game series. Along with his many different incarnations, including Terra-Xehanort, Ansem, Seeker of Darkness, and Xemnas, Xehanort has been responsible for the massive destruction across the worlds and the antagonistic bodies that have plagued them, and personally responsible for the tragedy to those who have crossed his path.
Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep
One of the true Keyblade Masters and a longtime acquaintance of Master Eraqus. He is connected with the masked boy, and harbors a hidden agenda.
Unlike Master Eraqus, Xehanort believes darkness need not be rejected if it can be controlled..
Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep
In his youth, Xehanort, who once lived on a beach, had dreams of leaving his home in search for something greater. At some point he found a way to depart his home world and was trained to be a Keyblade Master, eventually befriending Eraqus, another Keybearer. Throughout his life, Xehanort traveled 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. 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.
By the time he discovered a way of opening that door, 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 this end, he sought out an apprentice and found the boy Ventus, who he began training as Keyblade wielder, and eventually his vessel. However, Ven was too weak and a poor candidate, so Master Xehanort decided to instead use him as part of his ultimate plan. By using his Keyblade to split Ven's heart and create a being with a heart of pure light and a being with a heart of pure darkness. The being of light remained as Ventus, while the dark being assumed the name "Vanitas". With these two boys, Master Xehanort intended to forge the χ-blade, a legendary Keyblade capable of unlocking Kingdom Hearts.
Unfortunately the process left Ven in a coma-like state with his broken heart of pure light slowly fading out. Master Xehanort (in a black coat) decided to leave Ven to die in a peaceful setting 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. Xehanort brought his former apprentice to his old friend Master Eraqus to train Ven and make him 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 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. He encounters Terra in the Keyblade Graveyard and puts his manipulative skills to the test, explaing the reason for his actions: He is trying to safeguard the light from the "demon" he unleashed. He then goes on to explain Vanitas's origins, how he was accidentaly created when Master Xehanort tried to save Ventus from succumbing to darkness by removing the darkness from him. Lying that Vanitas is responsible for the whole chaos of the Unversed, Master Xehanort pleads with Terra to help right this wrong by destroying Vanitas.
He next travels to the Radiant Garden and strikes a bargain with Braig (who desires the Keyblade for himself), Master Xehanort stages his own capture and has Braig fight Terra, with Terra succumbing to the darkness and disfiguring Braig's face permanently. Master Xehanort tells Terra that he is a true Keyblade Master as he was able to channel the darkness. He then gives Terra an opportunity to be his pupil, claiming that they can do the worlds much greater good. 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, stating also that Master Eraqus knows about it. While Ven goes to see Eraqus, Xehanort tells Terra that Eraqus has gone mad and is about to destroy Ventus. Terra is tricked into defeating Master Eraqus in battle, allowing Xehanort to callously 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 has Vanitas knock Aqua out cold, while gleefully telling Terra that he is powerless to save them, causing Terra to lose control of his anger and succumb 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 his life and transforming him into the new Xehanort while his original body fades into darkness with a triumphant smile.
The hearts of Master Xehanort and Terra are (at the time) shown disputing over internal dominance within the new 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 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 he has backup plans should his possession of Terra fail.
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 absolute power.
His attire is nearly identical to the clothes that Ansem, Seeker of Darkness wears, namely, a white and black cloak with a red inner lining, a white shirt with two thin black belts, white gloves and calf-high black boots, similar to those worn by Ansem the Wise's apprentices. The only major difference in appearance between them is that Ansem has his chest bared, along with his emblem on the front, while Master Xehanort does not. There are a few minor changes as well - Ansem's cloak has a gold lining on the edges, while Master Xehanort's cloak has black ones. This is later carried on to Ansem, explained because this particular Heartless was made from the heart of Master Xehanort.
Master Xehanort's previous attire is briefly shown as a Black Coat, possibly as a predecessor to the attire of Organization XIII.
In his youth, Master 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 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 absent of the silver lining on top, much like those worn by the guards of Radiant Garden.
Much like Xehanort and "Ansem", Master Xehanort is shown to be a cunning, callous, and pragmatic being with the sole goal of merging with Kingdom Hearts, 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.
His personality, at times, contradicts itself. His past shows that he was once a noble man who willingly took Ventus as his apprentice and cared for him until he started to lose his grip on sanity. Even after this, he still shows pity for Ventus and leaves him under Master Eraqus's care, and at a later time, even expresses genuine joy in one of his reports when Eraqus personally asked him to oversee the Master Qualification Exam, at the same time expressing remorse for scarring Eraqus during their row about the χ-blade . At the end of the game, however, he appears to have put most of his good points behind him, shown when he stabs his old friend Eraqus in the back, completely destroys the Land of Departure, nearly kills Ventus by encasing his body in ice and throwing him off of a cliff and with his cold-hearted manipulations.
Overall, Master Xehanort is arguably the catalyst of all the events in the series so far, and could even be seen as the true villain of the Xehanort Saga. He shares most of his personality traits with Xehanort (before the latter's fight against the Lingering Sentiment and Aqua) and "Ansem", while Xemnas appears to be influenced several times by Terra's characteristics. He 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 an unusual manner, as if itching to grab something.
- Tetsuya Nomura stated the relationship between Master Xehanort and Master Eraqus is something like old classmates.
- In the English version of Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, Master Xehanort is voiced by Leonard Nimoy, who was chosen by Tetsuya Nomura specifically for his role as Spock in the Star Trek franchise. This was Nimoy's final acting role before his retirement in 2010.
- In the Japanese version of Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, Master Xehanort is voiced by Chikao Ohtsuka, who was chosen by Tetsuya Nomura specifically because he is the father of Akio Ohtsuka, the Japanese voice actor of Xehanort and "Ansem". Chikao Ohtsuka also previously voiced Captain Hook in the original Kingdom Hearts but was replaced by Naoya Uchida for Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep.
- Master Xehanort is briefly seen as a young man at the beginning of Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep and once again during Terra's scenario. In the former, he speaks one line, but in both versions, his voice actor is uncredited and unknown.
- In Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, Yen Sid states he had hoped Master Xehanort's Heart wouldn't lead him astray again. This is a sign that the two have possibly met before, as Yen Sid is revealed to be a former Keyblade Master and an acquaintance of Master Eraqus.
- Tetsuya Nomura has confirmed in interviews that since "Ansem" and Xemnas were slain in the correct order, Xehanort will return in future installments and that the final game of the Xehanort Saga will feature his final battle against Sora, but it is currently unknown if he will return as Xehanort or as Master Xehanort.
- The first few sentences that Terra-Xehanort says after coming into existence are a nearly word-for-word quote of what "Ansem" says when Sora finally confronts him in the original Kingdom Hearts.