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Rugal Bernstein (ルガール・バーンシュタイン; pronounced " Ru-GAHL Burn-sh-TYE-n") is a recurring character in The King of Fighters series. Introduced in The King of Fighters '94 as a notorious crime boss, he turns fighters into living trophies, and stirs trouble for those who compete in the tournaments he hosts. Due to his overwhelming strength and power, he is often considered by players to be one of the most difficult bosses in the franchise.


On their anniversary website, SNK has stated that Rugal was originally based on the concept of the "mightiest and most evil boss character ever".[2] Like Goenitz and Heidern, his name comes from the anime, Space Battleship Yamato. Toyohisa Tanabe states that his fighting style was created to emphasize Rugal's strength as the series' first boss character. He also comments "going a bit overboard" with Genocide Cutter's damage ratio in The King of Fighters '94.

Their first idea for Rugal's character was that he could learn any move that he saw just once. The developer notes that he was supposed to be "the cheapest bastard ever", but they dropped the idea because they didn’t have enough memory to execute it.[3]


Rugal is a cruel and powerful man who will kill anyone who stands in his way. He sees absolutely no value in human life, to the point where he proudly displays the metal-encased corpses of worthy opponents he has killed in battle as trophies. He will even go so far as to kill people simply to spite others (such as when he slaughtered Heidern's family simply because he found Heidern to be a disappointment). Unlike most other KOF villains, Rugal has a sadistic sense of humor about what he does. Many of his winquotes are snarky insults toward his opponents, and he often sees the act of taking human life to be more of a pastime.

Much like Igniz, he believes himself to be a human god. Unlike Igniz, however, he hardly takes his "godhood" seriously. It could be said that Rugal possesses the greatest proverbial swagger of all The King of Fighters boss characters. His "godhood" is also a motif for moves like his God Press attack.

Due to his arrogant nature, Rugal has also been shown to be an incredibly sore loser. Refusing to accept defeat at the hands of his enemies, he'll instead trigger the self-destruct mechanism of whatever the base he's in with the intention of taking his opponents down with it, but ends up being the only one caught in the explosion instead. While this first appears in KOF '94, it happens again in KOF '98 and KOF 2002. This trait even carries over to Metal Slug Defense, where upon his defeat, he'll get back up, pull out a detonator and blow himself up.


Most of his powers are from his physical strength and his ability to imitate other attacks. Since gaining Orochi power, he has expanded his abilities to lethal heights. However, he can only use a fraction of the Orochi power, lest he is consumed and destroyed by it, as it happened in KOF95. Upon his revival, he continues using his powers that are from the borrowed Orochi blood, but he is still just as susceptible, despite his growing mastery of his own powers.

  • Energy Manipulation - Rugal can channel energy from Gaia and other sources, including Orochi's power.
    • Energy Projectile - Rugal can fire projectiles of energy from his hands (Geese Howard's Reppuken, Wolfgang Krauser's Kaiser Wave)
    • Energy Reflector - Rugal can create a barrier that reflects projectiles.
    • Energy Punch - Rugal, most notably in Capcom vs. SNK, can charge up dark energy into himself and rush forward with a powerful punch imbued with said energy.
  • Sense - Rugal can sense chi energy of those nearby.
  • Slashing Aura - Rugal can create a cutting aura around his legs (used for his Genocide Cutter).
  • Orochi Power - Rugal can slam a foe whilst using his Orochi energy, producing a pillar of dim light with a large skull inside, this attribute sometimes manifests itself in a burst of deep crimson as well.


  • Mimicry - Rugal is able to mimic and learn moves of other fighters just by observing them.
  • Management and Manipulation - His occupation is that of an international arms dealer who secretly holds dangerously powerful influence over global politics.

Fighting Style

His fighting style is an amalgam of various arts, including Hakkyokuseiken and House of Strolheim, the styles used by Geese Howard and Wolfgang Krauser. He has adapted several moves from each character, such as Geese's Reppuuken and Krauser's Kaiser Wave (the latter converted into a special move for Rugal's case). Oddly enough, so far only Geese and Krauser's techniques are used very frequently by him (the two men are even related out of ironic coincidence) and he even clashes paths with them at some point; both him and Krauser even clash their Kaiser Waves together in their '98 UM special intro.

However, he also uses his own techniques such as the Genocide Cutter. Rugal was originally supposed to have access to every special move in the game during The King of Fighters '94, but idea was scrapped because it put a terrible strain on the programming, and thus he appeared as a combination of the two Fatal Fury bosses instead. He also has a projectile reflector known as Dark Barrier/Dark Crystal Reflector which is very similar to Athena Asamiya's Psycho Reflector, this move along with him copying the Reppuuken and Kaiser Wave being a possible remainder of the original idea.

In KOF '94 Re-Bout (as well as by proxy KOF '95 for his Omega form), Rugal gains a legitimate DM, which instead becomes his God Press (this was one of his special moves in the original '94). As of '95, his initial DM has always been his Gigantic Pressure, the stronger version of his God Press (which Mature's Heaven's Gate is modeled after). His '98, '98 UM and CvS incarnations so far are the most notably balanced versions of him, though to compensate Rugal often lacks cancels the most compared to other characters, making him a character that's difficult to perform combos with in trade of having a variety of punishing options. However, Rugal also possesses a large frame and notable lag on his attacks should he use them haphazardly.


  • Kettou R&D (Duel R&D) - The King of Fighters '94 (first round)
  • Kecchaku R&D (Conclusion R&D) - The King of Fighters '94 (second round)
  • The ЯR - The King of Fighters '98
  • XXX - The King of Fighters '98 (Omega form), The King of Fighters R-2
  • Last Dance - The King of Fighters 2002
  • Rugal Battle - The King of Fighters (pachinko)
  • Rugal - Athena On Stage
  • The Lord GOD (The Lord ULTIMATE) - Capcom vs. SNK 2
  • Unlimited R - The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match
  • Duel R&D - The King of Fighters All Stars (‘94 Rugal, KOFAS Endless Greed Rugal)
  • XXX/Showdown R&D - The King of Fighters All Stars (‘98 Omega Rugal, ‘95/Boss Syndrome Omega Rugal)

Voice Actors

Live Action Actors






Similar Characters


  • While Rugal's birthplace hasn't been officially confirmed yet, it is heavily implied that he is from Germany.
    • His surname, Bernstein, is a common surname in the German language.
    • His children, Adelheid and Rose are of possible German descent as well.
  • Rugal's theme in KOF '94, Kecchaku R&D (Conclusion R&D) , has some audios from "Digital Underground - Gutfest '89" said by Sex Packets: "you can hear behind me now that uh I think they called blue death." "Yeah you can hear that they're having a ball and a hell of a time down at gutfest this year."
    • Meanwhile, its arranged version samples a part from Kool Chip & Chuck Chillout - Rhythm Is The Master, specifically the line "To the rhythm."
  • In some artworks, Rugal seemingly does not have his bionic eye present, which shows only a gaping hole for his missing eye.
  • Originally in KOF '94, Rugal's first round form in his suit (which returns in the Capcom vs. SNK games) lacked special moves, and only one of his normals did chip damage. His second round form with his jacket removed (used for his subsequent KOF appearances) gives him new normals and his signature special move set, though he does not have a legitimate Desperation Move. Both versions of Rugal act like so even when using a code to play as him, as he'll act just like his boss version and when he loses his first round, the background will distort to red like his boss battle. This is also the game along with the sequel to have his signature Genocide Cutter take out over half a character's health if both hits connect; however, KOF 98' onwards considerably nerfs the attack via removing its invincibility (or at least head-level invincibility only) which made it a much weaker anti-air in most titles.
  • His Dead End Screamer in KOF '98, due to its notable animation involving Rugal stomp on his opponent and drilling them to the ground, is often both a testament to his brutal fighting style, and the source of memetic jokes involving Rugal (often dubbing it as the "Rugalspin"). Along with this, Rugal shares a darkness and evil motif for his moves, through techniques such as Genocide Cutter, Genocide Heaven, Dark Barrier, and Dark Smash.
  • In Neo-Geo Freak 1998, the characters in KOF '98 have their own interviews. Here are Rugal's response to the questions.[4]
    • What is your aspiration in this competition? - "Destroy! Everything...!"
    • Who would you like to fight the most? - "Anyone will do. But, there are many guys who aren't going to sit still just because I'm coming out?"
    • Who would you like to team up with? / Who would you not like to team up with? - "Mature, Vice, Saisyu Kusanagi, you can send an invitation letter. Wouldn't it be nice to be with my old fellow subordinates?"
    • What is "KOF" for you? - "Don't you know, can't you tell? … it's revenge!"
    • Finally, please give a word to your fans. - "The cheers turn to screams, and excitement turns into fear. I can't stand waiting for your face to be full of despair!"

  • In Capcom vs. SNK 2, the word "Genocide" was censored out of his Move List, so his trademark Genocide Cutter became the "Destroyer Cutter", and a super version of it appearing in this Vs. series, Genocide Heaven, was renamed "Total Annihilation". In the Japanese version, the word "Genocide" wasn't actually censored out, thus when Genocide Cutter is used, he'll yell out the attack's name (he remains silent when using it in the international versions).
  • There is no information regarding his outlook towards his immediate family, but it can be safely assumed he is somewhat distant from it.
    • His daughter, Rose Bernstein inherits some of Rugal's nasty attitude, and is just as much of a sore loser as her father, while his son Adelheid Bernstein presumably inherits his combat prowess, and unlike his father, has far more better sportsmanship.
    • Next to nothing is known however, of his wife, or her whereabouts.
    • Due to Rugal gaining Orochi power from a blood pact with Goenitz, long after Rose and Adelheid were born, the two does not possess Orochi blood.
  • Rugal and Saiki are the only bosses of the series (sub or final) with two or more versions of their persona. The personas of both characters can be coexisiting in the same game (KOF XIII and KOF '98 [and its remake], respectively). However, unlike Rugal, Saiki's versions can coexist canonically.


The King of Fighters characters
KOF '94 Logo Sprite.gif Kyo KusanagiBenimaru NikaidoGoro DaimonTerry BogardAndy BogardJoe HigashiRyo SakazakiRobert GarciaTakuma SakazakiRalf JonesClark StillHeidernAthena AsamiyaSie KensouChin GentsaiKingMai ShiranuiYuri SakazakiKim KaphwanChang KoehanChoi BoungeHeavy-D!Lucky GlauberBrian BattlerRugal Bernstein
KOF '95 Logo Sprite.gif Iori YagamiBilly KaneEiji KisaragiSaisyu KusanagiOmega Rugal
KOF '96 Logo Sprite.gif Leona HeidernMatureViceKasumi TodohGeese HowardWolfgang KrauserMr. BigChizuru KaguraGoenitz
KOF '97 Logo Sprite.gif Shingo YabukiYashiro NanakaseShermieChrisBlue MaryRyuji YamazakiOrochi IoriOrochi LeonaOrochi YashiroOrochi ShermieOrochi ChrisOrochi
KOF '98UM Logo.png Nightmare Geese
KOF '99 Logo Sprite.gif K'MaximaWhipBaoLi XiangfeiJhun HoonKyo-1Kyo-2Krizalid
KOF '99 Evolution Logo.png VanessaSethSyo KirishimaAlfredFiolina GermiGai Tendo
KOF 2000 Logo Sprite.gif RamónLinHinako ShijouKula DiamondClone ZeroFoxyCandy DiamondAnother K'Another IoriAnother BenimaruAnother RobertCosplayer KyokoKang Bae DalSmart ChangCool ChoiKaoru WatabeBaitangDuck KingLilly KaneKim Jae HoonKim Dong HwanUnknownKing LionKim Sue-ilKaedeDuke EdwardsRockyAthenaNeo & GeoG-Mantle
KOF 2001 Logo Sprite.gif May Lee JinjuK9999ÁngelZeroRonGluganIgnizMistyNests
KOF 2002 Logo Sprite.gif Kusanagi
KOF 2002UM Logo.png Nameless
KOF 2003 Logo Sprite.gif Ash CrimsonDuo LonShen WooTizocGatoMalinMaki KaguraAdelheid BernsteinMukai
KOF XI Logo Sprite.gif OswaldElisabeth BlanctorcheMomokoB. JenetShionMagakiSilberSho HayateJyazuHotaru FutabaTung Fu Rue
KOF XII Logo.png Raiden
KOF XIII Logo.png Hwa JaiSaikiEvil AshMr. Karate
KOF XIV Logo.png Shun'eiMeitenkunGang-ilLuongXanaduSylvie Paula PaulaKukriMianNelsonZarinaBandeiras HattoriKing of DinosaursHeinNakoruruMamahahaMui MuiLove HeartAlice Garnet NakataAntonovVerseNajd
The King of Fighters XV Logo.png IslaDoloresKrohnen McDougallRe VerseOtoma=Raga
KOF EX Logo.png Moe Habana
KOF EX2 Logo.png Reiji OogamiJun KagamiMiu KurosakiSinobu Amou
KOF MI Logo.png Alba MeiraSoiree MeiraLien NevilleMignon BeartChae LimDukeRock Howard
KOF MI2 Logo.png Luise MeyrinkNagaseJivatmaNinon BeartHyenaHanzo HattoriKyo Kusanagi ClassicWild WolfMr. Karate IIArmor RalfRichard Meyer
KOF MIRA Logo.png Xiao LonMakoto Mizoguchi
SNK vs. Capcom Characters
SNK Characters Kyo KusanagiIori YagamiLeona HeidernOrochi IoriTerry BogardMai ShiranuiGeese HowardRyo SakazakiYuri SakazakiAthena AsamiyaHaohmaruNakoruruJubei YagyuRimururuAkari IchijouMarco RossiFiolina GermiMars PeopleGenjuro KibagamiKim KaphwanMr. KarateKasumi TodohChoi BoungeEarthquakeShikiGoenitzHonki ni Natta Mr. KarateAthenaKingViceBenimaru NikaidoRaidenRyuji YamazakiRugal BernsteinChang KoehanRyuhaku TodohHibiki TakaneGod Rugal
CAPCOM Characters RyuKen MastersChun-LiGuileDan HibikiSakura KasuganoMorrigan AenslandFeliciaAkumaBaby Bonnie HoodM. BisonEvil RyuKarin KanzukiArthurRed ArremerDhalsimVegaSagatBalrogHugoTessaDemitri MaximoffZeroViolent KenShin AkumaRed ArremerBlankaCammy WhiteEdmond HondaEagleRolento SchugergMaki GenryusaiYun LeeKyosuke Kagami
Card Games Characters ShinKeiCapCometThe KidFoKanaHarumiZombieYoshikiNishiTakaNoriSakiYukiAkiTakeMikaNonakaKeikoYuriMikamiThe MaskRikuto ArataHaruna HatenaLip AyahaSasuke FuwaKido YoshijiRyugai TorawoAsō ShūkoDogou SōkenShin DaichiKei KikkaForu GottonYashichi FuwaCap ComComet ComNanako NijiiroZet Charles DetroitSys TemNeomantleRobomantleG-Lady
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