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Sad Ken Masters refers to a series of jokes about the leaked design and backstory given to longtime Street Fighter character Ken in the 2022 video game Street Fighter 6. As opposed to his usually cocky and intimidating design, leaks about Ken in the game imply he is heartbroken, haggard-looking and "washed up." The leaks led to fan art and memes about the character's design, as artists depicted Ken as uncharacteristically depressed.
On June 3rd, 2022, after the release of the first full trailer for Street Fighter VI, possible leaked images of the full, unannounced roster began spreading online. The images showed a picture of the longtime Street Fighter character Ken Masters in a brown coat as opposed to his usual bright red gi and sporting stubble (shown below).
One Reddit commenter posted a rumor about the backstory Ken will have in Street Fighter 6, saying his wife Eliza left him and took his son Mel. A screenshot of the comment was posted to Twitter by user @BG_KOF (shown below).
After the image and backstory of Street Fighter 6's Ken Masters design spread online, fans of the series began creating art depicting Ken as extremely depressed, with many using the She Took The Fucking Kids meme. For example, on June 5th, 2022, Twitter user @yeet_sonny posted art of Ken saying the line, gaining over 30 retweets and 170 likes in one week (shown below, left). On June 4th, Twitter user @reicchi_96 also posted a joke about Ken saying the line, gaining over 12,000 retweets and 102,000 likes in one week (shown below, right).
Many artists made crossover edits showing Ken in other franchises being cheered up by non-Street Fighter characters. For example, on June 11th, Twitter user @archdanmiiverse posted fan art of Ken next to Sonic the Hedgehog and Daisy, gaining over 1,000 retweets and 7,100 likes in two days (shown below, left). On June 4th, user @Jigboi posted art of Ken in the Peter Parker Sucking His Fingers meme, gaining over 5,000 retweets and 25,000 likes in one week (shown below, right).
Ken's Story Reveal
On September 15th, 2022, Capcom released information about Ken's backstory in Street Fighter 6 that revealed he was not homeless and divorced, as leaks had previously suggested, but on the run from criminals who had falsely accused him of a crime. This explained why Street Fighter 6's Ken looks so different from previous iterations of the character. The announcement was celebrated by fans who were happy to see that he hadn't lost his energy, wife or kids.
Ken Masters isn't divorced and going through a dark midlife crisis, he's got the Mad Gear Gang framing him so he's on the run trying to clear his good name.— Aaron – Thorgi's Arcade (@ThorgisArcade) September 15, 2022
Capcom took what was going to be a sad character turn and made it into a bad ass action movie plot pic.twitter.com/HwweT1AbQK
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