The Story Of Ralf And Clark - The King of Fighters

The Story Of Ralf And Clark

The King Of Fighters series is just not the same without these beloved characters. Considered among the pillars of the franchise, Ralf Jones and Clark Still are present in every iteration of KOF. And I mean all of them, from 94 to 14. And there is little doubt that they will be present in future installments. 

Like many other characters, they come from a previous SNK title. Theirs is called Ikari warriors, hence the name of their team. Even though they are inseparable and used to have a very similar design in earlier games, the resemblance between their characters and personalities is like night and day. And the difference gets even bigger when we look closely at their fighting styles. 

So let's shed some light on the back story of our favorite mercenaries and discover, through this video, how Ralf and Clark became the classic characters that we know today. 

In his early twenties, former spy Clark Still was recruited by Heidern in-person to join the ranks of the private mercenary army, the Ikari Warriors. Impressed by his skills, he was tasked to collect data for their assignments, and set to work under his senior officer, Ralf Jones. Together, they carried on multiple missions.

Ikari warriors

With each successful operation, their bond strengthened and their friendship grew beyond military protocols. They made an exceptionally effective duo. Ralf was a man of action, the type that acts first think later. He's stubborn and hot-blooded nature was perfectly complemented by Clark's calm and thoughtful attitude. One day, as he was playing with his collection of knives Ralf accidentally injured Clark and caused a permanent scare between his eyes. 

Since then, Clark was forced to wear sunglasses, day and night, to hide that ugly scare. But despite this unfortunate accident, their friendship didn't suffer one bit. Clark just knew how truly Ralf cares about his subordinates, as he witnessed that in him multiple times on the battlefield. Ralf's protective nature was admirable for all who knew him. And so Clark's loyalty remained unquestionable to this day.

The King of Fighters '94

In 94, Heidern learned about the organizing of the King of Fighters tournament. He obtained an invitation to the competition and summoned his 2 best men, Ralf and Clark, to join him in order to investigate. 

Heidern had a hunch that there was more to this tourney than meets the eye. And he was right, Among all the teams involved in this edition, the Ikari warriors had good reasons to reach and stop the host, Rugal Bernstein. 

Heidern had a very personal score to settle with him. However, they lost against team Japan and could never defeat the evil crime boss. But it did not matter in the end.

The King of Fighters '95

Their objective was not to win the tournament but to eliminate its organizer. And sure thing, Rugal did meet his demise at the end of KOF 95 even if it wasn't by the Ikaris hands. The following year, Ralf and Clark met the new recruit of the squad and the adoptive daughter of their commander, Leona. Heidern entrusted her under Ralf's orders and tasked all three of them to participate in the 96 edition of KOF. 

Their mission was to learn what Geese Howard was planning to do and keep a close eye on him. At first, Ralf did not like the idea to work with Leona as he feared that her inexperience could compromise their mission. But quickly changed his mind when he saw her prowess in combat. Once the tourney ended, they returned to their mundane quite life.

The King of Fighters '97

During one of their missions, Ralf noticed the unstable state of Leona. It was in fact the first signs of the Riot of the Blood curse which the young woman suffered from. Worried about his subordinate well being, Ralf asked to take some time off with his team, and then enlisted themselves to KOF 97 so they could relax and have some fun. Compared to their everyday life, KOF is like Disneyland for Ralf and Clark. But this edition in particular would turn out to be a deadly haunted house.


Everything went smoothly during the preliminary matches. Until Leona snapped suddenly and her other persona took complete control over her body. Her two companions witnessed with horror as she transformed into a wild version of herself and attacking them without warning. Reasoning with her was not an option. 

Leona no longer seemed capable of talking or listening. She was determined to end their lives and rip them to shreds. But the two experienced soldiers somehow managed to neutralize their enraged comrade without killing her or getting killed themselves. 

When Leona woke up from her Riot of the blood state, she realized what she had done. she was so sad and ashamed of herself that she attempted suicide so she could never hurt those close to her. 

But Ralf wasn't going to see his teammate taking her own life in front of him and do nothing. At the last moment, He stopped her. Ralf reassured her that she is no longer alone as they considered her a member of the family, and she can always count on their support. He offered her his bandanna as a symbol of their new bond.

The King of Fighters '99

Sometimes before KOF 99, a new recruit joined the ranks of the Ikaris. The young woman presented herself as Whip. Ralf mistook her name to be Whippy and accidentally triggered a violent reaction from her as she did not like to be called Whippy at all. Discovering this "weak spot", Ralf started to call her by that name whenever he wanted to tease her. Whip was happy when she was affected to be Clark's direct subordinate as she liked his calm and professional attitude, unlike their immature and annoying colonel. 

All 4 members of the Ikari squadron were sent to investigate Nests activities during KOF 99. They succeeded in reaching one of their bases which also turned out to be the hideout of the tournament's host. 

They arrived a little bit too late though as they found Krizalid already dead. After securing his corpse, they learned that K' and Maxima were agents of Nests, and tried to arrest them. But the two enhanced men managed to slip through their fingers. A manhunt for the two fugitives was launched immediately and Ralf was obsessed with arresting K' for the next few years.

The King of Fighters 2000

Continuing their pursuit of the two terrorists, the Ikari team entered KOF 2000. At the competition's conclusion, Whip found a dying Cloned Zero. After learning the secret of her creation by Nests, she decided to abandon the Ikari squad and join her brother, K', in his fight against Nests. 

Before leaving, she left a message for her teammates in a videotape where she thanked them for everything and told them to not worry about her. She also left a special message for Ralf asking him to stop calling her Whippy and promising him that they will meet again. 

Ralf wasn't going to accept that one of his soldiers could just go ahead and abandon her duties. Of course, he was also very worried about her. And so he demanded from Heidern the permission to enter the following tournament in order to find and bring back Whip. 

Not only the commander agreed, but he personally joined them for that edition. They located Whip for a short period of time before losing her again when she went on the space ship with her brother to meet the leader of Nests. After the competition, Ralf's worries were relieved when he received a photo from Heidern, showing Whip and Kula on a friendly outing.

The King of Fighters 2003

In 2003, While investigating the mysterious airship that appeared suddenly, the Ikari warriors received an invite to the KOF tournament. More intriguing was the "R" seal on the envelope that Clark and Ralf had seen before. 

Sensing that this foreboding seal and the apparition of the airship might be related, Heidern tasked them to enter the competition and discover what was hidden behind its curtains. They succeeded in reaching Sky-Noah, the famous airship. and met the persons who they believed were the hosts of the tournament. Things started to clear up when they learned that Adelheid and Rose were the children of the former crime lord, Rugal Bernstein. 

Adelheid then challenged the Ikari warriors into a fight just like how his father would do. Despite his dreadful attacks, Bernstein junior was no match for the combined force of the three soldiers. 

But unlike his father, he admitted his defeat and ordered them to be safely released, despite his sister's objections. With this victory, the Ikari Warriors have declared champions of KOF for the first time in the tournament's history. Even if the title was never their main goal. 

However they had no idea that the real organizer was in fact Chizuru. and when the seal of Orochi was broken, they had to deal once again with the murderous Leona who succumbed to the riot of the blood state. 

This time they were nearly killed in their attempt to subduing their friend. Thankfully, Ralf and Clark survived this second deadly encounter and would even joke about it in the future. Leona on the other hand, was too traumatized by this incident, forcing Heidern to pull her out of the team for her recovery.

The King of Fighters XIII

Later on, they learned what really happened at the end of KOF 2003, and were tasked once again to enter the following tournament to track Those From The Past. This time, they were joined by their old subordinate, Whip. who came back to the Ikaris and was forgiven by Heidern for her past desertion. 

They managed to extract Magaki's body, the host of the competition. This would allow them to learn a lot about these beings and eventually come up with effective means to fight against them. 

Unfortunately, as Heidern was exposing his plans in front of his men, they were attacked by other members of Those From The Past. Before Ralf and Clark could do anything, they fled with Magaki's body, stole Heidern Eye patch, and sunk one of his ships. 

When Leona was ready for battle, she was tasked with Ralf and Clark to participate in the 13th edition of KOF to stop the plans of the evil clan. But when they approached the finals, Leona fainted and lost consciousness due to the presence of Orochi. 

When she woke up, she found Clark sitting next to her while Ralf was fighting Whip outside the room to let him enter and check on his precious friend. She felt very lucky to have such trustworthy brother figures.

The King of Fighters XIV

When KOF 14th was announced, the Ikari team was sent to participate as usual. They just grew accustomed to these events to have always evil conspiracies behind them. They also had allies in the other participants. 

K' and his team were helping them investigate and shared what they discovered with them. But that didn't prevent a friendly rivalry to develop between Ralf and Whip's younger brother. The two men found no better ways to settle old scores, but changing devastating punches and burning kicks during KOF matches.

Fighting Style & Powers 

39 years old colonel Ralf Jones, also known as the "one-man army" is a very stubborn and hot-headed man. He always acts before he thinks, Yet his bravery on the battlefield and care for the safety of his subordinates earned him not only a medal from the president of the USA but the respect and unconditional loyalty of all who know him. 

More specifically, his second in command and closest friend, Clark Still. The tough and cool soldier, as he was nicknamed, is the opposite of Ralf in many ways. He's always calm and thoughtful even during the most dire situations. 

Clark can also be sarcastic and doesn't hesitate to mock his superior's impulsive attitude. They both have great respect for Heidern, and describe their relationship with him, as deep unspoken trust. 

Being veteran soldiers, they both have high proficiency with the use of all types of firearms. But when it comes to hand to hand combat, they use different styles from each other. 

Ralf relies on the incredible strength of his punches that can be delivered at very high frequency, creating small explosions on impact, and are capable to set his opponent on fire. 

Ralf also knows how to use some wrestling moves that he probably learned from Clark as it's the case with the Backbreaker but without the follow-up. It goes without saying that Ralf is one of the strongest characters in the series. 

His strength can be summed up in two words; "Galactica Phantom". This fearsome move is capable of one-shot anybody who stands in its way. And while it's true that it can be easily avoided, one cannot help but panic when he hears those famous two words. We can safely say that Ralf is the one punch man of KOF. 

Clark's fighting style, on the other hand, is that of a grappler. He uses wrestling techniques for the most part but he also knows how to throw some painful punches like his Vulcan Punch that he learned from his superior, albeit without the explosive part. 

His signature move is without a doubt the Argentine Backbreaker. Clark effortlessly throws his opponent in the air, regardless of their size, and let them crash on his shoulders, before smashing them on the ground and finishing the move with a well-placed strike with his elbow. 

No spine is safe while Clark is around and one should better stay as far as he could from him. His clutches are deadly and can be either instantly executed or delayed to trick the opponent. 

Remember Saiki's annoying grabs? Here's what happens when he tries them against Clark

He's also one of the nicest persons in the franchise always ready to make his opponent visit all the corners of the stage while carrying them on his shoulders.

With Athena, Ralf and Clark are among the oldest characters created by SNK. As we all know they made their debut in the Ikari Warriors series. A top view run and gun type game that seems to take place in a different timeline. Heidern is nowhere to be found there as the two mercenaries serve under another commander named Kawazaki also known as Cook in the international version. 

Their design was based on characters like John Rambo and has nothing to do with the appearance in KOF. There is even an older game called T.A.N.K featuring Ralf as its main protagonist and takes place in the future. 

But that's not all, this game has a follow-up title with a story set during WW2. Just how old is this guy? Of course, we can't forget their presence in the Metal Slug series. 

However, in these games, Ralf and Clark kept their usual looks from KOF and even have some of their signature moves. like the devastating punches for Ralf, and the Backbreaking for Clark. But as said earlier, these games are considered non canonical and are separated from the KOF timeline. 

They're still worth mentioning though even if it's just to appreciate all the changes that these two classic characters went through. They started as a simple palette swap colors much like another video game duo Mario & Luigi that you probably never heard of. 

But as the installments go on, they slowly began to differentiate from each other. Not just design-wise, but also in terms of personality and fighting style. However, their trust and reliance on each other, despite all these years remained unchanged.

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