In the year of 1996, a new tournament is organized by the heir of the Yata clan, Chizuru Kagura, who wants to gather Kyo and Iori in her team to seal the Orochi demon as their clans made in the past. During the 1997 tournament, it is revealed that a few of the fighters are connected to Orochi through their own cursed blood, but do not follow him suffer from a curse that turns them into psychotic killers who'll attack anybody that's near them. During the '97 tournament, a group known as the New Faces team learn of their past as being three of Orochi's Four Heralds and decide to awake Orochi. Kyo and Iori decide to join Chizuru to stop them and although they succeed in stopping them, Orochi is able to revive through the use of his Heralds' sacrifice. Joining their forces, Kyo, Iori, and Chizuru defeat and seal Orochi once again, but in the process, Kyo and Iori disappear from within the aftermath of the battle.
The story would later continue in The King of Fighters '99, which would introduce a new story arc known as the NESTS Chronicles. A syndicate called the NESTS cartel organizes a new tournament so that they can obtain energy from the fighters to use for their data and weapons. The syndicate also kidnaps Kyo right after his battle against Orochi so that they could use his DNA to create a large number of clones to use as agents, though Kyo manages to escape during the process. One of the agents, K', betrays the NESTS cartel so that he can seek his own stolen past. Other notable characters introduced in the story arc includes Maxima, a half-man, half-cyborg who helps K' out and Whip, a military mercenary who helps the Ikari Warriors investigate the syndicate. Throughout the NESTS Chronicles story arc, K' and the rest of the fighters battle against many enemies, which includes a clone of K' named Krizalid, NESTS' second-in-command named Zero, and the leader of NESTS named Igniz, who sought to gain the power of the fighters so that he could become a new god to the people of Earth.
The most recent story arc in the series is the Tales of Ash story arc, which focuses on a strange and mysterious fighter named Ash Crimson. Though he's supposed to be the 'hero' of this story arc, Ash's true agenda is unknown and that his actions are often put in both question and suspicion by those who either fight or work with him.
The first game in the series, The King of Fighters '94 was released by SNK in August 25, 1994. The game was originally designed to be a dream match of characters from the company's various arcade titles, particularly Fatal Fury, Art of Fighting, Ikari Warriors and Psycho Soldier. The game was remade and released in 2004 for the PlayStation 2 as The King of Fighters '94 Re-Bout in Japan. This version has several new features like hi-res graphics, online play, team edit, a playable Rugal Bernstein, and the addition of Saisyu Kusanagi. On January 7, 2008, the game was made available for download on the Wii's Virtual Console download service, for a price of 900 Wii Points. The success of the game lead to SNK to release yearly installments of the series and numbered the games for the year they were released. The King of Fighters '95, was released on July 25, 1995, with several ports being released the next year. This game allowed the players to create their own team of three members. The King of Fighters '96 was released on July 30, 1996. The game establishes a new story arc regarding about the main antagonists of the series. Depending of the playable characters in a team, an exclusive ending will be played. The King of Fighters '97 was released on July 28, 1997 and ended the Orochi arc. The King of Fighters '98 was released on July 23, 1998 and unlike previous games it did not feature a story; instead, the game allows players to play with most of characters available on previous ones, including ones that were supposedly dead. SNK refitted the Sega Dreamcast version renaming it The King of Fighters: Dream Match 1999 with an extended hand-animated introduction and 3D backgrounds. A remake titled Ultimate Match was released in Japanese arcades on March 18, 2008 and later on some video game consoles expanding the character roster and improving the graphics.
In July 22, 1999, the real continuation of the story The King of Fighters '99 was released. The game includes several new characters with some ones of the previous ones being secret ones and the addition of a new member to each team, being the fourth an assistant named "Striker". The Sega Dreamcast version was titled The King of Fighters: Evolution, there are several improvements such as new strikers and better animation, The King of Fighters 2000 was released on July 26, 2000, with the addition of several new character that would only work as Strikers. The King of Fighters 2001 was released on November 15, 2001 and ends the new plot started in 99. Due to some economical problems of the company SNK, the Korean company Eolith helped in the development of the game. Like 98, The King of Fighters 2002, released on October 10, 2002, was created to reunite old characters from the games. A new story arc is started on The King of Fighters 2003, released on December 12, 2003 and allowed the players to change characters while playing but the number of team member was reduced to three. By 2004, SNK abandoned yearly releases of the series and numbered future games in a more traditional manner; the first main series game released as such was The King of Fighters XI, released on October 26, 2005. The King of Fighters XII, the latest game is expected to be released at the end of 2008. KOF XII will use newly-drawn 2D sprites on detailed 2D backgrounds. Producers informed that the game is one hundred percent hand drawn.
Two video games were released for the Game Boy Advance, adaptating several characters from the KOF 99 and 2000 with the name of The King of Fighters EX: Neo Blood. A role-playing game was also created exclusively for the Sony Play Station under the name of The King of Fighters: Kyo, adaptating a manga with the same name.
Several characters from the series appear also in cross-over video games. Neo Geo Battle Coliseum is a 2 on 2 tag team fighting game for the Atomiswave arcade board. Along with the KOF, chararacters from other SNK video games also star there. Capcom also produced a series of similar crossover fighting games with SNK. The SNK-produced fighting games of this crossover includes the Dimps-developed portable fighting game SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium for the Neo-Geo Pocket Color in and SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos for the Neo-Geo in The games produced by Capcom includes Capcom vs. SNK in . It was followed by a minor upgrade, Capcom vs. SNK Pro ; and a sequel titled Capcom vs. SNK 2, both released in . All three games were produced for the NAOMI hardware as well.
During August 2005, a short anime series based upon KOF entitled The King of Fighters: Another Day was announced. It debuted at the year's Tokyo Game Show about a month later. Production I.G produced the title as an original net animation. There are a total of four episodes, each about 10 minutes in length. It has since been released as a bonus DVD, packaged with KOF: Maximum Impact 2 (The King of Fighters 2006 in the US). A live-action movie of The King of Fighters will begin shooting in the first quarter of 2008. In December 2006, Sabertooth Games released a King of Fighters 2006 collectable card game set along with Samurai Shodown V for it's Universal Fighting System (UFS) game. Other games like Street Fighter and Soulcalibur III are also included into the series. Character starter packs were released for Terry Bogard and Mai Shiranui.
The first games of the series were only available in Japan with the exception of KoF 95 which saw a US release on the Sony Playstation in 1996. However, in 1999 when SNK was expanded to North America, the games were released also there.