Top 15 Final Fantasy Most Popular Characters

Final Fantasy Most Popular Characters
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The Final Fantasy characters we love most!

Final Fantasy has been around for about as long as we can remember and though they’ve been getting flak from the recent games, there’s a special place in our hearts for this iconic franchise. Let’s just take a moment to step back and appreciate some of our most beloved characters.

Now when I say popular, I don’t just mean everyone’s favorite. We’re talking the good, the bad, and the ugly kind of popular.

15. Cecil Harvey (Final Fantasy IV)

To start off we have our resident Dark Knight turned Paladin from FFIV. The game follows the story of our main protagonist, Cecil, as he leads a military group to steal crystals for his king but eventually realizes that he’s working for the wrong side. He and his crew learn that the stolen crystals actually make a way for moon people to invade Earth.

For a game that has a relatively simple and straightforward story, Square did a fantastic job at giving unique character traits to otherwise generic archetypes. Cecil is especially loved for being a character that grows and transforms into someone who would act on his beliefs rather than blind loyalty. What makes his redemption story so unique is that it wasn’t just an internal struggle, rather it was someone whose actions had very real consequences.

You witness the peak of his development when he has to overcome his own past by defeating his Dark Knight self. The best part of it is that he succeeds not by fighting but by holding ground and not raising his sword. For a game that came out in the 90s, that was some pretty powerful and meaningful stuff. Cecil and FFIV really was ahead of its time.

14. Vivi Ornitier (Final Fantasy IX)

Vivi is the adorable little black mage from FFIX whose popularity can rival even that of the main protagonist. He’s one of many mass-produced black mages that were made to be used as weapons of war. Vivi, however, got separated and was adopted by a Qu. His curiosity is what made him venture out in the world until he got involved with the main cast’s mission to find the lost princess.  

While it’s basically the rule of the internet that all cute characters must be loved to death, he also has one of the best character developments in the game. You’ll initially see him as just a naive, unassuming character that just awkwardly fumbles around but gradually gains more confidence as your progress through the games. The highlight of his character arc is when he starts questioning his own existence, especially as you learn the nature of his species. FFIX at its core is really all about existentialism, and it’s evident as Vivi starts to gain his own sense of morality and identity.

It also helps this unsuspecting little guy can cast the deadliest spell on every enemy in sight.

13. Balthier (Final Fantasy XII)

One of the most debated questions of FFXII is who really the main character of the game. Well, Balthier makes it very clear who he the real hero in this story is. He’s a sky pirate that commands the party’s airship and helps the hero start a resistance against the Archadian Empire.

Suave and cunning, he’s not just all talk when he says he’s the leading man. For the most part of the game, he’s the one taking action. Everyone likes him for being smart and strategic in everything he does, so unlike the usual reckless heroes we’re used to. It’s hard not to love him when he practically steals the limelight the entire game with his cocky attitude and overall sass (especially when you hear how Gideon Emery voiced him).

In the game, he’s the son of Cidolfus Demen Bunansa, a scientist responsible for most of the Archadian Empire’s war tech, and has since left him to become a sky pirate. Even though he’s helping the princess, he still manages to loot as much treasure as he can with this adventure. He’s a little more than just a petty thief though, as he choose to stay behind with his partner to prevent a massive airship from crashing a city.

12. Terra Branford (Final Fantasy VI)

FFVI definitely has some of the most memorable and unique characters in the series, but Terra gets special attention as the main character. The game is about a rebel group that’s trying to prevent the Gestahlian Empire from conquering the world. Magic is the key to their success and at the heart of it is Terra, a half-human half-esper amnesiac.

First of all, it’s no question that she has one of the best designs in the whole franchise. Whimsical and feminine but also relatively practical and not sexualized, her design is both unique and fitting for her story. Also, the thing that makes her so popular is the depth and range of emotions she has throughout the game. Terra has amazing development as she struggles with the idea of being half a powerful magical being and being a former Imperial slave. This amnesiac girl easily won everyone’s hearts as she learns more about herself and the concept of love.

Don’t think that her search for ‘love’ makes her some romance-obsessed girl either! In a breathtaking discovery, she finds it not in some man but in taking care of orphaned children. She’s become the benchmark for strong and compassionate women for future Final Fantasy games.

11. Squall Leonhart (Final Fantasy VIII)

Next up is our edgy protagonist from FFVIII. Squall is a teenager who was raised in a military academy to become a skilled mercenary. He and his party were assigned to assist a resistance group. Eventually, it turns into a mission to stop a sorceress from the future from compressing time and space, effectively destroying life on the planet. At the same time, he also learns to become more open as his feelings for Rinoa develop.

A lot of people tend to just dismiss the newer Final Fantasy characters as angsty pretty boys, and Squall has to be the worst offenders of this trope. It’s hard not to become popular when he pretty much embodies all the dark, brooding teenagers of his time. That along with his iconic quotes of “whatever” and a few ellipses are what made him stick to everyone’s memory. On top of that, he has a cool design, a cooler weapon, and grew up in a military academy. It all adds up to a textbook badass that everyone loves.

Despite all the traits that make him popular, his best moments are, ironically, when he starts to grow out of it. Being orphaned with almost no memories definitely gives him reason to be that isolated, but it all changed when he met Rinoa. He went from not really caring about anything to going above and beyond to help the love of his life. Even going so far as to ask to be sent back in time to save her.

10. Kefka (Final Fantasy VI)

Kefka is the crazed general of the Gestahlian Empire and your main antagonist in FFVI. For the first half of the game, he tries to conquer the world, one kingdom at a time. He doesn’t care how he does it or who he kills (even if it’s his own men). His complete disregard for human life escalates to the point that he causes the mass genocide of espers and the destruction of the planet. Evil at its purest and most sadistic form, Kefka is considered one of the best villains in gaming.

He is a loud, short-tempered, psychotic nihilist who just wants the world to burn in the most destructive and over-the-top way possible. All this the result of years of experimentation that finally made him crack. Torture and mass murder are his entire thing. He even enjoys it as if it was just a game to him, which makes you question what the hell kids were playing at the time.

Still not getting how cruel this guy is? We’re talking ‘adding poison in the water to kill an entire kingdom while he waxes poetry about the screams of the dying’ kind of cruel. And that was before he went god-like and turned the planet into a world of wastelands, burning forests, and polluted waters.

9. Tifa Lockhart (Final Fantasy VII)

Even if you haven’t played a single Final Fantasy game, you’ve no doubt come across her name as one of the toughest women in gaming. Tifa is one of FFVII’s leading ladies and childhood friend of the main character. She’s also a member of the eco-terrorist group, AVALANCHE, and the one who recruits Cloud, the main hero. Together they try to stop the super soldier Sephiroth from summoning a meteor that’ll destroy the planet.

As much as we want to believe that people are better than this, we can’t deny that her design is one of the biggest reasons why she’s so popular. More than her sex appeal, she’s also a kick ass martial artist that can knock out a monster twice her size with just her fists. It helps that she literally has the third-highest Strength stat in-game, too. It’s no wonder she’s often found in the same list of strong, independent women alongside names like Lara Croft and Samus.

Despite the way she looks, Tifa’s actually way more reserved and acts as the emotional support in the party. Her empathy goes as far as to stay behind to take care of our seemingly brain-dead hero and help him restore his memories.

8. Tidus (Final Fantasy X)

The success and overall positive reception of FFX became a gateway for the game’s protagonist to shine. In the game, he’s the energetic, goofy, blitzball player who finds himself lost in the world of Spira. He volunteers to be a guardian for the summoner Yuna in her journey to defeat Sin, the beast terrorizing the land.

He’s a lot different from the last three leads in terms of personality, and this sort of negatively affects his popularity sometimes. You’ll see a lot of people complain about how annoying he is or just how weird his get-up is. It doesn’t really help that he was forced back to life after such a memorable death. That aside, he actually matures and develop quite well by the end of the game.

Tidus does have his cringey moments, namely a forced laughing scene with Yuna. While he knows very well that Yuna is expected to give her life for peace, he also actively tries to find ways to keep her alive. You eventually find their roles are reversed and that he himself would fade when they defeat big boss. His overall maturity and development throughout the game is really the reason why people are starting to appreciate him more.

7. Yuna (Final Fantasy X)

If you ask other people, I’m pretty sure they’re going to say that Yuna was a way better protagonist in FFX than Tidus. You can’t deny that it was as much her story as it was his, too. In the first game, she is a summoner going on a pilgrimage to collect powerful beings called aeons. They’re expected to use these aeons to defeat Sin and bring lasting peace.

In a world with… questionable fashion choices, her summoner outfit was a creative and well-designed twist to the kimono that fans inside and outside of Japan loved. At first glance, she appears soft-spoken and timid, but she hides a strong drive to bring peace even at the cost of her life. Watching her become her own person outside of the religion and the depth of emotions she has throughout the pilgrimage is what we really love about her.

Although some people consider it a step down, leading the first all-girl group in FFX-2 definitely puts her in the spotlight. Hate it, call it fan service or whatever, but you can’t deny that it looks pretty damn cool (plus she’s like 19, let her experiment with her outfits!).

At the end of it all, there’s really something admirable about seeing someone force herself to marriage or accept death just to bring peace. Defeating the beast that’s been plaguing the planet for a thousand years might be her greatest achievement, but her most iconic scene has to be that last moment where she watched Tidus fade from existence.

6. Aerith Gainsborough (Final Fantasy VII)

You all know her, the flower girl that whose death shook the world of gaming. Two decades later, and the healer remains one of the most iconic and recognizable faces in gaming, even to those who haven’t played the game. She’s one of the most significant characters in the FFVII universe. Aerith is the last of an ancient and magical race that used the planet’s life energy to cultivate the land. This made her the target of the Shinra Electric Company, looking to exploit her power.

Her character, gameplay, and (obviously) her story is what really makes her relevant even after all these years. Anyone who’s played the game knows that she’s more than just a throwaway character to make grownass gamers cry, but also a vital and extremely useful member of the party. Her high magic, healing, and stat-boosting abilities are incomparable to anyone else’s in the game. Plus, her cheerful attitude just made her all the more loveable.

Her iconic moment was when she was praying to summon Holy, a powerful spell to deter the oncoming meteor. A second later, our villain swoops down from who-know-where and stabbing her with a 6-foot sword. This effectively became one of the most memorable moments in gaming history. Even in death, her spirit uses the planet’s life force to push back the destructive alien force from hitting planet.

5. Auron (Final Fantasy X)

There’s really something to be said when you’re not even the protagonist or even the deuteragonist, but you still become everyone’s favorite character in the game. Auron is a former warrior monk and the sort of mentor figure of the FFX team. He’s also the one to bring our protagonist to the world of Spira in order to save the planet.

Auron, with all his samurai-like presence, exudes cool and badass, and he doesn’t even have to try so hard. He has a serious, no-bullshit attitude with some of the best dialogues in the game. It also helps that he has an insanely high HP and Attack even at the start of the game. He can pretty much cause tornadoes from the force of his sword. The fact that he’s actually a dead spirit looking after his friends’ kids make him such a notable character, too.

Famous for being the greatest guardian ever lived, his loyalty and dedication shows when he managed to stay within the mortal realm through sheer force of will. For the most part of the game, he’s the one that keeps everyone on track up until they defeat the beast that’s been plaguing Spira.

4. Sephiroth (Final Fantasy VII)

Naturally, a huge series like FFVII deserves an equally larger than life villain like Sephiroth. Prior to the game, he was a renowned soldier and war hero that goes mad after learning his true origins. This leads him to go on a killing spree and planned to summon a powerful destructive force called Meteor to injure the planet. He’ll then try to use this to absorb the planet’s life force to make himself a god.

Maybe it’s the obnoxiously long sword, maybe it’s his dramatic theme song, or maybe it’s his luscious flowing locks, but his name never fails to make it on everyone’s favorite villains list. But really, it’s not just about aesthetic. Despite being a former hero, he eventually goes on and leave a trail of death and destruction in his wake. The way his actions were portrayed throughout the game are what really make him popular.

Sephiroth’s cruel and menacing presence were done amazingly in FFVII. From finding the impaled Midgar Zolom, an insanely difficult mini boss, to burning down an entire town and almost everyone in it, the game makes it very clear how strong and ruthless he is. There’s also, of course, his biggest crime of all that is killing off our best party member, Aerith.

3. Lightning (Final Fantasy XIII)

The FFXIII series has gone through a rough ride and a ton of criticism. Lightning, the main protagonist of FXIII, has also become a target of backlash in the fandom. She starts out as a soldier that goes rogue and tries to save her sister who gets branded by the gods, effectively making her a target of a social purge.

Lightning was made to look very much like an attempt to make a female Cloud, so that might have something to do with how popular she is. People either love her or hate her to death. She does have her quirks, namely her character design is pretty cool and gameplay. That said, she has been criticized for being cold, bland, and flat, especially for a character who has three games. Whether the hate is mostly just bandwagoning or legitimate dislike for the character/games, I’ll leave that up to you.

One thing we can all agree on though is that she’s a tough and strong leader that would literally fight anything. She’s gone through so much in the last three games that, frankly, is too hard to summarize. Though, the true strength of her character is highlighted when she finally severed the ties between the human souls and the gods, creating a new free world.

2. Noctis Lucis Caelum (Final Fantasy XV)

Coming in as a very close second is FFXV’s main protagonist. While the game is fairly recent, we’ve all been hyped and excited to meet Noctis for a decade now. He’s the crown prince to the kingdom of Lucis and chosen savior of the Crystal. He initially sets out with his friends to Altissia to marry Lunafreya as part of a peace treaty, but it turns into an invasion of Lucis’ capital Insomnia. He and his retinue then set out to collect the weapons of past kings as well as egt the grace of the gods in order to defeat the Niflheim Empire.  

In hindsight, Noctis looks like just another brooding, angsty protagonist like some of the past ones. What we got was a dorky, socially awkward prince who plays video games and fishes way too much. But if we’re being honest, a lot of people actually love how he turned out. Sure, some still want the darker and edgier Noct of 2006, but a considerable amount of people say that he’s more relatable person now.

They may call this game a glorified road trip, but Noct and his bros face a lot of action. Outside the main story, he’s fought a literally mountain-sized monster and ancient daemons. In the main story, he’s fought some of Final Fantasy’s favorite summons (who are considered gods in FFXV) and saved the planet from eternal darkness.

1. Cloud Strife (Final Fantasy VII)

Strong and similar characters l have come and gone, but Cloud remains the most popular Final Fantasy character. Some may have marketing and publicity to back them up, but Cloud has the support of old gamers and sentimentality on his side. He’s both the hero and face of FFVII (and for a time, the face of Final Fantasy). The game is all about his journey to stop Sephiroth from summoning the meteor that threatens the planet.

I truly believe that Cloud’s popularity is the product of all the right pieces falling into place at the right time. FFVII was a groundbreaking game at the time that introduced a fun gameplay that was distinct for its time. He was also a well-developed character with a complex backstory and a design that just commands your attention. Plus, the trend before was on dark and mysterious characters. There’s also all those game elements associated with him like his signature move, the Omnislash, and the strongest in-game summon, the Knights of the Round.

We can’t put it all to marketing, though. He’s gone through emotional trauma, experimentation, and an identity crisis, all of which give him a wide range of emotions across the various games and the movie. There’s all that along with having to fight a super soldier bent summoning an alien force to destroy the planet.

Is he the best FF character there is? Arguably, no. But here’s a guy whose game has an anime, movie, prequels, sequels, and whole bunch of other games with it, so his name is going to keep coming up when we’re talking about Final Fantasy

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Born from anime and raised by RPGs, I've probably spent way too much time geeking out in fandoms. Might as well take it a step up and make a living out of it!
Gamer Since: 2005
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Final Fantasy XV
Top 3 Favorite Games:Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward, Sid Meier's Civilization V,
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