They say a hero is only as good as its villain and in the case of the Final Fantasy franchise, they are a lot of both to choose from.
Most role-playing games are known for their roster of ogres, dragons, goblins, and other fantastical creatures, but since the series debuted in 1987, Final Fantasy has produced a number of monsters and villains that have become fan favorites over the years. In fact, some have become so iconic within the Final Fantasy series that fans consider it an absolute necessity to include them in every installment.
From random monster encounters to memorable sub-bosses, to the major antagonists, Final Fantasy’s collection of enemies not only represent obstacles that our heroes must overcome, but also pivotal components that have made the game a favorite over the years.
Here’s is a list of some of the best Final Fantasy monsters and villains that have stood the test of time.
In the culinary world, Flan is a delicious custard commonly served as a dessert in Spain and Latin America. But in the Final Fantasy world, Flan is a malevolent gelatinous creature, commonly served as a random enemy encounter. No word on its taste, but it’s probably safe to say no one is bringing this vicious villain to any company potlucks.
Flan has been featured in just about every Final Fantasy game, and in earlier iterations, can go by any number of tasty names such as Jelly, Mousse, or Bavarois. Although they tend to be weaker creatures, they can become quite the hassle if your mages are out of MP.
Flans are typically resistant to physical harm, rendering swords and daggers relatively useless. Still, they are often rather susceptible to magic and can be handily dealt with the right spell. A flan’s color commonly gives away their specific strengths and weaknesses. A red flan is generally a master if fire magic, but will almost certainly be weak to a well-placed ice spell.
Bombs are also a popular recurring monster in the Final Fantasy series stretching back as early as Final Fantasy II. They kind of resemble a Jack O’ Lantern that has been doused with gasoline and set on fire.
Bombs are generally weaker enemies, but with one caveat. Like their name suggests, Bombs are combustible, using their dreaded Self-Destruct attack to blow your party to smithereens if they wait around too long. Failing to defeat a Bomb in time may cause it to self-destruct, resulting in huge damage to a party member. Luckily a Bomb won’t attempt this maneuver unless it’s low on HP or has been hit too many times.
Still, a Bomb isn’t completely helpless without its Self-Destruct attack. Bombs are also capable of biting and hitting your party before going off. Also, most Bombs are fire-based creatures, allowing them to absorb fire damage as well as cast fire spells.
Malboro might sound like a generic brand of cigarette, but they’re not. Still, they can prove to be just as bad for your health, if not far more dangerous. Malboros look like they came from the deepest, darkest recesses of your nightmares. If they were a character in Stranger Things, they would be from the bad part of the Upside Down that even Demogorgons refuse to hang out in.
Malboros rank as one of the more difficult common enemies in the Final Fantasy series because of their dreaded Bad Breath attack. Although Bad Breath won’t immediately kill a party member, it will inflict a number of status ailments that completely immobilize a character. In the event that your party is hit hard by Bad Breath, you might as well just put the controller down and wait it out while a Malboro chomps away at you like Guy Fieri in a greasy spoon as your hero slowly withers away.
Not all of the Final Fantasy creatures look like they were born from the lower reaches of Hell. Some of them are actually quite cute. Case in point, the Tonberry. Tonberries look like adorable little serial killers, with their laughably oversized hoodies and their murderous kitchen knives. If Michael Myers was re-envisioned as a cast member of The Muppet Show, Tonberry would be him. They have also gone by the equally adorable name Pug and the oddly scatological moniker Dinglberry.
Tonberries made their first appearance in Final Fantasy V and since then have become a mainstay within the Final Fantasy series. Despite their small stature, Tonberries can pack quite the wallop. As these lovable lizards hobble toward you on the battlefield, any damage to them can be redirected back at the attacker with attacks such as Karma or Counter. But the most menacing attack a Tonberry can deliver is from its signature Chef’s Knife. If you let a Tonberry get too close to you, a poke from this killer piece of kitchen cutlery will deal massive damage to a character, or just outright drop them in one hit.
Cactaurs might look like a souvenir you would find in an Arizona airport, but these prickly powerhouses are nothing to scoff at. Like their name suggests, Cactuars are basically anthropomorphized little cacti that are often found in desert regions within the Final Fantasy series.
Cactuars made their first appearance in Final Fantasy VI and were designed by famed Final Fantasy game designer and director, Tetsuya Nomura. Nomura started his career working on Final Fantasy IV, eventually rising to the ranks of main character designer for Final Fantasy VII. He based the creatures off of an old high school doodle he found on a notebook.
Cactuars’ most popular maneuver is the 1000 Needles attack, which is exactly what it sounds like. When provoked, a Cactuar will fire a barrage of needles that ignore armor and are completely unblockable. No matter what the conditions, 1000 Needles will inflict 1000 damage upon a player.
With the exception of maybe dragons, Behemoths are just about the strongest regular monsters you’re likely to encounter in the Final Fantasy series. Behemoths are essentially what happens if someone were to inject copious amounts of growth hormone into those weird dog-like creatures that hang out with Zool from the original Ghostbusters. Behemoths made their first appearance in Final Fantasy II, but concept art from the original Final Fantasy exists showing a behemoth battling one of the Warriors of Light.
Although most games feature Behemoths as four-legged creatures, some games have shown bipedal Behemoths that can also appear to wield weapons as well.
Aside from possessing massive physical strength, Behemoths are also pretty adept at casting high-level spells. Behemoths have been known to counter spell users with powerful Flare and Meteor spells in retaliation. Sometimes a Behemoth will also cast Meteor on the party as the ultimate Dead Man’s Switch.
Ultros is a misogynistic purple octopus who spends much of his time objectifying female characters and causing mischief for the heroes of Final Fantasy VI. He is an odd enemy that you encounter repeatedly throughout Final Fantasy VI and generally acts as a comedic relief. Ultros’ motivations aren’t quite clear. He seems to just like to be a nuisance overall, trying out his comedic routine while making life hell for all those around him.
Ultros is not all fun and games, though; he remarks on several occasions that he has a taste for human flesh and looks to devour members of your party. He has only one friend in the world– a large purple floating creature called Typhon, or Mr. Typhon as Ultros respectfully refers to him. Typhon is a frightening mass of magenta flesh with faces on both its front and its rear. Typhon acts as Ultros’ hired muscle, blowing members of your party out of the battle with his Snort attack.
9. Magus Sisters
The Magus Sisters are a recurring group of characters in the Final Fantasy series who would also make a good title for a fantasy-based CW sitcom. The sisters consist of Cindy, Mindy, and Sandy. All three of them are highly capable mages who attack using a special strategy of their own design called The Delta Attack. The Delta Attack consists of Sandy casting reflect on Cindy, with Mindy bouncing attack spells off Cindy and at your party. Furthermore, if any of the other sisters are killed off, Cindy will cast Revive, bringing them back into the fray. As a result, it’s wise to attack Cindy first, to break the ranks of this three-pronged Phalanx.
The Magus Sisters made their first appearance famously in Final Fantasy IV at the top of The Tower of Zot where the chatty trio taunts Cecil and his party as they attack. The sisters make a return in Final Fantasy X as aeons who wear insect armor resembling a praying mantis, ladybug, and wasp. The sisters can also be summoned, where they will perform their signature Delta Attack on your enemies.
To date, Gilgamesh has made more Final Fantasy appearances than any other character in the series. Although initially introduced as a villain, Gilgamesh has also appeared as an ally and summon as well. His role in the series is that of a comical buffoon with a serious hobby for collecting rare and powerful weapons. He was first seen in Final Fantasy V where he mistakenly believed he had acquired the holy knight sword, Excalibur, only to find out it was a complete forgery. For his incompetence, he was banished by ExDeath.
In the subsequent titles in the Final Fantasy series, Gilgamesh will often make an appearance when the player attempts to acquire rare blades. In the Game Boy Advance version of Final Fantasy VI, Gilgamesh challenges your party to a battle for the fake weapon Excalipoor.
In Final Fantasy VIII, he shows up to steal the legendary sword of Odin, Zantetsuken, after the god’s battle with Seifer.
7. Ultima Weapon
The Ultima Weapon, also known as the Atma Weapon, has the unique pleasure within the Final Fantasy series of being not only one of the strongest weapons in the series but also one of the most powerful bosses. To acquire the Ultima Weapon, you must sometimes take on its physical form, which can range from a humanoid-like dragon to a large beast similar to the Behemoth. The creature is normally described as a biomechanical creation of ancient origins.
The Ultima Weapon made its first appearance in Final Fantasy VI. It was a created during the War of the Magi and is encountered on the Floating Continent.
In Final Fantasy VII the beast makes a return as the “Ultimate Weapon”, one of the five Weapons awakened by Sephiroth. Upon defeating the creature, you receive Cloud’s most powerful weapon, the Ultima Weapon. Since then the Ultima Weapon has made appearances in Final Fantasy VII, X, XI, and XIV.
Bahamut isn’t exactly a villain in most games, but if you plan on asking him for help, prepare for the fight of your life!
Bahamut is also known as The Dragon King and has a history that stretches back as far as the original Final Fantasy for the Nintendo Entertainment System. In the original, Bahamut promotes your characters to bigger, badder jobs provided you give him a Rat’s Tail, because dragons are apparently really into taxidermy.
It wasn’t until summoners were added to the series in Final Fantasy III, that Bahamut could be summoned, though not without a test administered through combat.
Bahamut is no ordinary fire-breathing dragon. He possesses a powerful attack known as the Mega Flare which inflicts heavy, non-elemental damage upon your party which ignores defense and evasion. Because he’s a nice guy, Bahamut will often provide a countdown before unleashing this nuclear holocaust on your party.
When Judges were first introduced in Final Fantasy Tactics, they played a major role in how battles operated. As the official upholders of the law in the world of Ivalice, Judges guarantee there’s no funny business to be had during battles. But this being the world of Final Fantasy, Judges aren’t merely a form of soccer referee. For characters who don’t actually participate in the battles, Judges come armed to the teeth in the Tactics franchise. Wearing heavy, ornate full body armor and riding armored chocobos, Judges represent the perfect example of the hazards of an overreaching police state.
It was a good thing that judges weren’t combatants in the world of Final Fantasy Tactics, but that all changed with the release of Final Fantasy XII. Like Final Fantasy Tactics, Final Fantasy XII takes place in the world of Ivalice. In this world, the Archadian Empire rules with an iron fist and the Archadian Judges are the Judge Dredds of the world, acting as judge, jury, and executioner. Judges in Final fantasy XII act as the principal villains in the story and along with their incredible amount of legal power, they also are armed to the teeth with the strongest weapons and spells.
Sin acts as the major antagonist in the world of Final Fantasy X. Sin is a giant whale-like creature with incredible destructive abilities. Like Godzilla, Sin can level entire cities with its size and power. Sin is also a lot like the monster from Cloverfield, in that it can shed off tinier creatures known as Sinscales which can wreak more havoc on a smaller scale. In Final Fantasy X, the people believe that Sin was created to punish them for their reliance on technology which they call Machina.
Sin was created by Final Fantasy X producer Yoshinori Kitase, who also famously directed other Final Fantasy titles such as VI, VII, and VIII. Kitase wanted a character that represented natural disasters, saying, “He brings disaster and sadness to the world. And, Spira resides right next to death.”
Sin made a return in an audio drama written for Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster. The story takes place a year after the events of Final Fantasy X-2 and involves the same characters from Final Fantasy X as they must deal with the return of Sin.
Garland is the first boss you ever fight in the Final Fantasy series. In the original Final Fantasy, Garland is a knight from Cornelia who betrays his kingdom by stealing Princess Sarah and holding her hostage in the Chaos Shrine. When the Warriors of Light finally defeat Garland you find that this was just the beginning of his plan. Garland manages to send himself to the past, creating the Four Fiends, who in turn attack the world in the present. When the fiends are defeated, the Warriors of Light travel to the past to find that Garland has become the god Chaos.
A different version of Garland can be found in Final Fantasy IX. Instead of a powerful knight, Garland appears as a feeble old man. Later in the game, it is revealed that Garland is actually an android created thousands of years ago programmed with the mission to continue the survival of the Terrans.
Kefka is arguably neck and neck as one of the most popular villains in the Final Fantasy series with our number one entry. As the main villain in Final Fantasy VI, Kefka is to Final Fantasy what the Joker is to the Batman franchise. His dark sense of humor is further shown in his appearance, which is a cross between a court jester and opulent aristocrat. Behind the makeup lies a true sociopath hell-bent on destroying everything in existence. His short temper and destructive behavior are in contrast to the dark and calculating personalities of other famous Final Fantasy villains.
Kefka is the prototype of the Magitek Knight program created by the Gestahlian Empire. As such, he is a powerful mage. As Kefka begins to absorb the powers of the Espers, he grows considerably in power. Upon arriving in Thamasa, he shows the ability to project illusions. By the end of the game, Kefka can be shown moving objects with his mind to construct a tower. In his final form, Kefka can use the spell Forsaken, also known as Goner, which has the most powerful magical output of any spell in the game, including Ultima.
Of all the villains in the Final Fantasy series, few are as badass as Sephiroth. His popularity is so renowned that he has made a number of appearances in other Square Enix games such as Kingdom Hearts and Ehrgeiz: God Bless the Ring.
Sephiroth made his first appearance as the main antagonist in Final Fantasy VII. In the game, he is the biggest success of Shinra’s SOLDIER program, showing unparalleled poise and strength in battle. Because of his success, he is revered among other members of SOLDIER and becomes something of a legend, before completely losing it.
Sephiroth was designed by Tetsuya Nomura, who also designed our #12 selection. His name stems from the Hebrew word Sephirot, which are described in the Kabbalah as God’s physical manifestations. In terms of his rivalry with Cloud Strife, Nomura wanted to recall the legendary battle between the famed Japanese swordsmen Miyamoto Mushashi and Sasaki Kojiro.
Sephiroth’s most notable feature, aside from his flowing white hair, has to be his ridiculously oversized katana, Masamune. This eight-foot-long blade is named after Japan’s greatest swordsmith, Masamune Okazaki.
Sephiroth has taken on many different forms throughout the years. Aside from his traditional humanoid shape, Sephiroth can also be seen sporting a single wing on his right side, symbolizing his fall from grace. By the end of the game, Sephiroth takes the form of Safer Sephiroth, who is even more angelic in design, with multiple wings covering his body and a single black wing as his right arm.