The Final Fantasy games have earned a reputation for having hard to follow stories (though not quite as bad as their cousins in the Kingdom Hearts series). There are a few reasons for this. The villains have often had confusing motivations (if they have any motivation at all), the games might not explain their backstory properly (or have hidden them so far in the background that they are easy to miss). It is even possible for the story to surprise the player with a twist that is unsatisfying.
It is the bad plot twists that do the most damage to the Final Fantasy games. A poorly defined villain can be made up for with some excellent boss battles. We have an entire Internet’s worth of Wikis and websites that can explain the minutia of a story that may have been missed. The bad plot twist is what players tend to remember. It’s the moment they frown at their TV screen while regretting the amount of money they just spent on the latest Final Fantasy.
We are here today to shame the worst Final Fantasy plot twists. From the cat who ruined everything to the Japanese musician who ruined everything again.
Here are the 15 Worst Final Fantasy Plot Twists!
15. FF7 – Cait Sith Is The (Obnoxious) Traitor
Final Fantasy VII is often regarded as the best game in the series. Nothing is perfect, however, and in Final Fantasy VII‘s case, the thing holding the game back is a particularly stupid looking party member.
The cast of Final Fantasy is composed of cool looking characters… except for Cait Sith. He looks like a big pink marshmallow with a cat on top. The vast majority of players will kick him straight out of the party at the first chance they get and do their best to pretend he isn’t there during cutscenes.
Cait Sith’s biggest problem is the reveal that he has been betraying the party the whole time. When you meet him in the Gold Saucer, he tags along with the party and refuses to leave. This is despite the fact that the cast is made up of wanted terrorists, who are being hunted by the world’s biggest corporation. They just let this animatronic dummy join the crew without question. One must also wonder why Shinra’s plan of infiltrating the AVALANCHE gang involved a Five Nights at Freddy’s reject, who is welcomed into the party for no other reason than the plot demands it.
It wasn’t enough that Cait Sith ruined Final Fantasy VII. When they brought him back for Advent Children, he had an annoying Scottish accent. God help us all when we have to listen to that in the Final Fantasy VII Remake.
14. FF1 – The Time Loop
When the original Final Fantasy was released, video games weren’t known for having complex stories. Most games were lucky if they had a story at all. The demands on the small amount of memory that was available meant that many games had to leave their story in the manual.
Final Fantasy managed to not only include a story, but a needlessly complex plot twist to boot.
At the beginning of the game, the first boss you will fight is an evil knight named Garland. You then go out into the world to defeat the four Elemental Fiends, that are corrupting the land. At the end of the game, it is revealed that the Fiends sent a dying Garland back in time. Garland then sent the Fiends from the past into the present. Garland transforms into the demon known as Chaos. When the main characters defeat Chaos, they are sent back to the present day. They have stopped Garland’s time travelling shenanigans, but no one remembers their accomplishments.
13. FF6 – Locke’s Dead Girlfriend
Locke Cole is one of the most popular characters in Final Fantasy VI. He is one of the principle influences on Terra Bradford, who knows little about the world after she is freed from Kefka’s control. You even get to play as Locke during a segment early on in the game, where he has to strip the clothes from soldiers in order to use their uniform as a disguise. Locke is all about hunting treasure and going on adventures, yet he still finds time to help out the Returners and defy the Empire.
When you reach the World of Ruin segment of the game, Locke’s true motivations are revealed. He once had a girlfriend named Rachel, who was killed by the Empire during an attack. Locke had her corpse embalmed by a herbalist so that her body will remain in pristine condition. His goal throughout the game was to find a way to revive her, which he does (briefly) through the aid of the Phoenix magicite.
12. FF4 – The Lunarians
Final Fantasy IV was the first game in the series to introduce space travel. The player is given the Lunar Whale by the Elder of Mysidia. This is a huge spaceship that is shaped like a whale, that allows the party to travel to the moon. For most of the game, Final Fantasy IV uses a standard fantasy setting. You have knights & monsters, magic & summons and dwarves & ninjas. You are trying to save crystals from being destroyed by four elemental demons, which is the default story for the early Final Fantasy games.
It is eventually revealed that aliens have been behind everything. There is a race of moon aliens, called the Lunarians, who are responsible for planting the crystals on Earth. The main character (Cecil) and the villain (Golbez) are half Lunarian, as well as brothers. The villain is a Lunarian who wants to take over the world and the final new party member who joins the team is a Lunarian wizard.
11. FF9 – Necron Who?
Final Fantasy IX has one of the best villains in the series. Kuja is a refined court wizard, who has been manipulating Queen Brahne into starting a continent-wide war in order to further his own ends. Kuja is one of the most powerful characters in the series. He takes a full hit from Bahamut and survives, with only a slight cut to the head. Once he learns how to use Trance mode, he destroys the world of Terra with a barrage of Ultima spells.
You face Kuja for the final time in Memoria. After an epic fight, Kuja falls to the ground and… the game pulls a Far Cry 3. The awesome villain is replaced at the last second by some new guy, named Necron.
Necron is given almost no motivation or backstory. He is just a big monster that you have to kill for no reason other than the fact that he shows up and kind of looks like a final boss. The interesting villain who you chased and battled throughout most of the game is shoved to the side at the last second.
10. FF2 – The Ruler Of Heaven & Hell
Unless you live in a world where resurrections are cheap and easy (like a Dungeons & Dragons campaign or Dragon Ball Z), then dying should never be the mid-point of a multi-stage plan.
From the very beginning of Final Fantasy II, you are constantly battling against the forces of the evil Emperor Mateus. The main characters join a resistance movement in order to oppose him, and they defy his plans at every turn. Once the party invades the Emperor’s moving fortress (the Cyclone), they face him in a boss battle. With the Emperor dead, it’s time for everyone to go home and party!
Not so fast! It turns out that the Emperor planned to die so that he could go to Hell, kill the devil and become the new king of the Underworld. The party then has to go to Hell and kill the Emperor again.
This is made even more complicated in the Dawn of Souls remake of the game. Not only has Mateus taken over Hell, but he split his soul in two and sent the other half to Heaven. The Emperor took over Heaven and it is up to the party members who died during the course of the game to stop him.
9. FF8 – Saved By The Spaceship
Final Fantasy VIII was always promised to be a love story between two characters (something that hadn’t been done in the series up to that point). The two lovebirds would turn out to be Squall Leonhart and Rinoa Heartily. Once the player defeats the Sorceress Edea, Rinoa is forced into a coma. Squall desperately seeks a way to revive her. This leads to him taking Rinoa to a base in outer space. It turns out that Rinoa has been possessed by a Sorceress from the future and she frees another Sorceress who has been imprisoned in space. Rinoa is left to die, while floating in the void of space, with only a dwindling supply of oxygen keeping her alive.
Squall puts on a spacesuit and goes out to intercept Rinoa before she disappears into the void. The two embrace in the darkness outside of their world, knowing that this was going to be their last few moments alive. The two of them were going to die together in one last moment of doomed romance…
8. FF4TAY – God And The Nintendo Era
Final Fantasy IV is one of the most popular games in the series in Japan (behind only VII and X). It is because of this that the game would receive a sequel in 2008. Final Fantasy IV: The After Years was set seventeen years after the original. It featured older versions of the original characters, as they faced a new threat alongside their children and students.
The villain of Final Fantasy IV: The After Years is revealed to be a godlike being, called the Creator. He is the last survivor of a species that travelled around in spaceship-like moons. They planted crystals on planets in order to speed up the evolutionary process. If a world was found to be lacking, then the crystals would be reclaimed and all life on the planet would be wiped out.
As you travel through the Creator’s moonbase, you will find numerous crystals that are guarded by bosses from the first six Final Fantasy games. This implies that the Creator was not only responsible for life on those worlds, but that he went back and exterminated them all.
7. FF9 – Zidane The Alien
Vivi from Final Fantasy IX has one of the most heartbreaking stories of any character in the series. While he appears to be a standard Black Mage on the outside, Vivi is actually an artificial lifeform that was bred for war. He is the prototype of a slave race of Black Mages, that were used to wage war against neighbouring nations. Throughout the game, Vivi questions his own existence. Why is he different? What purpose does he serve? These questions become even more important when Vivi learns that his species was not designed to last long. Vivi may only have a few years to live. Despite his mortality, he decides to spend his remaining time on a quest to save the world.
Vivi’s story is one of the best parts of the game… which might be the reason that they tried to copy it with Zidane.
Zidane is the main character in Final Fantasy IX. He is a happy-go-lucky thief, who spends most of the game trying to seduce a beautiful princess. It is revealed that Zidane is actually a member of an artificial race known as the Genomes. These are soulless automatons that were created to harbour the spirits of a long dead race. When Zidane discovers this, it causes him to question the meaning of his existence.
6. FFD012 – Cid The Schemer
With so many classic characters within the franchise, it was only a matter of time until we saw a Final Fantasy fighting game. In 2008, Dissidia Final Fantasy was released for the PlayStation Portable. It featured heroes & villains from across the series, as they battled it out across time and space.
Dissidia Final Fantasy features some of the best two-player fighting action in the whole fighting game genre. While the gameplay is top notch, the same cannot be said about the story. The plot of the game reads like fanfiction, which is essentially what it is.
The story got even worse in the sequel, Dissidia 012. It is revealed that the Cid from the first Final Fantasy (who wasn’t even in the original game but was added in the remakes), is actually one of the most important beings in creation. He was responsible for creating Chaos and Cosmos (the two main gods of the setting) and he formed a pact with Shinryu (an optional boss from Final Fantasy V) that forced the existence of an endless cycle of war. Cosmos and Chaos would summon warriors from the other Final Fantasy games to act as their pawns and soldiers in an endless battle.
This is a prime example of Square Enix creating a needlessly complex story. Why not just have all the characters be toys (like in Smash Bros.) or have them attend a tournament that M. Bison is hosting?
5. FF6 – The Bandana Bird
Final Fantasy VI has one of the best twists in all of gaming. At around the halfway point of the game, Kefka casts down the Emperor and becomes the God of magic. He turns the planet into a hellish place, known as the World of Ruin. Life slowly begins to die out, as ancient monsters are freed from beneath the ground and stalk the land once more.
As the world changes, the role of the main character switches to Celes Chere. She falls into a coma after being injured during the party’s escape from the Floating Continent. Celes awakens on an island, just over a year later. She is being cared for by Cid, who has fallen ill himself.
Technically, the upcoming plot twist is optional. If you save Cid’s life, then Celes will escape from the island without incident. Unless you are using a strategy guide, however, then chances are you won’t know how to save Cid. Once Cid dies, Celes decides to leap from a cliff into the ocean, in order to take her own life. She washes up ashore, where she finds a wounded bird… who just happens to have an injury that is wrapped in a bandana that looks like Locke’s.
It is never revealed whether it was actually Locke who helped the bird, but it is a pretty astronomical coincidence that it happened to land on that island, at the exact moment that Celes needed something to convince her that her friends are still alive.
4. Lightning Returns – Back To Earth
We aren’t going to bother explaining the story of Final Fantasy XIII. The game didn’t, so why should we?
The biggest problem of the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy is that the games never took the time to actually explain anything that was happening. You were expected to just know what things like the Fal’Cie and L’Cie are, as well as the conflict between the worlds of Gran Pulse and Cocoon. The only way to know what was going on was to read reams and reams of written information in the game’s datalog.
When Lightning Returns draws to a close, it is revealed that the old world is ending and that all of the characters are going to be reborn on a new planet. This new world was shown to be… our world. The annoying cast of Final Fantasy XIII is revealed to be hanging out in France. Let’s hope they stay there.
3. FF10 – Tidus Is Dreamy
While he might be annoying at times, Tidus serves a very useful function as the lead character of Final Fantasy X. He is a man who has been displaced from time. As a character who is unfamiliar with his surroundings, it means that other characters will explain new and unusual concepts to him (and the player).
It is revealed that Tidus is not actually a real person. Rather, he is a dream of the Fayth made real. The Fayth are people who had their souls sealed within statues so that their power could linger on in the world. Tidus was created from their imagination and made real so that he could destroy Sin (the villain of the game) once and for all.
This explanation is made even more confusing in the sequel. The villain of Final Fantasy X-2 is the ghost of a man named Shuyin, who looks just like Tidus. Does this mean that Tidus is the flawed memory of a real person who did actually exist?
2. FF8 – The Orphans
There are fans of Final Fantasy VIII who believe in something called the “Squall is dead” theory. This theory suggests that Squall is killed by Edea at the end of disc 1 and that the reason the story becomes crazier from that point on is because it is the dream of a dying man.
One of the main reasons people believe this theory is due to a stupid plot twist that happens later in the game. Once Edea is defeated, it is revealed that almost all of the main characters were raised in the same orphanage. The orphanage was owned by Edea (the villain for the first part of the game) and Cid (the headmaster of the school they all attend). The reason they all forgot is because the Guardian Forces (the summon monsters) have been erasing their memories. The characters never questioned the fact that they had no memories of their time before they joined SeeD.
What makes this even worse is the fact that one of the characters was sent to a different school and kept his memories. When he reunites with the people he grew up with, he never mentions their shared background. This twist makes no sense and adds nothing to the story.
1. FF7 – Genesis The Mary Sue
Chances are, you have never heard of a musician named Gackt (unless you happen to be into Japanese music). He is a big star in Japan and has been releasing hit songs & albums since the ’00s.
Outside of his music, Gackt is best known as the man who ruined Final Fantasy VII.
In the secret ending of Dirge of Cerberus -Final Fantasy VII-, it is revealed that a mysterious man named Genesis is preparing to make his move. Genesis’ appearance is based on the likeness of Gackt (who had recorded the theme song for the game).
The story of Genesis is revealed in Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-. He was one of the original members of SOLDIER and he had Jenova cells implanted within him. It is revealed that Genesis is as strong as Sephiroth and that he can create his own army of clones. It was Genesis who convinced Sephiroth to look into his own past, which begins Sephiroth’s descent into madness. When Zack kills him, Genesis is brought back to life by a goddess named Minerva who lives in the lifestream. Why? It’s because Genesis is just too amazing to stay dead. No one else who dies in the series (like Aerith) received this free resurrection.
This unnecessary insertion of Genesis into the story of Final Fantasy VII has been criticised by fans as nothing more than sucking up to Gackt. It remains to be seen whether his influence in the story will be brought up in the upcoming Final Fantasy VII Remake.