The higher the numbers go in Final Fantasy, the more advanced the storytelling gets. Games like the original entry up until the fifth do not have as memorable of stories due to hardware limitation. One could only do so much on the NES and SNES. More specifically, they didn’t have really memorable villains.
Contrary to that, these early games do have some of the most powerful villains if one digs into the lore and analyzes just exactly what they are bringing to the table. More modern games may have better villains but are less powerful. It’s a balancing act Square Enix has struggled with for years, but from main entries to spinoffs, it is hard to argue with the results.
10 Kefka Palazzo (Final Fantasy VI)
By the end of the game, Kefka becomes a god. He becomes kind of a tower of a god really as players work their way up his monstrous body. Even though he becomes the magic deity of power at the end of the day he is, and was, just a man. He accomplished a lot but ultimately failed in the end besides leaving players with the memory of his infectious laugh.
9 Ultima (Final Fantasy Tactics)
Ultima, also referred to as Altima depending on the version, is another godlike entity. It is known as the Angel of Blood which is as menacing as it sounds. It does not have a body of its own though, making it weaker.
Ultima instead had to borrow Ramza’s sister, Alma, in order to become somewhat whole again. Even that wasn’t enough for this leader of demons to regain true power, ending in its defeat.
8 The Emperor (Final Fantasy II)
The Emperor began as just another maniacal ruler of a fantasy land. In this case, it was Palamecia. This was enough for a while in order to wage war, but he demanded more. Eventually, he died, but by splitting his soul in two, he was able to be resurrected as the ruler of both the heavens and the underworld. Even though he is defeated again at the end of the game, he should be commended for having come back at least once.
7 Exdeath (Final Fantasy V)
Exdeath is a being that would seemingly fit in with the world of The Happening. That is to say, he is part tree, part wizard. No one knows what he truly looks like under his armor but that is not important. His lust for revenge was so powerful that he was able to fuse nature and mankind together. His bloodlust to turn the universe into a void ultimately failed, but not before doing some damage to this game’s world at the same time.
6 Cloud Of Darkness (Final Fantasy III)
The Cloud of Darkness was not at first referred to as a woman but more of an androgynous it. In re-releases of this game, Square Enix decided to have this entity become a female villain which is nice considering most arch villains in Final Fantasy are males. Be it woman, man, or it, the important thing to remember is that the Cloud of Darkness is basically a universal judge. It appears in the game to bring balance to light and darkness, which meant rebooting the world in the process. Having the power to reset things to nothing would have been quite the accomplishment.
5 Ultimecia (Final Fantasy VIII)
Another female villain is Ultimecia from Final Fantasy VIII. This was a big reveal in that the previous witch, Edea, was shown to have been a mere puppet. In fact, all of the characters in the game were puppets, in some sense, with many of them losing their memories. Ultimecia is essentially a time witch.
She wanted to compress time and space in order to bring balance to the world, which is something quite cliche by this point. Time, at least, is a different substance to do this with. Her powers may not have seen what one would call strong, but her true ability was the aforementioned puppeteering from behind the scenes.
4 Chaos (Final Fantasy I)
“But I will be reborn once more. So even as you die, again and again, I shall return. Born again in this endless cycle I have created!”
That was a fitting description from the mouth of Chaos itself from the first Final Fantasy. Chaos is formed when Garland fuses himself with the Four Fiends, thus creating a godlike entity promising to return even in defeat. It is the embodiment of chaos as a concept. Unfortunately for Chaos, another constant in fiction is light, and the Four Light Warriors were there to save the day.
3 Yu Yevon (Final Fantasy X)
“He who crafts the souls of the dead into unholy armor. An armor called Sin. Clad in it, Yu Yevon is invincible.” That is another quote that is as good a way to describe Yu Yevon via Grand Maester Mika as possible. Its true form outside of this shell looks like a little ball of energy with spider legs. Chaos says he will return but never does or at least to the knowledge of the heroes in Final Fantasy. Based on Final Fantasy X lore though, Sin does come back many times to wreak havoc until Tidus and everyone else finally figure out a way to stop the endless cycle of destruction.
2 Sephiroth (Final Fantasy VII)
Even more so than Chaos, or Sin/Yu Yevon, Sephiroth is a villain shown in games to be timeless. It goes above lore because as of right now, across all games and adaptations of Final Fantasy VII, Sephiroth has come back four times. He is first defeated by Cloud, frozen, and presumed dead, but comes back via clones before his real body also awakens.
That’s twice in one game. Then, in Advent Children, he does this clone switcheroo again with the triplets. Most recently he appears seemingly from another dimension or time period in the remake of Final Fantasy VII. Can Sephiroth never die?
1 Xehanort (Kingdom Hearts)
Technically, Xehanort counts because Kingdom Hearts is a spinoff of Final Fantasy. He has a similar history in the lore as Sephiroth in that no matter how many times he dies he always comes back. That’s because he does a Horcrux-like split of his heart and not only puts it in other people to eventually take them over, but across time and space as well. Even though he is defeated in what should be the finale of Kingdom Hearts III, one shouldn’t discount his planning yet.