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The Main Party
The hero of the game. Firion is a youth from Fynn, who flees it as the Empire lays siege to and occupies it. Together with his adopted family Maria and Guy, they manage to make it to Altair, the base of the Wild Rose Rebellion, headed by the princess of Fynn. They convince her to allow them to join, and together they work to defeat the Empire, take back Fynn, and save the world. Firion appears along with the Emperor in the Dissidia: Final Fantasy series and appears as a player character in the Spin-Off Theatrhythm Final Fantasy.
- Ambiguously Brown: Together with Minwu, the first such characters in the series, and so far the only hero.
- Badasses Wear Bandanas: His signature. He may be a Socially-Awkward Hero but he single handedly spearheads the rebellion to victory.
- Bishōnen: He's a Final Fantasy hero. What did you expect?
- Brown Eyes: Firion fits the down-to-earth and humble meanings of the trope—besides, this is simply rare for Squeenix..
- Conveniently an Orphan: Even before his adoptive parents died in the siege of Fynn, he was already orphaned. Precisely why this is convenient is explained in Maria's section (see Not Blood Siblings).
- Covert Pervert: Old manuals reveal that he apparently has a weakness for "feminine charms". No kidding.
- Dark-Skinned Blond: Silvery hair, not blond, but the overall effect is much the same.
- Depending on the Artist: Interesting, in that this is a one-artist variation on the trope — Yoshitaka Amano drew Firion quite differently from picture to picture, to the point where a lot of official art of the character has to be labeled as such in order to be recognizable as Firion. His face and his armor would remain the same but he frequently changed his headgear and color scheme.
- Dub Name Change: His Japanese name, フリオニール, Furioniiru, is officially transliterated as Frioniel. This became Firion in English due to character limits, and has remained such likely due to a combination of inertia and euphony.
- Hair Decorations: Oh so very many pretty pretty beads in his hair.
- Happily Adopted: Until his new parents died as well.
- The Hero: The main character of the initial three-man band, and the one who is usually treated as their leader.
- Heroes Prefer Swords: Though he can be trained in the use of all weapons in the game, his initial equip and Infinity+1 Sword are... well, swords.
- Jack-of-All-Stats: Of your initial party, his stats are the most evenly balanced.
- Magnetic Hero: Firion and his siblings constantly find allies willing to aid them.
- Nice Guy: But you'd better Beware the Nice Ones if you plan on attacking his village and killing his friends.
- Official Couple: With Maria in the Japan-only novelization.
- Rummage Sale Reject: His outfit is a mash-up of various types of materials and colors.
- Ship Tease: He seemed pretty willing to oblige Hilda before he realized it was actually the Lamia Queen...
- Short Hair with Tail: Wears his silver hair shot with a thin ponytail.
Voiced by: Noriko Shitaya (Origins opening FMV)
Firion's adopted sister, who fled Fynn with him when the Empire took it. She too joined up with the Wild Rose Rebellion, despite her angst and worry over what has happened to her older brother Leon, as last they knew he was with them, and then he disappeared.
- Action Girl: Eager to join La Résistance and fight for her freedom, she can also be made one gameplay-wise due to the infinite customization of the Stat Grinding system.
- The Archer: Her initial weapon and Infinity Plus One Weapon are both bows.
- Brother-Sister Incest: According to the novelizations of the game, she has an unrequited secret crush on Firion. Fortunately they're Not Blood Siblings.
- The Chick: Only one of the main party, and, with a lot of her focus on her caring about her family, fits as the emotional center.
- The Heart: The most reasonable and compassionate of the party.
- Lady of Black Magic: A kind and composed young lady who has the most Intelligence out of the main party, making her most suited for casting offensive spells.
- Mage Marksman: Can wield a bow in addition to her magic. However, arguably a subversion in that equipping a bow gives a character a very large penalty to magic (specifically, -70 INT/SOUL).
- Ms. Fanservice: In the novels, she has bathing scenes. Illustrated bathing scenes.
- Plucky Girl: No matter what, she will not give up hope.
- Ship Tease: With Firion. The novel has them eventually graduate to Official Couple.
- Squishy Wizard: Her HP is the worst of the initial party, putting her in the back row by default. Fortunately, especially in later remakes, Stat Grinding means she can become more durable, making her last longer.
- Stripperiffic: Very tight clothing, bare back, and there is nothing covering one breast except for half a golden cup.
- Sexy Backless Outfit: Though it's not immediately obvious, her outfit is bare back there.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Indigo to be exact. It varies between versions.
Voiced by: Kenta Miyake (Origins opening FMV)
Firion's best friend and, according to various Japan-only materials, also an adopted brother. Guy was abandoned in the wild as a baby, only being raised by humans from age ten onwards, and as a result is very... well, slow, and quiet. Nonetheless, he has a close bond with Firion, Maria, and Leon, and joins them in their quest to save the world from oppression.
- An Axe to Grind: His initial equip and Infinity Plus One Weapon are both axes.
- Barbarian Hero: If he wore animal hides instead of armor, he'd be a perfect fit.
- Bare Your Midriff: In his Yoshitaka Amano art.
- The Big Guy: Fits it to a tee; no magic but wields big weapons and is physically imposing.
- Combat Medic: Bizarrely, despite being a huge hulk with an axe, his stats for White Magic are quite good.
- The Ditz: A bit harsher and sadder than typical Ditzes, as his lack of mental prowess is due to neglect, not any fault of his own.
- Dub Name Change: Has sometimes been called "Gus" in English translations.
- Dumb Muscle: He's very strong physically, but not very smart.
- Friend to All Living Things: It enables him to speak Beaver, apparently.
- Gonk: Has exaggeratedly hard, masculine facial features and is sometimes shown with exaggeratedly large lips and nose.
- Hair Colors: Brown, and subsequently quite simple.
- Hulk Speak: How he communicates with human beings. Presumably, he's more fluent in the various animal languages.
- Raised by Wolves: Specifically, a beast named Mauza. Not that many Anglophones can figure that out.
- Sleeves Are for Wimps: The sole party member to show off his biceps; befitting for his strength.
- Spell My Name with an "S": An odd Japanese example, the original Famicom instruction booklet spelled his name with a space between both katakana characters. This was removed later on.
- Underwear of Power: In his original art and PSP sprite.
- Wild Child: Was one until kind people in Fynn took him in.
- Younger Than They Look: He's actually the youngest party member at sixteen, but is quite large and... well, craggy.
Maria's older brother (this time, not adopted), who fled Fynn with them when it fell, but vanished along the way. When he turned up again, he was working for The Empire, but all may not be as it seems...
- Aloof Big Brother: To Maria.
- An Axe to Grind: Wields an axe and sword when he rejoins the party.
- The Atoner: After the game, Leon leaves his family behind to go try and find a way to redeem himself for all the evil acts he did in the Empire's service as a Dark Knight.
- Black Knight: First Dark Knight in the series.
- Blade on a Stick: On of his initial equips is a spear, as is his Infinity Plus One Weapon.
- Cain and Abel: The Cain to his adopted family, at first... though interestingly while Firion and Guy would also qualify as Abels, Maria is the best Abel candidate.
- Darth Vader Clone: Secretly a relative of a hero, wears dark armor and leads the Emperor's army, eventually betrays the Emperor and helps the heroes kill him.
- The Dragon: To the Emperor, at first.
- Dragon Ascendant: Subverted. After the Emperor is killed in the Cyclone, Leon crowns himself Emperor, and it falls to the party to confront him and take him out, so clearly, he's the real villain, right? And this was all an elaborate scheme to grab the throne? Maybe so, but sadly, the Emperor is Not Quite Dead yet, and trumps Leon quite soundly.
- Dub Name Change: His Japanese name is レオンハルト, Reonharuto (Leonhart), but he has always been called Leon in English releases due to character limits.
- Easily Forgiven: Firion and Maria are willing to welcome him back, no conditions and no questions asked. However, he can't forgive himself nearly as easily.
- Face–Heel Turn: In the beginning of the game, he joins up with the Empire offscreen after the siege of Fynn.
- Heel–Face Turn: Near the end of the game, after the Emperor shows that he will not go down nearly as easily as they'd hoped.
- Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Played straight. Leon, the mysterious Dark Knight, wears one during his stint as a Heel, but ditches it upon joining the party.
- Heroes Prefer Swords: While his Infinity+1 Sword is, in fact, a spear, the other weapon he dual-wields when joining the party is a sword, and he is usually depicted as wielding one in artwork and FMVs. In the Dawn of Souls version, giving him the Blood Sword in the final battle allows him to do almost 4x the damage that Firion can dish out.
- Magikarp Power: He may start out slightly behind your party in HP, depending on your level grinding, and has only 5 MP and no spells. But he innately has Stamina and Magic in the 30s, and since those two stats determine HP and MP gain, those two stats will quickly shoot up to considerable levels, especially in the 20th Anniversary release where his exclusive Longinus piles another 50 Stamina onto him.
- Multi-Melee Master: Though everyone can train to be the same, he's naturally proficient to some degree with all weapon types when he joins, as well as shields. Axes and swords are his highest followed by spears, but he can just as easily grab a bow or a staff and shield.
- A Sinister Clue: One of many lefties in this game.
- Spell My Name with an "S": Leon is not his original name (see Dub Name Change above), but the lack of an "official" transliteration has led to people calling him Leonhart, Leonhardt, Lionheart, etc.
- The Unfought: A boss fight with him is foreshadowed, but never happens, being interrupted by the Emperor's resurrection and Leon deciding it'd be a good idea to join up with the people against the Emperor now.
- Villainous Widow's Peak: It serves as a clue to his betrayal.
Other Playable Characters
A former soldier of the Palamecian Empire (according to the manual). He lives in the icy mountain town of Salamand, and aids the party after they save the men of his town from being forced into slavery. Sadly, though, he dies after heroically saving the rest of the party from a Death Trap.
- All-Encompassing Mantle: Though it is sometimes drawn as a slightly-less-badass poncho.
- Badass Mustache: He has a nice one.
- Bald of Awesome: You better believe it. He has one of the highest damage outputs in the game.
- Bare-Fisted Monk: So much so that equipping weapons on him at first will actually lower the damage he does. While the PSP release gave him an ultimate weapon in the Arcane Sanctuary, the earlier GBA release took note of his bare-handed proficiency; in Soul of Rebirth where the other three acquire unique weapons, Josef acquires a unique accessory instead.
- Can't Catch Up: He's far and away the most useless character in Soul of Rebirth, unless you've leveled him to compensate.
- Defector from Decadence: Considering that he left the Empire long ago and nowadays has nothing nice to say about it...
- Guest-Star Party Member: Joins for a few dungeons but doesn't stick around.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Saves the party from a giant rolling boulder trap.
- Knife Nut: A result of the game having no "claw" weapons like later games, is that the claw weapons it does have are classified as daggers. Thus, Josef's Dragon Claw is treated as a dagger weapon, though as mentioned he's best barehanded.
- No Pronunciation Guide: It's actually pronounced like "Yosef", not "Joseph."
- Ornamental Weapon: His artwork always has him carry a sword on his back despite being a Bare-Fisted Monk.
- Papa Wolf: It's not smart to threaten Nelly's safety.
- Wolverine Claws: Despite using nothing but his bare hands most of the story, the PSP and iOS versions do give him an Infinity Plus One Weapon in the Dragon Claws.
A prince of the fallen kingdom of Kashuan. Gordon is anxious and has no self-confidence at first, constantly comparing himself to his deceased brother and coming up short. Later, though, he finds strength within himself and grows into a respected leader of the Wild Rose Rebellion.
- Bishounen: Fair features and golden-haired.
- Blade on a Stick: His initial equip and Infinity Plus One Weapon are spears.
- Character Development: Goes from being a pathetic coward to a competent leader of the Rebellion.
- Cowardly Lion: Sure, he's afraid, but he ends up doing remarkably gutsy things despite that.
- Guest-Star Party Member: Joins for a few dungeons but doesn't stick around.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Indicates how he is noble and true despite his self-doubt.
- Jack-of-All-Stats: His initial stats across the board are even — 22 in all stats save HP and MP, level 2 proficiency with all arms.
- Magikarp Power: His initial stats are utterly pathetic, but as with any other character he can train and level up to be perfectly effectively.
- Non-Action Guy: Yes, he is a party member for some time, but he fits the personality type, and does better in a leadership position than actually doing the fighting.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: He braves Kashuan Keep and leads the rebellion.
- Rebel Leader: Co-Leader with Hilda after his Character Development.
- Ship Tease: With Hilda, most notably in the dance scene and his very forceful desire to Save the Princess when she is kidnapped.
- Spare to the Throne: The source of most of his angst.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: If he had more balls of steel, then maybe Josef would've lived rather than be crushed by a giant boulder to save the party!
- Wise Prince: He becomes this at the end after his Character Development.
A pirate captain. She's hired by the party to transport them to an island nation, but she betrays them—however, after the party kicks her and her crew's ass, they wisely change sides and join with the Wild Rose Rebellion.
- Action Girl: Comes with the whole "pirate captain" territory; also she's initially geared as a fighter when she joins your party.
- Big Damn Heroes: Saves Firion's bacon from the Lamia Queen.
- Defeat Means Friendship: After she gets beaten, she happily joins up with the party and is quite friendly.
- Dressed to Plunder: In accordance with standard pirate dress codes.
- Fragile Speedster: Geared towards speed for her initial stats.
- Graceful Loser: She's willing to face the consequences on behalf of her crew after you defeat them. Luckily for her, the party has a much better idea.
- Guest-Star Party Member: Joins for a few dungeons but doesn't stick around.
- Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Her favorite food is "ale".
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: She may be a gruff pirate, but she's far from a bad person.
- Knife Nut: Her initial equip and Infinity Plus One Weapon are daggers.
- Pirate Girl: The Ur-Example for the series.
- Scarf of Asskicking: Has quite a few of them.
- Shock and Awe: Joins the party with a Thunder spell; most other characters besides Minwu have no spells at all.
- The Southpaw: One of many lefties.
- Spell My Name with an "S": Leila, Layla, Reila...
- Stripperiffic: Not as much so as Maria, but miniskirts are hardly ideal pirating clothes.
- Talk Like a Pirate: Yarr, matey.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: How did she escape and survive when the ship was swallowed by Leviathan...?
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Blue or purple, depending on sprite.
White Wizard of Mysidia, and apparent advisor to the Fynn royal court. He is the one who saves Firion and his party, and later fights alongside them in their quest to stop the Empire. He is tragically killed by the magic necessary to undo the seal on Ultima. He appears as a playable sub-character in Theatrhythm Final Fantasy.
- Ambiguously Brown: Fits in with his design being clearly Arabic-influenced.
- Badass Long Robe: Real men wear robes with skirts and kick ass while doing so.
- Bare Your Midriff: In his character art.
- Because Destiny Says So: He uses up all his life energy to break the seal on Ultima, but is surprisingly nonchalant about his own death, saying that it's his destiny.
- Breakout Character: Very popular in Japan, remakes make him the main character of the Soul of Rebirth quest. His popularity in the West has improved with the game's increased exposure, and he's pretty much the game's poster boy alongside Firion. Heck, other games make reference to him more than Firion, even if just as a Mythology Gag than an actual appearance. When Dissidia: Final Fantasy got a sequel, Tetsuya Nomura said his first pick to be in as a new character was Kain. His pick for the arcade reboot? Minwu.
- Court Mage: Hilda's right-hand healer and mystic.
- Crutch Character: When he joins your party, he is amazingly powerful—true, a powerful healer more than a fighter, but still enough to ensure your survival. By the time he departs, everyone else has caught up to his power levels and you'll be fine without him.
- Face Death with Dignity: He believes it is the fate of all who live to someday die, and when his own death comes, he accepts it.
- Guest-Star Party Member: The first one to join at the start of the game, but leaves later on.
- Heroic Sacrifice: To let the party at the legendary White Magic, Ultima, he gives up his life force.
- Magic Wand: His Infinity Plus One Weapons are the Stardust Rod and Staff of Light.
- Man in White: Again, striking against the dark skin, and visual shorthand for his purity, and fitting for a White Wizard to, you know, wear white.
- The Medic: Hands down; he has a powerful Cure spell and lots of other buffing and healing spells.
- Nice Hat: Nice turban, Minwu.
- Spell My Name with an "S": Minwu, Minh, Ming-du, Ming-wu...
- White Mage: He is, as of yet, the only male healer in the franchise. The rest have been female.
The last dragoon of Deist. Ricard finds the party when they are swallowed by Leviathan, and together they break free and he joins their quest to stop the Empire. Dies nobly while covering the party's escape from the newly revived and powered-up Emperor.
- Blade on a Stick: In the original version his Weapon of Choice was actually a sword, but remakes gives him a lance more in line with the series Dragoon class.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: He does not appear in the continuity of the novel.
- Cool Helmet: His helmet is shaped like a dragon's head, and is all kinds of awesome.
- Crutch Character: In Soul of Rebirth, he's practically guaranteed to be the strongest party member in terms of stats and available equipment.
- Dragon Rider: Dragoons wouldn't start Jumping until the next game; here, they are knights who ride wyverns into battle.
- Dub Name Change: Has been renamed Edward and Gareth in several English translations.
- Guest-Star Party Member: The last one to join you; when he goes, Leon rejoins for the end game.
- Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Subverted, he always wears his helmet and is no less heroic for it.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Killed by the Emperor when he raises Pandaemonium, he dies so that the rest of the party can flee.
- Last of His Kind: Sort of, he's the only surviving dragoon warrior of Deist, and apparently one of few people left alive in the place.
- No Last Name Given: Averted, he's one of the few characters in this game to have a last name—Highwind, which would become a recurring surname in the series.
- The Promise: Promises to return to Elina (his best friend's widow) and her son Kain when the war ends so that they can be a family. Unfortunately, he doesn't manage to keep it.
- The Southpaw: Yet another lefty.
- Spell My Name with an "S": His name in Japanese, リチャード, Richaado, is quite clearly meant to be Richard, but character limits mean that in English, he's usually Ricard.
- 24-Hour Armor: This trope gets even more ridiculous when it's shown that Ricard sleeps at an inn still in his armor.
- You Shall Not Pass: He stays behind in Palamecia to fight the resurrected Emperor while the party escapes.
A prince of Kashuan, and Gordon's older brother. He dies of injuries sustained during the failed defense of Fynn, very early in the game... but in the Bonus Level of Heaven, he is a playable character, and is the key to investigating the mystery behind why the afterlife is suddenly such a hostile place.
- Aborted Declaration of Love: In his dying moments, he is about to relay his love to Hilda, but orders the heroes not to tell her that so that she will not suffer.
- Ascended Extra: In the original version of the game, Scott appeared at the start of the game to die and be a plot point. Soul of Rebirth made him a party member alongside Minwu, Josef and Ricard.
- Bishounen: Just like his brother.
- Continuity Nod: Asking Gordon about mythril will have him note that Scott had a prized sword made of the material. Guess what Scott's default weapon in Soul of Rebirth is.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Noble, brave, and true, yep.
- Heroes Prefer Swords: Initial equip and Infinity+1 Sword are both swords.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: In his dying moments, he forgoes a final chance to tell his beloved his feelings so that she can move on.
- Jack-of-All-Stats: Is this initially, having both black and white magic as well as skill with a sword.
- Magikarp Power: Because he was never playable (and thus level-up-able) in the main story, his initial stats are terrible. But once you start raising him, he turns into a powerhouse.
- Posthumous Character: Has a handful of lines prior to his own death... then becomes a major character afterwards.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: The reason he dies is because he was fighting on the front lines in the defense of Fynn.
- The Southpaw: Yet another lefty.
- Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Brave, noble, a powerful warrior, and in love with the beautiful princess. Yeah, he's doomed.
- The Wise Prince: Was this in life, by all accounts.
Princess of Fynn and leader of the Wild Rose Rebellion. Hilda is the brains behind the operation, and sends the party on most of their missions, eventually retaking her throne in Fynn. After her father the king dies halfway through the game, she is upgraded to "Queen."
- Big Good: The leader of the good rebels, by far the most important (as in irreplaceable) character on the side of good in the game.
- Distressed Damsel: Minimally invoked: she's kidnapped only once, and there are indicators that the Emperor had no idea she was even on the airship when he captured it. Pretty good for The '80s.
- Everything's Better with Princesses: Likely why she's never called a queen despite becoming one halfway through the story.
- Expy: Of Princess Sarah from the previous game.
- Hair Decorations: Pretty, sparkly beads!
- The High Queen: Has elements of it now, and is hinted to become this once the world is saved.
- Nice Hat: Just look at her artwork. Interestingly, it mirrors the Horned Hairdo of the evil Emperor.
- Pimped-Out Dress: Most obvious in the Amano rendition.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Is this to Firion's party.
- Rebel Leader: Her raison d'etre in the game.
- Rebellious Princess: In that she's the one doing all the leading.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: The strategist and brains behind the Wild Rose Rebellion. Gets bonus points for going and camping with her troops before the assault to retake Fynn, instead of staying in Altair where it was safe.
- Ship Tease: With Firion, Gordon, and even, in the novels, the Emperor.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Gets angry with Gordon, saying that if he had opened the way to the Sunfire, Josef wouldn't have died on the way to the Goddess Bell.
Josef's young daughter, who adores her father and thoroughly supports him.
- Break the Cutie: She has a minor breakdown after being informed of her father's sacrifice.
A thief from Fynn who is friends with Firion and the gang. Claims to be the greatest in the world.
- Greater Need Than Mine: He gives Firion the Blood Sword along with all his treasure so they can defeat the Emperor.
- I Work Alone: Subverted, as he's perfectly capable on his own and has no qualms about hanging out with the party from time to time.
- Loveable Rogue: He's really very nice, and loyal to his village and friends.
- Ninja: Resembled one in his original sprite, but later looked more like a traditional thief.
- Sticky Fingers: At the end of the game, he even tells his friends they had better watch their pockets.
A nobleman who betrays Fynn to the Empire and defects to save his own skin. He turns up in the Snow Cavern as an easily-winnable boss fight, and dies of his sustained wounds. However, its not before he gets the last laugh by bringing down a boulder trap that ends up killing Josef.
- Dirty Coward: Usually lets others do the fighting, since he's so pathetically weak.
- Elite Mook: He's little more than just a stronger Palamecian soldier when he fights.
- Everything's Deader with Zombies: Reappears as a Chest Monster inside Pandaemonium, then again in Soul of Rebirth.
- Evil Redhead: The only redhead in the game and a right jerk.
- Face–Heel Turn: Sold out Fynn to the Empire when he realized they were losing.
- Fat Bastard: He's very portly and quite despicable.
- Kick the Dog: Kidnapping Nelly and forcing her to do slave labor.
- The Quisling: See Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves below.
- Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: He is given a position in the Emperor's army in return, but is quickly deemed worthless and isn't even mentioned after his death.
- See You in Hell: He does, actually; when Pandaemonium rises, he returns as a Chest Monster. Soul of Rebirth takes it even further, with him in the Unknown Cave fighting Josef.
- Taking You with Me: Causes the rock fall that kills Josef.
- Un Evil Laugh: This guy's no Kefka, so it makes sense that his laugh sounds more like a gobbling turkey than anything else.
- “You should consider what I am about to do a great honor... I shall kill you personally!”
- Badass Boast: "You have braved the bowels of Hell to reach me. But the hand of man, which deals in false justice and forsaken love, can never hope to defeat the lord master of Hell!"
- Big Bad: The mastermind of the Palamecian Empire that is close to enveloping the entire world, and the man/god that the rebellion needs to destroy to bring the empire down. Also the Final Boss.
- Bishounen: The first in a long line of ever-so-lovely Final Fantasy villains.
- Captain Ersatz: Of Jareth from Labyrinth, released two years prior.
- Classic Villain: He starts out as one, siccing the Legions of Hell on the innocent people of the world, and then proceeds to top himself in bastardliness by taking Hell for himself as the game progresses. Even Crisis Crossover Dissidia ups his ill reputation as a manipulative chessmaster willing to play ally and foe alike for his own ends, including killing off both Cosmos and even his OWN boss, Chaos, and take the world for himself.
- Colony Drop: His signature attack, Starfall.
- Combat Stilettos: Wears high heels, for some reason.
- Deal with the Devil:
- The novelization heavily implies that his powers came from a pact with Satan. Also subverted in that unlike most characters in this trope, Satan pretty much didn't expect how much of a monster Mateus would become.
- Also inverted in the interquel "Dawn of Souls", where the Emperor's light half (who's also just as bad) attempts to beg those of the party who ended up dead in the main game to forgive him for the actions that his dark half committed, and in exchange will give them eternal life. Of course, they don't buy it.
- Disc One Final Boss: Initially played straight. He is fought and killed a ways into the game, and it appears his empire is finished, prompting a ball... then word of Leon taking over the empire prompts the party back into action. They don't get to fight Leon before the Emperor comes back from the dead and resumes his post as the Big Bad; he's fought a second time as the Final Boss for real shortly afterwards.
- '80s Hair: It's almost awe-inspiring (he was inspired by David Bowie in Labyrinth, who sported that hair for that movie).
- The Emperor: Hint: It's why he's called one.
- Hair Decorations: Staggering amounts of doo-dads in his hair.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": He has a name — Mateus — but it is only ever mentioned in the novelization, otherwise in all his other appearances he's simply "The Emperor."
- Evil Overlord: Almost a perfect archetypal example.
- Evil Overlooker: In the official Amano artwork◊.
- Femme Fatalons: In all depictions of him.
- Flat Character: Defied in the revised continuity — though not by much.
- Flunky Boss: The first time the Emperor is fought, the party has to get through two waves of enemies before they actually fight him. He then has more lackeys in front of him when he's fought.
- Final Boss: His Dark side is the very final enemy encountered in the main game. His Light side is the final opponent in an extension.
- Follow the Leader: Pun aside, some of his actions were later repeated by later Final Fantasy villains. For starters, his action of poisoning the water supply of the Dragoon fortress was later redone with Kefka, the latter of whom managed to take it to an even new low by poisoning a civilian kingdom (Doma), and most of Mateus' personality and traits (even his coming back from the dead) were reused with Seymour Guado. In addition his using a flying fortress capable of generating a cyclone and then being killed in it (not to mention having the title Emperor) is later repeated with Vayne in Final Fantasy XII and his use of the Sky Fortress Bahamut in the final battle before being killed, although unlike Mateus, Vayne doesn't come back from the dead.
- Freudian Excuse: Surprisingly enough, the official (Japanese-only) novelization attempted to give him one. Apparently, his unsatiable greed is caused by an even worse demon sealed in a stone taking him over to wreak vengeance against humanity. It's also hinted that every single Emperor before Mateus were this demon's human proxies. He also exiled his mother under the influence of this demon, and she was trying to get him back to the good side. In a way, he seems very tragic in that respect. However, the novel is Loose Canon with several differences from the game that subsequent Final Fantasy entries tend to ignore.
- God-Emperor: By the end of the game, he pretty much is one, given that he rules Hell and apparently Heaven.
- Greed: His most defining trait; the world will be his and no one will stop him.
- Hell Has New Management: He took over Hell and came back to Earth to finish what he started.
- I Have You Now, My Pretty: Not so much in the game, but definitely present in the novels with Hilda.
- Large Ham: His death scream."UBOAAAAAAAAAA"In English, "UNGAHHHHHH".
- Let's You and Him Fight: Why do you think he's surrounded by all those mooks? To let him do the fighting? I don't think so.
- Light is Not Good: His Light half is every bit as evil as his Dark half. Although he tries to hide it at first.
- Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Yep.
- The Man Behind the Monsters: It's implied the monsters in the world are his doing, with him unleashing them from Hell via his Deal with the Devil.
- Mega Twintails: To the extent that he can hang ornaments on them (if Anthology's FMV can be considered canon).
- No Name Given: The novel gives him the name full name Emperor Mateus Palmecia but this is only referenced but never directly stated in the games.
- One-Winged Angel: Turns into the Hell Emperor for the final battle.
- However in the novel, it's just Satan taking his form.
- My Death Is Just the Beginning: Arguably his plan all along.
- Nice Shoes: Nice stiletto heels.
- Nietzsche Wannabe: Granted, it was not enough to actually make him destroy the world, but he does mention in both his Dark Emperor form and Light Emperor form his belief that humanity is good only at executing flawed justice, forsaken love, and having inherently violent tendencies.
- No-Nonsense Nemesis: Probably helped by his status as a Flat Character rather than hurt by it — with no defined personality beyond being an Evil Overlord, the Emperor's defining trait is how effective and competent a strategist he is. The plot of the game pretty much goes "the Rebellion gets some advantage over the Empire or sabotages some advantage they have, but it doesn't matter because the Emperor was already working on getting an even bigger advantage over them in return, and now a party member is going to die and/or at least one town is going to be invaded or destroyed." Rinse and repeat several times until there's nothing else left for him to do but take over Hell, come Back from the Dead, and go for Hell on Earth.
- Purple Eyes: A special and magical character has special and magical eyes.
- Rapunzel Hair: Calf-length flowing glossy hair.
- Recurring Boss: You get to fight the Emperor twice in the standard game: first as the Disc One Final Boss, then as the Dark Emperor/actual Final Boss.
- Rummage Sale Reject: See picture. Holy crap.
- Shock and Awe: He favors offensive Thunder spells, and his palace in the Cyclone has electrified trap floors.
- Shout-Out: Let's just say that he bears an uncanny resemblance to Labyrinth's Jareth. His appearance in the Anime Music Video for the PSX version of Final Fantasy II also invokes the appearance of Maleficent.
- Showgirl Skirt: A translucent pink one, to boot.
- Sorcerous Overlord: Another perfect archetype.
- Take Over the World: It's what he does.
- Tin Tyrant: In heels, no less.
- Tragic Monster: At least in the novel.
- The Villain Makes the Plot: The entire reason everything happens is because the Emperor is on the warpath and someone has to stop him.
- White Hair, Black Heart: In some Amano art of the character. Usually he's platinum blond.
A new character added in the 20th Anniversary Edition. He is the immortal guardian of the ultimate magic and an extremely powerful mage.
- Bad Powers, Good People: He was born with the ability to cast Destroy, however he refuses to use it since he doesn't wish to kill anybody.
- Bonus Boss: He attacks the party if told they seek "destruction".